Archive for October, 2011

Fleeting self confidence

Posted in anxiety disorders, mental illness, panic disorder with tags , , , , on October 31, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

I suppose low self esteem is more a personality disorder than mental illness, but it’s all relevant, is it not? And I know my low self esteem is directly tied into traumatic experiences as a kid, my social anxiety, and my panic attacks. So I’m going to go ahead and ruminate a bit on this topic,since at least to my emotionally wonky mind, it seems to correlate.

I do NOT understand for the life of me why it is that if I get dressed, slather on war paint, do my hair, and am feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof while at home…

WHY DOES ALL THAT CONFIDENCE SEEM TO VANISH THE INSTANT I GO OUT THE DOOR?????

Seriously, what is it about going “out there” that is my undoing?

If I had NO self esteem, then even at home I would feel cruddy about myself, right?

The simple answer,of course, is that people can be cruel and judgmental and the world is a cold callous place. It stands to reason that the instant I enter “out there” my wall of confidence starts to crumble. Within the walls of my crypt, I am a goddess. Outside them, I am whatever preconceived notion, bias, or mood every person I encounter chooses to employ. Some people do not employ the “live and let live” philosophy. They feel obligated to voice their opinions by staring, pointing, snickering, making snotty comments, and sometimes being even more nasty.

I suppose the argument could be made that if I were a stronger person, then none of that would affect me.

But I am a strong person, hella strong, in fact.

I am not, however, made of Teflon, and things cling to me.

At home, I feel very good about myself, very confident, very “wow, I’m awesome”. I leave and suddenly all the nagging self doubt sets in and all it takes is one person to look at me “wrong” and my paranoia and panic kick in and I “know” that they were thinking bad things about me. This can all likely be tied to the torment I suffered as a teenager in school but that’s another post entirely.

I’d really like to know why, at 38 years old, I still crumble in the face of social anxiety. And just being near other beings that breathe causes me social anxiety. I am horribly uncomfortable with people, never sure of their true feelings or motives or if they want something from me. It all leads to panic of epic proportions and I do choose to self isolate. It’s like wearing steel toed boots for your job and they’re clunky and pinch your toes. Are you gonna leave them on when you get home? Hell no. Well, social interaction for me is like those steel boots. If I don’t have to wear them, then I choose my comfy safe shoes. Is it avoidance or is it self preservation so long as I am able to interact enough to accomplish the things I need to for my situation in life?

I really hate the term anti-social. I’m a friendly, polite, decent person. I am not anti social.

I prefer to think of myself as selectively social.

It helps to feel confident when interacting with others.

But how can you if the very act of interacting with others strips away your confidence and sets off every paranoid insecurity you have?

If I ever write my auto-biography…

it will be called Catch 22 from Hell.

‘Cos that’s what my life is.

Aftermath

Posted in anxiety disorders, cyclothymia, depression, mental illness, mood disorders, panic disorder with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

I opted to indulge in some sort of Halloween type activity for my kid instead of staying in moping tonight. It was, as I predicted, a nightmare for me. And she was tired and fussy so she didn’t really have fun, either, all the activities were way over her age range. I mean, they made you play games to win candy. She’s two. She knocked one kid over, stole candy from another, and spilled some lady’s soda, and the lady was not nice about it even tho my stepmother gave her money to replace it. All the people and noise and activity, I was starting to come undone in spite of my Xanax. I am easily over stimulated and this was just…off the charts.

I was never so glad to come home in my life.

Now I am jumpy and unsettled and my mind is spinning even though every fiber of my being is completely drained and just wants to assume the fetal position and surrender to the nothingness of sleep.

My mood has also crashed,in addition to the anxiety and sensory overload.

My counselor told me I have to keep myself busy because my mood in the evening correlates to me missing my husband and being lonely.

I wonder if she has ever actually dealt with clients who have MOOD SWINGS.

There have been perfectly happy times in my life where I would have sudden mood shifts and circle the drain.

It’s called CYCLOTHYMIA.

My moods are crashing during the evening because the dr has me taking the stabilizer at bed time and by evening, it’s pretty much worn off. The dose needs to be spread out more. DUH.

They keep telling me that I have to fight the urge to avoid and isolate.

So I keep pushing myself to just face the anxiety and  mood swings and deal.

Except their way usually results in me having a mini meltdown and spending several days trying to regain my equilibrium.

Sometimes, it is good to push yourself, to show the depression and panic that they are not in control.

And sometimes, it’s just as good to accept that you feel the way you do and bide your time until it passes.

And ya know what else? My husband abandoned me and our child, and if I need to mourn that and feel pissy and bitter and weepy, well, isn’t it healthy to process your emotions rather than bottle them up and deny them?

Earlier, I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof, was actually getting a kick out of people gawking at me in my Halloween costume.

But I over estimated my ability to handle too much stimuli and now I am going to be paying for it tonight.

And I overestimated myself because all this professional advice is pretty much a crock of shit because it’s used as a blanket therapy and I’m sorry, I am an individual, with individual needs.

So…even if I do say fuck it and curl up into the fetal position…I’m not gonna waste an iota of time feeling crappy about it.

It was an old therapist who told me it was sometimes ok to just accept how you are feeling and ride it out.

Seems every few years therapy methods change and how the hell can anyone ever know what the right thing to do is when even the professionals can’t be consistent.

All I know is I am still on overload and I really just need to breathe and accept that I am emotionally bankrupt right now. I tackled my panic and went through with my  plans and now I am paying the price for it.

But what would the professionals care about the cost to me for their stellar advice. It’s not like they have to walk in my shoes.

 

 

Why I <3 Xanax

Posted in anxiety disorders, mental illness, panic disorder with tags , , , , , , , on October 30, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

I read a lot of blogs, read the comments, and I see how some people have such a hard time with the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, drugs used to treat anxiety and panic. Then you get the commenters who can’t wait to jump on that particular bandwagon and eschew the evils of benzos,period. Oh, sure, they will say they have their place and it should only be short term until you LEARN better ways of coping with panic, but their disdain is not even thinly veiled. I don’t know if doctors overuse this class of drug or not. I DO KNOW that a lot of manipulative people worthy of an Oscar go into the doctor’s office pleading stress and anxiety to get such drugs, even though they have no such issues whatsoever. This combined with the fact that benzos are indeed very addictive have lead to the whole class of drugs getting a bad name without serious regard to what a lifeline they are to certain people who really truly need and benefit from them.

So, since everyone else gets to spout off about the evils of drugs such as Xanax, I would like to present a different point of view and defend benzodiazepines.

I have taken xanax off and on for about 18 years. I have tried klonopin, ativan, buspar, seroquel, all of which made me too lethargic and loopy to function yet did nothing to quell my panic or anxiety. I have tried hypnosis, light therapy, color therapy, aromatherapy, sound therapy, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy. NONE of it helped.

Xanax is my lifeline.

The last time I had some professional lecture me about the evils and that I had to learn to live without it, well, I ended up in a psychotic paranoid state that pretty much destroyed my marriage and made my cyclothymia and depression a hundred times worse.

TWO 0.5 mg Xanax, and I was out of my paranoid everyone-is-out-to-get-me mind frame, LIVING my life again for the first time in months.

No one will ever convince me that this is  a bad thing or that Xanax is a bad drug.

Every time I go off the xanax, I end up in such a state that I am borderline hospital-ready.

So ya know what? I have no problem living on a low dose for the rest of my life so long as I NEVER have to go back to that scary psychotically paranoid place.

Yes, Xanax withdrawal sucks. This is why you taper off, same as you do with certain anti-depressants.

But I have quit Xanax cold turkey three times, and it was NEVER as bad as when the doctor told me to quit taking Effexor abruptly and I began to have visual and auditory hallucinations and slept with a knife under my mattress for two weeks because I was convinced someone was trying to kill me.

If one more person gives me a “helpful” lecture on the power of positive thought, keeping busy, retraining my brain, or any of that other sunshine vomiting crap, I am going to have to put a hex on them. Until you have walked in my shoes, don’t pretend to have all the answers because I am not you, you are not me, and what works for you may not work for me and vice versa. It is one thing to share your own experiences honestly, but to jump up on a soapbox and declare that what worked for you is The Right Way is arrogant and a little cruel. (And it is certainly going to make me think twice before ever commenting again, lest I come across as condescending and know-it-all-y.)

It is also ignorant to assume that everyone wants a fix in a pill therefore they haven’t exhausted other options rather than the so called quick fix. I have tried EVERYTHING.In fact, when I first went in 18 years ago seeking help and they started slapping on these diagnostic labels on me ,insisting I needed pills, I held out and insisted I just wanted talk therapy. But when that failed to make things improve, I realized that I had a legitimate conditon and if pills would help,so be it. To date, the only pill that ever did more good than harm is Xanax.

The insane thing would be rejecting the ONE thing that does work simply because a faction of people have abused the drug and another faction see it as the devil. My estranged husband used to work in a rehab center and he saw the worst of Xanax addiction and spouted off about it incessantly, as if he were an expert and the drug should be banned all together. He even got a bit self righteous when told I was going back on the drug.

Then he saw what ONE little dose did to quell my panic and paranoia and his opinions changed drastically.

Much like morphine used to treat the pain of cancer treatment and such, if you have exhausted all other options and have the type of panic/anxiety disorder that I have, Xanax is a legitimate treatment. I do not like it because it makes me high. It does not make me feel super confident. It does not give me false bravado. It just puts my anxiety ridden paranoid mind back into the even keel most people start with. If any of the other drugs did the same thing, without turning me into a sleepy lethargic zombie, I would have the same feelings for them. But with me, only Xanax has ever had the “more benefit than side effect” factor for me.

And wanting a medication that works yet allows you to remain functional is not a sign of dependence,it is a sign of intelligence.

It has always been my fondest dream to get to a point in my life where I don’t need ANY of these pills.

But, allowing others to bully me into going off my meds because they knew  a better way has never turned out well for me. As it turns out, they only think they are experts. Even the so called experts with the alphabet soup beside their names can only know what they are taught and learn from experience. They will NEVER be an expert on me, because they do not live with me. I do. I know myself well. I should be allowed to say, “This works best for me” without feeling like a sleazy drug seeking junkie asking the doctor to prescribe crack cocaine.

Other than cotton mouth, I have never had a single side effect from Xanax. That is so rare with psych meds, that I would have to be insane to want to trade it for something that has ten side effects and doesn’t even help my problem.

Benzos are not inherently evil, especially if you find the right one that proves to be your savior, as I have. It is not fair that a bunch of buzz seeking drama queens and pill pushing doctors have illegitimized what is a wonderful medication for a very life disrupting disorder.

I don’t mean to sound bitchy,at all, but I get very uneasy when I see people trashing what has proven to be a sanity saving drug for me. I respect that perhaps they or someone they know had a bad experience with it and they are entitled to their opinion, but it never hurts to see things from both sides of the fence. And on my side of the fence, Xanax is the lifesaver being tossed out into the stormy sea to rescue me from drowning in my own paranoid psychosis of panic and anxiety.

Diagnostics-guest post by Becca

Posted in depression, mental illness with tags , on October 29, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

This is a post written by my friend Becca, whom I have never met face to face, but have been very good friends with for nine or so years on line. She is the longest relationship I have ever had with any entity drawing breath. We have been through a lot of this mental stuff together and we continue to struggle, together. This is her story,in her words, in its entirety. Please understand how hard it is for Becca to put things into words and express herself. That makes this post even more amazing because it took courage for her to sit down and write this.

———————————

Diagnostics- guest contribution post by Becca

As I sit here today, writing these words, I have Guns N Roses Sweet Child of Mine on repeat, the guitar solo and build up from the drums at the beginning of the song sends my creative flair into a panic and it gives my brain the thrust I need to write. Which I suppose may seem strange to some as it is much harder to concentrate when there are too many distractions, but that that is just me, and this is my story.

I don’t have an official diagnosis, I hail from the UK and unless you are naked and cuffed yourself to the street light, and have painted yourself red with the words” take me now Satan, here is my offering” the National Health Service or NHS do not deem you insane or depressed to any degree. What I did get was an appointment with a psychiatrist at 18 years old after feeling incredibly low and losing all touch of reality and living within my room and myself since I was 13 or so. I was not considered “normal” by my families standards because I preferred my own company, listened to rock music, and my only friends existed inside a hard drive, and as you all know, internet people aren’t real at all.

So I met with the head of the psych dept at my local hospital,  bearing in mind I am only 18, but by then I am legally an adult and should know my own mind and feelings. I sat down with her, I talked to her which is something I find incredibly hard to do, and she says to me. ” You know what I think? I feel that you are still a teenager” (Well Duh.. the teen in my age kinda gives that away) “And you have teenage problems and eventually you will grow out of them”.

I cannot begin to tell you just how angry, or confused, or annoyed or upset I was. The reason I can’t tell you is because I don’t understand human emotion. I don’t understand how they work or why or how to control them. Just recently I had so many things going on inside me that I didn’t know what I felt, this is why the majority of the time I prefer to sleep my life away. In doing so I feel nothing, and no one can hurt me.

I have somehow managed to block alot out of my life. I can’t remember alot from my childhood, I probably couldn’t tell you what I did last week. This could be because I genuinly don’t want to remember or because of the medication that I take that happily send me into sedation each night. For you see even though I do not have an official diagnosis my Dr did put me on medication and I had to fight for that. I am, however, rather naughty and am not completely honest. I struggle to find the words and speak up for myself, I am naturally submissive and agreeable. In most cases I need to take something I have pre-written and give the the Dr, I can’t even read it to him.

I have done some incredibly dangerous and stupid things in order to try block my mind out. I have no idea how or why I am alive today, desperation truly is a lethal tool. There is a fine line between survival and desperation, and when I crossed that line and I had to survive, for some reason I chose to live. Ironic. One minute my brain is filling my head with thoughts of suicide, and the feeling that I am no use to anyone, who would miss me?, then the next when I am finally staring down the barrel of the gun, one more pill was my trigger, I called my brains bluff and this time is was He who was scared. Not me.

I should explain, for a long while I believed my brain was a separate entity, He answered to the name of Brian, and while I am female, my brain was male, and as hard as I tried and believe me I tried to explain to the Dr that my brain was trying to kill me, alas still I remained UN-diagnosed. Though, the medication I was put on did shut him up and he’s not around so much these days. But I can’t help but wonder if that’s only because these pills I take kill off brain cells and reduce me to a coma like state, or if I am in fact healing.

But there is no healing as such with Depression, there is survival or descent, it is so hard to have an illness that means you are fighting yourself. If I had cancer It would be simpler to explain, its obvious you are fighting the cancer cells. But those of us that live with Depression, we have to fight the darkness that is ourselves day in and day out, and sometimes after living in Hell for so long, you begin to question what is the point?.

I am not saying that there is no hope, there is always hope and it can come in the tiniest of forms. Sometimes when I am low and Morgueticia is low, we will just sit at the computer on messenger, and nudge each other and say nothing, sometimes saying nothing at all can mean more than saying a million words. I met Morgueticia about 9 years ago, she and I are each others light. We became friendly after the loss of someone equally as close to us as we are to each other now, and even though we have only just re-connected after about 2 years, we still managed to pick up where we left off. That there is my ray of hope. Knowing that no matter what hand I am dealt she will be there at the end of it.

A friend once told me that we are on the edge of a cliff, and you can choose to either fly or fall which should we do today? So I ask you, what will you do today?

Panic won’t kill you…it does much,much worse

Posted in anxiety disorders, mental illness, panic disorder with tags , , on October 29, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

I am so sick of mental health professionals insulting my intelligence by pointing out, “A panic attack will not kill you, you know it will not kill you, you have survived many,many of them, and you know,logically, that it is not going to result in your death.”

DUH DERP DUHR.

Prior to the diagnosis of panic disorder,  there were times I did fear that whatever was happening to me was going to kill me, because when your heart gets to beating that fast and you gasp for air and your stomach cramps up so bad you double over, well, those symptoms would alarm pretty much anyone.

Once a name was put to these episodes, I knew that they were not going to kill me.

There is, however, a fate much, much worse than death.

Panic attacks put you in a socially awkward position when the symptoms manifest in gross, embarrassing physical ways. My body seems to internalize stress, which leads to all sorts of unsavory digestive and stomach issues. I’ve learned to live with the knot in my gut and I get very nervous when too far from a bathroom. The doctors just tell me it’s how I’ve learned to handle stress and I have retrain my brain and body to process it in a more healthy way. Well,I am 38 and I have tried with all my might, but my mind and body absolutely will not cooperate with this retraining program.

You go into a panic inducing situation,like a first date, thinking, Okay, this will not kill me, I can do this, I am strong, I can survive a million panic attacks…

Then you have to lean over the side of the boat to toss your cookies and realize the chances of that good looking guy asking you on a second date are pretty much nil.

You want to go out to the bar with your friends and have a good time, and you work up the courage even though you are sweating buckets and have the wild eyed look of a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car…You tell yourself,okay, I’m doing it, I’m gonna have a good time…only you end up spending your night on the toilet with stomach cramps and other unsavory issues.

You feel great about getting that job interview and you are looking sharp and feeling determined…only by the time you are face to face with the interviewer, you have pit stains, your make up is streaked from sweat, your hand is trembling for the hand shake, and when put on the spot with questions, you stammer and shift uncomfortably as your stomach churns until you have to politely excuse yourself then RUN to the nearest bathroom…realizing that you just pretty much blew that interview.

No, panic won’t kill you at all.

But it will wreck every aspect of your life in ways that you never quite recover from.

It wrecks your self esteem when you are giving it all you’ve got to overcome the panic and still failing.

Meanwhile, worse than being dead is, having to live with reputation as, “That lady who freaked out and threw up on my shoes during a job interview.”

There are times I think death would be preferable.

 

You are Not Alone, depression just wants you to believe you are-guest post by “Lily”

Posted in depression, mental illness with tags , , , on October 28, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

The whole idea behind me doing this blog was to make the focus mental illness, not myself, not my personal dramas, but about the illnesses themselves and how they impact day to day life. So I started talking to what few people I know on line who have similar issues and asked if they would want to do a guest contribution to this blog by telling their story. “Lily” is the first to step up and e-mail her story to me. I have not changed a word, these are all her words in their entirety. The only thing I want to add is SHE IS A HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT RIGHT. Depression does want you to think you are all alone, it wants you to feel so desolate and freakish that you isolate yourself into a corner where escape becomes an unlikely thing. I just got out of that place myself, a place I now realize I put myself into by allowing the depression to convince me I was a freak and should be alone.

Anyone who happens to read this blog and should wish to contribute their own story can feel free to contact me via comment.-Morgueticia

Lily’s story============================================

“You are not alone… and I mean that in the most non-creepy way possible.”

By Lily

I’ve been “blogger friends” with Morgueticia for a while now, and she’s known me under a few different pseudonyms and blogs. When she asked me if I’d be interesting in contributing to her Mental Health Mausoleum I was honoured and excited to write my first post.

When it came down to it though, it was harder than it sounded.

Where to start? On a new blog, under a new name where nobody knows my little laundry list of diagnoses, failed medications, symptoms and circumstances.

I don’t want to bore you all with my specific story and background information – this isn’t my blog, it’s about mental illness and my experience with it, not me. If that makes sense. Suffice to say, my current working diagnoses are clinical depression and anxiety.

There are tons of topics I’d love to write about here and I’m sure I will eventually. But, for my first one, I decided I wanted to talk about communication.

Mental illness thrives on isolation. It loves to make you think that the things you are experiencing are unique to you – not in the “I’m so special” kind of way, but in the “I’m such a freak and I can never tell anyone about this” kind of way.

You know what the one thing that has helped me the most is? Finding out that I’m not alone. I’m not a freak, that there is a name for what I have, and there is hope for living a fulfilled and maybe even happy life.

Of course it just isn’t a realistic option in today’s society to go around telling everyone and their dog “Hey! Nice to meet you! I’m mentally ill!” and that’s not what I’m trying to say you should do. But your close family and friends, the ones you trust, should know. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can relate go online and find somewhere you can talk about it – like on blogs like this. 🙂

That can turn unhealthy too – there is often a strangely competitive feeling like “you’re that sick? Oh yeah? Well, I’m THIS sick!” and if you start feeling like that – whether with someone in person or someone online – WALK AWAY. Or click away, or whatever it is when you’re on a computer. You know what I mean.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to get to in my usual rambling and inefficient way, is don’t feel like you need to suffer alone. Talk to your doctor. Find a counsellor. Don’t like or trust that one? Try a different one. Mental illness loves to make you think that you’re isolated and have no hope of ever getting out of it. IT’S LYING.

There are two moments that stick out to me that I’d like to tell you about.

I was talking with a friend I was getting to know better, and I made a comment – in a joking sort of way – that sometimes I just wished I could end it all. He asked me if I really felt that way, and for a panicked moment I realized I had revealed too much but it was too late to go back now, and I said that yes, I did. Instead of running away screaming he calmly asked what I was taking. I asked him what he meant, and no, I wasn’t on drugs or something. He looked surprised and asked “You’re not on antidepressants?”

Until that moment I had never thought that I needed to be. Not that I wasn’t depressed – I was fucking miserable. Every day I wanted to die, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. But I had convinced myself that I was just some sort of weirdo who couldn’t handle normal stress like everyone else, and I needed to shut up and bear it. That was the first light-bulb-over-the-head moment of “you mean… I don’t HAVE to feel this way????”

***Not that going on antidepressants just automatically fixes everything. But still. There was hope. I wasn’t a freak, I was clinically depressed.

The other moment was when I was starting to see my current counsellor. I was filling her in on my whole back story and everything I felt was relevant, and something came up about self harm. I said “oh no, I’ve never been into cutting,” and she replied that wasn’t what she had asked. The truth is, the summer before I had been biting. Biting my own arms so hard that I had bruises up and down my forearms so deep and dark that I had to wear long sleeves or fingerless gloves for most of the summer. I hadn’t told anyone. I had never heard of anyone biting themselves. I thought if anyone knew – even a trained counsellor – they would think I was so strange and disgusting.

But she had asked me a direct question and I didn’t want to lie, and I figured maybe it would be a good test to see if I should keep seeing her, so I told her about the biting. She didn’t look surprised or disgusted like I thought she would – in fact, she just nodded and said that was quite common.

I almost laughed out loud. This thing I was so afraid to tell her was… common? I was so relieved. I wasn’t disgusting. I needed help, sure, but I didn’t deserved to be ostracized and cut off from the rest of society like I had convinced myself would happen if anyone found out.

I know when you’re kids teachers and kids programs tell you everyone is a unique and special snowflake and yes, yes you are. But sometimes it’s nice to know that some things AREN’T so unique. That other people have gone through this and survived. We think we’re all alone but the thing I’m learning is, there’s a lot more of us than we think.

Depression is not funny–but this girl’s take on it was a little funny

Posted in depression on October 28, 2011 by morgueticiaatoms

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html