World Mental Health Day

(Just got done writing this one. Heh… sorry, it turned out way longer than I anticipated, but here we go…)

Any time you get on Twitter and scroll through your feed, you see any number of people posting something because it’s a “National (whatever) Day” of some sort. Usually it’s not… but it gives folks a good excuse to post cute pictures of their cat, dog, kid, or whatever – but after seeing several posts and doing a quick google, it turns out today really is World Mental Health Day.

It’s meant to raise awareness, show support for folks getting or needing mental health care, and to also reduce the stigma that’s sometimes involved. Often involved, actually. πŸ˜’ For example, a while back at one of my primary care doctor appointments I was discussing some of the things in my life that were causing me anxiety. My disability, pain, the (then) newly discovered cancer, Mom being sick and now having passed, other close friends dying from cancer, dealing with workers comp, etc… 😟 like I told her – stuff that would probably cause anyone to feel stressed. I was just telling her so she’d have the full story, but she said she could refer me to a counselor if I wanted to talk to someone about it. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Seemed like a good idea to me. Sometimes just being able to let out your stress or anxiety to someone that’s not involved in your life in any way… it can just take a little bit of the weight off. I saw her like once a month for a few months, and she said she could refer me to their in-house doctor to see if there was any medication that might be able to help. I wasn’t really interested, since I was feeling an appropriate amount of “bleh” in regards to the stuff that was causing it… but I went ahead and took her suggestion.

I now see that doctor about once every six or eight weeks, and I’ve actually got an appointment with him tomorrow where I’ll need to make a decision. πŸ€” Because, despite this feeling like a normal series of doctor visits – just as if I was dealing with a physical health condition – the fact that this doctor gives me medication to help with my anxiety is now being used against me. 😠 And being used against me by the last person that I would expect to further the stigma surrounding mental health care… another doctor. ☹️

And when I say “mental health care” … I don’t even take any type of super serious medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed with any extreme disorders. Until this hiccup happened, I looked at this doctor and my treatment there as “Yeah, I guess it makes me feel a little better maybe… or at least I know it’s not making me feel worse… so I guess I’ll continue going.” Like, in my mind, it was barely a thing, but I continued going since it was now part of my current medical routine.

But when I had to go to the independent medical evaluation for the workers comp system (a week or so before getting that second radioactive iodine dose and scan for my cancer followup) one of the things discussed with that doctor was what medical treatment I was currently getting, and from who. (Regardless if it was related to my WC injury or not, to get a complete picture…) So of course I talked about the cancer doctor and treatment, my WC doctor and treatment, and then my PCP doctor and referral regarding the mental health care.

Now, these exams, they’re initiated by my former employer’s insurer, so of course they’re rarely going to be helpful to my cause. So I expected him to say certain things, but I never expected that being treated by a doctor for occasional anxiety would essentially be “weaponized” and used against me the way that it is. 😟😞 Because this doctor took the names of the two meds I’m prescribed, and picked some of the absolute worst possible reasons that I may be taking them. You know how almost every medication has one “thing” it is known for treating, but then it can also be used for treating a half dozen or more other things?

You could even do this test on yourself. Just grab whatever meds you take, get on WebMD, pick out the most extreme, “worst case scenario” possible uses for each medication, and see how close that sounds – compared to what you’re actually taking them for. 🧐 That’s what this doctor did to me. Taking what is run-of-the-mill, minor anxiety treatment to me, and twisting it into all sorts of implied, speculative, “concerning” mental conditions that could be so severe that they even affect how I interpret / talk about my pain and disability. πŸ˜§πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜  Reading those things in his report was honestly shocking. πŸ₯Ί

The funny thing is, for most people… just the pain that I deal with each day, and the sheer amount of things that I can no longer do due to the disability in my left shoulder and arm… just those things alone are enough reason that a person might want to include anxiety treatment in their normal medical routine. And I was doing it mostly because another doctor suggested it, and it sounded like a “might as well” thing, rather than me desperately needingΒ it or seeking it out. And now it has bitten me in the ass. πŸ™„πŸ˜’

Well, maybe it has bitten me in the ass. (Maybe the commission will see right through it, as they should.) I won’t know how his report will affect my worker comp case until the hearing is scheduled and all of the doctors’ information (from both sides) is reviewed. But now I’m stuck, wondering if tomorrow I should let this doctor know that I no longer need his services. πŸ˜ŸπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He probably helps me a little bit, but it’s certainly something that I could do away with if it’s going to damage the treatment that I get for my work injury. It’s obviously more important (and logical) for me to want to keep the treatment that keeps my pain to a minimum, which also helps keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Yeah, so anyway, it’s a bit of a clusterfuck… and, unfortunately, anyone that reads my story here… anyone that may have been considering seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for the first time… they’ve now got something to add to their mental “nope” list when it comes to the pros and cons of seeking any type of mental health treatment. πŸ˜’ I don’t take it personally, what the “independent” doctor wrote. I understand that his job is to come up with all of the “worst case scenario” stuff that he can, since my doctors will obviously be talking positively about all of the ways that my current treatment is as effective as the WC situation will allow.

I guess I look at those types of doctors the same way that you might look at public attorneys who are appointed to defend obvious criminals in court. They still have to give that defense their maximum effort, even if it goes against what many people would consider to be “right.” That doctor has chosen that job for reasons only he would know… so I can only hope that sometimes he stops to think about the effect that his actions have on us folks who rely on our WC treatment to keep our pain and lives at least tolerable. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜Ÿ

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019. πŸ˜’πŸŽ‰

Something Like That

This heatwave that we’re currently going through… it’s a pretty good way to explain how I’ve been feeling over the past few days. Just go outside, walk around your property for about 15 minutes, then stand there a while… and that’s basically how I’ve been feeling each day all day. Again, not bitching, just trying to describe it in a way that people can understand.

Thankfully I’m almost half way through the process, so at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that I can look forward to. No matter what results I get, at least I can get back on my thyroid meds after the scan has been completed. It makes me feel bad for folks who have suffered with thyroid issues all of their lives, because the constant nausea, overheating, and dizziness… it’s no joke. Not thrilled that it has been made crystal clear that this will indeed be a medication that I’ll be taking for the rest of my life though.

I’m a cheap-ass, so I usually wouldn’t do this, but last night I turned the thermostat all the way down to 68 when I went to bed. I knew I’d be sleeping at least part way into the day and the house would heat up quickly, but despite it staying that cool in the house – I woke up early and completely drenched in sweat again. (Also… gross.) That’s why I mention how far along I am in the process… because if I didn’t know that there was an end to this, it would be some scary shit.

I’ve been drinking a lot more water, so the muscle spasms and dehydration hopefully won’t become an issue. It’s pretty shitty though, that the insurance industry has decided that this is an acceptable thing for patients to go through while preparing for their second radiation dosage. The alternative way, staying on your meds and just getting two injections before the scan… that costs several thousand dollars, so I guess you can’t blame them for trying to find somewhere to cut costs in what has likely been a very expensive surgery.

Again though, knowing that this is a temporary thing for me, it really makes me feel for those folks who don’t have insurance at all, and even for the people that do but have a chronic condition that still isn’t covered by their plan for whatever reason. As with most things like this, it’s something that we don’t think much about until it starts to affect us personally. So, yeah… still feeling super awful… and I feel like it’s continuing to slowly get worse, but I’ll be good as long I just keep reminding myself…

“It’s only temporary. It’s the lack of meds, not anything more scary. You’ll have more answers soon. Just (n) more days and this will all be over. Consider yourself blessed that you’ve made it this far. Plenty of other people have it worse than you, and it’s not temporary for them. Yeah, it sucks… but don’t be a pussy. It’s only temporary.” etc…

I’m trying to stay positive. I need to stay positive.

Nerves

As of my last post, I was feeling the then-immediate relief of not having to learn of the plan for my next session of treatment that day. I thought that might make my weekend a little more relaxed, but with each hour closer that Monday gets – the more my nerves started messing with me. 😐 I’m still good, but knowing that tomorrow I’ll be getting the call, it did change what I ended up doing with my weekend.

I’m aware that I could be making a bigger deal out of this than it’s going to end up being, but the alternate is also true… so the best course of action, one that starts me out on better footing before whatever’s next, was to use these two days to get the house nice. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I don’t know if it’d be this way for everyone, but if I’m really negatively affected by stopping my thyroid meds (and most everything that I’ve heard so far is that I will be) then it’s important that the house is clean, laundry is done, dishes done up, etc.

It’s simple… feeling shitty feels shitty, but feeling shitty while also being stuck in a dirty house, with unwashed dishes taunting me, baskets of laundry waiting on me… that would just be so much more shitty for me. πŸ˜₯ Like I said, it might not be something that would bother other folks, but it would bother me more than you can even imagine. 😣 One bit of good news, and I’ll give partial credit to the way I’ve tried to keep moving, but I’m finally walking completely without a cane again. πŸ™‚ There’s still some pain, and I can still feel the unpredictable weakness… but it’s good that I’m off the meds I had a bad reaction to, and that I’m getting along much better when it comes to my knee. (Which is surprising, honestly, the way that I pretty much killed it the night that I was in Columbus several days ago.) See, it’s not always bad news around here… 😏

I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to visit a couple people that I had put on the “possibility” list for the weekend if I was feeling alright, but I’m staying hopeful that this next session of treatment will be able to conclusively “clear” me. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ₯ΊπŸ™πŸ» Then I can hopefully work at getting my head in a better place again, eventually feeling more like a previous version of me, and potentially more able to make random trips out of the house without the anxiety stopping me before I even make it to the door. πŸ˜‘ As much as I want friends and family to “get me” when it comes to all my twitchy problems, they shouldn’t have to put up with the way that I am as much as they do. 😟 “Clean bill of health” (at least when it comes to my thyroid stuff) could do wonders for snapping me back to something more close to normal. πŸ€•Β That’s the hope anyway…

Unfortunately… Nope

This will be a lengthy entry.Β Β πŸ€”Β  Although, I suppose that’s typical for me and the blog… 😏

A few days after going to my full dose of Paxil, one in the morning and one at night, the side effects that I hoped would go away were actually getting much worse. 😳 So over the past couple of days I’ve weaned myself back off… and today was the first day I started feeling close to my normal “normal.” 😟

The biggest problem was the tremors. Any time I would yawn, which was a lot,Β probably due to the new med… every time I would yawn, my left shoulder and arm would start shaking uncontrollably – sometimes lasting up to 30 seconds before it would calm. 😧 And then it started doing it with my other shoulder as well, to where eventually when I yawned (and even when I wasn’t) I’d honestly compare the tremors to what you would see in a person with Parkinson’sΒ disease. πŸ˜₯ I suppose it makes sense, as the disease is related to dopamine problems and that’s often something that psych meds mess around with as well.

The daily waking up in a near panic attack… that didn’t stop either. And when on the full dose, taking the morning dose was no longer relieving the anxiety when I took it. So, it was waking up with severe anxiety, taking the pill (along with my others) that was supposed to help with anxiety, only to have it then stay around all day. 😣 Awesome. πŸ™„ That was reason enough for me to reconsider if I wanted to continue taking it… and I really did want to give it a chance, to wait out the side effects to see if they’d pass. But you have to remember, after my work injury, the main thing that my doctor and I had to work on for a long time was getting my left shoulder with the nerve damage to stop randomly shaking.

So not only was the new med increasing my anxiety, but it had brought back the uncontrollable shaking in my left shoulder, which always leads to much more pain by the end of each day. πŸ˜’πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ So I hope most people would understand why I wasn’t willing to “just keep hoping it’ll pass” while possibly risking it getting worse or even becoming permanent again.

It’s disappointing, but again I’m experiencing the “Ahhh” of just losing all of those awful and scary side effects, and returning to my “normal” self… which now feels like a relief – hopefullyΒ returning just to “how I was” a couple of weeks ago. πŸ™‚Β (The tremors weren’t gone today, but they’ve lessened quite a bit.) And with my thyroid doctor calling today and wanting to accelerate the next step with that issue, I just don’t think I’d be able to do it while essentially fighting against the side effects of the Paxil. The next step with my thyroid stuff is gonna be difficult enough as it is. πŸ€•

More on that when I know more. (Although I’m gonna try to squeeze in a subjectively more positive entry between this one and that one.) But in the mean time, I’m still wondering if sometimes it’s in the doctor’s plans, or at least something that they know can happen – where a medication that is supposed to help makes you feel so awful that when you stop taking it, you actually feel happier and more relieved just to be back to how you were. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€¨ Because boy, that’s been the trend with me, the few times I’ve been prescribed something by a shrink. 😏

  • Just to cover my ass, I’m not saying with any type of certainty that the Paxil definitely caused all of the symptoms that I was experiencing while taking it. It’s possible that all of the things that I considered “side effects” were completely unrelated… this is just my account of how things went while I was taking it.

Adjustment

At my most recent shrink appointment, he prescribed Paxil and Lamictal. He spooked me with the Lamictal though, so I haven’t started taking it yet. Serious talk about the possibility of a rash that could mean something very bad. 😳 So it’s a difficult medication to “sell” when someone already has high anxiety. But the Paxil, the first week (which is now done) I was to take only one in the morning. Now, I’m supposed to take one in the morning and one at night. I’m hoping that will help the problem that I’ve noticed all this week.

I’m also going to start the Lamictal tonight as well. I just never like starting two new meds at the exact same time, because then whether I experience a benefit or a side effect, you can’t know which one was the cause… although I suppose sometimes you don’t get the benefit or side effect unless you’re taking both of them. 🧐

This past week, even though I usually slept well, every time that I’d wake up the next day I would have instant severe anxiety already happening. 😣πŸ˜₯ Now, it’s not like this is the first time that this has happened… and I know it sounds bad to describe it this way, but sometimes when anxiety is so bad, it’s just the disappointment of waking up that triggers it. 😐 Oof, yeah, that sounds way worse than I intend it to. But yeah, it was random before, but it’s been a constant since I’ve started taking the Paxil in the morning. So hopefully now that I’ll be taking an evening dose as well, maybe that’ll change how I wake up.

That’s the one positive though… as long as I take it immediately upon waking up in a near panic attack, the feeling actually goes away relatively quickly. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚ So I’m still hoping this will be something good, and it’s just a matter of getting on the right dosage. And yeah, it’s probably a little weird that I’m just putting this all out here for anyone to read – but it’s not like I’ve tried to keep the “twitchy” side of me a secret. 😏 And I really do know the majority of the things that have triggered it (and keep triggering it) so it’s not like I’m staggering around in the dark, unable to see the boogeyman.

It’s not a permanent solution, because it’s not a good solution, but part of me getting my head straight is by cutting myself off from people for a while. 😞 As I’ve described it before, my empathy is like a horrible super power that I’ve got… and when I know so many people that are going through so many awful things, I absorb the feelings that they’re experiencing regarding many of those things. 😣 Add that on top of my medical stuff, my workers comp stuff, my disability, etc… and unfortunately the easiest way to reduce anxiety is by avoiding the sources (and even potential sources) other than my own. πŸ₯Ί Then (I’m hoping) once I’m in a better place, I’ll be better able to function like a “normal” human and bring myself back into the fold. I don’t know if it’s a good plan, but it’s a plan…

EDIT:Β  Jesus… maybe I’m not quite ready to risk this Lamictal. 😯 I shouldn’t have googled.Β 

My Selfish “Good” Day

I had a lucky day yesterday, where my knee decided it would cooperate with me, so I was actually able to pick back up on some of the tasks that had the brakes slammed on them when my knee originally went out. It happens when I have sudden problems with my back as well… those things around that house that you just assume you’ll be able to get to tomorrow or the next day, once your knee or lower back goes screwy, those are the messes and tasks that you’ll have to just look at for the next days or weeks… until the pain hopefully goes away enough to finish those things up.

So I was finally able to bring up the laundry from the basement, as well as do another couple of loads. (And let me tell you, I now understand how the basement stairs were a big “nope” for my Aunt C when she reached an older age.) Got that all folded, hung, and put away. And then I finished up the grooming of the cat… at least as good enough as I care to get it… and then also picked up all the big globs of fur, ran the vacuum over the two rugs that I was using in the bathroom to catch it all, and then went over the carpet in the living room and hallway to catch the rest of the stray hair.

I did a few more small things, essential things, and with each thing I did I could feel my knee reminding me to take it easy… and I really did. Being careful with each step or turn, making sure I didn’t move it in any wonky ways that could derail the rest of my meager plans for it for the day. Like, I didn’t even try to put all my junk back on my bookshelves in the bedroom, although after my appointment today I might take a stool in there and attempt it. Yeah, that’s another reason why I didn’t mind “risking” yesterday’s actions, since I knew that “back/knee guy” was already on the agenda for today.

It was such a relief to be able to do those few things, but it still left me feeling guilty. My knee has been screwed for about a month now, which has also screwed my neck and shoulder more than usual, which has kept my anxiety at shitty high levels… and it’s kept me from being able to do so much. So when “good knee day” was gifted to me, knowing that it would likely be a limited resource, out of all the things I could have done – I did choose “work around the house as best / long as I can” over other things. 😟

I had to… because I already feel ineffective enough on most days, so having to sit here with most of my clothes clean, but in the basement… and with two big ass rugs in my bathroom, covered with an obscene amount of cat fur… along with going out to fetch my trash buggy, empty the litter box, and even just finally putting my groceries away and standing there to do the dishes. If I would have not gotten that stuff done yesterday, and woke up with a fucked knee today, which I did, all of that stuff would have been even more heavy on my mind.

So I ghosted almost everyone, doing what I needed to do for my brain to be a little more at ease during this whole “doctor / workers comp BS week” and the time immediately after. Still gotta get it through my head that I need to not fuck things up around the house (and not immediately clean it up or undo it or whatever) since there’s a pretty good chance that the next day could bring me some new surprise that physically stops me from doing so. I’m not old old yet, but the things affecting me… I may as well be. 😐 I need to start figuring out how to think about life in that way. Making use of, in all ways, the good days – and not just counting on each following day to be the same or better.

That’s why my anxiety messes with my head when people count on me or rely on me… because I can’t even count or rely on myself half of the time. So, kudos to all those people who are dealing with daily pain, disability, anxiety, depression, etc… but who still manage to carry on with their lives and not let it tie them in knots like it does me. I keep hoping it’s just a matter of getting used to it. But again, it makes me think of my Aunt C, who was in horrible shape and probably hurt in more ways than any of us ever knew… yet all the way up through her final days, she still lived her life without complaint, fought against the pain to play the organ at church each Sunday, and probably lots of other stuff that only she knows.

So whether it’s my neck, shoulder, thyroid, back, knee, or whatever’s next… I hope that I can eventually at least be like her, and just accept things as “how they’re gonna be” once doctors have determined that yes, this is just how it’s gonna be. I still haven’t gotten past the “Nope, I’m not that old, I shouldn’t feel like this.” phase – as made obvious by all the appointments just this week, and my decade-plus long battle with workers comp – but maybe it’s time to try and start accepting and adjusting, rather than fighting. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Meh… I dunno… but my appointment is soon, so I better get off here or I’ll just keep rambling… wish me luck.

Here Comes The Rain Again

It was interesting, yesterday at the pharmacy, as I tried to get all of my medications processed through the proper insurer, etc. When the lady told me that one of my WC meds had been denied again, I sort of jokingly apologized for my situation being such a pain in the ass for them each month – and said that I could pay cash for it and hope to be able to get a refund once it does get approved, but that I was sure there are probably dozens of other customers just like me and that I didn’t want to be even more hassle than I already had to be. 😏 The interesting part, and this isn’t the first time that someone there has at least hinted this towards me… but she said that in general, they don’t have many problems with workers comp customers, and was surprised (looking at my records in their system) how I seem to have the same trouble almost every month. πŸ€¨πŸ˜’ So it’s nice to feel like the complaints in my head are justified, but it doesn’t help when I want to reassure myself that it’s “nothing personal” against me. πŸ™„ Yeah, the appointment coming up this week, the requirement that my WC adjuster be contacted personally to approve the same meds I’ve been taking for years and years… it’s hard to pretend like it’s all a coincidence. 😞

But in the evening I managed to fall asleep relatively early, and then woke up in a cold sweat about an hour later after another awful nightmare. πŸ˜₯ Dad and I were out on Shepherd Hill, it was late in the evening, a storm was blowing in, and we were walking along the fence-line of the property… where everything was all overgrown, as if our houses there had been abandoned. 🀨 My cousin Jim was at our house, and was helping to pack up all of our valuable things before the storm hit… but Dad and I were still out in the cold and wind, looking for Mom. 😟 As it turned out, she was actually out in the garage, making a safe space for all the kittens to hide and safely ride out the storm.

By this point Jim, Uncle Jay, and some others had already taken their carloads of things and left, and Dad and I were trying to get Mom to come inside the house so we could get the last of our things and then leave as well. But having grown up in that house, she didn’t want to leave… and as the storm hit, it turned into a tornado. Pieces of the walls started giving way, window were breaking, parts of the floor were being pried up from the beams and thrown into the air, and the three of us took shelter in the doorway between the foyer and the kitchen – and could only watch as the house was being torn down around us. 😒

It was then that I woke up… so I didn’t actually “go through” the worst of what would have happened if I had stayed in that dream, but it was close enough. And it was one of those dreams that felt so real that the noise and wind blowing from the fan in my room… it took me a few seconds to realize / remember that it was just my fan, and not that storm blowing things around still. Luckily I’m still exhausted… not only from the past few days, but also from that nightmare… so I think I’m gonna be able to go back to sleep fairly easily. I just hope I don’t drop right back into that dream.

That’s one of my “talents” that I usually appreciate… being able to “resume” interrupted dreams, or having dreams that take place in certain fictional locations, but locations that are always the same in my dreams, making them seem as real as if I was sitting on my porch and looking out at my back yard. It’s usually a comforting feeling to have these made up, but specific dream “destinations” over multiple decades… but that’s not even how it was this time. This was our old house, it was the house that Mom grew up in, and it was too fucking real. 😣 I have “good” Mom and Dad dreams too, but I’m really learning to hate these bad ones.

Used to be I could be screwed up during the day for whatever reason, but at least I could count on “sleep” as a time where no matter how stressed, depressed, or screwed up I was feeling during the day – it would all go away at night. But these past couple of months, more often than not, the “twitchy” of the day just follows me into my dreams. A lot of days when I wake up, my first thought is “I can’t wait until this day is over so I can go back to sleep.” but, at least right now, I can’t even say that and mean it. 😞

I’m tired, boss…