Tuesday, October 19, 2010

De Activating

Since I went down on the remeron my anxiety/ocd has been cut by 90 percent. Maybe more. It's too soon to say exactly how this will pan out, but one thing is clear: the med I took to help me sleep, to make sure my mood stayed level and perhaps counteract some of the deep seated tension I know I still hold, that med turned my ocd on like a switch at doses over 15 mg. At 15, I feel sort of caffeinated, even after nearly five months on it. Taking lunesta to sleep every night the last few weeks. Seeing the psych tomorrow and asking about going OFF. But since I dropped my dose, a few days after that, tremendous relief.

Figure that shit out.

Yes I have life stressors that happened at the same time I went up on the dose. But it is remarkable to me how agitated I felt, and how easily that agitation became obsession. I mean some obsessional thinking every day for the last six weeks, now completely gone the last few days. Crazy. To give him credit, with my history of ssri's, the psych said it could happen. Tomorrow I find am asking questions.

I don't know if I even need to be on any anti depressant med. I was in need of help last spring, six, almost seven months with trouble sleeping most nights, a deep down body fatigue, in short, a milder form of depression than in my twenties. Then some depression end of May, nothing too serious, and some free anxiety, just a few days really, and I went right on the med. I'll never know what the summer would have been like without the med; it helped me sleep like crazy the first 3 months on it or so and that WAS very helpful, but I do know it ended up making the last few weeks very hard, and probably has been effecting me all summer.

That's all I can say right now; I got nothin else.

I am working through some hard shit, and hard shit is simply always hard. Doing a lot better the last few days though! Late, I'm tired. much love.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Activation

It's been a hell of a year. Well, a helluva last 10 months or so, with the last five having some banner scary moments.

It sucks but it's true. After months last winter, like six, of not getting enough sleep, of experiencing a new kind of depression for me, not dramatic, overwhelming, but mostly insomnia, early waking (five or six nights a week unless I took ambien) and then a bone deep fatigue, a constant feeling of being stressed as I was pushed, and I mean PUSHED, at work, home. Taking on much more responsibility at work, in fact, becoming a central figure in a large scale firestorm; realizing I was not now and maybe never am going to go to seminary (son in college, at the least); panicking about money (until my wonderful wife got a very good job); knowing my son was moving away to college...maybe the hardest piece of all of it.

Oh, and a six month short sale purchase and choosing to find a renter for our other house, which we did. Right now, I type on a counter top, long granite slabs, I imagine is worth more than my truck. We got a nice house at a great price.

Anyway, after months of that, not seeing a doctor about all of it and seeing a half incompetent therapist (not seeing that person anymore, and did not see her long)...it was the last day of school, near the end of may, depression hit me, some real free flowing anxiety. I had, in the months before, short pieces, meaning a few hours, of a very old, very awful obsession, one that has not haunted me since my early twenties. That began to perk up a bit more. So this May I did what I could: I got a new and better therapist, I saw a psychiatrist to check into the latest in meds. I don't think I'd had a free flowing panic attack in over twelve years.

The first med I tried, luvox, I had only been having anxiety issues for a couple of weeks; luvox sent my panic soaring, and as with other ssri's I tried in the past, it is so insidious it takes me a couple of days of thinking I'm just going crazy to realize the med is at fault. I came off that, but spent a few days after still pretty anxious (would not take any xanax; should have) and then the old obsession really parked itself with me. How horrible that was, driving home, feeling that old de realization thing surface after more than two decades.

Anyhow, I went on a different med, remeron, and it knocked me out so hard I slept like a rock, ten or eleven hours, for the first few weeks of summer. It seemed to stabilize my mood, my anxiety. I stayed on 15 mg., a small dose, all summer (and, and there was a lot of feeling work even then I needed to do; I guess this is my "mid life crisis;" so far much easier than my young life crises.)

When my son moved out in August, I was very, very sad for a couple of days, and then the depresssion came in. Awful. Not like my twenties, but more pain than I'd felt in a long time. My psych had been encouraging me to go up on the med anyway, so i did, to 30 mg. Truth is, it was so sneaky it took me five weeks to realize I was activating, having huge panic attacks which were getting slowly worse, not better, on the higher dose. I just went back to 15 earlier this week. Yes I left a message for the psych.

Why all this? Because the fact is, "they" really don't understand how these meds work, or why they don't work for some people, not yet anyway. It seems that meds (like all ssri's and remeron) which affect serotonin make me worse, though remeron did seem okay for a couple months at the low dose I'm trying again now. And my guess is the reason ssri's help so many with ocd (and thank God they do help) is that they lower anxiety deep in the brain, just as, somehow, they manage to raise mine!

All if it, I think, driven by trauma.

It's been a helluva month.

So now what?

Well, I crafted my own set of exposure exercises for a different, I will say milder, obsession some years ago and worked them with my old therapist (who, sadly, retired). And you know, that particular thing, after doing exposure with those thoughts for a while, mixed in with conventional therapy, that thing has not returned. I feel like I closed a mental door. So I could, and maybe will have to, create exposure scenarios for my current obsessional stuff. Thing is, I'm hoping at 15 mg., or even if I come all the way off the remeron in time, maybe, maybe, that shit will blow over. Exposure is not at all fun. It's hugging Satan to get saved.

But I may have to do it. It's so hard to know, because I've been activating (that's what they call it) for over a month. Even the psych missed it, because I went up on my dose at the same time my son left. I figured his leaving was the sole trigger. It was surely some of it! However, since I've gone back down on dose (Monday) my panic has diminished notably. Notably.

Underneath all of this, I know, so, so, so much emotion. That is what drives it all: fear, maybe over all; and sadness and anger, horror even, at having my son leave; the great, thick, emptiness my childhood left that he and my wife filled so poignantly almost 15 years ago now; my need to take even better care of myself, put some more stuff into that void!; adjustments, likely to be ongoing, as I continue in visible leadership at work. The empty nest, which is different but I think we'll survive. That is still a lot of shit. God I wish we had had more kids. We tried for a number of years. I wish it had worked.

I've been coasting for several years, just living, enjoying food, drink, simply living. It's been years and years since I "had" to go to the gym; I'm having to go now, two and reaching for 3 times a week, each time very helpful. Years since I felt gut wrenching panic, or the movement of very deep, powerful feelings, depression mixed into all of it. Or I might have had a day or two like that. But this, like driving on snow and breaking free...

But as my wife put so well: this is a different level of hell. And it is. I guess I haven't been "here" for more than a decade, maybe, really, since I met her, or very rarely only in those early days. But this is easier, even with the activiation!, than what I lived 15-20 years ago. Oh, those were dark years. Or the anxieties of my late teens, early twenties, longer ago than that! This is not that, at all. And I am functioning at a very high level, even with this, at work and (I hope) home.

For that, I'm grateful.

But it's hard. I don't have meetings like I did before we moved years ago. I realize, with my son leaving, I don't even have the the number or depth of friendships I need. I am, in short, often very lonely. It is why I moved out of the freaking mountains; closer to work, to humanity in all its absolute wonder. The mountains were gorgeous, but not good for that part of me that needs company, and that is a big part of me. (Thought they brought me in touch with a very wonderful family I plan to never leave).

I'm at work more days a week now. Do have a couple very "real" friendships, but when I come home to an empty house now, even for a couple of hours, it is very hard to separate that from the absolute EMPTY vacuum I grew up in. Empty. Separation anxiety my oldest, oldest, oldest fear. All the rest of my anxieties, including ocd, grew out of that childhood terror of being left alone. 19 months old, arm broken, in traction, and often alone for 20 fucking days. Then a home where neither parent was home much, or awake, or able to connect psychologically/emotionally when they were. My parents never touched me in a loving, nurturing, way.

You know, I forget who used to read this anonymous blog. Now, I am sure almost no one ever reads it or remembers it, but I wonder who will stumble across this new part? It's for the good. Mental health issues are real shit, man. Even for gifted, sensitive people like me.

I know how together I appear at work. Truth is, like Mr. Monk, I can zoom into the meeting, say just the right thing, impress everyone, and be anxious the rest of the time. But just for now. This too shall pass...it will indeed pass, and I will grow.

It's unfortunate, truly, that the meds I have tried that help many (so far, prozac, lexapro, paxil, luvox, remeron) have not been the magic bullet for me at all, in fact the opposite!! On the plus side, xanax works like an angel...a slightly tipsy angel, maybe, but it really, really works. I have taken hardly any all year (cept when I fly, when I load up on a milligram). I mean, apart from flying, I bet I've taken five or six milligrams in all these months, total; needed a lot more. But it works, and fast. Yes, I wish for, and may someday find, a better med; and surely, now that the medical community FUCKING ADMITS activation happens in some anxiety/ocd patients (who are not necessarily bipolar and don't have personality disorders) it may be in time they'll tailor meds for people like me. Shit that would rock.

But meds, at least the current crop, aren't a real cure for many or even most. It still takes cognitive tools and exposure work; it still takes, imho, lots and lots of feeling work, getting underneath to what is driving the ocd loop in the first place; ocd, if nothing else, must have energy to push it, and that energy is fear/feeling. And you know what, I'm doing the work. I'm good at that. I spent years in the gym doing cardio just for that reason (and hell I was in shape from 29 to 34). I'm going back to the gym now. Going to try some emdr when I get up to it with my new person. She keeps emphasizing attachment, opening up in my marriage, to friends, and that may be the greatest gold of all that we have on this earth. It's also more "advanced" than the gym, in a way. A new and blessed level for me to grow into.

There's a lot more treatment and understanding than twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Exposure therapy alone: powerful as hell, maybe the single most powerful thing I know for obsession. There's fucking parity laws, so I can see my therapist and psych for the same as any other co pay (in my twenties, first half of thirties, I paid out of pocket).

But of course, I've had depression too, and that's all about feeling work. Deep anger and sadness, coming out around the edges of depression, or in good hours, taking center stage completely, lots and lots of feeling. Even if that's hard, that's good. I would say more feeling than depression through all of it; pretty cool. I thank God for it.

***

You know, I'm a decent writer when I take the time to craft/edit, but that is not this time. This was one long, much needed share. It's surprising to me how very few people know what I've been going through. Like, I need to tell my brother for example. It's odd how private I became when the shit got hard in May. Becoming little. Little. Young where I don't talk about feelings because with my parents I could not, ever, do that thing. So, I'm doing it now.

Been writing poems again; has felt very soothing, very satisfying.

love to all, including me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

slogging

yes, still slogging. writing between classes, breaking through, the emotion under my skin like heavy water. doing okay, not seriously depressed, but riding the mix of depression and feeling.

the summer was hard some days, easy other days. i can remember one month I told my therapist I had only one hard weekend. in a month. then, my son moved out, the part of my job that is new started, and almost every day for the last five weeks has been something: anger, sadness, strong feelings I can hardly identify; or depression, some; or, worst of all because it gets me no place, obsession. I've wrestled with obsession this summer, a particular obsession, I have not struggled with since I was in my early twenties. not to the same degree, no. but a very old, very scary obsession.

so far mirtazapine 30 mg. only helps me sleep. it seemed to have a levelling affect on mood/anxiety early in the summer, now, hard to say.

I have xanax but almost never take it. when I do take it it helps a shitload.

I'm glad that obsession has been a small part of this compared to the old days, but hate every minute I spend in that junk. my psychiatrist (surprisingly to me) actually helped me a lot a couple days ago by reminding me with great authority: you will never, ever, ever go crazy. that will never happen. that, lowering an unconsciou anxiety, helped pull me out of several days of struggling with obsession. for that shit runs and feeds on fear (and any other feeling below the fear).

my regular therapist, a sweet person certainly, is using all the traditional tools; and I've told her, while traditional tools work for depression, while they work to get to and through the feelings beneath the ocd, nothing shuts ocd down like exposure work. learning to sit with the anxiety. you can't do much of any kind of other work when the obsessions are roiling in the mind. and roil they can.

there is an anxiety speciality center where I live and I have considered checking them out; groups maybe.

not much of a share, and I want everyone to know while the last five weeks have been hard, harder than all of the rest of this year before, I have good tools, tools, like working out, I could use more than I do, but tools i am using. I am talking to my wife. and every ounce of the pain, every angry minute, every hard day, moves me closer to a fuller and deeper wellness than I have ever known, than I had before this summer (and I have been doing well for years). that is the great truth: the process works, and it lasts.

more later, and love to all. back to class.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the late shift

sometimes, you want the anonymous blog.

I have been having trouble sleeping enough, falling asleep and some night staying asleep, since last fall when everything went nuts at work. I've been doing better, not using ambien much, making 30 pills stretch 3 months or close, but tonight, for some reason, I cannot sleep and I don't want to take anything.

I know writing will relax me. it always does.

my theory is actually this: since my ocd is under much better control, I am not really clinically obsessing, or at a low level anyway, the emotions I used to regulate with that disorder, or that used to be regulated, whatever, are springing out in new ways. trouble sleeping is the new thing. I don't have an egregious problem, I think, though I may have to talk to my doctor about better meds for it, hope not.

and I am exercising again, and feeling much other times. I can discuss parts of my childhood, and the associated feelings, in ways I could not before. I know I did the really hard work, the ass falling off work, in the early 90's when I had a series of major depressions. this, compared to that, is amateur. but it is real, and vibrant in a way those depressions were not. then, seriously depressed, I didn't even know why I was depressed, let alone connect it to childhood experiences.

now, I can see much more clearly. and it all makes pretty good sense, my life struggles in light of how I was raised and not raised. more on that later.

so, I'm doing okay, actually consider this an improvement and a time I am growing in my marriage, at work, and emotionally. I have set aside the idea of the priesthood for the next few years anyway as my son goes to school, maybe set it aside for good, I can't say, more on that later too. so spiritually I may not feel as strong, or consistent, or focused, but it seems in every other way I am growing, healing, even if right now I am up far too fucking late and need to go to sleep.

***

one thing did happen while I was out here, maybe an hour ago, wasting time in facebook. I found my high school girlfriend's page and picture. oh, gosh. what a story that is. we broke up over a teacher, my first mentor in literature, hitting on her and trying to date her; he was 20 years older. and I moved on, fast, to find another girl to lean on. but, what will I call her, Kathy? Kathy was awfully cool for a teenager. and I have to say, seeing a couple of pics of her, she must have sold her soul. she looks amazing, truly. it was bittersweet, that crooked smile. I can even now hear how she sounded.

we were together over 3 years. it has been so long now, more than 25 years ago, and she found a nice guy soon after and has been married to him since, has 3 boys, one just married! wow. but her family took such good care of me then, she feels even now like family, like a long lost sister (sort of). I don't have any actual exes on facebook and I like that; I don't think I'll ask to add her, who knows, but I'd like to email. I saw her before we moved north, around the time I got engaged to my wife.

anyway, yes, feelings there.

after I saw her, again more than ten years ago, when we had lunch before I moved north, I went through a few heavy days, and I remember thinking: we could not have worked out, the major depressions of my mid twenties would have been too much pressure. but you know, maybe, but estella, years around/with her, and then our disastrous marriage, were contributors to tha depression. kathy and I might have been okay; she would have loved me sincerely, I think.

sometimes, well, I don't know.

my marriage now is a pretty good one, our dating years were great, my wife and I continue to grow and she is educated, smarter, we share more interests than I think kathy and I could have. but damnit. how can she look better than she did 12 years ago? smiles...the camera maybe. I am very glad she is happy and has done so well. and we can never go back. I'll wait a bit until i can send her a nice, mellow message. I tend to spill my guts with old friends and sometimes freak them out, I think.

anyway, 30 years later, I think I look better than I did when we dated, hah. but oh, she was a dear one and a dear friend. we were too young, too poor, and my ocd began in earnest, took control, over events in my family life while I was with her. but of everyone I dated, she was the kindest, the only other real match in the bunch besides my current wife. estella was one long train wreck cloaked in what i thought was holiness.

***

now, I am off to bed. you see, a few minutes of writing (and I type pretty fast, hah) and I feel better. I think this blog is again changing. I have facebook, even a select group within facebook, but baby there ain't nothing like anonymity.

work really is going well. I have catapulted into leadership, using my gifts in what feels like a sustainable pace (let's hope) and feeling emotionally ready to lead there. leading on campus interests me, the issues and ideas and challenges and problems interest me.

***

oh kathy. if I had time I'd write a poem about that sad and sweet time, the fun we had, then the loss, my illness rising to swallow us both, and the betrayal by a trusted man, the many many years and all that has happened since.

now, love to all out there. it is 2:40 in the fucking a.m.

this is now official recovery blog. uncensored. I'll change the header soon. when I think of it I'm turning off comments and plan to use this as I am using it now. the polished me lives elsewhere.

I do know, though, a few old friends will find this eventually, and this share is dedicated to all of you. where would I be without support in my life?

selah.