Tag: mental health

I love it when you flex like that!

Today concludes the Easter long weekend, a time for indulgence – be that in a belief system, a series of hangovers, chocolate – name your poison. For myself it has been a television series on DVD, a couple of neglected books and readers, and of course the odd Easter themed confectionery.

There was no family gathering this year (my folks are off enjoying one of their many caravan adventures), meaning my Easter treats were limited to those exchanged with my housemate (creme eggs) and those that I purchased myself (hot cross buns, chocolate and fruit). Even thought the treats have been more minimal than previous years our household has been struggling to balance the consumption of sometimes foods, with the desire to put our feet up (Dance Academy marathon anyone?) and our guilt driven attempts to exercise.

Wobbly bits

Last week I caught up with a friend of my and we both proclaimed that our bodies had changed. We’d “acquired” some extra digits on the scales and agreed we weren’t unhappy with the numbers but still wanted to make some “adjustments”. The season has changed and consequently I’ve had to drag my jeans out. I’m not a fan of pants. Leggings, yes; shorts, sure; but jeans and long pants annoy me. During the time spent with my friend I was constantly having to rearrange my jeans. They essentially fit, but sit the wrong way and the waist band crushes against my bladder. Stand up, and the jeans need to be pulled up and twisted to prevent plumbers crack. Cross your legs and the denim grips my calves. Most jeans showcase my muffin top and love handles while equally giving me an eye catching camel toe. Jeans are not my friends.

No seriously, pants are uncomfortable!

Despite my general annoyance at long pants, I equally dislike being cold and do not like wearing stockings or tights. Being of short to average height long skirts are generally too long for my frame (yes, I could take them up or have them taken up) and hence jeans become a winter necessity that I endure. Perhaps if I spend more money on my wardrobe I would find more comfortable options than the chain store limited collections. However, given my currently limited income I generally find a couple of pairs that are bearable and simply count down the days until summer returns.

Size me up

I have so far purchased one new pair of jeans this year. They were of the mass produced, unethical, cheap kind. I took the size I though I was to the dressing room. I managed to get them as high as my knees. I’m not a skinny girl (not anymore) but this sizing just seemed ridiculous! I wondered if they were a small make, or if every other store I shop in practices vanity sizing. Consequently I purchased the next size up – the first time I’d had to purchase this size – they fit perfectly and when I got home I promptly cut off the tag in pure denial of the new number.

Dem bones

For many years I was skinny. When I was in high school the tween/teen market weren’t marketed to, at least not like they are now. My teenage years were spend mostly shopping in the kids section. Women’s clothes did not fit my up and down frame. During my early twenties I was on medication that had the side effect of weight loss. I was a stick, but by then I was a stick with boobs which meant somehow I fit an acceptably attractive body image. This was probably the time in my life that I was least active and by far most unhealthy (in a multitude of ways). So although I was deemed as attractive I didn’t feel particularly at ease with my body.

By my late twenties I’d filled out a bit. Some people told me I looked better, others (those who were used to my previously smaller size) criticized me. While I didn’t mind the extra filling I was aware that my lifestyle needed some changes and I began exercising more and making an attempt to improve my diet. I joined a gym and started weights training.

Would you like a heart-attack with that?

There were several motivations to exercise. It meant time to myself (big bonus), there was lots of nice eye candy to enjoy (yes, I’m talking objectification – I’m no saint) but more importantly I was approaching thirty and I was starting to think about my long term health. My family health histories include heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes – all those yucky lifestyle related aliments. I knew that while I could buy clothes in most stores that fit and I was classified as being an attractive size, I was also on the path to some preventable health nasty’s. Most importantly though, I knew that my mind needed movement.

Movement Meds

“You’re one workout away from a good mood” is written on the mirror at my current gym. This is one of their better motivational signs. I can see this when I’m at the end of my workout, when my body is sore and I’m almost done, but can still do a little bit more. Irregardless of what size pants I wear or how attractive I may (or may not) appear to be to others I need to stay active for the sake of my sanity.

I’m an individual prone to low moods. I’ve been on and off anti-depressants over the last fifteen years and seen a variety of counselors and shrinks. Exercise is an important aspect of my self-care. As I get older and wiser I’m learning more and more what rituals or practices I need to maintain for healthy coping. My current mental health professional explained it to me as “these are the things I need to do”. It’s very easy to dismiss the things you need to do to maintain (your sanity), and often what works for you will not suit another and because of this unfortunately our support networks can sometimes miss the significance of “the things you need to do”.

Earlier this year I discussed my need to get moving again with my mental health dude. He suggested yoga (which I have done and do like) and walking on the beach (also something I enjoy). Going to the gym and lifting weights is not something he enjoys, so he encouraged me to pursue activities he can vouch for. Support people will often encourage us to pursue what works for them. Sometimes this can work out brilliantly, you discover something new that you didn’t know that you’d enjoy and a buddy who can help motivate you. The trick is finding what’s right for you, right now.

Do you even lift bro?

I never got around to going back to yoga classes. The last time I’d gone to one, I did not find it relaxing for a number of reasons. I have discovered that I prefer to exercise alone. Alone time is definitely on my list of “things I need”. Doing a weights session at the gym works for me. I enjoy feeling strong, I like doing something mostly physical where I can switch off my busy mind for a while and taking an hour or so every couple of days to listen to music and do something soothingly repetitive is what I need. I relish those sessions where suddenly the dumbbell I’m lifting feels a bit light and I know it’s time to pick up a heavier weight. Even the ache of my muscles the next day is welcome.

When I was little I did a lot of dance classes and played netball. I danced for ten years and have done some classes as an adult. Dancing was something that I’d regretting giving up. I still love dancing, however I have found that it doesn’t work for me as one of my “things I need to do”. A weights session at the gym or even a long walk means I can do something wholly for myself as opposed to a group or team activity where my performance affects others. I enjoy exercise that allows me full control and conscious control. The sense of accomplishment I get after going to the gym and doing a good session or as I return from a long walk is amazing. This feeling is not to do with any particular goal, it’s not about how far I went or how much I lifted. Doing something that I know is good for my body and improves my health and having chosen to do that thing is very rewarding when all too often you feel like destroying yourself.

#fitspo 

Back to the jeans. Yes, it is nice to fit into clothes and sometimes it is the numbers that motivate us but often it is the numbers or our appearance that is the only motivation offered to us. The majority of motivational motifs available preach about body image, looks, hotness etc. Rarely is the promotion of an active lifestyle promoted beyond an aesthetic and that is really sad. Attraction is subjective, it’s different for everyone but many of the benefits of movement and exercise are universal. We need to talk more about what can be gained as opposed to what can be lost.

Now… it’s time to put my sneakers on.

Can you feel it? Yes, I can!

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. In that time I’ve done a little bit of work on my PhD creative piece. I started fresh, at a different point in the story than I’d previously intended too, and while the words at the moment are coming at a snail’s pace I’m feeling better about the foundation that I’m laying.

The chapter that I have been working on involves the protagonist running. As I was writing, or trying to write, I was struggling with some of the descriptive work. Questions of “how do I describe that sound” and “how does that feel in the body” arose. It occurred to me that I’ve been doing much too much thinking and not enough doing.

Recently I’d been very focused on doing work as opposed to actually doing. In thinking about my novel and my writing (or lack of writing), I’ve been neglecting two crucial writing tools, observation and experience.

Have you seen A Place for Me (also titled Stuck in Love)? It’s a film I really like. It’s about love and writing and stars Greg Kinnear… these are all things that greatly interest me (oh Greg, swoon!). I bring it up because there is an excellent line in the film:

sum of their experiences

The novel I’m writing draws heavily from my own experiences. I had been so preoccupied with how to use some of my past experiences in the work that I’d been forgetting the importance of continued observation and experience. To put it more bluntly, I’d stop paying attention.

Being present is becoming more challenging in our hyper connected word. Mindfulness based techniques and approaches to therapy are rising in popularity as the antidote to our obsession/reliance on new communication technologies which see us ever contactable but rarely available. I don’t wish to cry foul over smart phones and social media, quite the opposite, I’m very interested in embracing new technologies and see them as having great potential to assist us in numerous ways. However, we must learn to use these technologies as opposed to being used or sucked into the connected but unavailable vortex.

With this in mind, I’ve been striving to experience and observe the world around me over the past couple of weeks. When I order coffee rather than look at my phone I’ve been taking a moment to people watch: how many sugars do other people put in their coffee? How are other people dressing? Where do they stand as they wait for their coffee, in front of the lids and spoons, further away, right in front of the bench so others have to squeeze past? This might sound dull or even a bit creepy to some readers but it is these details that all writers need in their tool belts – awareness of how others be, do and exist!

In addition to my increased observations I’ve also been getting out of the office and away from my PhD to have some fun. I have been to dinner with friends, taken a road trip to visit family, gone to dance performances and also gone to see some live music. Each has been a rich and varied experience which has indulged a variety of senses and more importantly, reminded me that I’m more than a PhD student and life is bigger than my thesis alone.

The most recent of my adventures, was going to a gig with a friend. It was his first small gig (having only gone to large music festivals or big stadium style shows) and was at one of my favorite venues. Going to see live music is one of my favorite things to do, so much so that I often go by myself. Any hint of loneliness or awkwardness felt going solo to a gig is usually outweighed by the delight of the music and sheer thrill of a good live show.

There were three acts, each being an Australian hip hop artist and I was very aware when I bought the tickets that the majority of the crowd would be younger than me. My friend had told me he would probably just chill by the bar and let me do my own thing. Off course, as I suspected, like me he was digging the vibe and hung out with me near the stage and speakers. The first act hit the stage with thumping energy and my friend and I responded by dancing, cheering and whooping. Around us, others stood, still.

I’m increasingly noticing, that the older I get, the more I care about enjoying the moment and the less I care about what other people think of me while I’m doing so. For the younger crowed at this gig, the opposite appeared to be true. They slowly warmed up but as the night wore on and the temperature climbed, I noticed more and more that those around me were experiencing the evening in a different way.

The younger faces in the crowd captured the moments via their smart phones. Experience has taught me that photos or footage taken at gigs is 1) rarely viewed at a later date, 2) generally shit-house. I understand the desire to take a snap to show a friend or to add to a social media site for posterity but I don’t share the desire to continually do so again and again at a gig. Perhaps there are simply more young music journalists at gigs than I’m aware of? Rather than sweat and dance and experience the music via the body, the younger set were more inclined to capture the moment in a non tangible representation.

The other sharp difference in experience was presentation. This gig was stinking hot! The humidity was high and both crowd and performers were dripping in sweat. As a live music fan living in Queensland, Australia, I am very used to this. I still put thought into my outfit and dress in a way they I enjoy and hope is pleasing to others… i.e. yes, I like to look nice. Yet ultimately I’m well aware that things will get messy. Comfort and practicality are the key concerns. I feel comfortable when I dress nicely but also practically, in a way that will allow me to make the most out of the evening… dance, drink, get among it etc. I told my friend there would be girls in high heels. He was skeptical. Through-out the evening, I pointed them out to him… “heels, heels, heels”. Fair enough if those individuals were comfortable but if you’ve ever been on a cramped dance floor next to someone wearing heels you will understand that their pain often becomes your pain… “ouch, you’re standing on my foot!”. Bless their little midriff’s and carefully applied faces – yes, it is hot and yes, your makeup is running off your face… who cares. These poor little petals were more concerned with their presentation than their participation. Thus, another vortex to avoid.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been trying to be more present, another shift in my awareness has come into play. I’d wanted to visit my therapist but had to wake two weeks to get an appointment. Despite feeling better by the time the appointment rolled around I still went. Before starting the session I fill out a computer survey, a psychology test that gives my therapist an indication of where I’m at mentally before I enter the room. When he started the session he informed me that my score was the lowest it’s ever been and we talked about why now, despite my thinking that I was feeling better, that the numbers were saying something else. The conclusion reached was that presently I am actually experiencing my emotions. In the past I’ve employed numerous techniques to avoid negative emotions. While avoiding these emotions may at times allow me to function short-term, the feelings are still there, accumulating and collecting interest. Therefore my efforts to experience and observe are also coming into play in regards to me emotions. Rather than be numb to my emotions, I’ve been experiencing every rotten, yucky bit of them.

Experiencing emotions is important, even if they are unpleasant. Life isn’t a non-tangible representation, its ripe with texture and variables and consequently the creation of art reflects this. It is through art that we explore life’s’ inconsistencies and seek to create meaning and understanding of both ourselves and others which in turn furthers our ability to participate and evolve.

Can you feel it?

 

Bless this mess – mental health and social media

Originally published  16th November 2012 on http://belindawrites.tumblr.com/ 

Republished here with minor corrections.

What an interesting week. Not so much for myself but more so for my friends, followers and the general audience of my social media. My posts have been messy, because I have felt messy. Depending how much you pay attention or how well you know me you may or may not be aware that I have a history of mental health issues. I have been in and out of therapy and on and off medication since the age of seventeen. I am open about this… why?

When I first sought help for my mental health no one talked about depression, self harm or anything of the likes. Information was scarce and attitudes were mostly “I don’t know and I don’t want to know”. This was in 1999… not that long ago. At the time I what little information I could find was found in online forums. The web and mental health have long been good friends. The anonymous web allowed those experiencing issues to find each other and know that they were not alone. Awareness has grown, the web has grown.

I use social media for a variety of purposes and my lines between personal and professional are very blurry, and given that my profession is ‘writer’ than this is not an issue. Being a writer and being at times, emotional, revealing and unhinged is completely reasonable. Therefore I am quite happy to be open about my mental health problems and to blur these lines. Life is messy, my thoughts are often messy and hence my social media is very messy.

One of my favourite things about social media is that it’s often chaotic, it’s not slick and the content is not always glossy, edited and filtered. If it was, we would probably log out.

I am open about having mental health issues as I can be. Not everyone can. I speak about my experiences because I’m comfortable doing so and it helps me to sometimes shout out into the abyss… i.e., post crap online for whomever to see it. I am not a professional, I may not be able to tell you what to do but if you or someone else has their own struggles with mental health then seeing that someone else does, and experiences things similar to you, and is somehow still managing to get an education and use their mind and if that brings you some comfort, then – hooray, worth it!

Alrighty, so this week I’ve been off my meds. I was on a reduced dose last week and am now on day five of no Lexapro. Wednesday I had a good day, went for a big walk, felt up and motivated. Yesterday was another story. Yesterday the depression hit me square in the jaw. I posted a lot of sad, lonely, quotes and caused my friends some worry with one post containing a lot of swearing. Bless, this lead to phone calls, texts and several private messages and comments checking to see if I was ok. I was down but not at high risk of harm. However the fact that I can shout at the social media abyss and that people heard it and responded is testament to how helpful social media can be, especially when you have a problem with your mental health.

Thank you to those who did reach out to me. Thank you to those who take the time to read my posts. Thank you to those that have thanked me for my posts.

If you want to enjoy clean lines, smooth surfaces and neat order I suggest you take a trip to IKEA, my social media sites may not be for you.

Need help or information on mental health? Talk to your GP or contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or check out http://www.beyondblue.org.au orhttp://www.who.int/mental_health/en/www.beyondblue.org.auor http://www.who.int/mental_health/en/

 

 

Maybe it’s something I ate… or didn’t

Originally published  6th November 2012 on http://belindawrites.tumblr.com/ 

Republished here with minor corrections and a brief update.

It’s begun. Only a moment ago I was sitting here at my desk and felt a sudden wave of feeling unwell. My mind wandered back to my delayed breakfast earlier, a greasy bacon and eggs fry up and rich creamy iced coffee. Definitely not a light option, I shouldn’t be surprised that I have that slightly sick feeling. Then I noticed that my vision is slightly twinkly, much like when you’re feeling faint, and I fell tired, and teary. Besides the dodgy breakfast what else had happened that could cause these feelings? Well, I did have a counselling session this morning which was emotional and therefore very draining. There is something else though. My body is no stranger to unhealthy food; I’m no stranger to therapy sessions, what else has changed?

Today I took my first reduced dose of my anti-depressant. I’ve been back on meds for the past six months and have now decided to stop. This un-well feeling is the beginning of the withdrawal process and I know that it’s only going to get worse.

IMPORTANT: I am not a medical professional and am simply talking from my own experiences. Please talk to your medical professionals or contact Lifeline 13 11 14 http://www.lifeline.org.au/ or beyondbluehttp://www.beyondblue.org.au if you or need help or further information.

I have been on antidepressant twice before this current batch. I don’t remember what it was like coming of meds the first time. I went cold turkey then but that is as much as I recall. Much like that time however I’m going off because I’m sick of the flat line, numb feeling that I’ve reached being on meds. The second time I stopped was under the guidance of a psychologist and I weaned off the pills slowly, reducing my dose until I was off. This is the process I’m undertaking now.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the medication was hastily prescribed. A GP put me on the meds and there has been no follow up. Because I’ve been medicated before and have a history of mental health issues often that is the path that is taken. That GP has the qualifications, I don’t. However my then psychologist and now therapist have expressed that medication was not necessarily what I needed.

If you are thinking of going off meds think long and hard about this decision. I’m very consistent with taking medication, and I listen to my doctors and care professionals. I also know what’s right for me and have done my own research before making this choice. I urge you to do the same. Talk to the professionals and do it right, don’t go cold turkey and hey, guess what, it’s OK if the meds work and it’s OK if to need them. There is no shame in taking an antidepressant, it does not make you weak and it does not make you a failure. Medication and treatment are very specific to an individual’s situation and needs. My current care professional has been asking me to think about what works and what doesn’t work in regards to my mental health. I don’t think the medication is helping.

So now I’m entering an interesting period of withdrawal. There were some pretty gnarly side effects when I started this medication so I’m expecting that I’ll experience some unpleasant comedown as I begin to eliminate it from my system. Here’s a list of some of the symptoms I may experience in my comedown period:

aggression, anxiety, balance issues , blurred vision, brain zaps, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhoea, dizziness. electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches / increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory & sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness (akathasia), stomach cramps, tremors, tinnitus (ear ringing or buzzing), tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations / illusions, vivid dreams, speech visual changes, worsened depression

Plenty to look forward to!

Update: The weaning process took two weeks and I have now been free of meds for over a month.

Influx clarity – huh exactly what?!

Originally published  28th July 2012 on http://belindawrites.tumblr.com/ 

Republished here with minor corrections and a brief update.

 

It has been ten days since I last wrote in my diary. Yes, I’m a thirty year old woman with a diary. No, it doesn’t have a lock. Technically I have ten diaries and counting. For the last two and a half years I’ve been journalling regularly. Usually I write daily but as I mentioned before I haven’t been making a lot of entries lately. This is an interesting observation as I’ve had plenty to write about.

REASONS THIS IS INTERESTING:

WRITING IS THINKING – WRITING HELPS GIVE YOUR THOUGHTS CLARITY.

Life has been rather pleasant lately and this leads me to ask – do I need my diary more when my mind is hazy? A recent academic workshop raised the point that writing is thinking but not just thinking but thinking clearly. This is a key point I’m hoping to make in my PhD thesis, that writing is therapeutic and helps us make sense of and organize our thoughts. The point can then be raised – do I need to be troubled to write?

I personally have often reflected on my own experiences with depression and creativity. Stephan Fry has done a great documentary piece on this however I can’t tell you the name of the work, Google it and get back to me (if I don’t bother myself…. note, I did see Stephan Fry: The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive). Many writers or creative types often ask themselves this question – do I need to be fucked up to maintain my artistic output?

To put it simply, no or maybe, I hope not. The documentary I mentioned did also examine the notion of medication and mental illness and whether treating the symptoms also takes away the creativity that comes in troubled times. I will talk more about medication and mental illness later after I move on slightly from this topic.

I may not be writing in my diary but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing, or that I have nothing to write about. For example I’m musing here. There has been plenty of great stuff for me to write about. I have a lot of great people in my life at present and have been having a lot of laughs and good times. This may answer why I’m not journalling  I have a world outside my head to find clarity in. There are friends and people close to me and I’m communicating and sharing my thoughts more openly within these circles. Because my thinking is clearer I’m more willing to go public with it bypassing the private setting of my personal diary. There are individuals I can trust to discuss my thoughts with and my thinking feels less dangerous and therefore I’m willing to allow others to handle it with care. There is more to be said on dangerous thinking later.

Another point to be made on this which can also help with the GUILT of not writing – experiences must be had, felt and low and behold EXPERIENCED first. While I haven’t been journalling daily that doesn’t mean I won’t, it may mean that I write differently. Rather than writing entries that are anticipating or fretting my entries have become reflective and take more of a summary form. As opposed to writing daily I’m writing longer entries at greater intervals. The primary audience for my diary is of course I and the purpose may not be to revisit and re-read but to respond, reflect and reproduce thought.

Another interesting point on this topic is the majority of my journalling for the last two and a half years has been in relation to certain experiences and people who were in my life during that time. I am at a stage when those individuals are no longer part of my world. I have found that each individual notebook seams to run out of pages at pivotal moments – there has been interesting cliff-hangers or moments of brief resolution as I finish a notebook and move to the next. I skipped a few pages before starting the entries for July in my current notebook as I felt like my life and the nature of the entries had a new focus. Perhaps this is another reason for why I have been engaging in the practice differently – this is a new chapter? I have a slight desire to abandon this notepad and start fresh as I feel like I am in a fresh start point in my life at the moment. Of course life does not come in clear cut chapters (as much was sometimes we’d like the distance of a page between moments) but our statements on our life can. This then raises the thought of is this the appeal of the ever scrolling narrative of social media life stories? However this might be inaccurate as there are starts and stops and the desire to organize this information and to manage it somehow. Once again then since my life is relatively good at the moment my desire for crisp chapters and management is lower than at other times and I am living more in flux.

BLURS AND IN FLUX

Please proceed with the caution that I am not a medical professional, expert or in any way qualified to talk with any authority except my personal experience on these next topics.

Continuing on from my previous written post on depression/mental illness:

I am on anti-depressant medication. This time around (I have been on meds two previous times) I am taking Lexapro. The GP that prescribed it to me mentioned that 1) it’s a newer drug 2) excellent in his opinion and 3) I should take it for life and never ever go off meds. The initial adjustment to meds this time was rough! Was this the side effects of the drug or just that I was not at all well at the time of starting them (hence why I was prescribed the medication in the first place)?

I’ve now been taking Lexapro for three months and have begun thinking – should I stop? NO, NO, NO! I’ve made this mistake before. After feeling so low, depressed and shitty when you reach a point of feeling good you think “I feel fucking ace, I’m all better, I don’t need this any-more!” DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!!!

As I mentioned in my last post depression is not something I will be cured of. I need to constantly manage and maintain my mental health. What’s that, not experiencing any symptoms lately? YOU’RE ALL BETTER – NOT! The first time I was on anti-depressants (Lovan I think) I did exactly this, felt better, stopped the meds without medical advice, didn’t wean off them, just cold turkey (therapy was also stopped – tsk, tsk, bad idea). I’m fairly certain I was self medicating at that stage with booze and weed (hey kids – I don’t care what you think, weed is not rad, weed is not consequence free and although glamorized it can fuck up your head, lungs, finances and life just fine so don’t go there, and if you are damn well stop it’s just as dangerous as other drugs – end rant) not to mention I was letting others think for me and not those qualified (like my doctors/psychiatrist) to do so. In retrospect, bad idea! I’d love to say lessons learnt but like many people I am of the variety of having to repeat mistakes several times before I really begin to see the light.

Second experience with going off meds (Luvox I think) – this time around I weaned off under the instruction and guidance of my then psychiatrist. Thank goodness I did because it was not pleasant and I did notice the withdrawal. It was not a bad decision and there is a strange sense of achievement when you go off meds. This is where we need to change the way we think about depression/mental health (once again remembering I have not real authority to take on this subject except from my own personal experiences). Think of depression less as a cold and more as a condition. YOU NEED TO STAY ON TOP OF THIS!!! Are you Asthmatic? Don’t take your preventer, no puffer – NOT GOOD! Are you Diabetic? Don’t take your insulin, aren’t regulating your blood sugar – NOT GOOD! Depression cannot be cured by bed-rest and herbal tea (although healthy sleep and relaxation is important there is more to be done). STOP ON TOP OF IT!

There are two main reasons the thought of stopping meds has crossed my mind this week. Firstly, wine. I like wine, I like wine a lot. I’m not a big drinker and I don’t have an addictive personality (well not that I’m aware of or not to the extent of it being a factor in my mental health story). Wine is yummy though and I would love to have a lovely red with dinner or while reading etc (so many good times to enjoy a nice glass of wine). However one of the big BOLD points made on the information provided with my packets of Lexapro pills is – LEXAPRO AND ALCOHOL ARE A DANGEROUS MIX, AND CAUSE SOME SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS TO OCCUR.

Clearly if you’re being treated for depression or are prone to depression or mental health issues than alcohol is not going to be a good friend for you to have, more of a frienemy, you may have fun together sometimes but mostly you get each other offside.

There is a lovely list of potential side effects but basically alcohol and Lexapro will bring out the worst in each other. That may mean that say I decide to have that glass of red at dinner it may be like I’ve had two and considering my limit on a good day with all the right factors including not being on meds would be maybe three, four glasses tops I don’t fancy the idea of double for nothing. So yeah, might get drunk quicker, sounds good to some but I’m not a fan of being drunk, and generally I’m not a happy drunk so it’s a state of being I tend to avoid anyway. Most likely I’d feel very sick, yep, that doesn’t appeal, let’s not do that.

The real worry is that if I decide to risk it and drink on meds things could go very fucking bad. I don’t enjoy being depressed, I don’t enjoy the moments of desire to destroy myself and I don’t enjoy the times when ending it all seems like the only idea. Hence why alcohol and meds is like a reverse scratchy, that glass of wine may only be seven dollar and it might seem like a small price to pay but there is a lot to lose if everything lines up just right.

Hence I must not drink and if I decide to test the waters I need to do so very cautiously and under the right circumstances but there is not guaranteed result, results may vary, not just person to person but time to time – depression is living in flux.

HANDY DANDY DICTIONARY PHONE APP MOMENT

In Flux: in constant change; ever-changing

Additional point – hey drunk guy at uni-bar debating me and questioning why I’m not drinking, just accept the fact that I’m not and don’t give me shit or try to convince me that because you have anxiety and are drinking that I should drink to aid in relieving your anxiety or that alcohol will make everything better. Are you going to talk me down off the ledge if shit hits the fan? Probably not cause you’ll be bloody drunk and not much help and hence I’m sorry if I appear prickly to you, you don’t know me and I don’t have to explain myself to you over a fucking liquid!

Also, I’d much rather not drink and be open about the fact that I have depression and that’s the reason than drink to be social and end up making a fool of myself by acting like the middle age married woman who where being very depressingly overtly gross in their horniness last night at the pub I was at last night or by worse than embarrassing myself hurting myself or someone else (glassing, one punch can kill – bad times). I’m more than happy to play the ham while sober and be able to enjoy the laughs and smiles on my friend’s faces.

THE OTHER REASON I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT GOING OFF MEDS…

I’m not the best driver. I’d like to think I’m a cautious driver, I don’t intentionally set out to break road rules and I don’t have the need for speed. I am not always the most focused driver and unfortunately meds don’t help. In my time of driving I have had a few accidents, never injured myself or others but have scratched, smashed, scraped and written off my vehicles and worse, others.

If I recall correctly I have been on antidepressant medication each time I’ve had an accident where I was somewhat at fault. This may be a cop-out excuse but I think it’s more an observation and it is noted in the information of possible side effects with many anti-depressants that they can impair your ability to drive and operated heavy machinery. LAME. This week my car managed to “kiss” the pole next to my car space twice. DEVASTATED! I’ve been parking next to this damn pole for almost a year with no problems but low and behold on meds I manage to hit it twice in a week. SHAKES FIST AT POLE!

OK, my this has been a long post and no, I’m not going to edit it any more than spell check although I urged a class to carefully proof read and edit what they put on-line this week because errors make you look unprofessional. Please take my blog posts are personal expressions and no reflection of my employers or academic prowess. Consider my blog the cheeseburger to my academic steak. I will now seek to tie these three topics together.

Thinking clearly is the theme here. Writing can be used therapeutically and like managing your depression this means a multitude of techniques and approaches. Of course thinking clearly and focus in one area can distract from clarity in others and then you end of scratching your car and entering dangerous territory of temptation. We are in flux and need to be aware of our fluidity. Go with the flow but remember to keep your head above water.

If in doubt drink tea and listen to Ice T – church!

UPDATE:

I have now been off medication for just over a month and am very pleased with the decision. I weaned off the medication under professional guidance and continue to attend regular counselling session