Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dazed and Confused

It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it is to mess up the routine that keeps me functioning. This past week my Dad's schedule changed from Friday through Monday to Saturday through Tuesday. This, of course, completely messed up my comprehension of what day of the week it was. Yes, I look at the calendar in the kitchen regularly, but my Dad's work schedule is a constant that help me keep track.

Well, I was totally confused all week. I thought Tuesday was Monday, that Wednesday was Tuesday, etc. I didn't have any appointments so it wasn't a huge deal. But on Saturday I had my monthly appointment to get my hair buzzed off. First off, I don't usually see Nikita on Saturdays, but she had been on vacation so I had to move the appointment from my usual Thursday or Friday. So, double confusion. I went for my appointment and, like always, I felt good and relaxed afterward (she includes an awesome scalp and neck massage). Naturally, I didn't feel like going home yet so I decided to stop at Target and pick up a couple of things.

Yeah, Friday at 2 p.m. is the perfect time to shop. Saturday at 2 p.m. is a complete madhouse. I started walking through the store and I couldn't figure out why it was so busy. It was an absolute crush with babies crying and people pushing their carts every which way. It didn't take long for me to reach total overload. I couldn't remember what I had gone in for and I was shaking so bad that I dropped my cane twice. The second time I had trouble picking it up because people were just walking over it. One lady tried to just push her cart over it and gave me a dirty look when she couldn't. Another lady sent her son - probably about 6 years old - over to pick it up for me. I smiled and said thank you, and then made my way slowly to the cafe at the front of the store.

I was shaking so bad by that time I knew I couldn't drive. Fortunately the cafe was fairly empty and I got a smoothie and just sat at one of the tables, focusing on the cup and nothing else until I finally started to calm down. It was then that it finally occurred to me that it was Saturday, not Friday, and I wanted to kick myself for being so brain dead.

I must have been sitting there with that smoothie cup for at least 40 minutes. I got a water to go and made my way to the car. I sat in the seat with the AC going while I drank the water and then finally felt OK to drive. I got home, took my anxiety meds, and then crashed for a couple of hours. Even after the nap I felt drained and confused. It had been so long since I had been overwhelmed like that I had forgotten what it felt like. I have become a pro at knowing when the slow times are to shop or go out to eat. The trick is knowing what day it is.

I am feeling better today. I still haven't done much - I didn't have enough focus to paint or read, I just played mindless games on the computer and watched TV. It's like my brain is still shaking even though my body has recovered.

So ... note to self ... double check what day it is before going out.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mourning and Fighting Paranoia

I am slowly crawling out of the physical health breakdown and subsequent mental health decline. The second Xolair shot is slowly making itself known and the hives have been waning - provided I don't get myself too stressed. Of course, with the weather being unseasonably hot - it "only" hit 106 today - just leaving the house to run an errand is a lot of stress on my body. Still, there has been progress.

And then a bombshell hit. I have never been overly affected by the death of a celebrity. Robin Williams' suicide was sad and I had a fit of depression for a couple of weeks, but usually I get sad and chat about it but they are basically strangers so it isn't immediate. But the suicide of Chester Bennington, one of the front men for Linkin Park, hit me really hard. His music has literally saved my life and it still keeps me together. His lyrics are brilliant and insightful and obviously came from the mind of someone who has been in the depths of addiction and depression. That, of course, is why his death hit not only me but a multitude of people who fight mental illness.

Yesterday I was so depressed and agitated that I couldn't stay in the house. I was on the verge of cutting myself, the depression was so bad. I have no hair to yank out and I cut my fingernails down to the quick so I wouldn't gouge my skin. I had no outlet for the mental pain. My first stop was the tattoo shop that I love. I wasn't really expecting anyone to have an opening on a Saturday, but I was still crushed that I couldn't get inked right then. The pain of the needles would help with the itch to hurt myself and I would be covering up one of the spots I had cut myself in the past (the inside of my forearms are already tattooed just for that reason). I made an appointment for Tuesday, even though I can't really afford it. I am justifying it as a medical expense. It is something I NEED to keep myself from something more drastic.

I drove around town a bit, stopped and got some lunch, and then walked around PetSmart and looked at the dogs and cats up for adoption. The heat finally got to me - I was feeling dizzy and nauseated from it - so I finally wandered home. I felt a bit better, although I rubbed the skin raw around the earrings in my right ear, and I watched a movie and had a light, cold dinner so I wouldn't make myself sick. But the whole time I had "Heavy" - one of Linkin Park's songs from their latest album - looping in my head and it was all I could do to not start crying.

Well, I stressed myself out way too much. By bedtime I was all out in hives again, my stomach was irritated, my sinuses were irritated and draining down the back, and I was utterly exhausted. I was so miserable I couldn't sleep and by midnight the draining sinuses and my upset stomach left me dry heaving for about 10 minutes. I ended up watching Netflix on my computer for a couple of hours and finally tried to sleep again. I dozed on and off until my med alarm went off at 9 a.m. I hurt so bad I took my 9 a.m. meds and my breakfast meds - which include my main pain med Tramadol - at the same time. Because I took the Tramadol so early, I ended up taking an extra one, spacing them out by 4 hours.

Well, I finally fell asleep and woke up about noon feeling a bit better. My stomach was still touchy but I managed breakfast. And I was feeling better than I should have been. I still felt sick, but I wasn't nearly as achy as I expected and I had more energy than I should have after not sleeping most of the night.

It was while I was taking my nighttime meds that it occurred to me that I likely felt better because I had taken 4 Tramadol throughout the day at set 4-hour intervals instead of just 3 spaced out to 6 hours. More pain meds = less pain. Yes, that should be obvious, but I am seriously paranoid about taking ANY medication. And I am especially paranoid of taking something like Tramadol. I had a scare last October prior to my hysterectomy where I ODed on the Tramadol because my instructions didn't say that I could only take 400 mg per 24 hours. I was in major pain and was taking 600 mg per day and it made me sick and almost landed me in the ER. Ever since I have taken 3 pills - 150 mg - per day and have been terrified to take any more than that.

I had to talk it out with my Mom to convince myself that I really should switch to the 4 pills a day instead of 3. It is still well below what I can take, but I just couldn't convince myself to change it. My Mom had to give me her Mother/Former RN look to get me to open the medicine cabinet and change my med planners. I am still having fits over it. Paranoia isn't easily overcome. And, of course, fighting the paranoia puts me back to having that itch to hurt myself. The good news is I found my worry stone and hopefully I can hold off until Tuesday and my new tattoo.

Wow, this is a long entry. I guess I just needed to get it all down in words. I am starting to have trouble typing because I'm getting shaky. Time to try that sleep thing again. And tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Little Things

The old saying says "don't sweat the little things". Well, I unfortunately don't have that choice. The littlest thing can bring everything crashing down.

I have had an absolutely miserable week, to the point that I couldn't even talk about it. All I could think or do was swear and try to keep myself from getting completely suicidal. I am hoping - knock on wood - that I am finally pulling out of it.

It started with one small thing: My second shot of Xolair, the new medication we are trying to control the chronic hives and other inflammation - was delayed a week because of the July Fourth holiday. The Xolair was definitely working; there was drastic improvement. But that fifth week brought the hives and the GI tract inflammation back in full force. With it, of course, came all the anxiety and hallucinations and everything else that comes with my being miserable and not able to eat or sleep well.

And then came the second little thing: I was so exhausted that I slept until almost 1 p.m. a couple of days after getting the injections. This meant that my midday medications, which are taken at different times depending on when I get out of bed and take my morning meds, would be taken at the same time as my afternoon anxiety medications, which are always taken at the same time. Well, you can guess what happened - I took the anxiety meds but not the others. Since my midday meds include Tylenol and Tramadol, this meant that by bedtime I was in major amounts of pain and couldn't figure out why. My nighttime meds, which also have Tylenol and Tramadol, hardly made a dent in the pain and the stress on my body had me vomiting and breaking out in major hives. I had to take extra Tramadol at about 2 a.m. - something I try to avoid at all cost - and I hardly slept, just dozed on and off. This made the next day even worse because I was beyond exhausted and any attempt at taking a nap was interrupted by major itching, muscle spasms, or vomiting.

Well, I'll just say that it has taken days for things to finally get almost manageable. I am still waiting for the Xolair to get back into my system enough to take the hives down again. They are waning, but I still smell like a mix of Benedryl cream and hydrocortisone lotion. The pain is down enough that I can at least function and the depression is manageable again. I even convinced myself to get the paints out today and I worked on a project I've been wanting to get done.

But the takeaway from this is that my life is just miserable. I hate saying that, let alone putting it in words, but it really is. My physical and mental illnesses work together to keep me from getting anywhere. More old saying: Nothing lasts forever, things will get better, etc. Bullshit. When you have a chronic illness or a mix of chronic illnesses, things really do last forever. Yes, they can try to stabilize things, but it just takes a little thing to throw all the progress in the trash. I am right back to screaming at the heavens and asking why the fuck I was given all of this. It is really hard to not be suicidal when you just can't see an end to the pain, the confusion, the stress, the paranoia, the depression, the anxiety ... the whole fucking mess.

I am holding on. It helps to paint again, to put that color on a canvas and make them swirl and dance together. I have a painting on my computer desktop that a friend - I don't remember who - posted on Facebook. It says "I'm going to make everything around me more beautiful - that will be my life." I am clinging to that. I am looking at a streak of green paint on my wrist that somehow escaped the hand washing and it almost makes me smile. And that almost is better than nothing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Well, it has been several months since my therapist of 5 years left the area. I tried a couple of new people, but they didn't quite mesh. And so I have let the therapist search slide. I'm not sure if that is good or bad.

I have been doing a lot of self searching and self discovery. I have also been able to get out in public a bit more. I am widening my comfort zone to beyond the walls of the house, which is a good thing. Overall I've been doing OK. Yes, I had a meltdown at the tail end of the family reunion, but that was because my comfort zone was "invaded" by children and other people. It was WONDERFUL having them here, but it left me with no way out. The meltdown really wasn't unexpected. And I have been physically sick - a cold that was probably carried by one of the kids - and that puts me on edge. But I keep telling myself I'm doing OK.

Unfortunately, without a therapist who really knows me, I have no idea how to check if I really am OK or if I am just trying to be. I also missed my monthly appointment with my psychiatrist because it fell right when my cold was the worst. And so now I sit and drive myself crazy trying to determine if I'm really OK or I'm lying to myself about being OK. Yes, I can go from being OK to not being OK just by stressing over it. Let's hear it for an anxious, overly analytical brain.

I feel like I'm under pressure, like I used to feel when I was on a hard deadline. I keep getting anxious about not having my bedroom shelves rearranged yet or not posting here on the blog or doing a video blog with my new webcam (it finally came). Even right now I feel like I HAVE to type in this blog entry and post it because I haven't in a while and I just have to keep current. I keep telling myself I am not under any deadline for any of it, but my brain doesn't listen.

At this point, I don't know if searching for a new therapist would help or hurt. If I can find someone compatible, I will still have that "getting to know you" period where things are awkward. And if I start the search again, I will have just one more thing to feel pressure about. Ugh! I'm stressing just thinking about it.

And now I have the Queen song running through my head. At least it's a good song.