From The Way Way Back

This is an honest look into my current major depression.

It’s like I’m sitting in the way way back of a car on a road trip. The scenery seems to pass in slow motion, sounds are distorted, and the unexpected extra movements make me feel light headed and sick to my stomach. The people sitting in the front seat try to talk to me, but they have to repeat themselves a few times before I can hear and understand them. It’s hard to reach the things I want. When I have to ask the people in the front seat for what I need it’s hard to say it so they understand me. It is almost impossible to get comfortable.

This bipolar downswing I’m in has the power to make me unrecognizable to myself. I don’t recognize normal human functions. If I do leave the house, I watch other people incredulously, wondering how they can just go about their day, knowing where to walk, what to say, how to dress. I don’t know any of that right now. I know that people care about me. People are worried about me. They don’t know how to help me, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. I should know how they can help me, and I should be able to tell them.

It’s unbelievable to me that at one time I had a job. That I had a social life. That I didn’t panic at the thought of responsibilities outside of myself. At one time I had goals, and I felt like I had a purpose. Now I see a series of failures. Among the failures are my psych meds. They trick me into having hope by working for a few weeks, but then suddenly leaving me here, in a low period, unable to imagine a way out. I no longer believe that medications are an answer. I’m not sure I believe they can even help me anymore. I’ve been on this ride too many times.

Thoughts of death, thoughts of hurting myself, making myself bleed in order to feel a little relief plague me every minute. Thoughts that I am useless, I am unattractive, I am worthless, I have no purpose. This pain is all I know right now.

Yeah, this will get better. It’s only bad for a little while then I’ll feel better for a while; I know how this works. Like I said, I’ve been on this ride before. I’m just ready to climb out of the way way back seat, and I feel pretty helpless to do so at the moment. This isn’t any way to live a life.

Mood Bear Traps

How do I stop living in fear of the lightening lows? Lightening low is what I call the depressive moods that hit hard and fast and without warning. I have experienced these moods almost every day for the past week, and they are scary. Yesterday I woke up feeling good, then around 1pm I started crying and couldn’t stop for the rest of the evening. I could barely talk or think, I couldn’t relate to anyone around me, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to do with my hands. There was no inciting incident, nothing I could point to that would provide an explanation for why I suddenly fell into a dark depression hole and couldn’t find my way back out.

Today I woke up feeling better, mood wise, but scared. Scared that something will once again trip the invisible wire and catapult me right back into the darkness. I try to step lightly, stay busy, avoid stress (ha) in case that will save me from having to go through that again, but the thing is that all I’m doing is living in fear.¬†As a general life philosophy I don’t believe in living in fear. I did that for the first three decades of my life and I missed out on a lot of life for fear that life might hurt me. Life hurt me anyway, and I missed out on a lot of joy. I could have saved a lot of energy by ditching the fear and just living, which is how I live now.

I don’t know how to avoid living in fear right now though. I’m not enjoying being in a lighter mood because I know that the dark one is waiting, unseen, to drag me down. Life is a string of moments, fun, scary, painful, joyful, hilarious, sad, boring. I don’t want to give any more of my peaceful moments to depression and anxiety. They’ve taken enough, and despite my best efforts, my mood continues to get hijacked. So I’m living in fear, especially after this week, but I am trying to remember to be nice to myself. The mood bear traps might be lurking around any and every corner, but I can at least give myself some credit for fighting as I walk into them, right? Right.

I am still alive, and that’s not nothing.

Eight Weeks

Today marks exactly eight weeks since I tried to kill myself, and it already seems like it happened in a different lifetime. I figured it was a good time to take an eight week life inventory.

Eight Weeks Ago: Heading to the ER after not having taken my insulin in two days
Now: Heading to boyfriend’s house to watch Superbowl (commercials) after not having eaten in two hours

Eight Weeks Ago: Called National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Now: Called US Masters Swimming and renewed membership for 2017

Eight Weeks Ago: Sixteen tattoos
Now: Twenty tattoos

Eight Weeks Ago: Dating life – unsustainable due to severe depression
Now: Dating life – boyfriend, stable, happy

Eight Weeks Ago: No car, no money
Now: Great car paid for outright, no car payment, credit card debt paid in full

Eight Weeks Ago: Taking one psych medication that did not work for shit
Now: Taking five psych meds that provide functionality; learned that previous psych medication cannot be metabolized by my body

Eight Weeks Ago: Almost completely isolated, by choice
Now: Surrounded by people and love, by choice

Eight Weeks Ago: Stayed in apartment to escape from real life
Now: Only stays in apartment to sleep and do laundry, otherwise out and with people

It’s fair to say that eight weeks ago I didn’t think I would be here today. I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me that I would not only still be alive, but I would be fighting harder for myself than I ever have before; that I would find more love and support than I have ever let myself feel before; that I would be slowly but surely making my own dreams come true.

There is no moral to this story. I’m not going to say that I shouldn’t have tried to kill myself two months ago. At every point in my struggle I made the very best choices that I could at that given moment. Past Allison Anarchy will always have my retroactive support and validation.

Genetic Psych Testing

At the risk of sounding like a human infomercial…

Attention anyone who has ever taken anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, hypnotic, or ADHD medication: have you had genetic testing done by your therapist or psychiatrist?

Did you know that genetic testing was a thing? I didn’t until about a month ago when I heard about it from my therapist. It’s a test they can run in a lab that will tell you specifically which medications will and won’t work with your genetic makeup. It is a cheek swab (no needles required!) that can be done in your doctor’s office.

The results are very specific and will even tell you why a certain medication won’t work. For example, for me, my body can only metabolize Trazodone in low doses. Higher than 50 or 75mg and it builds up to potentially toxic levels in my liver. There’s a green, yellow, and red category for each group of meds (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, mood stabilizers, etc.) which is self explanatory: the green category will work without issue, the yellow will work but only under certain circumstances (like my Trazodone) and the red category won’t work at all.

Much to my surprise, my red column of antidepressants was extensive. So extensive in fact that I learned that I have spent years of my life taking medications that were never going to work in the first place. It wasn’t because I was broken. It wasn’t because I wasn’t working hard enough. It wasn’t because of a flaw in my character. It was because my liver doesn’t contain certain chemicals to metabolize other certain chemicals.

Yes, I grieved the years lost, where I possibly could have felt better and been more productive. But the validation that this test has given me is absolutely priceless. Never again will I have to play roulette with medications, or forfeit months of my life to wading through side effects only to find that the medication doesn’t help me. This is a huge step in mental health treatment.

Speaking of priceless, the test isn’t. It was $300 and not covered by insurance, but you have an option to pay it over time based on your income level. To me, it was worth every penny I paid that wasn’t in my budget. The test has been around for a long time, but it’s only recently been made more affordable and available.

It’s so recent in fact that a lot of doctors and therapists don’t even recommend it to their patients. That’s why I have taken it upon myself to proselytize the cheek swab. Ask your health care professionals about it, and think about never having to metaphorically throw a handful of meds at the wall and see what sticks. Scrape together some spare change from the couch, work a few extra hours, sell a kidney – if it provides you with even half of the validation it provided me, it will be worth every penny.

Visit the Genesight website for further research. (Note: I get no money for proselytizing)


Mental Illness Roller Derby

Welcome, and thank you for finding your way here to this new blog. I used to blog over here, and while it started out as a serious, consistent writing endeavor, after a while it turned into sporadic, directionless spurts filled with more angst than I’m comfortable admitting. So I closed the chapter on that effort, and here I am with a new name, a new direction, and a level of angst that I’m just going to fucking OWN this time.

This blog is going to be about mental illness. Specifically my mental illness (in case that wasn’t clear). I have just survived a roller coaster of psychiatric hell over the past month with a suicide attempt followed by a difficult hospital stay followed by some actual help. I’ve been discharged from an outpatient program and sort of left to fend for myself, having no therapist or doctor and brand new medications for a brand new diagnosis of bipolar disorder. On a holiday weekend. I feel angst about this, but I will work on that and get through it.

That’s what I do. I survive things. I’d like to be at a point where I can live and not just survive, and it would be great if I could feel some hope that it will happen one of these days. For now I am living one half day at a time, and creating this new forum where I get to expose you to my honest, fucked up but sometimes funny, obsessive, or completely misguided thoughts and feelings helps me live to see the next half day. Lucky you! I suggest having a coping mechanism of your own (stiff drink, running shoes, a cake, etc.) nearby when you read these posts. You never know when you might need it.

Thank you for reading, and welcome.