Tag Archives: PTSD

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!

PTSD and a day in May

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tulips-1352561_640.jpgMy nightmares haven’t been as bad the past couple weeks: in fact I think I went a whole week without any. I still have intense dreams without the nightmares, but I can live with those.

I am feeling rather weak and I’m not sure why. My sleep schedule has been way off and I suspect that as the culprit. When I can’t sleep at night, I turn on General Conference (LDS Church) and listen to it. I haven’t had much exercise and perhaps that’s made me weaker.

I’m applying to finish my BYU Bachelor of General Studies degree (independent study) and I think that’s helped give me more empowered dreams. I’m really excited about it. In the past three years I’ve had trouble and writing and reading more serious subject books due to problems with focus and being “foggy-brained” but I think maybe I can do it now if I pace myself. When I was on campus, I had to go full time, and that was a no-go. I think writing two blogs has helped ameliorate my issues with perfectionism, so hopefully now I can just put my thoughts down on paper and get papers written. I’ve struggled for years with the fear that I’ll never be able to finish school and support myself.

I’ve also been a bit bored despite having projects to do, and my therapist sees that as a sign that I’m getting better. Now I just need more normal sleep and more exercise. It’s beautiful out there today: can’t wait to get out.

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. 🙂

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.

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.

The funky algorithms of PTSD

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Euclidean_algorithm_running_time_X_Y(Speaking of which, I can’t be the first person to wonder why “algorithms” isn’t spelled “algorhythms.” It would be more inviting to us non-math people; as if it could be cured through spelling. Some day I’ll understand them better, though. I’m determined.)

So I went to the fireside. If you’re not LDS, it’s what we call “go listen to a speaker on Sunday and get to see friends.”  And be uplifted. And I was. It was very good. Comedian/entertainer Jason Hewlett was the speaker. I’ve never been to a fireside that was anything like it. My heart was uplifted, my funny bone jiggled, and the depression/loneliness cloud that was over me this afternoon is gone. I’m still a bit shaky inside (the large crowd made me nervous when my anxiety was high, but I was okay) but my anxiety is way down for now.

So, should I have gone to the birthday party/bonfire last night, knowing I might miss church? It’s that whole hindsight thing. Since I ended up missing anyway. Is there any point in even worrying about it? I think that the next time I have to have too much alone time and I have the opportunity to go do something, maybe I should do it anyway. Or should I?

If math could predict this kind of thing, I would be trying to take more math classes. Or I’d just bug my son (or friends) for the answer. Would that life could be as “easy” as my son’s Multi Vector Calculus class.

More about Jason Hewlett, from Forbes.com

Counting Blessings after Nightmares

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I got over-tired again last night, but it was in a good way at least. I was playing Phase 10 with friends at church and watching others play volleyball. We were being pretty silly and it was a lot of fun. I also got to talk on the phone with my son who has just started his freshman year at college and it’s so much fun to live vicariously through him a little and to hear what he’s up to and that he’s enjoying himself and working hard. I got to hear from my daughter a couple nights ago. I’ll be bugging both of them again soon.

I had more nightmares last night, but they weren’t as bad as the night before. I took a long nap this afternoon and it was nightmare-free and very restful. I’m still a bit shaky, but hey, I can type.

List of blessings:

  1. My kids are doing well
  2. I have friends who know how to be silly and have fun
  3. I’m learning how to do the genealogy portion of family history a bit better and it’s fun
  4. Got to speak with my aunt (mom’s sister) on the phone last night about family stories (my mom passed away when I was 8)
  5. My disability hearing is coming up soon. This part is almost over.
  6. Our three week heat wave seems to be over. 100 degree weather is hard when you walk several miles a week to get places (doctor etc.)
  7. My roommates are great
  8. My kids are wonderful and doing well
  9. I found the second book online by Peter A. Levine that I want to read. I’m learning a lot from the one I already have. This is the second book, now on my wish list: trauma-through-a-childs-eyes-awakening-the-ordinary-miracle-of-healing_2481617

Life, exciting life

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stones-167089_640It’s been a month since I posted, but I could have posted dozens of times since then with all that’s been going on. I’ve just been too exhausted, and it’s been a whirlwind of seeing my doctor and therapist several times and starting a new medication (Risperdal) and getting ready to go to CA to see my kids graduate. I’m still yet kind of out of it today, but not completely (especially since getting a nice big fattening dinner, thanks to a very kind friend) so I’m determined to post at least a little post. To sum up:

  • I finally got a court date for my disability hearing! Yay! It’s in August.
  • My anxiety levels were still going up, and I hit a level “10” several times and only through the help of friends did I manage to not go to the E.R., which would have been expensive. A level “10” for me means that I’m not functioning, barely able to talk or not able to, have difficulties moving around my room etc., very little or no ability to concentrate, racing thoughts, difficulties sitting up and moving my head an difficulties or an inability to walk due to extreme dizziness/disorientation, and it lasts for hours or on and off for a day or more.
  • My doctor put me on the Risperdal and it was a lucky first time hit. It helped a lot within just a week. The only downside is that it seems to inhibit the receptors in my brain that tell me when I’m full. So far I just drink a lot of water to make up for it, but I did gain ten pounds of the 25 that I’d lost in the few months before. I think I have it under control, unlike my awful experience with Zyprexa, which helped my anxiety but made me really really hungry constantly. So hungry that it was pretty much really odd.
  • I spent a week so excited at my upped energy levels and with the depression gone again that I overdid it and wore myself out several times.
  • I was able to go to a conference this past weekend where one of my aunts was the keynote speaker and the president of the association for the year, and it was about the same subject that I majored in in college, and it was being held locally, so I got to go: along with my parents and another aunt. I definitely overdid it, even though I only managed to attend about half the conference. It was kind of a once in a lifetime thing, in a way, and I just didn’t want to miss out. So….
  • I hit a level “10” again Sunday and Monday, managing to stay out of the hospital (an Ativan would have been nice, but the withdrawals and possible retrograde amnesia after wouldn’t have been).
  • So, I was stupid and after about 12 good hours decided I’d try and help do some yard work with friends, for a friend. I was basically useless and couldn’t even put a shovel into the ground. My best friend, fresh off a cruise and who is still feeling like she’s on the ocean, got out a ton of weeds. I watered the ground underneath the weeds to soften it and got mud on myself (which is usually fun…maybe it still was) and after about 30 minutes it felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I did manage to get the weeds into a garbage bag. I guess my service will have to continue to be in other ways.
  • But, in a few days I’ll be with my kids and friends and family again. I’ll have to keep it lower key, which seems to be the theme of the past year in a much greater degree than I’d ever anticipated. Learning my limits much? Yuck.
  • The good part: I went a week with no nightmares, and I’ve had significantly less since starting the new med.