Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Romantic Bipolar

I messed around with my Neurontin for a while thinking it was the reason I was sleeping so much, but my overall need for sleep seems to be independent of whether I'm taking the Neurontin at night. Yes, if I take it during the day, I'll be sleepier -- especially if I take it overlapping with Benadryl: DON'T DO THIS! -- but taking an extra dose doesn't seem to have a cumulative effect on my sleepiness like I thought it might.

Which took me to the Effexor as the culprit. As you may recall, when I was taking a standard Effexor dose, 150mg, I was in what I called my "Effexor coma." I worked, I slept. I started dating Catfish -- I worked, I saw Catfish, I slept. I drank coffee, I slept. And since I was on Effexor, I didn't care that nothing much was happening in my life.

On a lower dose of Effexor -- about 1/8th my old dose -- I haven't had the sleep issue to the same degree, and I've still had the benefit of reduced anxiety and depression. But as the weeks of Effexor wore on, I started to sleep more, and it got to the point where I didn't have a life again. But I wasn't on enough Effexor not to care.

So I started tapering off. "Side Effexor's" side effects weren't nearly as bad tapering off from such a low dose -- after three days off, I had three days of whirlyhead. As opposed to weeks of it that I had experienced before and that others report. But then, yesterday, I got slammed with anxiety.

Anxiety doesn't always look like anxiety when it starts. Yesterday, it looked like "WOW THE CUBES ARE LOUD TODAY. I WILL GO OUT FOR LUNCH. I CAME BACK FROM LUNCH AND THE CUBES ARE STILL LOUD. I WILL WEAR HEADPHONES. I STILL CAN'T CONCENTRATE. I WILL GO HOME." It also looked like "I have to read this sentence 50 more times because even though I understood it I feel like I didn't understand it." And it looked like "I have to scroll up and down this webpage 50 more times to get the itchy feeling of not having scrolled correctly out of my fingertips."

I can't be sure the lack of Effexor is what triggered my anxiety. It could just be stress, or something else I'm not paying attention to like having been burdened with eating (gluten-free) birthday cake and then sent home with the birthday cake so it's available to eat for breakfast. What I do know is that as I tapered off the Effexor, my fingertips got itchier, my reading got more stilted, and I got stickier as a whole -- sticking to the bed, sticking to the door, stuck in a mindset, etc.

Then today I stuck to everything. The bed, the sink, the bed, the door, the bed, the sink. I put myself together in increments, with coaching: now go to the bathroom; now wash your face; don't think about what is and isn't in the drawer to wear until you get to the drawer. Sit in the bed. Count your breaths to 50. Count again. Now tell me what you are feeling. Tell me without analyzing. What are the first words you come up with? Now open your eyes and write what you just said. Don't curl up -- don't curl up! Maybe it's not time to go off Effexor yet: take a tiny bit to start. Take half an Ativan to get through now, to leave.

At the sink, ready to go, washing a few dishes so I could come home to a clean sink, my cat kept rubbing herself on my ankles, which made me sob. I kept telling her to stop. Stop! Finally I ran away and jumped on the bed so she couldn't rub herself on me anymore. And realized that it wasn't the cat, that it was leaving I was crying about, so I should take another moment, another moment, another moment to self-manage.

What I hate most about being this way, what makes me want to puke, is that you feel the need to defend yourself against judgment over how you are, but your defense ends up being glorification of your illness. The pukiest thing about illness is the glorification. I'm ill, therefore X, Y & Z awesome things -- immunity from judgment, carte blanche behavior, dramatic everyday events, romanticism. I do not want to be this way. No matter how much they say on greeting cards and billboards you shouldn't, I want to be normal. I don't want to have these excuses -- have to use them, have them to use. I want to be at work, not standing on my bed, not not going to work because I'm standing on my bed because it's a legitimate excuse that I find completely illegitimate.

I've tried to bring all of these feelings together to a point of rest. Accept what you are; be what you are; do what you do and don't feel bad about it but don't indulge it either. It hasn't worked. All I end up feeling is guilt.

This is the first day like this I've had in several weeks, despite all the sleep -- the first day sticking to my apartment. I will go back on the Effexor until we figure out another way to make me operational. I don't think I ever hate myself more than in these moments. What a romantic statement.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Esther,

    I'm sorry to hear you are sticking to everything. I hope you start to feel better soon.

    I really appreciate that you've shared your experience on this blog (I even went back and read through all the archives!). It helps a lot to know that there are other women, real women, suffering from vulvodynia too. Just knowing that has helped me feel better.


    ps - Thanks for the awesome magnet! It's proudly displayed on my fridge!