Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Happy Belated US Father's Day. Our Father's Day is celebrated in September, I have no idea why! Here are Neil and Charly sharing a kiss (-:
Just felt like sharing those with you all. In other news, my mood is still low. This morning I did not want to go to work, was dreading it, and all the way here on the bus and train I was thinking about getting off, going to a bottle shop (off-licence) and buying a litre bottle of vodka and then lying down in a park or cemetery somewhere. My bus passes a nice cemetery. It's lush and green and has lots of those very old headstones with the worn-off writing. It looks peaceful in there.
I have two reasons for NOT adding Lamogitrine/Lamictal to my medicinal regime. One, I know it's expensive as it's not on the PBS except if you need it for epilepsy. Recently I found out Sairs from This Lunatic Express is stopping taking it because it's so expensive. SO frustrating when medicine we need is not subsidised by the government. My second reason is that I want to keep Lamictal "up my sleeve" for the next time Cymbalta poops out and stops working. If I start Lamictal now, then what will happen to me in six, twelve months time when I need extra meds??
But I am wondering if the extra Cymbalta is making much difference. I feel perhaps 20% better some of the time. Maybe I just need to give it more time. It's been what...two weeks? Three? I think I need to keep going with it for at least six weeks in order to get the full benefit of the increase. I need to work harder with my thought processes to calm myself and control my impulses.
A good thing that happened last week was my birthday presents from my bestie H arrived from Melbourne. They are awesome!! She sent me this hilarious book called The Action Heroine's handbook, which shows you how to wrestle a man with your bare legs, jump out of a moving train, make molotov cocktails and lots more action heroine stuff. It's great. Another book she sent me is a travel guide for Bangkok as Neil and I are planning a trip to Thailand next November. The parcel included a Hello Kitty furry beanie, Barbie stationery, Bio Oil, a Buddha and heaps more. She is definitely my favourite gift giver! H recently started a blog, by the way, called For The Good, The Bad & The Fugly. Her blogger name is Rainbow B and you should check it out. She's not quite as mental as me and probably will swear more because I try not to in blogland (even though I am a potty mouth in real life).
I went out to the movies last night with my ex-housemate and another one of my BFFs (I have three), Michelle. We saw Bridesmaids and cacked ourselves laughing. It was really funny, and a little crass, and had an adorably cute guy in it. Which always helps! I am incredibly lucky to have my three real-life besties. I thank the universe for them every day. Especially H and Michelle, who both know what it's like to suffer from depression and anxiety. I also adore my blogworld friends, who get me and know me just as well but in different ways. H and I are real-life friends now, but we met in blog world through a Dr Phil website in 2005. So you never know where our awesome blog friendships will end up! I am hoping some day to get to the US/Canada and UK to meet some of my blog pals. And over to the eastern states of Australia to meet up with Sairs and Bec and Miz PRN!
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thanks to Linda, the lovely owner of the blog Blue Skies, Coudy Days, and clever Pixie from Cloud Illusions, politics has been on my mind. I'm not one for soap boxing, or discussing politics at all really. I tend to agree with Linda, who says that politics these days is about "lies and greed", but I also agree with her comment that veterans deserve respect and admiration for their sacrifice and bravery. It seems that now, even more than in the Vietnam Era, pointless and foolish conflicts are taking lives all over the world. Australians, along with people, mostly young people, from other countries. have recently lost their lives in Afghanistan.
After hearing the Buffy Sainte-Marie song at Linda's blog I was inspired to share my own protest song from the same 1960s era - I Ain't Marching Anymore by Phil Ochs. Phil's basic premise in this song is that if we all say "No" when asked to go to war, then there can be no war. Unfortunately, there are enough poor, disenfranchised, aimless, patriotic and aggressive souls out there at the moment to keep war going...
The way I fell in love with Phil Ochs was through my former love and soulmate I. Oliver. Once I learnt more about Phil I cared for his music even more. He was a prolific and passionate singer songwriter who fell into mental disarray in the 1970s. An alcoholic, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Phil eventually committed suicide in 1976 when I was six years old - many years before my American boyfriend introduced me to him on an old eight track of his dad's.
Thanks Linda (and the original post at Blog Fodder) for reminding me about protest, sacrifice, and the potential we humans have for changing the world. To quote Linda : Those of us who still believe in social justice, freedom, and caring for our fellow beings around the world, can still come together and change things.
Power to the people indeed.
The last couple of days have seen the suicidal thoughts almost disappear. I can't describe what a relief that is, and anyone who has been there will know exactly what I mean. Part of the relief is that I now feel enthusiastic about my upcoming birthday (Sunday 19th). We have some great plans, so I was feeling very depressed about being depressed (LOL). Now, for the first time in quite a few weeks, I feel life coming back into my heart and mind and excitement starting to build. Hooray for turning 41! I have to say, so far being in my 40s has been wonderful (-: Meeting Neil was one of the best things to ever happen to me, and I'm so thankful he has put up with me and continued to be calm and stable and love me through this last bleak episode. I guess it really is true love!
My plans for my birthday are as follows: Saturday night we are going out to watch a Roller Derby bout with some of Neil's friends from work. Then the two of us will go on to a strip club, just for a laugh and to hopefully get in the mood for some hijinks in the bedroom *blush*. We've been to this particular club before and enjoyed some lapdancing; Neil loves the fact that I am openminded and keen on this kind of thing. The girls there are really nice and sweet, and are always extra friendly to women. On Sunday we are going out to the movies to see Super 8 (even though I am petrified of aliens and I think this movie is about aliens!!) and then out for a pizza dinner with my parents. Monday night I am going out with Michelle to see Bridesmaids, which I can't wait to see. I've heard so many good things about it! So all in all I think the next few days are going to be super fun. One of the things I love most about my birthday is my friend H always sends me the BEST presents. Well, last year she was visiting so she gave them to me in person, but as she lives in a different state she usually posts them and isn't it fun to get packages in the mail?? I LOVE it. We are both into the same girly, selfhelp, pink, Barbie, princessy type things so I always love her presents. She spoils me rotten.
I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but thank you SO MUCH to everyone who commented on the last few posts. I hadn't realised that I was having some BPD issues with Neil until your comments pointed it out, so massive thanks. Big hugs to my darling Kate (Lucid Intervals), BPDisme2, Shattered One (Walking the Borderline), Afton (In the Pink), Pixie (Cloud Illusions), Saracide (Borderline Psychobabble), Sairs (This Lunatic Express), Linda (Blue Skies, Cloudy Days), D'Artagnan (Living in Iowa), and a smiley welcome to Lola (Moose Lips Sink Ships) and www.friendtoyourself.com
I really love Billy Bragg, and he recorded a great song with the band Wilco called Way Over Yonder in The Minor Key (previous post title). The second line to the chorus is "ain't nobody who can sing like me", hence the title for today. The song was used nicely in the recent rom com movie Love and Other Drugs, which starred the gorgeous Anne Hathaway. Did anyone see the film? I thought the themes were interesting, especially how much time, money and energy went into finding a successful drug to "cure" male impotence compared to drugs to cure Parkinsons Disease (and also, I believe, to find cures for illnesses like depression, and other girly things like PMT haha).
That's all from me for now, and I can't help but be hopeful that my positive mood lasts and that the next post will be just as sparkly. Wishing you all love, happiness and peace xx
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
All the while Neil was kind and supportive and trying so damn hard. I wanted to hit him with the bedside lamp. I wanted to scream at him "This is all your fault, if you didn't have such a tragic history with suicide I could just kill myself already!"
Instead I said to him, semi-rational: "We should break up, you deserve better, you deserve someone normal and balanced who doesn't worry you." He made all the right noises, told me he adores me the way I am and admires me for coping so well most of the time. But who knows if we'll actually get through this dark time. He loves me, of course he loves me, but love...it's a fucking joke. It's not enough ammunition against BPD and depression, and I should know because I already lost one man who loved me against the odds. Mr Ex worshipped me, and tried his damnedest, but in the end the illness maimed and claimed the relationship and then stood laughing in the wreckage.
I am trying to calm my mind with meditative thoughts and to ease the nausea and shaking with breathing exercises. It feels somewhat like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. I am trying to be confident that the Cymbalta will kick in...soon...any minute now...
Friday, June 10, 2011
Anyway, after asking a lot of questions about potential triggers and behaviours, Doc A decided that this latest slump of mine is not BPD related, and in fact is "simple" biological depression. So the solution is medication tweaking - I am testing out 120mg of Cymbalta daily for the next week and if that has no effect I have a prescription for Lamotrigine/Lamictal. Which I would take in addition to the Cymbalta. I feel kind of trendy, even being considered for Lamotrigine, because I know a few other bloggers who take it and it seems to be quite successful. Apparently there is a well-known side effect of "Lamotrigine rash", and if that occurs I have to stop taking it. I'm hoping that the extra Cymbalta does the trick, because that way I have the Lamotrigine in reserve for any future episodes. It truly sucks the way that medication "poops out" (Doc A says this is the technical term LOL) and our brain chemistry works its way around our meds. I wish it was as simple as finding one medication and sticking to it for the rest of my life. I know I'm not alone, but in the last seven years I've taken eight different anti-depressants and an anti-psychotic. Apart from the meds, I've also tried Kava, St John's Wort and Valerian. Then when you add to that the hypnotherapy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, naturopathy, etc, it's all a little overwhelming. I know y'all can relate!!
I ended up telling Neil about my suicidal thoughts; even though I knew it would worry him I couldn't keep lying. I'm pathologically honest these days after The Marriage That Truth Forgot. He was concerned, and interested in what Doc A had to say, and ultimately said he was happy I had confided in him. We're both confident that the extra medication will help level out my moods.
In other health news, I have an appointment with Dr Paul (my lupus specialist) on June 29th and am on the waiting lists at three hospitals for my gastroscopy/colonoscopy to check for ulcers/polyps/etc. I've been on iron supplements for a couple of weeks and I feel slightly less tired (which could be the caffiene tablets I'm taking!) and breathless. I feel like my health, both mental and physical, is a waiting game at the moment. Just need to be patient and see how it pans out... Need I point out that patience is NOT one of my virtues (-:
Thank you so much to everyone who commented on yesterday's post, and to Linda who posted a great song on her blog for me. It means so much that people are listening and understanding xx
(NB: Born To Try is a song by an Aussie called Delta Goodrem, who I believe appeared on the US version of Dancing With The Stars recently.)
Thursday, June 9, 2011
The suicidal ideation and self-harm is a real concern for me. It's been getting worse over the last few weeks. The other day I gathered all the pills in the house (and there are a lot, as Neil's mum gives us packets of her prescription-only high strength pain medication - don't ask me why!) and seriously considered taking them. I wanted to sleep forever, or end up away from everything in hospital. I'm annoyed with myself for the urge to run away. In the end, I could not do that to Neil. His dad gassed himself in the family car when Neil was in his 20s and ten years later his brother eventually hung himself after a few attempted overdoses. When he finally succeeded, it was Neil who went around to the house and found his brother's body. I just can't do that to him again. He deserves better than me. I wish I was healthy for him as well as for me.
I wonder what he must really think of me, now that we live together and he sees my daily struggle. Struggle to get out of bed, wash, dress, go to work, cook, clean, converse... Do I remind him of his dead brother, weak father, depressed mother... Does he compare me to his previous crackpot girlfriends... I don't doubt he loves me, but I worry sometimes how easy it is for pity to creep in.
Flash 'n the Pan had a hit in 1978 with a song by the same title as this post.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
My cat Charly is usually in two minds about my depression. She HATES me crying and sniffling but she loves to lay in bed with me for hours. Regardless, there is no doubt she makes me feel better most of the time. For this one of her middle names is "Prozac" (full name Charly Louise Feral Beryl Prozac S). I know I'm not alone, as I've read other bloggers comments on their pets and how beneficial they are to our mental health.
This is one of those "Gratitude" posts I'm trying out, and at the top of my list of things to be thankful for is animals -particularly cats. Here's some other stuff to be going on with...
REASONS TO SMILE
1. Animals, esp cats. And especially those viral videos I get sent like the one with the owl and the kitten playing, and the mama cat comforting the kitten who had a nightmare. Could those things get any cuter???
2. Buffy. We finished our seven season marathon, and as always I cried at the end. The girl power, all women are slayers, theme is just awesome. I wish I was as kick arse as Buffy and Willow!
3. Movies. My favourite past-time. I saw X Men First Class and it rocked!! Though disappointing that the female mutants were evil )-: I like Storm from the other movies, but she didn't make an appearance.
4. Neil. I'm the luckiest woman in the world, I swear. He is patient and kind and decent. And a hunk of spunk (Aussie slang for a hottie LOL).
5. No Doz (caffiene tablets). Thank you for keeping me alert and awake at work!!
6. Roller Derby. It's brilliant! We're going again on the day before my birthday - 18 June. Great present, huh?! Those women are so tough and cool!
7. My boss Jan (he's a man, it's pronounced "Yarn" - Polish origin). Even though I have had so many sick days lately, he's supportive and understanding. I never worry about calling him, I know he'll be ok and not make me feel guilty or lazy. He doesn't know about the mental illness, but I believe he would be okay with that too.
8. The Madosphere. I love my blogger friends, and learn new things and feel new things every day from your terrific writing. Keep it up guys!
I have some challenges in my life at the moment (having the flu on top of lupus, anaemia, etc, is not fun) but I'm glad I took the time to note some positives. I think I should write down some of this stuff and read it every morning when I wake up, because it's getting harder and harder to motivate myself to get the hell out of bed. Brain = fizzy, body = shaky but I am still fighting y'all!
Buddhism for the Mentally Interesting
This is part 2 of the post that began with Meditation for the Mentally Interesting a couple of weeks ago. Meditation in the Buddhist tradition, while eye-opening and supremely useful, is only one part of what Buddhism is all about. I dither about whether to call myself a Buddhist on a daily basis- some people say you need to believe in rebirth & karma to be a Buddhist, some people say you need to practice with a teacher- I don’t fit into either category. Either way, though, the fundamental concepts of Buddhism resonate deeply with me, and have been instrumental in shaping both my worldview and how I approach mental health and mental ill health. Here are the Buddhist ideas that have made the biggest impression on me from a mentalist point of view:
The Four Noble Truths
The Buddha’s basic teaching is summarized in what is known as the Four Noble Truths, which are:
1. Life is suffering (dukkha in Pali- suffering is only a loose translation)
2. The origin of suffering is craving (attachment to desires)
3. Suffering ends when craving ceases
4. Freedom from suffering can be attained by following the Eightfold Path (acquiring wisdom, practicing ethical conduct & training in mental development through right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness & right concentration)
That really is Buddhism in a nutshell- these four statements are layered in complexities, but they are also very simple. It seems obvious to me now that everybody suffers, no matter how healthy they are, how much money they have, how isolated or how loved they feel. As long as people cling to wanting more, wanting less or burying their heads in the sand (more on those three things later on), there is always going to be dukkha- ranging from the feeling that something’s not quite right to immense emotional suffering on both an individual and societal scale. My personal level of dukkha is on the more extreme end of that continuum, but emotional disorder or not, we’re all on there somewhere....
...As I understand it, the concept of what is known as Buddha nature comes from Mahayana Buddhism (which is the branch of Buddhism that the Zen and Tibetan traditions sprang from.) In my opinion, for someone who struggles deeply with their mental health, it’s one of the most powerful Buddhist concepts because the idea is that everyone has the capacity to become awakened, to become a Buddha. To deeply see the nature of reality and have the poisons of craving, aversion and delusion fall away. Everyone can be free. And what’s more, you don’t have to change yourself in any way to do this- your true nature is already there, just waiting for you to wake up to it. If you want to try to think of it in Western terms- everyone is basically good.
Just think about that for a second, what that would mean. The idea of Buddha nature is so different to what is pervasive in our culture, informed as it is by the Christian concept of original sin; and it is, of course, so different to what my emotional brain regularly tells me about myself- that I’m a horrible, evil person, intrinsically bad, intrinsically broken. But Buddhism invites me not just to believe, but to experience the reality of my true nature for myself- as a constantly changing stream of life. There is nothing there for labels like ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ to cling to. There is just life; pure, unadulterated life. Experiencing life, really living in every moment, is the essence of Buddhism. That is why I practice.