Friday, 28 August 2015

The Surprise Scales

Shortly after I wrote my last post, I went to run myself a bath. It seemed like a sure-fire way to get through an hour or so stress-free and try to relax for a little bit.

I grabbed my incense, lighter, and a pair of fresh pajamas and fluffy socks. I ran the water, poured in some bubbles, and sat at the bench to wash my face.
It was only when I knocked over the box of tissues and bent to retrieve them that I saw them staring at me. The little white box, crack on the right side of the cover, was peeking out from beneath the vanity.

They've been hidden away for years, unused by me since last January. But suddenly, they're baaaaack!

Panic washed over me, followed by the urge to stand on them-- no, smash them-- no, throw them out the window-- no...!

Not knowing what else to do, and with mum out for the day, I picked them up by the edge, not wanting to even trigger them on with my hands, did a U-turn, walked out and knocked on my brother's door.

Situations like this can obviously leave on feeling a little speechless, and for me, tends to result in word-vomit gibberish, but it was something along the lines of:
    "I just went to have a bath and the scales were there and I haven't used them since last January and I don't know why mum's put them back and she's not home and I don't know what to do."
Thankfully he just took the scales and hid hem in his room until mum got home that night.

I broke down and called mum several times before she got to the phone. Apparently, she didn't think it would trigger me (?!?!), nor did she think about talking to me about it before just putting them back.

I sat and sooked on the kitchen floor for half an hour. Billy came to sit with me. Then I pulled myself up and sat in the half-cold bath with its flattened bubbles, still sobbing for another half hour. After that, I refilled my water bottle, got Boo, and sat in my armchair, smoking and staring into space, feeling numbed by the whole thing until mum got home.

We didn't really talk about it any more except for her saying she didn't know it would upset me, she didn't know it would trigger me. I just can't understand how the scales didn't automatically equal a trigger in her mind. It doesn't make sense to me.

Then on Tuesday, I didn't go to see the dietician. I couldn't bring myself to even cancel. Around half an hour after our appointment should have started, I got a text.

She asked if everything was okay. Normally, missed appointments mean my lungs are playing up and/or I've landed myself in hospital. I tried to explain the situation with insurance reaching the limit and having to cut back appointments, but I couldn't find words to respond when she replied.

I ended up making an appointment to see her yesterday (payday). The first/only appointment she had free was at 6:20pm - the polar opposite of our 8:10am Tuesday starts.

She called me from the waiting room, and walking to her office, put her arm around me.
    "How are you doing?"
    "Not too great."
    "I didn't think so, if you're here of a night time."

She asked what happened on Tuesday, and I explained the situation with insurance reaching the limit, and how mum usually covered part but won't this year. I told her I feel like, if mum doesn't care if I go to appointments any more, why should I care?

She said that I need to keep coming in. It meant a lot to hear her say that, that it's important. She talked about how far I've come and how I can't go backwards now.
    "Plus, I think it really helps you just to have someone you can talk to."
She said she was going to set it up with the desk so I can keep coming in each week, but every second appointment would be free.

    "No, no, you don't have to do that, it's too much."
    "No, it's my gift to you."
This is where I lost it and started tearing up.
   "You're going to get me crying soon."

I better think up one hell of a Christmas present. 

I told her about my run-in with the scales on the weekend.
    "Why would she do that?"
    "I don't know. She said she didn't know it would trigger or upset me."
    "She... what?"
    "I thought it would be obvious that scales = trigger."
It was good to get confirmation that I'm not crazy.

She asked what my thoughts on it were now, and I told her I'm planning on getting them back out soon for a 'proper' weigh-in (I've only been weighing myself on the Wii, so I don't have an accurate weight, but know I've lost Xkg since date.), I just want to make sure I'll be below a number that'd trigger self-destruction (okay, I didn't tell her that last bit). Seeing them out has just brought the issue to the forefront of my mind again.

    "Maybe that's something we can work on. I know we had our disagreements earlier this year, and I don't like weighing people much at all, but even if we can get more comfortable just talking about your weight..."

I'm starting to get a bit worried about the upcoming weigh-in, though. There's no winning - it'll either be too high for me to want to get on the scales, or too low. But as far as my team's concerned, I know I probably would've been better off sucking it up and getting on the scales when they first asked and I was a few pounds heavier.

On the way out, she asked if she could give me a hug.
    "You've got a friend in me, you know that, right?"


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Survival (and precious little else)

It's kinda funny (read: not funny at all) how the smallest circumstance can be the biggest trigger.

I've been really thrown for a loop since the dinner incident a couple of weeks back.

I feel afraid. I've realised that I've become one of those people who legitimately believe horrific things will happen if I leave the house. Just because I survived last time, does not mean I'll survive again. I feel like all I can do is hide away, and die before it can get me.

Last week, mum asked if I'd feel up to going for a walk in The You Yangs, which has been one of my few 'safe' destinations in recent years. I've never shot down an outing so quickly. It wasn't even an option. What if I go and he's there? The only escape would be off the mountain face.

Even the car has me filled with dread. It's no longer a safe bubble separating me from the big, bad world. My eyes scan every car, every pedestrian... Going for drives has been such a big part of getting through each day, but now it's down to once a week.

I know the sudden fear probably seems ridiculous. Part of me actually thought that I'd never see him again, that he'd moved away. The last time I saw him would have been five years ago.

On Wednesday, I had a major day-long breakdown. I didn't just self-harm, I beat myself up, and feel like I've been hit by a car. My feet, legs, chest, arms and face/head are covered in bruises and open wounds, complete with black eye. Now I just want to wrap myself in cotton wool. Even my chest hurts because I kept frantically running around the house trying to escape myself.

It was the most I've spoken since it happened. But talking just hurts more. There's nothing I, or anyone else, can say to make things better. Everything hurts. It physically hurts. What are you supposed to do when all you can do is cry and scream?

I saw the dietician on Tuesday. No clue what we talked about, except for setting a weigh-in deadline (for a month, so the 15th September). I'm not even sure if I'm going to be seeing her this week, because I've reached the limit on insurance and now it's all out of pocket. Ugh. I don't even want to think about any of it right now.

I'm just focusing on getting through each day, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time. I'm trying to focus on sewing or reading ED books or gaming to keep my head distracted. And it helps. Until I stop, and have to think again.

Sorry for such an all-over-the-shop post. Gold stars to anyone who reads this far. You guys have been seriously amazing. I know I've said it a million times, but I would be so very lost without this little community.


On a brighter note, the other day, I spent some time distracting myself looking through my 'Glory Box' (I think you guys might call them 'Hope Chests'). Essentially, I have pretty much everything I need to set up a household, which was purchased while planning to move out with my ex a few years back. Kinda depressing, kinda fun. Sometimes I look through and find little bits and pieces that make their way to the kitchen, or even spare appliances when ours' break.

Last week, I went hunting for the first apron I ever made. It's the same pattern I used for the Christmas Aprons, but I made this about 6 years ago. There's two little ravens appliqu├ęd on the pocket. It's not the best quality and I need to make more, but I love this one as much as ever.

The camisole: my current sewing projects

Bonus: I also found a spare set of kitchen scales! They're the same brand and capacity as the ones I normally use, but these new ones are slimline, so they're going to be my travel/hospital scales. When I bought them, I was still measuring food by volume, so I had no idea they were there.

...unfortunately, it's my little 0.01g scales that currently need replacing.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Winter Blues

Thank you all for your comments and support on my last few posts. The past week has been really difficult for a multitude of reasons, and words are hard to find so you'll have to bear with me.

On Thursday I saw my GP. When I sat down, she kind of looked at me funnily, then said,
    "Have you always had your lip pierced?"
It actually made me laugh. I've been seeing her for three years, and I didn't think it was that subtle.

I didn't talk to her about seeing the one who hurt me. I couldn't even bring myself to tell her I'd gone out to dinner. I haven't even really talked to mum about it, and I only briefly spoke to the dietician. I'm having enough trouble even writing about it in my journal.

We talked for a while about my concerns with SNRIs and my history with SSRIs and all of that fun stuff. I've been on the Duloxetine/Cymbalta for a little over a week now. Still a low dose, but no side effects (or any effects) to speak of. But there wasn't really much that Google and you guys hadn't covered. I told her about my lovely friend in Bahrain who's studying medicine and really helped clear things up. I think my initial fear was that they'd be a bigger, badder version of an SSRI, but that doesn't seem to true at all.

Like I wrote last week, I'm feeling kind of okay with this one from all the information I've read, which is a rarity for me. I even put off reading about it for weeks because looking up new antidepreants usually results in breakdowns and millions of worries and apprehension. She said if I haven't read anything concerning (and was surprised I hadn't), she doubts there's much more she needs to tell me. When I see her next month, I'll start on the full dose.

She mentioned that my old Mental Health Nurse, the one who I lost at the start of the year, had found a new job. At first I said nothing but then I realised that after so long, it's probably now or never.
    "Do you think I could maybe still see her again to say goodbye, with you or even just the dietician there? I just can't do it alone."

She's going away for a couple of weeks, but when she gets back she's going to call her and sort it out. Hopefully, it'll be a positive. Even though she said a few shitty things, for the most part she was good. The only reason I'm so bitter was because our last appointment ended terribly, and she was going to call to arrange a time to say goodbye properly after her holidays, but never did.

    "And I still don't know what to do about the new MHN..."
    "Well, I was going to give you a break from that until next time, but I thought I made it pretty clear you need to get back to see her."
    "I know. I just don't know how to. I really don't want to talk about what she said, because it's already ingrained in my head ("MUM'S TIRED OF YOU!"),  I can't hear it any more. I just don't know how to face her. I'm scared to go by myself, and mum's always been there, but now she just says I'm on my own."

She was going to talk to the dietician and try to come up with a plan of action. So I'm going to talk to her about it on Tuesday, and we'll reassess in a month.

She asked if I'd spoken to the dietician about weighing, and I explained she was cutting me some slack until the chest infection cleared up. Which given I'm now on steroids, which always have a chance of fucking with your weight, may not be such a bad thing. My GP, loving deadlines as she does, tapped into my notes that I have one month to get on the scales.

I'm on a third course of antibiotics for my chest, and have started on two weeks of prednisolone. Oh, and because of all the antibiotics, I have oral thrush and tonsil stone, which explains the sore mouth after throwing up last weekend. I ended up being sick for a couple of days after. I'm not sure if it was my stomach not coping with the strange food or the anxiety or both, but it seems to've passed now.

To top things off, last week a downpour of rain swept on to the back porch overnight. When I woke up, the bottom 6" of my electric blanket was soaked. I panicked, dried it off with paper towels, and it worked okay for a while, then slowly but surely died over the next few days.

Since then, I've been using a hot water bottle while waiting on a new electric blanket. It's been clasped to me pretty much 24/7, layered between camisole and cardigan, the belt and wrap on my dressing gown helping to hold it up.

As weird as it might sound, it's actually been fucking with my body image (which I normally consider to be relatively sound). Carrying it around all the time, having to reach over it, makes me feel bulky, two extra kilograms sloshing around, like the extra mass around my middle is actually a part of me.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

An Unexpected Outing

On Saturday I ended up going out *gasp* to have dinner with my mum, brother, and his girlfriend. There was a big (by my definition, anyway) multi-family get-together on this weekend, which was far more than I can cope with right now, so we ended up doing a small dinner to catch up. Since both getting out of the house and having people in the house is so hard for me at the moment, this was the first time I'd seen her since we all went to Warrnambool for my birthday.

I spent most of the afternoon getting ready, I was so nervous. It was the first time I've worn make-up and proper clothes in months.

I wanted to leave early so we'd have time to go around the block looking for the closest car park. Unfortunately, it was still 100-200m away from the restaurant. It's further into town than I've been for years, and getting from car to restaurant was the hardest hundred meters I've ever walked.

We went out for Japanese. The funny thing is, none of us eat sushi and barely any seafood, but we all enjoy sharing the appetizers and meats and whatnot.
We got there fairly early, around 6, in hopes of beating the crowds, but it was still really busy for the first hour.

It took them forever to take our order, and it was 40 minutes before I even got my wine, which didn't particularly help. They didn't have the bottle I ordered, but didn't bother to say anything until the food started arriving. I nearly cheered once she found a Shiraz.

We ordered pork gyoza (dumplings), vegetable and seafood harumaki (spring rolls), yakitori (chicken skewers), tatsua age (fried chicken), tori no teriyaki (chicken) and gyu no teriyaki (eye fillet). We ate everything - plus four bowls of rice - except for four of the spring rolls. I ended up having one dumpling, one vegetable spring roll, a small piece of tatsua age, and some teriyaki beef with rice.

Not long after we got home, I ended up getting really sick. I'm honestly not sure why. I haven't had a drink in a couple of months, so I got pretty tipsy on just the half bottle, but I didn't think it'd make me puke. No one else got sick, so I don't think it was the food, and even though it was more than normal I didn't eat that much.

In either case, I woke up the next morning 0.7kg lighter. I nearly threw up again the next morning, and spent most of the day on the couch. The roof of my mouth is still hurting today. On top of my chest infection, I just feel sick and sweaty and yuck.

I don't know how to talk about it, but I ended up seeing my biggest trigger while we were out. The main reason I don't leave the house. I've just been feeling frozen since. I tried talking to the dietician about it this morning, but it was near impossible to get the words out. She knows who I saw. She said she was worried by how quiet and flat I was, but I just felt guilty for wasting her time. She even asked if there was anything at all I wanted to talk about, just to get it out, and I just said "I don't know".

Even when I do get out, it doesn't feel like I'm making any progress. I don't get more comfortable with it, and if anything, each outing makes me want to go out less. It's one step forward, two steps back. Maybe this is where professional support comes in. But still, my confidence is shot after this weekend.

And thank you all for your input on Duloxetine/SNRIs in general. It's really good to get input and opinions from people I know, people who've taken it, and not just from Google and my GP. Despite the initial worry, I think I'm actually more comfortable with this than some of the other antidepressants I've been trialled on in the past few years. Surely that's a good sign? I'm seeing my GP this Thursday, so I'm going to talk to her about my worried with SSRIs vs SNRIs (although Dr Sammy's comment was amazingly helpful).

On the bright side - pictures! Apologies for the spam, but this is only like the second time all year my ugly mug's looked presentable.

Gyu No Teriyaki
Tori No Teriyaki
Aaaaand, the next morning...


Friday, 7 August 2015

Out with the Old, In with the New (Duloxetine)

This morning as I was waiting for the kettle to boil, I routinely took my morning meds without thinking, only questioning myself as to whether or not I needed something extra.

As I swallowed, a wave of panic washed through me. My pills are doled out for the week into separate cases for morning, noon, and night by my mother, so I don't think much about it. But this morning, I swallowed a blue pill - a new colour in my pharmaceutical rainbow.

I'd completely forgotten that I was starting a new antidepressant today, and I just swallowed it without so much as a Google. Those three weeks went by quickly. I couldn't even remember the name of it!

Find the box, and off to Dr. Google.

It's called Cymbalta, or Duloxetine. For once, the pharmacist didn't give me an information leaflet with the first packet of a new antidepressant, but I did end up finding a copy online.

Unlike most of the other antidepressants I've been trialled on in recent years, there weren't many big red flags. The side effects seem pretty usual; mostly things like nausea and dizziness and insomnia, which is nothing I don't deal with already.

My biggest hang-up would be that it's an SNRI. Not something I'd heard of before, but from what I gather, basically SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) work on serotonin alone, hence the 'selective', and SNRIs are 'serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors' - noradrenaline being another neurotransmitter.

When I get a new antidepressant, one of the first things I look for is what class it is, because I refuse to take another SSRI.
Long story short, I was given Fluoxetine at age 12, it made me more suicidal and ended up with me in ICU after taking every pill in the house. It was years before I'd touch any type of antidepressant again.

So I'm not too sure what to think about an SNRI. Should I be put off, attracted, or not care either way? I just don't understand neurotransmitters and all that jargon enough to tell. I don't know if I should be concerned at all, or if my fear of SSRIs in general is even rational. Plenty of questions for the GP next week.

I did read somewhere that it's not a first line treatment, which is good. It makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere instead of just crossing off the next pill on the list.

And on the upside, as of today, I am officially off Gabapentin! One more useless antidepressant down, a pharmacy-full to go.

On Monday, I had the day home alone. And how did I choose to spend it?

I chose to stay on the couch, in my pyjamas, smoke inside and re-watch Inside Out, followed by 18 consecutive episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
I did absolutely nothing. I didn't stress. I didn't plan, or watch the clock. I just hibernated in the moment. I was warm and comfortable. I was calm.
My ideal day.

I stayed on the couch for eight hours straight, from 8:15am-4:15pm, only getting up to go to the toilet or refill my drink. Even Billy and Misty didn't get off their couch for the bulk of the day.
I know it sounds pathetic, but amidst the craziness, I miss relaxed days like that.

So, any thoughts or feedback on Duloxetine, or SNRIs in general?

Any experiences or input would be greatly appreciated, as always.
Apart from that, keep your fingers crossed for me that this isn't just another useless antidepressant.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Weighing Game

When I saw the dietician last week, she asked me to have a think about starting 6-weekly weigh-ins, mostly with the goal of keeping my GP happy, and what I would like her to say, if anything.

I've put a lot of thought into it, and depending on the day and my mood, I'm going for one of two situations:

  • A) she weighs me blind, says nothing, puts the number in the computer to keep the GP happy, and I just keep going off my Wii Weights,
  • B) she still blind weighs me, but tells me exactly how much I've lost since she last weighed me.
  • I weighed in on the Wii Fit that morning, so theoretically I know I've lost X.Xkg since then, so this would be out of sheer curiousity.

Either way, I'm not in a place right now where knowing my exact weight would be helpful in any way (not that clothed/coffee-d/awake for 4+ hours will be 100% accurate anyway). I know it's probably confusing and seemingly pointless, but weighing in on the Wii (...even less accurate) and just being able to tell the different from 1/3/6 months ago is enough for now.

I don't know about the 6-weekly thing though, or if I should just leave it until my GP really pushes again.

I don't want to get into it too much, but I said I'd explain why the outing didn't (and isn't about to) happen.

I think things have reached a point where I don't feel comfortable going out at all, even in safe and rare situations like the past few years.

And I think I've realised that I now need more/different support for leaving the house than mum can provide. It was fine for a while, but when I think about it, the last few outings (including the overnight trip earlier this year) have ended in tragedy. She ends up getting frustrated and I'm left alone to deal with the stress, and I cannot cope with that right now.

For the first time ever, I feel like any ventures out would have to be professionally guided. I just feel so lost and scared and stuck. I don't know where to even start. I do want to try to get out to visit my Great Aunt & Uncle soon, which is easier than going out in public, but with my Uncle's health, I need to wait for my chest to clear up first.

I don't want to use the word 'low', but it feels like another step. I've written before about how agoraphobia isn't black & white, and has progressed alongside other anxieties for the majority of my life. Even in the last few years, there have been big steps.
At the start of 2013, I stopped going to the supermarket, my last safe place.
Last year, I made it out a total of nine times in twelve months.
This year, I'm losing my sporadic outings and my safety in the car.

Shortly after I posted a few days ago, I got a call from my GP. I panicked, unable to talk on the phone, worried about what she was going to say to mum. Mum went to hand me the phone, and I reached out to get it, but hesitated, freaked out, and was overcome with an urge to hang up or throw the phone into the garden.

She took it back and put it on speaker. I could never do phone calls.

My GP had my bloods back from that morning, and apparently they indicate an infection. She asked if I've been feeling chesty, which is always a yes, but especially with the depression and staying outside of a night at all hours to smoke, I thought it'd been building these past few weeks.

She wanted me to start antibiotics straight away because it can escalate quickly. Thankfully she always has me keep an extra box in the house just in case. But I've been feeling pretty physically crappy and haven't wanted to do much more than lie on the couch, so excuse my severe lack of things to write about.

Spotted on a drive a few weeks ago. 
I saw the dragon's head while coming over a bridge, so we went for a mosey to investigate. 
(photo taken through the car window - don't get too excited)