Caution: May Contain Triggers For Certain People.
“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”
“Watchmen” – Alan Moore (1986)
The past few months have been tough and, hand on heart, they’ve taken a toll on me. I’ve tried to keep my head above water with varying degrees of success (and failure). I’ve also not been 100% honest as I should have been with myself which, in turn, means I’ve not been 100% honest with the people in my life.
I’ve had some increasingly hard and emotional personal times. My family and the people around me have gone through some heartbreaking times. Despite everything, we have made it through it.
I also took it upon myself to think it would be a good time to wean myself off the low dosage of Venlafaxine I’ve been taking for the past eighteen months. Perhaps it was a result of me trying to feel optimistic and positive about everything that was going on. Okay, in hindsight it probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve made.
The timing wasn’t perfect but I felt, in my heart, that I needed to give it a go. I felt that I was coping, despite everything that was happening around me, and that I needed to try.
And I was wrong.
That’s possibly the wrong thing to say but it’s the closest way to describe it. I was right to try coming off my drugs, but even after a course of eighteen months it may have been too soon. I did it the right way though – by gradually lowering my dose for a few weeks before reducing it further alternating the days I would take it as my doctor and I discussed in my meds review earlier this year.
The Venlafaxine has been out of my system now for about a month (my brain is a little fuzzy with the actual dates). The first few weeks were wobbly (the best way to describe it) but I knew that was just my brain readjusting it’s chemical balance. At the end of the day it’s had a daily boost of chemicals and that’s been taken out of the equation. It needed to learn to live with itself again.
If you’re unsure of what this can be like to recover from here’s an analogy:
Someone breaks their leg and they’re given crutches while their leg is in a cast. After a while the cast is taken off but they’re told to still be cautious for a while and use the crutches for a few weeks. After that’s taken away they’re still having to walk again. There’s still that pain, that unsure feeling of how to approach the task.
This was me. Trying to figure out what to do with my brain without my chemical crutch, what would be natural and what wouldn’t be. In short, getting myself to learn to be myself and cope with things again whilst trying to be as normal and natural as I possibly could.
I’d felt like I’d become estranged from a lot of things that had been cornerstones of my life up until they point. Just when I thought things felt settled the cracks would be starting to show in me.
There’d been signs. I can see that, especially now. Hindsight can be such a wonderful, torturous thing. The general anxiety disorder I suffer from would have to be dealt with more often to various degrees. My moods would go to polar extremes quite quickly. I would go through spells of complete disinterest with things, I found it hard to motivate myself. I wanted to comfort eat more than usual. I found myself becoming more agitated around people. I’d be wanting to shut myself off. My sarcasm levels had reached Def Con One. I would doubt myself and why I was doing things. I’d constantly question my value, my worth and my motivation for doing anything. I’d have moments where I’d start crying. Not just a few tears I mean full on sobbing. Luckily I was able not to be around anyone when that would happen. There’d be moments where I’d stand around in the work toilets, just trying to hold myself together.
I made a decision the other morning to get a doctor’s appointment and I was incredibly fortunate to see my GP, someone who knows my history. If you think is hard to get an an appointment now, just wait until the idiots in charge of the country privatise our public health services. Anyway my doctor and I talked about how I was and about going back on my medication again. He asked if I was writing the blog still, which I confirmed. He sees what I’ve achieved so far as a victory, even if I struggle to see how.
So, I’ve got a prescription written out in my name for Venlafaxine. It’s the same dosage I used to be on with the option of increasing it if I feel the need to. I could be in these for years to come, just to get that little bit of balance back in my brain.
I feel like part of me has let me and others down. I’ve advocated about being open about mental health struggles and what people go through but recently I’ve not been able to. No real reason, I’ve just found it harder than usual to put into words and articulate what has been going on in my life.
Hence not writing much for the blog recently, latching on to anything else other than have to deal with myself. Why the fuck would I want to deal with myself when I could continue in this state of denial I seemed quite happy in?
Actually, that’s not really true. I’ve written plenty, I’ve just not published anything. A lot of it has either been deleted or archived, never to see the light of day again, probably for the best.
Add into the mental spaghetti my brain has become, my phone died on me last night. Not only have I lost a lot of personal photos and the like, I’ve lost a lot of my writing. Not just my blog notes but also musical sketches and notes of songs that were work in progress. Just enough of a deal at the moment to tip me over a bit. There’s never a good time to have bad time.
So, here I am. I kind of feel like I’m back at square one. I need to take a couple of feel breaths and get myself ready for this. I need to take my time, it’s not a race about who can get better the quickest. I need to feel more comfortable with who I am and what I’m going through. There’s no shame in accepting this and reaching out. That’s the point, I should be okay to feel like this, there is no shame. I’m more of a work in progress than I ever thought I was. But I can move forward. I will move forward.
I have to move forward.