The Parent, the Child and the Monster: inner conflict and making choices

My therapist has helped me to see that there’s a little kid inside me desperately trying to tell me what it needs, and that I should respect her voice. This has led me to the thought that at any given time, I am made up up three “people”: the child, the parent and My Monster D. And they are always fighting.

I had a pretty good day yesterday. I went to work, I went to yoga and a night market with a friend, and then we went to see Mad Max (great movie btw). But now my friend is trying to persuade me to go to a swing dance club tonight, and I don’t really want to.

But it’s never as simple as that. The “parent” inside is saying It doesn’t matter if you want to go, you should go. You need the social interaction and you need the exercise, and you need to be a good friend.” The child inside is going But I don’t wanna! and the Monster is threatening with You better not, or else.

So…majority rules? Or does parent know best??

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The Trintellix Experiment

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So after taking some time, I decided to be a guinea pig for the research into how Trintellix effects cognitive problems associated with depression. When the psychiatrist first told me I should be on antidepressants, I left his office feeling weirdly defeated. I think it’s because it feels like giving up on myself when I know full well that others would say it’s the opposite of that. Still, I can’t help but feel disappointed that I couldn’t just fix me without any drugs.

Before that appointment, I was told I most likely have had Attention Deficit Disorder most or all of my life. It really helped to explain a few things and I wasn’t all that surprised to be honest. At first I was resistant to the idea of treating it with drugs, but I slowly came to accept it. I’m not sure why it bothered me less than the idea of going back on antidepressants. I think it’s because I was told you could take it for times when you feel you need it (like work days) and not at other times. I’m not sure if this is at all true, but regardless I had hoped that I would be prescribed meds for ADD and not depression.

Maybe it was my way of trying to maintain a sense of control over the situation. And I think I just figured out why I felt so bad after leaving the psychiatrist’s office: it no longer seemed within my control (as crazy as this sounds). Logically, I know I have a choice. But for some reason it doesn’t feel that way. Relying on antidepressants that I will have to take every single day for the next year, and possibly for forever makes me feel like I don’t have control over my own life, my own self. And maybe too it’s partly the commitment, as I’ve agreed to do this for a year.

I thought being on ADD meds might allow me to live up to my potential; I would finally have the energy and the focus to become a healthy, happy person sort of on my own.

All this is mute anyway, as the psychiatrist convinced me it was better to try Trintellix. So I’m officially a guinea pig. I’ve been taking it for a week now. I will try and keep this blog updated on the effects in case anyone’s looking for a subjective account of what it’s like. So far I haven’t noticed any major changes, granted it’s only been a week and they are starting me on just 10 mg once in the morning.

I will have follow-up appointments about once a month, where they have me filling out ridiculously long questionnaires in addition to an odd cognitive test. The only side effect I’ve noticed so far is some minor nausea. I definitely need to take it with food, and if I don’t have enough food, it’s much worse.

Today was a bad day, though I can’t say if it has anything at all to do with the drug. I’ve been feeling sad and hopeless, super self-conscious, very anxious in public, and kind of emotional, meaning I cried easily. It’s not like these things never happen though, so I will have to wait and see.

In other related news, I can’t decide if my therapy sessions are helping at all. I feel like I’m just not committed enough to working on my issues. I do good for a little while, but soon I’m back to my old habits. Because of this, when I go in to my appointments I always feel unprepared, like I’ve been caught in class without having done my homework (which was a pretty regular occurrence in high school if I remember correctly).

I wonder if therapists have changed a lot since I last saw one in university. I hate to say it, but my therapist seems like kind of a flake. I think she’s mostly good at her job, but she has a tendency to get all excited about something and then bites off more than she can chew. She always tells me to contact her outside of work so we can hang out (free of charge) as kind of an extension of our therapy sessions. But it often doesn’t work out and she changes plans at the last minute. After today’s fiasco with her I decided I wouldn’t do it anymore. I’m starting to feel like that unwanted friend or something, and I’m not sure it’s good for the therapy sessions. But then I think about the fact that whatever else, she did get me out of the house today, and she did give me a reason to get some exercise in the great outdoors (we went for a long, brisk walk). So I’m undecided. I will most likely continue to give it another chance, and another…. It’s on her own time afterall…

So that’s where I’m at: still feeling like I’m spiralling, but in slow motion. I’m hoping the benefits of therapy and the Trintellix will kick in soon and give me something to hold on to, change the trajectory I’m on, but still not feeling very hopeful.

Just Be.

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In February of this year I found a therapist. The last time I went to therapy was with a counsellor at the university (and I don’t even want to think about how many years ago that was). I’m not sure yet if the therapy is making a real difference, and I’ve had to downgrade the frequency of our appointments due to using up my insurance coverage.

But, since starting therapy I have been trying to be more active again by getting outside for walks, and buying a yoga pass. I even bought a bike which is something I’ve been putting off for years, (in part because it all felt so pointless and in part because my anxiety makes shopping for a bike a nightmare). But I did it, and it’s locked up outside my door, just waiting to be used.

If nothing else, meeting with my therapist has given me a reason to get out of the house on the weekends, when I’d really rather play hermit and watch Netflix. Once I’m out of the house, I try to take advantage of it. I usually end up at a coffee shop with a book or my work-in-progress. I’m trying to be okay with just being there, among the humans, without getting too frustrated that I can’t concentrate in public. My therapist has pointed out that I tend to think and do in extremes: it’s all or nothing. And most of the time I choose nothing because I’m somewhat of a “perfectionist”.

So I’m trying to just be –outside, in public, visible.

My therapist also pointed out to me that I might have ADD. I never really thought of my symptoms as ADD but she’s right. She asked me to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist to get an official diagnosis. Two months later, the appointment is over. Yes I do have ADD but “let’s treat the depression”.

Because I’m not too keen on starting antidepressants again (last time I took them was in 2005), my psychologist thought treating the ADD would help me get back on track, give me the focus and energy to make positive changes in my life which would then help my depression. I made peace with taking something like Adderall. However, I got to the psychiatrist and he agreed that I have ADD but wasn’t at all interested in focusing on that.

He’s quite convinced that I need meds for depression, and wants me to start with a newer drug called Trintellix because it might also help with the cognitive symptoms I experience, like problems with memory, focus, attention-span, executive functioning of the brain. I remember the long list of side effects of antidepressants and the severe discontinuation symptoms that lasted two weeks or more when I very responsibly weaned myself off of them. I remember the vertigo if I forgot to take one pill. I remember feeling that the minimal improvement to my mood wasn’t worth it.

I left his office feeling defeated. I didn’t agree to anything. I can still call him back and say no, I want ADD meds only, or I can go the Trintellix route. I can also be a part of his research for this drug which would at least mean more follow-up. He also told me about ECT treatment, which I was interested in, but apparently it means two months in a hospital, so that’s probably out.

I don’t know what to do. And I need to decide soon.

My therapist suggested I start a chronology of childhood memories, because mine seem to be so scattered and hard to reach. This seemed a daunting task. But I’ve been working on it. I’m going to post some of them here in hopes that it will motivate me to continue with it.

In the meantime, just trying not to spiral too fast so I can get my footing again.

Update on this whole life thing.

Dear Internet, 

Since I last posted a lot has happened. I had my last day at the Hellmouth and it was awful. It’s been extremely hot and humid here, and the air quality has sucked even more because of forest fires with far-reaching smoke. I had a tiny little office in the back of the building with no proper air circulation or air conditioning, so I was literally drenched in sweat at my office job for the last week.

One last story of the ridiculous nature of my workplace: It’s a tradition to provide a farewell lunch for people who leave the Hellmouth. So my boss, who I fondly nick-named The Beast, came to my office and said “What would you like us to have for lunch? You can pick anything you want.” To which I replied, “Hmm, let me think on it and I will get back to you shortly.” So I asked a few people on my side of the office and came to the conclusion, that instead of the traditional Chinese food, I would like to have Indian food. She predictably turned her nose up at this and said that “no one would eat it.” No one. Apparently that’s just crazy talk. Anyways, she guilted me into saying “It’s okay, I just want everyone to be able to eat. Let’s go with Chinese food.” So she tells me to check out their menu and make a list of my favourites. So I do. And the motherfuckers didn’t order a single one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, a free lunch is a free lunch, but why the Hell would you bother asking if you have no intention whatsoever of being accommodating? Typical. I was about 80% certain that it would go down that way anyway, but there was just this tiny part of me that was like, maybe….

So my last week there was stupid busy and hot and humid and sweaty and I still bloody cried on my last day. I should have been jumping up and down with joy while thumbing my nose at them and screaming “see ya later suckers”, but instead I got all stupid and teary-eyed. Have I mentioned that change is very hard for me?

My Musician Guy

My Musician Guy

Anywho, the plan was to go visit my family for a bit, come back to the city in time to go to Epic Concert, and then have a week to enjoy the fact that The People Upstairs are gone for a week, before starting my new job.

So I went home. And as soon as I got there, I got really, really sick. Had to go to the doctor, was told I have strep throat, was given antibiotics, and was sick almost the entire time I was home. It was smoky as all Hell for a few days there too, and I’m guessing the poor air quality didn’t help my sickness.

So I finally felt better on the last day, and then we leave, driving the 10 hours back to the City. The next day I found out my dad had a “minor” heart attack. What the shit? I’m freaking out about it as he’s still in the hospital and they are flying him to a bigger city for an angiogram and possible angioplasty.

I don’t know what to do. I was just there (it’s ten hours away) and I’m starting a new job very soon. They’re moving him for the out-of-town-test possibly tomorrow, but it’s not for sure, and if I went, I think I would have to fly but don’t think I have the money.

I’ve been pretty emotional. There’s a lot going on, and I can’t stand the thought of my dad in a hospital bed, emotional and frustrated that what he thought was a healthy lifestyle hasn’t made a lick of difference to his heart health. I’m scared. And I’m angry and frustrated that people can let themselves get to a point where making changes and trying new things seems absolutely out of the question. Like, I know yoga would help him in so many ways, but do you think he would ever consider trying it, even if his life was at stake? I don’t think so.

It also makes me worry about the rest of us since heart problems run pretty strongly in the family and it just feels like a destiny I don’t want for any of us, but what the shit does it matter because it’s out of our control anyway, right?

Sincerely,

Stressed the Fuck Out 

The Interview — sing little monkey, sing!

Well, I had my first interview in 8 years one week ago today. I made myself sick over it, especially when they told me I would have to basically perform for them (a story, rhyme or song). I was able to cope only by convincing myself that the interview was no big deal. So beyond tailoring my cover letter and revising my resume and brushing up on my knowledge of the place, I didn’t really prepare. (Not including choosing what to “perform” and practicing it.)

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What potential job requires that you sing them a song at the interview? Literacy facilitators, apparently. I had no idea what to do, so I settled on something that I know very well: Beauty and the Beast. Yup. I sang them Little Town, the opening song to the Disney cartoon.

I’m actually a volunteer tutor  for the centre, which is why I thought I might have a shot, but I’ve only been with them about five months including training time, and it doesn’t require that I go to the centre very often, as I just meet my “learner” at the library. I had not met the people involved in the programs that I applied for.

Considering what I pictured, I guess the interview wasn’t that bad. But what I pictured, was a large, sterile room with a panel of judges and a spotlight directed at my sweaty and shaking self, as strangers demanded me to “sing little monkey, sing!” Yeah. That never happened.

When I left the interview, I ran into the volunteer coordinator talking to the receptionist, and she was all like, “MaryPoppinz, you look radiant!” I guess embarrassment looks good on the pale.

When I left the interview, I was relieved, but I didn’t really have a good idea of how it went, because, dammit, those people are nice. I left in a pretty great mood though, and singing Beauty and the Beast all the way home.

I’m a Sad, Sad Clown — change is hard.

Oh God Oh God Oh God……
Anxiety+GirlI have a job interview tomorrow and I’m kinda freaking out! I haven’t had to do this for almost 8 years. 8 years! I can’t believe I’ve been working The Hellmouth that long. It’s kind of sad. Also kind of sad is just how inadequate I feel I am for just about anything else.

I made myself physically sick yesterday, thinking about the interview. What if I completely shut down? What if the anxiety just takes me over and I become comatose? Just an inadequate, comatose freak, sitting there, being judged by judgy people who are really nice but can’t help but think, “what a nutter”?

The “funny” thing is, when they emailed me to tell me about the interview, they said “PLUS prepare a small story to tell or sing a rhyme or song.” That was certainly not in the brochure. Funny right? Like the universe is toying with me just for fun. Like it’s grinning like a psycho and rubbing it’s massive God-hands together and going ooh, I know how we can make this even more entertaining…let’s make her sing and rhyme in front of the panel of judgy judges…yes….

Trying to comfort myself by saying I don’t really care if I get the job, and I don’t want them to hire me if I’m not suitable anyway… it’s helping, a little. Given their unexpected request for me to play the part of clown for the panel of judges, I’m thinking they are looking for someone more extroverted than myself.

Here’s hoping I don’t implode at the interview tomorrow morning. But if you don’t hear from me again it’s because my anxiety has eaten me from the inside out. (How’s that for a visual?)

5018221_10298752_bI’m kidding. If you don’t hear from me it’s probably because in my efforts to deal, I took it too far, and instead of being my method writer self, I became my method clown self, lost touch with reality and joined the circus as a perpetually rhyming clown with no self esteem.

Wish me luck!

 

 

Crying Clown Girl, art by Alex Howell

* Anxiety Girl, comic by Natalie Dee

Must do ALL THE THINGS with a side of Unhelpful Incessant Internal Dialogue

I haven’t been very proactive with my mental or physical health these days. Like journalling, for instance. (Why yes, spell-check, journalling is a verb!) Why don’t I do it? I mean more than twice a year when I’ve decided to turn over that new leaf and do ALL THE THINGS I know I’m supposed to be doing to get better. I’ve always been super supportive of the idea that it can help us all live better, happier lives, but I’ve been guilty of not practicing what I preach.

I do that a lot to be honest. And when it happens I always have this argument with myself over whether or not this makes me a hypocrite. I’m settling on no, (convenient right?). It’s funny that I even bother to have these debates with myself  since I don’t think I’ve ever actually been accused of being one, (by anyone other than myself), but that’s just one example of the incessant internal dialogue that goes on in the deep dark recesses of my mind…

Seriously though, I’m not a hypocrite. Want to know why? Because even though I like to give advice to people when they ask, or when they’re telling me about their given problem, I’m not pretending to be perfect. I’m not criticizing them for not doing these things. I’m simply saying that these things might be a good idea. I genuinely want to help when I give advice, not pretend I’m better than anyone else.

Oh God. Now I’m arguing with myself. On the internet.

clean-all-the-things-624x468I guess I’m always being critical of myself and my motivations, my excuses or reasons, in short, my everything, and this is just another example of that. Three cheers for critical self-talk, hooray!

So this is me, making one more bid to do ALL THE THINGS!!!! 

Let’s see, that’s: the “morning pages” journal writing, yoga, meditation, running, healthy eating, supplements, early to bed early to rise oh God just thinking of it makes me want to stab my alarm, random acts of kindness and SOCIAL INTERACTION, boring-life-necessities like cooking a motherf*cking meal, cleaning up the apartment, doing the laundry…

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Pics from awesome blog-turn-book “Hyberbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh.

Yes. It’s time. Must do ALL THE THINGS.

 

 

*Have I mentioned how much I love Hyperbole and a Half?