gwynhefar: (did you know you could fly?)
I have been recognising more and more lately just how deeply I have internalised the idea of mental health issues as being a weakness.  This frustrates the hell out of me because intellectually I don't believe that.  When I have friends who are dealing with mental health issues, I don't think of them as weak, or lazy, or somehow failures at life - I respect the hell out of them for just making it day to day.  But when it's *me* it's different.  Because while intellectually I know that what I'm going through is just as difficult as what my friends are dealing with, and that if I don't blame them for it I shouldn't blame myself, deep down I still *feel* like a failure, a weakling, someone deserving of scorn.

Growing up I lived surrounded by the notion that success in life equaled a good job, a spouse, a house with a yard, and some kids.  Maybe a dog.  Cats were for pathetic old spinsters.  I thought I'd rejected that idea in high school, and intellectually I did.  But deep down a part of me still measures success that way.  When I was growing up, anyone who was past thirty and didn't have that kind of life was considered somehow lesser.  In some cases, it was their fault -- they made bad choices.  They didn't work hard enough in school, they followed an unrealistic dream like playing in a band or being an artist, they were too stubborn to conform to the way the world works.  People with physical disabilities were pitied universally, and scorned or admired based on how they 'dealt' with their disability.  Always, there was to be a sense of mourning for the opportunity for a successful life that was taken from them - because of course whatever they made of themselves could never be as good as the traditional American Dream.

People with mental health issues were also universally pitied, but there was also a sliding scale of scorn depending on the nature of the disease and how close they came to achieving the Dream anyway.  People who were 'crazy' enough to be institutionalised were thought of much the same as those with physical disabilities, but with an added discomfort.  It was easier somehow, more comfortable, to be around someone in a wheelchair than to be around someone who kept talking to the voices in their heads.  The 'less serious' mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, were almost discounted.  It was like the mental equivalent of seasonal allergies.  Yeah, your eyes are itchy and watering and you're sneezing all over the place and you're very uncomfortable but you don't stay home in bed, you take your damn Allegra and go to work like a responsible, mature adult.  If you have depression or anxiety problems, that's too bad, and I'm sorry things are harder for you than for other people, but still, just take your medicine and power through.  Anything less is giving up, letting the disease 'win'.  Anything less is weakness, laziness.

For all that I've outwardly rejected this attitude, more and more I'm finding myself confronted by how much I still hold myself to this standard.  The horrible part is, the worse I feel about myself for my 'failures', the worse my depression gets, and the less I am able to 'power through'.  It's a constantly self-reinforcing cycle.  And I don't know how to stop it.  At any given moment I might tell myself that I'm allowed to take care of myself.  That the overwhelming apathy that keeps me from leaving the apartment some days isn't my fault.  And for an hour or two I might believe it.  And then when I find myself on the couch mindlessly watching old episodes of Castle, I'm suddenly overwhelmed by crushing guilt.  Here I am again, being lazy and self-indulgent, lounging on the couch watching TV when a successful, mature adult would be at work, powering through.  What a disappointment I am.  Am I really that weak that I can't get up and get dressed and go into work like I'm supposed to?  Or am I just selfish and self-indulgent and using my 'disease' as an excuse for yet another vacation day?  What must people think of me?  I was always so smart, I had everything going for me, how did I end up such a failure?

I'm trying so hard not to think like that, but it's too deep.  And I look at my life from the bottom of this deep fissure and I can see 'normal' life up there in the sun but it's too dark down here and the walls are sheer and I can't climb them and I have wings but they're hanging uselessly at my side and I can't muster enough energy to fly.  And I think, I'm stuck down here, and if I don't get out soon, it's going to rain, and I'm going to drown.

I look at my bank account and the money I've had to pull from savings to cover my time off work and wonder what I'm going to do when it runs out.  And I look at my job and I think of how my bosses can't possibly keep being as understanding as they have been, and eventually they're going to get tired of bending over backwards to accommodate an unreliable employee and I'm going to get fired.  And I look at my apartment and I think that it's a good thing I don't have friends over because the place is a mess and hell, if I don't get kicked out for being a slob I'll still have to move when I lose my job because even if I'm lucky enough to get disability it wouldn't be enough to pay the rent and I have to remind myself that I still have my job and I still have money in savings, and things aren't that bleak yet but I can't see any other path for the future.  Or rather, I can see them, but they're all overgrown with roots and bushes or blocked by rocks and cutting through seems impossible.

So this is where I am.  I'm at work today, for once, but other than scheduling a few meetings for later in the week I haven't accomplished anything other than surfing Facebook and reading articles on Cracked.  I don't hold much hope for the rest of the afternoon.  And when I'm done marking time here at work, I'll probably go home and lose myself in playing Skyrim, where I can slaughter bandits and rescue hostages and kill dragons and save the world.  Where I can pretend I'm a hero, and competent, and not a failure - for a little while.
gwynhefar: (Default)
So I took yesterday off and went to the doctor. He agreed that my migraines and my increased difficulty sleeping and coccoonishness are related to my increased stress what with the job search and having to move and all that. We're going to try upping my dosage of Wellbutrin, and seeing if that works before we talk about changing medications entirely. Also, he gave me samples of two different types of migraine medication and told me to tell him which worked better next time I have a migraine and he'll call me in a subscription for that one.

So here's hoping things will get better, eventually.
gwynhefar: (Pain)
This post is a wonderful essay about the realities of living with clinical depression. Everything she describes, I have experienced, and far far too frequently. Maybe if more people had understood this disease, I wouldn't be looking for a new job right now.
gwynhefar: (let there be light)
Well, summer has come to Louisiana at last. We skipped spring altogether this year. Today it is 85F and sunny. Don't get me wrong, I love winter. But after months of unseasonable (for this climate) cold and almost neverending rain, it is remarkable how much better the sun makes me feel. I'm quite certain that at least a portion of the depression I've been struggling with the past couple of months was due to the crappy weather. Maybe now things will be just a little bit better.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Today seems to be a day of whinging, I guess. That happens when I'm stuck on the desk on a weekend and have too much time to think.

After a little over a year of being truly healthy again, I'd forgotten what it was like to be disabled. For the past four months or so, despite multiple attempts at medication to control it, I've been having increasing anxiety, panic attacks, bouts of and crippling insomnia. I'm exhausted *all the time* now. The degree varies from 'stumbling around like I'm drunk' tired to 'I could really use a nap' tired but I'm never not tired anymore. I'm back to counting spoons. I'm back to having to make all my plans conditional -- yeah, I'll hang out with you tomorrow *if* I get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight and *if* I don't have an anxiety attack and *if* the thought of actually facing people doesn't make me want to curl up under the covers and *if* my brain is actually functioning at something resembling normal capacity.

It's a different kind of disability from the physical issues I had before my surgery, but it's become a disability nonetheless. Between the recurring nature of my Depression/Anxiety Disorders and the high likelihood that my Neurofibromatosis will continue to cause problems in the future, I find myself wondering whether I will ever get to be truly healthy again.

Update

Aug. 24th, 2009 11:35 am
gwynhefar: (Default)
I've really sucked at updating LJ lately, except for book reviews and such. So here's a little of what's been going on with me lately:

1) Depression/insomnia stuff - I've been on the new medication for about a month now. No bad side effects. As of the week before I left for vacation I was still having serious insomnia issues, but most of the depression seemed to have backed off some. I also have sleeping pills now to help with the insomnia, and hopefully between the anxiety/depression meds and the sleeping pills I can get my sleep schedule back on track, which I think will help enormously with my mood.

2) Vacation - I just got back on Saturday from a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This is the parent-funded "we don't see you and your brother enough so we're going to fix that by taking you on an awesome vacation" trip. With the exception of the day I forgot to wear sunblock and got sunburned, it was all heaven. We stayed at an all inclusive resort, which means you pay one price to stay there, and everything on the resort (food, activities, alcohol, etc.) is free. Right outside our room was a huge pool with a swim-up bar, and the beach was just on the other side of the building. The scenery was spectacular, although we really spent more time at the pool than we did the beach.

3) Work - My first semester class starts tomorrow. I think I'm pretty much ready, but I'm nervous. I've done one shots and guest lectures before, but this'll be my first time teaching an actual course. Hopefully I won't do too badly. I'm still working on a recalcitrant paper on Virtual Worlds with some colleagues, but it's mostly been put on the back burner while I prepare for class. I'll have to get back to it later this week.

That's mostly it, although since I've been so bad about updating, if you've been wondering about something or just want to say hi, feel free to comment :)

Ugh.

Jul. 7th, 2009 11:52 am
gwynhefar: (defeated)
I am tired, moody, unmotivated, and have a very bad headache. And it's raining.
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.



[edit: this is not by me. It's part of "The Two Trees" by W. B. Yeats]
gwynhefar: (Default)
I was wondering, in the contemplative way I tend to do when depressed, what effect if any other people with depression feel the internet has on their condition?

I'm in the middle of one of those (thankfully mostly rare) episodes where I withdraw and become completely antisocial. I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't want another human being to acknowledge my existence. I wish I had an invisibility cloak and a cone of silence so no one would see or hear me right now. It'd be nice if it worked two-ways, as I don't want to see or talk to anyone right now either.

Except whatever it is that triggers that unreasonable desire to hide from other people both in person and over the phone, isn't triggered by the internet. I'm at a point where someone walks by or the phone rings and I cringe. But I have no problems answering email or writing this post.

So, question part one: does anyone else experience this strange dichotomy (assuming you even get the antisocial episodes to begin with)?

Question part two: If yes to question part one, do you feel that communication over the internet helps or hinders your recovery? I'm not really sure myself about this one. On the one hand, because I feel comfortable communicating online despite my current antisocialness (is that a word?), I'm at least having some form of human contact, albeit limited. Part of me thinks that this contact is healthier for me than no contact at all, and might even pull my out of my slump faster. On the other hand, the availability of email and other forms of online communication facilitates my hiding from more personal interactions. I've already returned my mother's phone call from last night via email, something I almost never do with her, because I really don't feel like talking to her but if I ignored her she'd just keep calling. Not having access to online communication would make it more difficult for me to maintain my isolation, and forcing myself into interpersonal relations, however uncomfortable they may currently be, might also be healthy. I'm just not sure which is better.

Any thoughts?

Self pity

Dec. 12th, 2007 01:46 pm
gwynhefar: (defeated)
Today (for me) has barely started and yet it sucks more than a day has sucked in a long time. I was up half the night (and dutifully did work while I was up) so I sent an email saying I'd be working from home this morning. When I finally got to sleep, I had a dream of this post-apocalyptic world in which a bunch of my (in-dream) friends had been captured and sold into slavery, and I had to find them and steal them back, which I did, and eventually we ended up in this underground cavern filled with failed genetic experiments in cages and bottles which were disturbing enough, but then we were chased by a minotaur, which seemed to have succeeded very well in that it was big, ugly, strong, fast, and had an incredibly good sense of smell. It was still chasing us when I woke up to find that my alarm hadn't gone off and I was an hour late for even my work-from-home starting time at work and that I'd missed a virtual reference shift. Which since I'm in charge of VR, really looks bad.

So now I'm here, and I'm going to stay an hour late just to make myself feel better about coming in so late but my back hurts, I have a splitting headache, and I still can't shake the utter despair left over from the dream, and all I want to do is curl up in a ball with a pillow over my head and cry until the whole world goes away and leaves me alone.
gwynhefar: (DW Falling)
I'm in a funk today. Look here for bad depressing poetry, song lyrics, and other morose musings. No *hugs* needed, it'll pass.
gwynhefar: (Got tea?)
Been a little depressed lately -- in the clinical sense, not in the emotive sense. It's manifested as a general disinterest in doing anything other than laying around the apartment. Hence the general lack of updates. It's not too bad, as these episodes go.

It has of course come with increased insomnia, which actually meant I stayed home on Friday, as I slept a grand total of 3 hours Thursday night, and most of it in 30-45min spurts. And because, dude, that's what sick days are *for*. Slept half of Friday morning instead, and felt much better when I got up at noon.

Bad sciatica weekend, and I was *this* close to calling in this morning due to a sciatica-induced sleepless night, but I have desk shifts this morning so I decided to stick it out. I can always leave early once my shift are over if I have to.

ALA Annual starts this week, and [livejournal.com profile] erinpoetchica is coming down for it (and to see me!) So yay! Am very happy about that, although it does mean that my week at work is majorly broken up which will make actually getting things done difficult.

Anyway, that is my life. How's yours?
gwynhefar: (alone)
I wonder if the Lexapro can *cause* depression? Last week was an actual depressive episode, it was only moderate depression, but it was the first I've had in over a year. And even now I'm . . . blah. Not actively depressed in a sit on the bed and stare at the wall way like last week, but decided lack of motivation, antisociality, etc.

The Lexapro is definitely working for my anxiety, and it might have nothing to do with my current mood. Or it might. I guess I'll give the doc a call tomorrow and ask.
gwynhefar: (Default)
I *love* my new doctor.

Came back from the doctor's appointment today with a better understanding of how all my different problems interact, a handful of prescriptions, and a definite plan.

On the knee front -- it seems fine, just stiff and a little weak from having been babied for a month. I'm to work on it at physical therapy along with my sciatica.

Discoloured toenail -- Pretty sure it's an injury, despite the fact that it's not grown out yet. Leave it alone and it should eventually go away.

Everything else --
She looked over all my stuff -- she was quite impressed with my printouts :). I told her about the insomnia, the sciatica, the incident two nights ago, the benedryl episode, the panic attacks, my history of depression, everything.
First thing she said is "I think you have chronic anxiety". My response? "Well, duh!" Aimed at myself, not at the doctor. I've been thinking my anxiety started with the benedryl episode, but that just made it worse. I've said it so many times I can't believe I didn't figure it out earlier -- I'm a worrier, I obsess about things, I always focus on the worst possible scenario. I'd been treating it as a personality quirk when it make much more sense to treat it as a disease just like my depression. One that interacts and effects everything else.

Both chronic anxiety and insomnia often go hand in hand with clinical depression. We know I have that, even if I haven't been "depressed" for awhile. Add in my sciatica, and what you get is one big spiral of interconnected problems that exacerbate each other ad infinatum. Everything contributes to everything else. My sciatica pain keeps me awake and makes me anxious. My insomnia wears down my resistance to the pain and also makes me anxious. My anxiety keeps me awake and causes me to tense up, making the pain worse. End result? One hurting, worried, and sleepless Gwyn.

Reason why I like this doctor? Not only did she figure this out and make it all clear, she has definite plans on what to do about it, both immediately and long term. First off, I'm in physical therapy for the sciatica -- strengthening the back muscles can help relieve some of the pain. I'm also on daily anxiety medicine, plus I have a prescription for a supplement I can take immediately if I have a panic attack or am feeling particularly anxious (such as a few nights ago). For the sciatica I have a muscle relaxant to take each night that also will hopefully help me to sleep and prevent the pain from keeping me up. For the really bad sciatica attacks I've got another prescription for Darvocet.

She thinks that if we can break the cycle of pain, anxiety, and sleep deprivation, my pain will go way down, if not go away altogether.

So basically she summed up all my problems and how they're interacting with each other, and provided me with a long term plan to break the cycle and resolve the issues as well as immediate relief for each individual complaint.

She also seems to treat chronic pain as the debilitating condition it is. Far from other doctors I've had who tried to convince me that my pain was all in my head or that it wasn't really that bad, she immediately focused on that as the main issue. She was appalled that I'd been dealing with this for almost 5 years and all the Health Center doctors did was grudgingly give me pills and send me for an MRI that was inconclusive.

In short, I am very *very* happy to finally feel like I'm doing something productive for all this stuff, and have no qualms about trusting this woman to help me. I really need to thank the co-worker that suggested her.
gwynhefar: (Default)
Ok, so I was in a moderately depressed/anxiety mood all day yesterday. My dad emailed me with his initial response to the court stuff I've collected, which was all mostly good, but of course it made me think about it again. I've got a revision of my abstract due tomorrow and the more I research, the less feasible my topic seems to be. But I don't have any new ideas either. And of course both the people I had invited to the concert were unable to come. Plus it was raining *really* hard. Which made the drive less than pleasant.

Turned out I wasn't stuck at the concert by myself for long. There was a long wet wait to get in the door, and so of course the guy standing next to me in line and I were chatting. So when we finally got in the door he bought me a drink and we sat and talked until the main band came on. So, I can't seem to pick up cute girls no matter how hard I try, but I can pick up cute ex-Army boys at a punk concert no problem :)

By the time Flogging Molly came on, I was already in a much better mood. As always, they were fantastic. They started out with "The Wrong Company", which set the tone nicely (it's an a capella song about drinking :). They played all my favourites. I laughed and cried and danced, pretty much like I always do at their concerts.

In fact, the only thing bad about last night is that it's over :-(
gwynhefar: (Default)
I've labeled my mood in this post "discontent". It's the perfect word for when I'm like this. I think I can safely say that this is one of, if not my absolute, least favourite moods. It even beats the "depressed" mood hands down. When I'm depressed, I feel *something*, namely depression.

When I get like I am tonight however, my emotional state can only be described in negative terms. And I mean that linguistically. I'm not "upset", I'm not "sad", I'm not "depressed". I'm simply "not happy". "Discontent" -- the absence of content (and yes, I mean that in every sense in which the word can be taken).

And this isn't about the whole landlord thing. I've calmed down about that since I got the official notice of the counterclaim. And it's not about the thesis, because that's pretty much in hand right now. It's not really about anything in my life at the moment. It just is. Or rather, is not.

I'm sure I'm making no sense here. But that's par for the course tonight. I'm hurting, but I don't want to take more of the darvocet if I can at all help it. I've really put a dent in my supply over the last week. The pills say to take every 4-6 hours but for me they usually start wearing off around 3 hours. If I take one before bed the pain literally wakes me up 4 hours later. So I have to take another one. I cut them in half to make it through whatever needs doing that day -- work, classes, whatever. Half doesn't come close to getting rid of the pain, but it takes the edge off enough that I can function. And that's how I've been during the last week and a half or so -- nonfunctional most days.

So, two pills a night, plus at least one, sometimes two, throughout the day, depending on how long I have to be away from home. In bed or in chair with heating pad when at home. The prescription was only for 24 pills, so a week or so of this and I'm nearly out. I need to go back to the doctor on Monday and schedule the MRI. My parents have said they'd pay for it. I hate taking money from them, especially when there's no guarantee they'll be able to see anything new on the MRI they couldn't see on the X-Ray. And even if they do finally pinpoint what's wrong, fixing it is another matter entirely.

So yeah, the pain is probably contributing somewhat to what I'm feeling tonight, but mostly it's completely without reason. Which only makes it worse. I'm just glad I don't get like this often. I'm bored, but I don't want to do anything. I'm tired but I'm not sleepy.

I'm discontent.
gwynhefar: (Insecurity)
It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
It doesn't matter if I cry
Don't matter if I bleed
You've been on a road
Don't know where it goes or where it leads

It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
If you've made up your mind to go
I won't beg you to stay
You've been in a cage
Throw you to the wind, you'll fly away

It doesn't matter what I want
It doesn't matter what I need
It doesn't matter if I cry
Don't matter if I bleed
Feel the sting of tears
Falling on this face you've loved for years.

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gwynhefar: (Default)
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