Sorry guys, I kind of left you hanging after I wrote the last blog post, with its whole ‘I don’t know what to do with my life’, ‘anxiety rules me’ and ‘maybe it’s just better if I -‘
The good news is I finally went to a doctor and got on some medication. How did that happen so quickly? It took me two years to muster up enough courage to nag someone to drive me to the doctor’s office and in about 10-15 minutes of seeing my new GP I get the medication I wanted and desperately needed for all those years.
The medication is Aropax/ Paxil/ Paroxetine, an SSRI anti-depressant, also used to treat anxiety. I was so anxious when talking to my doctor I couldn’t explain everything, but I said far more than I have ever said to a doctor when I had to see them alone. I had my iPad resting on my lap as I was skimming through a rather detailed list of mental health problems I had written down. It was all written down so formally it still makes me chuckle.
I didn’t really want to write another post until I was two weeks into this medication regime – it’s only been five days. But I have been struggling to know what to focus my mind on now. I still have am very much into my special interests but I’m also feeling rather skint, though to others I’m not. For the non-Australians/ British, skint just means being low on money. Everyone in Sydney seems to be saying it. I picked it up from my Funeral For a Friend forum buddies and obsessively watching Doctor Who and Torchwood. Usually, I read a couple of MARVEL and Star Trek fact files but I’ve had to cut back and just make do with the comic books I have now, which is a lot. Maybe when I feel better I’ll do more reading. I want to read all the movie tie-in books the the original Stargate motion picture, and possibly a few books from the TV series.
When I started taking Aropax I felt like it was only half working. I’m still taking a very low dose, but it feels like I still get some anxiety, depression and even the higher moods. I’m still a bit hyper today but not ridiculously though. A few days on I started to get the lethargic and apathetic feeling (to be honest, I felt like I didn’t want to be around people at all – which makes me worried because SSRI’s are known to make people feel homicidal – or I should really stop taking what I read on the internet seriously) but then I countered this by taking a 2000mg fish oil supplement, which since taking Ritalin has given me an awake stimulant feeling. I’ve been taking it for a few years to help me be more motivated and focused in place of taking stimulant medication. It works just as well, albeit with a shorter half-life but it doesn’t make me manic or rapid cycling.
That brings up another point. I no longer think I have bipolar disorder. My reasoning is that anti-depressants seem to be doing their job without throwing me into mania. Yes, I have had a few symptoms that make me think of mania, at least hypomania, but I’m still on just half a pill so a few of the old mood symptoms could be bleeding through. My theory is all along I have been dealing with a hormone imbalance caused by my time on the birth control pill that led to the development of PMDD (severe pms, dyphoria, suicidal feelings etc) and when I went on Ritalin a few years after going off the pill, it just completely upset my neurochemical balance, which produced manic symptoms everytime I took the pill. See, I thought because I had motivation, could focus, remember things better, and gave me this sudden desire to talk to people and I did it so well I was like a new person, that it was treating the ADHD and this is how most people with ADHD responded to the medication. I was wrong. I had incredible delusions and over confidence, on a single 10mg dose. Even on a 5mg dose.
Then came experiencing a trauma which completely messed with my brain producing all too common symptoms of PTSD. Once I was asked ‘how do you know it was PTSD?’ Well, the flashbacks of the trauma was a dead giveaway. I started to hallucinate when I walked in public. I remember thinking I was covered in blood. I remember seeing the faces of my attackers on the faces of strangers. I remember feeling threatened by any stranger on the street. And then the whole Aurora shooting thing happened which made the media make some very terrible accusations against autistic people and I got so paranoid toward people I thought they could tell I was autistic and were basically going to attack me because of this fact. So, I tried my best to suppress my autistic symptoms. Then I started to get obsessed about the autistic community fighting back against these accusations and during the obsessive-thought spiral I got trolled by a friend and their friends, and this begun the first of many friendship ties being cut to save me going off on some strange manic rant at them. It probably had to do with my PMDD too but since I developed PTSD I could no longer suppress the rage I felt about so many things and toward so many people. There are some people I miss that I know will never forgive me, and there are others I feel better about no longer having in my life. Both parties actually never gave me a chance to explain myself and then when I tried to said I was making excuses or just labeling myself.
PTSD also made it impossible to stay on Ritalin. Within an hour of taking the pill I would be thrown into impulsive behaviour and was now becoming depressed after the ‘mania’ crashed. I used to take more Ritalin to counter this and my depression never got that bad while Ritalin was in my system, but after I went off that’s when the occasional brief but very intense suicidal feelings started. But I started to just accept it and go through it because the worse the depression the higher a ‘mania’ was going to be.
So, now I’m on anti-depressants I’ve not had serious suicidal feelings or a panic attack, though some anxiety and depression remains. When I first started Aropax and felt the milder anxiety and depression I kept waiting to lose control of myself but it never happened, and it made me feel uncomfortable. I had to really talk myself through the process. “Look, you either get a little anxiety/depression or you get it so bad you either feel like your heart will explode or feel a desperate need to end your life.”
Now comes the testing phase. Time to test myself and put myself in situations that would usually trigger those symptoms of anxiety and depression. The big one is testing how I deal with change. I remember being on Aropax back in 2009 and no longer being that bothered by change. So far I think it’s too early to tell. But my one obstacle to overcome is getting to The Basement in Sydney in mid July. Normally, having to go to that venue would give me agonizing panic attacks and visions of my death happening over again in many ways, that I would just decide not to go. Basically, what happened last time. So, if I can finally go to music venues I’ve not been to before with only the slightest bit of nervousness then this medication would have been worth it.
The next test is overcoming intrusive and obsessional thoughts. This is when I start to become vague because the nature of these thoughts are disturbing. I know I’m not alone in experiencing them but I don’t want people who know me to think I think like this at all. They are thought intrusions anyway. I have no choice in the matter. They have at times completely taken over my life so I’ve forgotten what is most important, hence the blog post title. I have put them before friends and family and even getting help for my mental health issues. If anti-depressants don’t shut them out completely I’m going to have to take steps of my own to overcome them. Problem is they have helped me deal with anxious and depressed thoughts. But once I realise I no longer need to have this sanctuary of sorts to go to every time I become anxious or begin to doubt myself, then I will no longer see the need to revisit these thoughts.
Lastly, there’s my financial instability which is just a supreme amount of anxiety over not seeing a figure in my bank account that makes me feel secure. Say I was in a really good mood and you asked me for $300. That would make me panic, resist, avoid and if I ended up being convinced to pay you I would feel like I was manipulated, and that doesn’t help my ego. I would then storm through the streets wanting to tear them up and envisioning myself attacking people. That’s how bad my anxiety got. I’d also spend a few hours later feeling extremely suicidal. I could never do it though, even when I was sure I had to do it I could never do it. I had a plan too.
By the way, the anti-social thoughts are intrusive. I would rather go through the agony of seeing them in my head to save me from putting them into practice. I’d even inflict pain on myself before I touch another person. I’ve never really lost that much control of myself to think I could be a danger to other people. I have some very strong willpower or whatever the scientific definition is.
Currently, that figure in my account is the lowest it’s been in a long time so I’ve cut back on food, I’ve stopped buying my comic book fact files and have to put all plans to buy comic books and video games on hold. I’ve not had a panic attack though, except late at night when my little 10mg dose wears off. I just really need to learn that the figure in my account is not going to get lower and lower until nothing is left, that I just need to work out ways to manage my money better, and if I do run into problems I’m probably not going to be thrown out onto street. It’s actually making me nervous about going overseas. I want to go for the experience and to know that I can, but I don’t want to spend my money on all the usual stuff people do when they go overseas. It’s easy for me to be non-materialistic especially when I stop being impulsive. So, let’s hope these meds just keep on working.
What’s most important is my mental health begins to heal and I slowly let myself out in the world again. The world is more a danger to me than I am to it though. At times I feel like I’m not going to get better and I don’t have a future. There’s just so much to fix. There are physical health problems as well as mental. I’ve never really had a job too so I have to gain some experience when I am mentally well enough to do that. Then I’ve got to become more independent. It all just seems like too much. But this is going to be a slow process. I have to break everything up into steps. It’s a good thing I have excellent organisation skills.
All the things that have mattered the most to me I’ve got to put behind me, except for the band photography. I was able to do my photography without getting medical help but there was always the social issue. I may have made it worse by going on anti-depressants but at least no more band members I respect and look up to can’t see me in that manic speedy talker state again. But I will always do my band photography. It might have taken a grandiose delusion to make me commit to it again but now it’s taking realistic thinking to keep me doing it. It was a manic delusion that took me away from it in the first place. It really is where my future is heading. I’ve dedicated too many years to just pursue some other career. Even if I have just recently decided to focus on building my artistic skills again. That was also a given. I’ve been drawing since I was two, it was my semi-savant skill in primary school and I’m pretty good at it. I’m the type of art student who will finish my work early and go straight ahead with the few next lessons and refuse to listen to the teacher’s suggestion about how to fix up my work. It makes me sound like I’m the hardest person to work with. I’d take photography advice, maybe, just not when it comes to painting. Although I sound incredibly arrogant now I can at least admit to not being as good as many artistic people I know. I have this friend who sketches anyone from band members to sci-fi actors to anyone else she likes, and her drawings just blow me away. I don’t think I would ever have the patience to produce something that brilliant.
Is this blog post long enough yet? All you have to know about me is I’m doing much better on my anti-depressants and fish oil and I’m looking for ways to keep myself busy, while working on those areas in my life that usually had me paralyzed with fear or bedridden with depression. The next step might require going back on ADHD medication, something more slow release than what I was last on, that made me, for a want of a better word, manic. The psychiatrist I contacted has very expensive fees though so I may have to go back to my old psychiatrist, who basically refused to get me on anti-depression/anxiety medication or look into what my mood issues were about. But I’m taking that medication now and I really need is simple prescription of the many ADHD medications out there that I can try. For now though fish oil is doing a pretty bang up job.