Tag Archives: anxiety

So many possible (good) changes

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There really are so many possible good changes coming up for me: the possibility of finishing my B.A. via independent study (waiting on my acceptance letter), the possibility of getting out of this rut I’ve been in since my awful Risperdall/Fanapt med change by upping the Fanapt. I’m on a really low dose of Fanapt, so it’s a good possibility for change. I was so nervous from the shock of the med change itself (the six weeks after) the last time I saw my psychiatrist that I wasn’t ready emotionally to try anything else.

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I may not be getting my Utah geography correctly, but I think this photo is of the light coming down in a slot canyon (?) in Utah. In any case, I know the places even if I don’t know the terminology, and the simple terminology for it is beauty: with God’s creations and his light shining down. Some days I may be (theoretically) down in one of these slot canyons and even though it’s beautiful, I feel so stuck and alone, until I find a way out; often with help. I feel like I’m getting there. I feel like, even though it’s been hard the past couple months feeling like I have no “good days” physically and I’m only feeling “okay” on some evenings, at least I know there’s more to try and I do feel deep down in my bones and my gut or however you might say it that things are looking up.

I do need to get through some difficult things with my family first, but by a month from now that should all be taken care of. Now I just need to say a prayer that I find a way down to CA and have the money to see my kids during the time when it’s convenient for their summer schedule.

I am feeling  positive. This will work out. And I still need a lot of patience!

Weak and Tired

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zombie-156138_640I’m still feeling weak. You could say I haven’t had any “good days” (physically) like I had before my med change. My therapist said today that it probably is anxiety that’s weighing me down. I tried to take a long walk yesterday and was fine for most of it, but towards the end I kept having the urge to just lean up against something and take a nap.

I’m still on a low dose of Fanapt, so I can ask my psychiatrist to up my medication to see if that helps.

Spring

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tulip-750460_640.jpg Despite having allergies, spring has always been my favorite season. It’s especially so here in Utah. I’ve been here almost five years, but all the new (to me) plants and trees and flowers haven’t lost their novelty. I love their connection as symbols of Easter and the resurrection as well.

Things are going along about as usual. Spring and spending time with others is making it easier to bear. I had really good dreams this morning as a nice change. In my dream I had some kind of job as someone’s assistant. We shared a big office and my desk and surrounding area had a lot of charm. I knew that somewhere nearby my daughter was at school and my son was away at college and all was well. The dream repeated a bit later and I was a graphic designer, which is way outside my range of talent, but it was a fun addition to the dream.

I’m going to cling to memories of the good dream and see them as a sign that I’m feeling hope in my future when it comes to my anxiety. In the meantime, I have more to work on with eating a bigger variety of foods, and two doctor’s appointments coming up where I get to talk about some unpleasant things I’ve been dealing with. Since I’m on Medicaid now, my insurance situation has changed, which I thought meant that I could get a doctor closer to where I am now. However, all the doctors here in Orem had wait lists several months long for Medicaid patients, so I’ll need to go to a different city. I found one near the local bus line, though, so I still think it will be easier.

There are a lot of things to be grateful for, and today I’m grateful that I am feeling the gratitude.

Bad day

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I have no idea where it came from (I often don’t) but I had nightmares and intense dreams all morning and didn’t wake up until almost 4pm. I’m grateful to be awake. These are the days when I don’t want to close my eyes because I think I might fall asleep again and I don’t want to.

The dreams weren’t the worst I could have (in fact I had some me as a superhero dreams) but I was struggling to wake up and “trying to get home” and other common themes for me. Time to write about them in my journal. It seems to help.

And yes, I went to bed at a normal time last night. C’est la vie.

Still Better

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easter-1237585_640.jpgIt’s been two months since the start of my med changes, and I’m finally feeling back to “normal.”  In the last few days, the last of the unpleasant side-effects of the changes has tapered down. I’m still feeling more tired than before, but I’ve been making it out every other day or more, which is a huge improvement. Tonight I was able to walk three miles with a friend. I’ve been doing my dumbbell exercises throughout, but I still think my arms feel wimpier than they did two months ago, but I believe that will get back to normal. I’m most excited about the pretty effortless three mile walk. I’ll be trying my dance workout from YouTube again. 🙂

More Springtime Recovery

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flowers-747206_640.jpg I’m so happy that it’s spring. I really wanted to go for a walk today because it was so beautiful outside, but every time I stood up I felt discombobulated. I also have a head tremor today. 😛 I’m working to get my days and nights back to normal (more on that in a bit), and I’m sure that’s a large part of why I’m so “off.”

So, my latest attempt at day/night normalization:
(It’s currently Thursday evening.)
-On Wednesday morning, after being up all night, I decided to once again stay up all day. We had a Relief Society (church women’s organization) activity Wednesday night and I figured that if I could stay awake, I’d have that as a reward. Plus, I miss getting out something terrible. Add Spring Fever and there you go…
-I don’t remember what I did all day yesterday (Wednesday) but it involved a lot of Hulu, Netflix, and putting away laundry.
-By about 1pm I just.wanted.sleep, so I turned on General Conference (it relaxes me) and lay down. Happily and for my own good, I didn’t fall asleep. My body was a jittery mess. I’ve never had coffee, but I imagine that maybe this is what your body feels like when you haven’t had your caffeine?
-By 3:30ish I was feeling like I could go to sleep, but I figured if I could just hold out until 6, it would be close to a normal bedtime and maybe I’d even feel up to the activity.
-By 6 I wanted to go to the activity, but when I’d stand up it wasn’t good. I let it go until 7pm, then I crawled in bed and fell immediately asleep.
-At around 7am I woke up briefly, but my body was in full anxiety panic attack mode and I couldn’t move, so I went back to sleep.
-I woke up again around 11am. I spent the next two hours, until 1pm, in a nightmare and unable to lift my head but wanting badly to be awake. It was one of those “trying to find my bedroom” nightmares again where things kept stopping me from getting home. At 1pm I opened my eyes and decided there had to be some way to get up. Sitting up took all my willpower and I sat there for a long time, shaking my head and rubbing my eyes and reminding myself that the nightmare was over.

So, hopefully I can fall asleep tonight. I managed to go for a walk! About 1/4 mile in I was thinking that I should just go home, but a McDouble at McDonald’s later I decided to try a bit farther. It was pretty iffy, but I got out! And spring is here!! There were bulbs poking their leaves out everywhere. Soon there will be tulips galore. There was a bush full of singing little birds, and at one neighbor’s the daffodils were already blooming! I love spring here so much. And as usual, the mountains were there. No matter what day it is, they always seem to look a little different, and they’re always majestic.

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A few days in my fourth week of medication change problems

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heart addictedSuch a long title, but I can’t think of anything shorter.

Let’s see if I can spell this right again: Risperdal. Or generic Risperidone. I was on it for six months, so you’d think I’d remember the spelling, but it still mutates in my head.

My doctor started tapering me off of it three weeks ago, almost four. Today was the first day since then that I was able to go out all by myself, and even that was a bit iffy. I won’t get into everything my body has been doing since then. I have been looking for synonyms for “disoriented” just for fun. Off-kilter, out of it, unsteady, rickety, wobbly, discombobulated. I’m liking “unsteady” (a friend gave me that one when we went for a walk) because it might be a more understandable to others. I have struggled to otherwise adequately explain this most common symptom of my anxiety to others. I think I came a little bit closer a couple weeks ago when I told a friend who was visiting, “If I went out to drive right now, I would get into a car crash within minutes.”  Just “dizzy” doesn’t explain it adequately. Just saying “my brain’s not working” invites understanding nods from others (and it’s my favorite explanation for most occasions) but it isn’t an adequate explanation of the difference between a healthier person’s mind after a rough day (which brings a type of fatigue I actually wish I could have more often) and my “unsteadiness.”

Yes, I’m still struggling with simple ways to explain this to those who want to understand better. And I’ve had a lot of unsteadiness this past month, but after a better day today I am still believing that it’ll get better soon.

So, the pharmacist said today that withdrawals from Risperdall (should I spell it differently just for fun? I do think it’s kind of a fun sounding name…for medication) usually last two weeks.  I’ve doubled that. So, I could (1) be on the long end of the exception or (2) the Fanapt is causing me problems. Or (3) some other explanation.

So I know this sounds crazy, but I’m grateful for the patience this past month has been teaching me. I used to complain when I’d get one or two days of this or a week, but with an entire four weeks, I’m having to dig deeper. I haven’t been able (until today) to go to the grocery store by myself or sometimes at all. I’ve had to get rides to the pharmacy and my doctors’ appointments. I’ve had to tell myself that it doesn’t matter when, at the doctor, they said I’d basically skipped out on my therapist appointment when in reality I was fighting nightmares and discombobulated unsteadiness at home. They weren’t trying to tell me personally that I was a failure. And….yeah so I corrected them quickly and they were understanding, but sometimes I wish they wouldn’t jump to conclusions so quickly when someone might be so sick that they can’t use the phone until after the appointment is over. Geesh, I’m sensitive. Still working on that.

I’m feeling less hard on myself than I was at the beginning of the month. I’ve had to ask for so much help and yet everyone who has helped me has insisted on checking up on me and following up to see how I’m doing and acted somewhat indignant when I’ve apologized too much. This world is not all a bad place full of scary people. Why I continually need this lesson, I’m not sure. It’s incremental, not an all at once thing.

I’ve also been patient with my need for a lot of Netflix. I’m not sure how many episodes of Gilmore Girls I’ve watched, but it’s helped calm the anxiety and I’m no longer telling myself that I’m such a horrible person for watching fun stuff when I’m not feeling well. Compassion for myself has bigger boundaries than it did.

I’m refusing to edit this. I’m too tired. It’ll have to do and that’s that.

 

Medication Changes: that Circus

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Possibly boring stuff: all on medication

I’ve been through a lot of medication changes and they’re never fun, but switching from Risperdal to Fenapt this past week has been the most challenging change since Paxil to Effexor more than ten years ago. I’m halfway through the change. My doctor had me swap one pill a day for a week: then tomorrow it will start swapping the other pill, and thus the complete switch to Fenapt and no more Risperdal.  So why the chance? Risperdal was working great at eliminating my nightmares (along with the Prazosin that I also take) and making my days feel more like “normal” days where I can actually get up most every morning. But Risperdal made me gain 40 pounds. And yes, when a psychiatric med “makes” you gain weight, your brain chemistry actually changes and you feel like you’re hungry 24/7. I fought it pretty hard, but I was waking up hungry in the middle of the night. So, Fenapt is the new choice. I need to study up more on Fenapt. I’ve only given it a cursory, “looks safe, won’t make me gain weight.”  (Just 4 days into going off Risperdal I could tell a marked difference in how much less an appetite I had.)

In any case, this being only the second worst medication change I’ve had (maybe third….it’s been too long) is because, once upon a time, I had to go off Paxil while I had two small children to take care of. I will never, ever take Paxil again because going off it was a nightmare. I couldn’t keep myself awake and I was dizzy 24/7 and only felt safe when my head was on my pillow. Their dad ended up having to care for them for more than his share, which I never liked. I like my share with my kids. But they’re better off safe: I knew that. Wasn’t easy on him, but that’s water under the bridge.

Koosh tumblr_m28qgtGUm31qitawxo1_400.jpgThis time around it’s mostly the immense fatigue and disorientation/dizziness. The first two days after the change my anxiety skyrocketed and I was sleeping in my bed clutching my magic Koosh ball which lovingly lets me squeeze the heck out of it. I had to miss singing in church. People were kind and my friend M brought me McDonald’s, and my new roommate A let me go with her to Walmart for groceries. I missed my therapist appointment on Friday but got to make up for it on Monday. I felt so proud of myself, getting there in the 20-ish degree weather, and even more so for getting home in the 22 degree weather plus wind. The wind was killer with those temperatures: the ride and walk down was pleasant, the ride and walk back with the wind was the coldest I’ve been since moving to Utah I think. The wind will get you every time. But: I am a studmuffin. I made it through.

So I have nothing exciting to talk about. It’s med changes and I’ll keep praying that the transition goes smoothly and that it doesn’t get to me so much emotionally that I end up in a heap on my bed for the rest of my life. Nope, odds are against that…I think.

Recovering from Good Stuff

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Cinderella shoe cakeI had the opportunity to help throw a bridal shower for a friend this week. I’m paying for it, but it was worth it. There’s some more good news in that regards, but I’ll get to that later.

I had plenty of time to plan. I don’t do complicated. I also had a partner in planning who did all of the things well that I’m not very good at. If I were to be a party planner the rest of my life, I would want her for my partner. It was that much fun. She even talked me into helping her icing the cupcakes with one of those fancy icing bags. I’m better at invites and games and that sort of thing.

I have to carefully allot my time during the week, but the past three weeks have been a lot better. My doctor upped my Risperidone and it’s helped a ton! I’ve been sleepy all the time, which I think is passing as I get used to it, but I’ve been awake a lot more. I’ve had less nightmares and everything else. It’s made life so much more bearable and I’ve also been more able to count my blessings without getting as depressed. My therapist said she could tell a difference, and my friends have been remarking on it, too.

Thus, I felt I had the courage (and ability) to help throw the shower. It was also at our place. I didn’t clean much beforehand as it’s already clean here, but it could have been better, yet I survived. My “have to clean everything perfectly” anxieties were thus lessened in that area. (Our front rooms are usually clean, my room is usually messy…a lot like growing up.)

So, while we were getting ready yesterday, my mind still halted occasionally but it wasn’t bad. I could tell I was headed towards bad anxiety just a couple of times, and after either eating or taking a break I was okay again. It was such a relief! One of the things that’s difficult to explain to people about anxiety disorders is that the “usual” methods of calming oneself don’t always work. We feel “stuck” in the anxiety with very little that helps lower it.

But….not this time. Some loud music someone played briefly on their phone almost got me while everyone was talking. I was leading the game so leaving for a break would have been awkward.

I fell right asleep last night. I did, unfortunately, have a lot of nightmares last night, but they could have been worse. I still felt like I had some control of the dreams. I ended up shaky with my “insides shaking” but I had no limbs flapping. For as much as I did yesterday, that’s quite a feat. Also, I couldn’t get out of bed today until after 1pm. Considering that at times after something so large I could have been wiped out for a few days, that’s also something. I’m fully hoping to get to go for a walk later. I could really use it.

Neither tremor nor tremolo!

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hymn-lgToday has been a good day. Last week I started getting more tired again and having racing thoughts and needing yet more time at home alone and more sleep etc. (it’s all relative….some versus more). But it was frustrating, as things will be. So at my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, he upped my dose of Respirdall, and it seemed to help almost immediately. I still can’t go just anywhere I want to whenever I want to (it’s a l.o.n.g way from that), but the blessing was that it’s better again.

So I rested yesterday (Saturday) and last night, in the hopes of making church today. And I did! I woke up around 8:30am. And I was fine. No nightmares, hardly any racing thoughts. And it was a really good day.

Best part?

For years I have avoided, whenever possible, sharing a hymn book with someone at church and holding it with them (me with one hand, them with one of their hands, for those not familiar) because my hands shake and I’m pretty sure it’s more inconvenient for them to try to read it with my hand shaking, thus shaking the whole book. If my hand is shaking enough, I’ll just hand it to them. Anywhere in between and I feel awkward.

Today in Relief Society (women’s meeting) the woman next to me offered (as usual) to hold one side of the book, and….my hand wasn’t shaking! First time in years! Maybe this Respirdall is helping more than I realized. My hands were shaking this morning while I was doing dishes, but that they can “settle down” is giving me hope.