Tag Archives: mental illness

Life update, Halloween edition

Lots of stuff has been going on, mostly good things!

Social: I’ve been leaving the house and hanging out with people!  Which means I need to give a few people some nicknames. (Pause…)  Done.  I even made a page for my cast of characters.  Yesterday I hung out with Zelda for like 6 hours.  Her friend Domino joined us for lunch, and we hit it off too, and then the three of us spent like an hour in Joanns gleefully shopping for 70% off Halloween decorations.  Last Sunday I had coffee in the morning with Rose for two hours, and then spend the afternoon with Zelda.  I am such a social butterfly.

Hellooooooo nurse: I’ve been contemplating having a sex life again.  I don’t want love, but friendship with benefits would be awesome.  I’ve even been flirting with people.  Shocking.

Brain Fun: doing fairly well on most days. There was a four-day depressive streak last week during which I only left the house once.  And the week before that I struggled with occasional bursts of impulsive recklessness.  Like, “if I ride my bike down this 65mph highway, it’s not like I’m actually attempting suicide, right?  I mean, it has a bike lane…”  But mostly I’m okay.

Thursday I started decreasing my Lamictal dosage.  I’ve been on 200mg twice a day for years, and I’m fed up with the severe memory loss it causes.  I’ve forgotten almost everything I learned in college.  I don’t remember most of my childhood.  The memories are still there, I just can’t access them.  (Thanks to my psych degree and a stint volunteering in a neuropsych lab, I know a bit about memory testing and have done some.  I store memories just fine; it’s retrieval that’s the problem.)  I consider this to be the best way to lose memories, as it means I have a chance of regaining access.  If I wasn’t storing them when they happened, I’d be completely SOL.

Lamictal is what prevents my mania.  If I start getting manic I’ll just sedate myself and then resume my former dose.  Easy.  I hope this works.

Therapy: haven’t had an appointment since my last update.  I’ll have one tomorrow, though.

Cycling: still doing it, although not as much as I’d like.  That whole reckless thing has made me a little scared to ride much.  I’ll talk to my therapist about it.

I’ve resumed my daily walks, though.  Because outdoor exercise of any kind helps my mental health.

Crafting: two inches left of Nephew’s pillow.  I’ve been spinning a lot.  Nothing else, though.  I’ve been too busy reading.

Reading: alllll the books.  So many books.  Mostly paper ones.  All non-fiction.  Which reminds me, I should update my Goodreads account.

Cello: I’ve stopped lessons until January, so that I can afford school and Christmas presents.  I’m sad, but I’ll be back to it in the new year.

Follow-up from last update: I had to reschedule the dentist, because I’ve been having some trouble with nausea.  The craft fair this last Saturday was fun, although it was just me and Mom.  I got a new journal.  Now I just need to keep up with it.

Upcoming plans: Hiking November 11th!  So excite!

Cycling, therapy, cello, etc.

Cello: I have cancelled my lessons for the month of October.  I need to go to the dentist instead.  Joy.

Therapy: Today’s lesson dealt with some unpleasant shit from when I was a teenager.  It was kind of awful.  Afterwards I went to the Harn Museum of Art to make myself feel better.  Except, parking was $4 and I had no cash.  Sigh.

Depression: The Sunday before last I decided to try to get a part-time job, just stocking shelves at the grocery or something.  The stress of putting together my resume made me suicidally depressed for the next three days.  So that’s not really an option.  I’m trying to volunteer for Hillary’s campaign, but haven’t gotten a call back yet about when to come in.

Crafting: I’m knitting a pillow for my youngest nephew, and knitting three washcloths for my ex-MIL as a birthday gift.  Both projects are by request.  Today I set up a spreadsheet for planning weaving projects, and I really need to warp for my black and green tunic.  And do some sewing.  Can’t focus on anything that requires brain cells at the moment.

Reading: I’ve been so scattered I haven’t been able to read anything, even slash.  Annoying.

Cycling: padded bike underwear are awesome.  They feel like wearing a overnight-strength maxi pad, but because of them I’ve been able to ride two days in a row.  Nine miles yesterday, at the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, and seven miles today, around my part of town.  It helps that it’s been in the low 70s in the mornings!  More about biking under the cut.

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Family good, crazypants bad

Mom told me the other day that she and my sister had talked some time ago about what will happen to me after Mom’s death. Sis is willing to take me in, which is amazingly generous, especially considering that her husband shares my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.  I am very, very lucky to have such a caring family. 

But it’s depressing to realize that I’m that family member, the disabled one whose future has to be planned for. Even if I manage to hold down a job at some point in the future, I can’t live alone.  It hurts, knowing that I need that much assistance.  That I’m going to be a burden on my family for the rest of my life.

I’m not planning to relieve the burden through suicide or anything. Some people do. I’m rational enough, and close enough to my family, to know they’d rather have to help care for me than lose me. And I do what I can to help them, as often as I can manage it. I don’t ever want to not have some usefulness. 

It hurts. But I am so goddamn lucky. Few people are. 

Last week sucked.

Sometimes, usually when I’m depressed, I go through periods when I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I’ve been having one of those.  So hello to my online friends, I’m not dead or anything.  Actually, yesterday was fantastic — I woke up with a ton of energy, and set about cleaning my bedroom and bathroom.  Did two loads of laundry, swept and mopped the tile areas of the house, even washed a dozen skeins of handspun yarn.  And went for two walks. And started knitting the pillows for the living room futon.

Today I woke up a little slower but still did a 5 mile walk, then babysat, then ran errands, then got a bunch of online crap done.  So I’m doing pretty well on the productivity front today, too.  Still have to go to the grocery…

I did my July budgeting.  Ugh.  Spent too much this month (purple Docs, I’m looking at you, you beautiful things).  Something I’ve figured out in my budget spreadsheet (which probably everybody else knows, but I haven’t had credit cards in ages) is to calculate the amount of interest I’ll owe if I don’t make a decent credit card payment, and wow does that work as motivation to keep my balance low.  Because losing $50 to interest payments will piss me off.  So I’m not doing that, and July will be tight.

I am, however, spending the $70 to get my current bicycle tuned up.  The woman at the bike shop said they might be able to fix my setup so that riding is more comfortable for me, because, after thinking about it some more, a new bike is definitely not a need, and I’d be better off spending that money (basically the same amount) on a college class, because learning things is more fun than riding bicycles.  If I still want a new bike by Christmas, I’ll consider getting one then.  In the meanwhile, I’ll see if I even enjoy riding once my current bike is set up/tuned up.  Because, while walking is awesome, and I’m still doing a lot of it, Florida is fucking hot in the summer and it would be nice to feel a little breeze on my face during my daily workouts.

Speaking of walking, I mapped a new route this afternoon.  Took a drive down the opposite way I normally go, and it’s quite beautiful.  And shady.  Yay trees!  It’s 3.5 miles round-trip, which means it’ll be good for days I want to do a short walk.  (My long route is just under 5 miles.)  And I have to take my camera one day, because it’s beautiful down that way.

I’ve been able to read again lately.  I’m almost finished with a book on the history of the American highway system.  It’s fascinating, although I’m sure it sounds dull to most of you.  Next up is a book on how Dante’s Inferno permanently changed Western society’s mental picture of Hell.

While I’m on the subject of media: As previously reported, Mom and I were binge-watching The Blacklist through Netflix.  We quit on Friday, because the stupid burned so much that it’s not even worth watching for James Spader.  It just… it was never that good to begin with, except for him, and it just kept getting increasingly dumber throughout the season.  We finished it (season one), but fuck that show, seriously.  Last night we started Luther.  So much better.  (Mom has a thing for crime dramas.  She reads crime novels, too.)

And now, for something completely different: I started seeing the new therapist last week, and I like her bunches.  Hopefully she can help me get over my PTSD shit.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Loki showing his belly.  Because he’s cute.

Upside-down Loki

In need of purpose

My life has no purpose.  I don’t mean that it’s worthless, or that I’m suicidal.  I just feel adrift with no direction.  For years my goal was to finish college, and I did that in December, and then volunteering didn’t work out, and…  I need something to do that makes me feel useful but doesn’t tax my sanity.  I have a few small projects, and I do things like reading and making things with wool and playing my cello, but it’s all just a way to fill time.  I’m too crazy to work, and while most people think anyone will take volunteers, most places won’t take someone who can’t be reliable on a set schedule, which is totally understandable. I’m sick of people saying “you should volunteer!” like doing so is the easiest thing in the world.  Volunteering requires a modicum of stability and the ability to interact with other people to some extent.  A lot of days, I don’t have either.

So I drift.

My sister found her calling a few years ago — teaching high school students about history and government — and when she talks about her job, her whole face lights up.  I’m over the moon for her, and I want something that makes my face do that too.  It probably won’t be a career, not with the way I am, but… something.  Something useful that I can be passionate about.

I hope I find something soon.  I’m tired of not having an anchor…

Publicly coming out as trans

I realized I was trans almost four years ago.  In that time I’ve been out to everyone online, my friends and family members, and the people at the yarn shop I went to when I was living 75 miles away from Hometown.  That’s it.

In a couple of hours I’m going to a rather large mental health awareness event, to help my new nonprofit group director work the registration table.  I agreed with no hesitation.  It wasn’t until about 10:00 last night that I realized that holy fuck, I’m coming out to the entire local mental health community.  I used to be pretty involved, as an activist and professional peer counselor.  My former boss and some co-workers will be there.  Some of my former clients might show up.  Future potential employers and co-workers will be there.  And everyone who knows me from Before will have to hear, “I’m Alex now.  I came out as transgender four years ago.”  And then there will be questions, which will be answered two ways: “When you get home, Google ‘trans 101’,” or “I’m sorry, that’s a very personal question.  It’s been nice seeing you.”

I am, naturally, terrified.  I’m doing it anyway, because I’ll have to come out to this community at some point if I’m going to be working in it again.  I won’t be alone — my nonprofit friends (who only know me as Alex and are very trans-friendly) will back me up, and my sister and her family will be there.  I doubt anyone will be rude to my face, because it’s a pretty liberal community.  But I am also prepared to (politely) say things like “it’s not my job to educate you” and “I don’t make comments about your masculinity/femininity, do I?”  I really don’t give a fuck about passing as a cis male; I’m a bit genderqueer anyway, and my gender identity/expression are none of their business so long as they use the correct name and pronouns and are respectful.

I do wish I’d had enough warning to get my hair cut first.  I’m a bit shaggy.  Yay for hair pomade, I guess.

Now, as to why I’m writing this at 5am: I haven’t slept.  At all.  I’m getting where I can’t sleep because of the Geodon dependency.  I spend the nights shaking and sweating, even if I take my meds on time, even with a Klonopin.  This can’t go on.  After my semester finishes (two weeks left!) I’m going to ask my pdoc to taper me off and put me on something else.  I’m really, really not looking forward to it, but it’s better than feeling like a junkie in need of a fix every night.

I’m going to take a shower and go get some breakfast or something.  I can’t just sit here twitching until it’s time for my morning meds.  (I can’t take them early, because then I’ll get the shakes even earlier in the evening.)

I’m not dead, I promise!

But I am just coming out of an extended, serious depression.  It started in April.  I didn’t get online for three months except to read fanfic.  (BBC Sherlock is my imaginary boyfriend.)  Hell, I didn’t even talk to my mother for two months, and she’s one of my two favorite people in the whole world (the other being the Valkyrie).  I was a wreck.  I started feeling a bit better a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday my doctor had me add Ritalin to my daily medication cocktail and I’ve actually gotten out of bed.  Better living through modern medicine!

So this post is going to be a rather long life update…

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Splitting pills

Saphris, my anti-psychotic, makes me sleepy.  So I was taking it at night.  Last week I was having positive symptoms (aka hallucinations and delusions, although not super intense ones, and I was aware of what was going on)  so Thursday I asked my doctor if I could split the dose, 5mg twice a day instead of 10mg at night.  She said sure, so I did.  But it made me sleepy in the mornings, so Sunday I skipped the morning dose with the intention of taking 10mg at night.

In retrospect, this was a really dumb idea.

I was freaking out, getting obsessive about my planner and pens in unhealthy ways (as I’m prone to do when I have symptoms), and having hallucinations.  So this morning I’m back to twice a day, with the addition of a Ritalin in the mornings to keep me from falling asleep.  I hate that I have to use a secondary medication to stop the side effects of a primary medication.

Mental illness sucks.

Future outlook and a busy day

I am very concerned about fulfilling my desire to become a clinical social worker.  For years I’ve kept hoping my mental states will get more stable as time goes on.  They haven’t.  The problems have gotten much less extreme, but on a day to day basis I cannot maintain a balanced state with any consistency. I’m assuming that this will not change.  It’s been 14 fucking years.  It gotten much better in intensity, but not in the variability.  If I can’t be stable enough to focus on clients for a set period of hours every day, I can’t get a job as a therapist.  Hell, I can’t get through grad school that way because of all the clinic hours required.

It could be that there are things I can do to mitigate the problem.  That’s why I want to talk to my therapist.  The Valkyrie also suggested I talk to her about how utterly weary I am of being mentally ill, about how I’m giving up on myself more easily lately.  Maybe this way of thinking about my career is part of the giving up.  I don’t know.  So I have an appointment Tuesday afternoon.  I hope it helps.

Today I was exhausted in general.  At night I can’t fall asleep until two or so, and I’ve had to be up by 8:00 every day this week.  Yeah, plenty of functional adults do way more than I do on way less sleep.  But I am not functional, as much as I wish I was.  So I’m worn out from going to Orlando to have lunch with the Naiad, seeing my psychiatrist, and running errands.  I left the house at 9:30 and got home at 6:00… maybe I do deserve to be tired.  I don’t know.

The Valkyrie met my psychiatrist today.  V was seeing her for anxiety, so it was a double session.  Which was awesome, I love my doc and was happy to hang out for a bit.  They got along really well too.  Before that we had lunch at Sonny’s with the Naiad and went to Sci Fi City (awesome gaming/comics shop).  Not a bad day.  Just a long one.

I’m hoping I can get to sleep early tonight, or sleep in tomorrow.  Thankfully I don’t have to be anywhere until after noon…

Overhauling the upstairs

As I’ve mentioned, the Valkyrie and I share a house with her mother.  The upstairs is ours — den, bedroom, bathroom, and a “kitchen” (it just has a table, a microwave and a mini-fridge; no water or stove).  With the help of Honorary Niece, I’ve been cleaning like a mofo.

I get stuck in a vicious circle when it comes to cleaning.  When I’m depressed or otherwise mentally messed up, I am unable to clean.  Then, when I start feeling better, I get anxious about how messy things are and am so overwhelmed that I can’t fix it.  So the mess keeps growing and growing.  there weren’t dirty dishes or food trash laying around.  I take care of those.  But there was a lot of other trash, like mountains of soda boxes.  I am ashamed that things got that bad.  I’m admitting it here because maybe the shame will keep me from letting things get bad again.

I’ve been doing better mentally over the last several days, so I asked BFF if I could borrow Honorary Niece to give me a hand.  I couldn’t do it alone, so I thought maybe hiring HN (in return for some spending money) would be the way to go about things.  And boy was that a good idea.  HN is a strange girl who enjoys cleaning.  she also likes helping people out.  She would have done it for free, but there was no way I was going to do that to her.  I would have felt guilty as fuck for taking advantage of her good nature.

The cleaning began Sunday afternoon, and it continued today.  All the trash in the kitchen was thrown away.  She swept and mopped while I tackled the bookshelves in the hallway.  I’ve needed to get rid of 3/4 of my book collection for years, so I sorted through what I wanted to give away.  And then HN and I broke down a shitload of packing boxes that were cluttering up the back of the den.  Everything is mostly done and I am delighted.  HN’s part is done with; all that’s left is a little organizing I need to do on my own.  It looks beautiful.  We have a small table in the kitchen; now that the room looks nice I’m going to hang a couple of posters in there and make it look a little less sterile.  I had cleaned out the fridge a few days ago, and today I stocked it with little snacks like cottage cheese and sugar-free Jello.  It’s an actual, usable room again.  I also threw out a shitload of trash in the bedroom and vacuumed in there.

I’m proud of myself, and I’m especially proud of HN for cheerfully doing a great job.  She’s a wonderful kid, and I considered myself lucky to have her in my life even before she helped me this week.

Sunday night she, BFF, and I decided that once a week we will have a Cleaning Day.  We will alternate houses; one week we’ll clean BFF’s house, and the next week we’ll clean mine.  After we finish getting everything set up at both houses, it should only take an hour or two to whip everything into shape on the designated day.  BFF has problems with depression and cleaning too, and the three of us keeping each other company makes the work so much more pleasant.

I’m happy about all this.  And happy that I’m feeling well enough to have some initiative.  It’s a nice feeling.