Posts Tagged ‘mental health

01
Jan
19

How Broken Am I?

Happy New Year, everyone. December, and by extension 2018, are finally gone, leaving us a fresh 365 days to try to do better.

I hope to all higher and lower powers it’s better. In 2018 I missed roughly 8 months of work due to illness, saw progressive decay in my physical and mental state, and spent quite a bit of time wondering just how sharp the knives in the drawer were. That is not exaggeration, nor is it an attempt to elicit reactions. Merely truth.

Most followers know I’ve got quite a lot wrong with me. For those who don’t, here’s the laundry list:

Asthma. I’m on three kinds of steroid and two kinds of “as needed” meds so I can pretend to function at least semi-normally. Walking down the stairs or across my parking lot on a good day is liable to end with a severe coughing fit and potential vomiting, followed by an hour or more of wheezing. On a bad day it’s impossible and may result in crawling when I try to push myself to do it anyway.

Bipolar Disorder. Apparently I’m on the low end of this one, for which I should be grateful I guess. Doesn’t mean that I can’t go from feeling “okay” to “staring at the knives” in 10 seconds under the right – or wrong, depending on your viewpoint – circumstances. It can also go from placid and considering the knives for… ahem… personal use to contemplating how many times you can stab someone before they just…shut…up. Yes, I am unstable and sometimes not a pleasant person to be around. I do my best, and they gave me a bottle of lovely pills that I take to “even it out,” which helps… but not always.

Chronic Depressive Disorder. On top of being prone to psychotic mood swings, I’m also almost permanently stuck in a depressive state. That means I get all the negatives of the bipolar without the fun and occasionally useful manic periods. I’ve got pills for this, too, but even when they’re working on my brain there’s a lot of factors involved in depression besides just not having the right chemistry lab in your skull. Being a practical invalid, constantly being stressed about bills as you fight with your company’s disability reps – a situation that still hasn’t been resolved – and seeing nothing but doctor’s offices, the gas station between your house and those offices, and the walls of your tiny apartment for months on end, with similarly limited human contact takes its toll on one’s mood and ability to cope just as much as a lack of serotonin and dopamine.

Carpal Tunnel / Arthritis. My wrists and hands are turning into barely functioning hooks, and I spend the first two to three hours of the day – once I sort out my morning candy bag of pills and huff on my assorted aspirators, anyway – with alternating numbness and agony twisting through my forearms and hands. It’s not considered severe enough for medication at this point, and they’re afraid to try surgery due to my lung problems, so I chew naproxen sodium and ibuprofen like they’re going out of style and spend a lot of time trying to type or game with big clunky braces on (which then gets me frustrated and causes problems with the mental/emotional disorders, and what a merry-go-round that is.) I’m supposed to wear them to bed, too; problem is that I have a nasty tendency to strip them off and hide them when I’m asleep. Which leads us to our next issue.

Restless Leg Syndrome. I used to think this one was a joke. Then they did some tweaks on my other meds and I discovered that, hey, this is a thing. Your body will jump around and just do things whether you want it to or not. You can feel the muscles in your thighs and calves thrumming, begging to be flexed, and if you give in to it, it only gets worse. You then get two choices; endure it, and fight for every minute of sleep you manage to get, risking waking yourself up by kicking yourself, the wall, the cat, your sleepmate or whatever, or take the tranquilizers they prescribed, which stops that and helps you sleep, but tends to cause early-waking insomnia and general grogginess for a bit when you wake up. Which also leads to another fun one.

Severe Acid Reflux. With the asthma and allergies, I wheeze and cough a lot in my sleep. With a sensitive gut, sometimes that leads to nausea. More than once I’ve woken myself up with vomit burning in my throat, almost choking as I make a mad dash to the bathroom. Now do that with numb legs and a groggy head because of the tranquilizers you had to take to get to sleep at all and you have a fun situation. More pills for this, but I can’t take them all the time because apparently they can dissolve my stomach lining, so that severely limits diet and when it’s “safe” to eat. Combine with an odd work schedule – when I’m actually capable of working, ha ha – and I get to literally starve some days. Hooray.

Mild Schizophrenia. At least, that’s what they’re debating right now. The docs are teetering on whether they think it’s harmless delusions that should be death with via therapy, just an overactive imagination and lack of stimuli, or actual psychosis that needs more magical pills, but regardless of the final diagnosis, I see shit that’s not there, I hear shit that’s not there, and my memory is only to be trusted about 80%. Fun.

I’m not trying to complain, though I’m not going to lie and say it’s a bloody picnic or anything. The meds help, in as much as they can, and I’m doing my best. But when I disappear for long periods, or the output seems to be suffering, one or some or all of these things are likely to blame.

As noted, it’s a new year. New chance to try again and post as much as I can and try to grow my YouTube and Twitch channels, and publish a new book and finish the one on the burner like it deserves to be. That’s my resolution. To do my best to do those things.

I can always use a little help; like, share, subscribe if you’re of a mind. Follow me on Twitter (or fill my timeline and DMs with vitriol, if you like!). Watch me play games badly here on Twitch. And if you are taken with the spirit, you can help keep my stuff working and my meds on order via Patreon or GoFundMe.

If you can’t – or just won’t – do those things, that’s okay, too. You read this, which means a lot. You’re still paying attention, even with all my bitching and long silences, which is pretty impressive. So thank you.

What about you folks out there? How broken are you, and how does that impact your creative endeavors? Got tips for helping others through those times? Drop your thoughts down below, if you’re of a mind.

Happy New Year!

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09
Oct
18

Depression: Lock & Key

Depression is a fascinating feeling. It’s not any one thing, really; it’s a pile of conflicting emotions and responses, finely tuned to subtly twist everything you think or feel, seemingly with the sole intent of making you miserable.

When factored in with a physical malady, such as asthma, that seems intent on doing the same to your body that the depression does to your mind and heart, it leads to all kinds of fun metaphors.

I’ve decided that the duo together are rather like a combination lock. You know, those old Masters or Schlages that were on your locker or bedroom once upon a time. But this is no dinky lock that if you got irritated enough you could just snap off with a pair of pliers and a bit of determination. Nope. It’s one of those two pound monstrosities with an inch-thick hasp. Covered with rust and marred by the tool marks of those who’d tried – and failed – to force it open.

That lock is being used to hold together heavy-duty chain, the gaps threaded with barbed wire so old, gnarled and rusted that you probably could get tetanus just looking at it. It’s wrapped around my chest – extra tight, can’t have those lungs working, can we, buddy? – my throat, my mouth, my eyes, my balls, my brain.

The only thing that feels like it’s free are my hands… but they have a job to do.

Before I can do anything else, before I can try to be a productive member of society, before I can pretend that everything’s okay and today isn’t the day I drive off a cliff or get creative with my dosages, those hands have to twiddle the dial on that bastardly lock and find the combination.

That lock doesn’t want the combination found, though. So it finds all kinds of fun ways to stop you. The dial doesn’t want to turn, and the notches on the face are eroded so you can’t tell if you just turned 35 clockwise or 41 counterclock, assuming you even came close to where you wanted to be. Fine motor control goes out the window when you’re having to exert near-Herculean force to move it an inch in the first place, and the lock is tricksy. It’s stuck… except when it doesn’t want to be.

Maybe it takes an hour. Maybe two. Maybe all damn day. But you can’t do anything else until you find the combination. And the lock is, as I said, tricksy. “You beat me today,” it clicks and clacks out the hole the hasp was plugging a moment ago. “But I’ll still be here tomorrow.”

So I get on with the day, best I can, whatever’s left of it. But come the next, the chains have crept up on me again, wrapping tighter than the day before, the barbs now sharper with everything that didn’t get done the day before. The lock has changed the combination, and maybe even the rules; perhaps it will only have two numbers today, but will have to be spun backwards, or it might be ten digits today and they change every time you miss one.

So when I’m quiet, and haven’t been able to work or write or make snide commentary on trophy lists or do much of anything beyond staring at the television and trying to make sense of the pictures, it’s not laziness, stubbornness or stupidity – though I am sure I am guilty of all three in various measures.

It’s me being busy. Trying to pick locks.

Enjoy my content? Want to help me keep making it? You can, over at GoFundMe and Patreon! Drop by, share a like, or a drop a dollar in the jar if you’re feeling generous. In any case, thank you for reading!
15
Jul
18

Brain Surgery

I’m crazy. Absolutely batshit. That’s been known for some time, and I’m not one to pretend otherwise, or shy away from admitting it, or worry about what anyone else says about my particular brand of madness. It’s just a fact, as much a part of my makeup as black hair, bad teeth and my asthma.

Being broken that way doesn’t mean useless, though. It’s treatable. Not “fixable” by some standards, but certainly livable. Hell, I muddled through 37 years before having a stable and functional chemical cocktail to keep me running.

But we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you. Yes. You. Someone out there reading this is suffering from mental illness and not doing what they can to treat it. Because nobody bothered to tell me this stuff, I feel the need to say it, on the off chance it helps someone else. So here’s a quick list of things to remember.

1. It’s not your fault. Sometimes the chemicals just don’t work right and that’s not something you can will to be otherwise. Stop blaming yourself.

2. Don’t let other people tell you how to feel or how to deal with it. “Cheer up!” or other platitudes – offered in various levels of exasperation – doesn’t do anything except make you feel worse if you fixate on it. Other people don’t get it unless they’ve been there, and that’s not their fault. Hating on them or hating yourself because you can’t do as they say isn’t going to get you anywhere.

3. Get a psychiatrist. Not a therapist, not a psychologist, not a GP. A head-shrinker who does that and nothing but. Try to find one who specializes in whatever you think you have; if you’re right, they’ll know how to treat it. If you’re wrong, they’ll be the first to notice and offer a referral to someone else.

4. Get two. No, really. A second opinion is always a good idea. Shrinks are just as fallible as anyone else, seeing the world through the lens of their experiences, biases and education. Finding two who agree – at least generally – is a good sign you’re on the right track.

5. Talk to your shrink. Tell them everything. Hiding things, misrepresenting things, or outright lying isn’t helping anyone. Their job is to help you, and they can’t do that if they don’t have all the facts.

6. Take your meds. If they were prescribed to you, you should take them. That means take them as prescribed, when prescribed. Most psychoactive drugs take time to kick in, and need to maintain a presence in the bloodstream to work. Skipping doses or deciding you “feel good” one day and just not taking them is a quick right straight back to where you started.

7. Talk to your shrink. Toying with brain chemicals is more art than science, because everyone’s illness and internal chemistry is different. The first thing they give you may not work. The dosage may be too high or too low. They may need to add something else to it. Stay in touch with the doctor, tell him how each tweak is working (or not working) and adjust accordingly.

I’m sure there’s something else I’m forgetting, but I think that covers most of the bases. If any of you out there have stories you’d like to share, words of encouragement, or other things you think should be on the list, drop them in the box below.

Until next time.

20
Apr
18

The Dark Beast, Depression

Things everyone should know. (Comments disabled here; please visit the original post.)

The Dark Beast, Depression

The Dark Beast, Depression
— Read on jamesedgarskye.com/2018/04/20/the-dark-beast-depression/




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