Being There, Part II
Oh! Goody

How I'm Doing

Let's take a break from the flashback-type posts and talk about today. Specifically, how I am feeling today. 

I feel really, really good today. I felt really, really good yesterday. And the day before that. 

I came home from the hospital with several follow-up appointments already made for therapy and my psychiatrist, and a lot of medication.

(Well, a lot of prescriptions for medication, technically. Which Jason dropped off at Target on our way back, while I sort of shuffled behind him in the flip-flops I'd been given at check-out [I'd shown up at the ER barefoot], blinking and marveling at all the colors and sane-looking people.)

I've dropped all but two of the medications from the daily regimen (because sleep is nice but so is being awake enough to like, function a level or two above comatose) and Jason keeps anything and everything with overdose potential hidden away in an undisclosed location. 

(He did the same thing with the benzos at first but eventually we stopped that because I never really took them and also I was feeling fine! Totally fine! Nothing to worry about here, folks.)

(Back on the ward, we collectively declared "FINE" to be an unacceptable four-letter word. Because "I'm fine" is code for total fucking bullshit.)

I'd been on a newer antidepressant called Trintellix, which seemed to work okay at first but caused absolutely awful, relentless nausea and vomiting that never stopped. Eventually it was a struggle for me to even keep the medication down often enough to stay at a therapeutic dose.

Meanwhile, I didn't like how tired and extra-depressed the Xanax and Ativan made me feel, so I rarely bothered with either of them. So the generalized anxiety continued to run amok beneath the layers of deepening depression.

It was like a glorious onion parfait of medication failure, served up to a person who doesn't like calling doctors or admitting she's not doing well (DID U NOT HEAR HOW FINE I AM I'M FINE I'M FINE) or onions for that matter. 

I'm now on Lexapro and Buspar, two old-school meds that are, so far, working really great for me. (The Buspar in particular is kicking so much GAD ass that it's hard not to feel some pangs of regret and anger that I wasn't on it years ago.) I burn to a crisp if I go outside without sunscreen, but other that that, side effects are minimal and manageable. I go to therapy twice a week, medication management appointments every two weeks, and am looking for a group setting to attend as well. I set little goals for myself every day, even if they aren't necessarily anything challenging.

Make the kids breakfast. Walk a dog. Answer an email. Text a friend. Write something. Cook dinner. Wash my damn face. 

I want so badly to just be better, to really and truly be fiiiiiiine, that it's tempting to get really impatient with myself. But the days of endless self-bullying are over, of letting the meanest voice in my head yell the loudest, and instead I look at my modest little task list and let a sense of pride creep in. I'm still here, still trying, still fighting, still hanging in.

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Comments

Chris

I’m so glad you are more than “fine.” ❤️ Don’t stop speaking up about your meds! You deserve to feel more than fine, always.

Peggy Kramer

I am so worried about you and pray that you're ok, that you'll get closer to FINE every day.

Darrax

Love you but WHAT IS THAT KITTEH DOING??

Connie Bowers

You are kicking so much mental health ass! Getting the little things done is SO HARD when the brain is all discombobulated. I am so happy to hear you are doing great, and I hope you remember that it is ok for it to not be great sometimes. You are such an amazing person, and we are all cheering for you.

Lee

One step at a time. Those little goals add up. <3 you!

Lauren E

So good to hear things are on an upswing. Just take it hour by hour. You're stronger than you know. Good call on Jason having the meds. My husband had to do something similar for me when I was going through severe postpartum depression...I thought it was ridiculously unnecessary and then I also totally searched for the "hiding places" multiple times (unsuccessfully). BTW, in that first picture, for a second I thought your cat was a monkey : p

rose

Life can be hard. We want you to keep writing. Some of us really need you to keep writing. As someone some where else said: even posting a grocery list can be a reminder that many people are out there and one is not as alone as it sometimes feels.
Check your voter registration regularly against purges, be sure you are and remain registered, VOTE every time.
Some young potential voters did not hear in high school or at home about gerrymandering, 'New Jim Crow' voting issues, how to fact check assertions, why voting in private ,by yourself, is important. That political parties change over time, how to find out who is behind entities endorsing different issues on ballots, that women do not have equal rights mandated by our government. That every vote counts and that THEIR vote is important. That legally we do not have a right to clean water, air, soil, basic medical care, basic education for children unless we demand it by voting for it over and over and over.

Lizardek

I am glad. So glad!

Sue W.

Glad you are feeling better. Little, tiny baby steps. Looks like you have some good "helpers." That's always a good thing.

AmyH

How is Jason doing?
Glad you are on the upswing. We’ve only met at meet ups but i’ve been reading since before Noah was born so I care about you and your family. Sending love and light.

JennieBasset

I'm glad to see your face. Much love and peaceful vibes to you...and that acrobatic kitty!

ccr in MA

It looks like you can add "supported cat exploration project" to your list of completed items! Every little thing counts.

cris

I was half-speed reading "function a level or two above" and my brain finished it with "tomatoes", and for a moment there it made perfect sense you'd write that. I've been unable to make myself read you for the past two weeks, but managed to read all last five posts in a row, and damn I missed you, girl. No pressure. You're just loved, and needed, by many. Go ahead and take pride in that, because you deserve it.

Jess

Am calling doctor about buspar RIGHT DAMN NOW. Thank you for your wisdom. Sending love. As always. ❤️❤️❤️

Christine

/big love heart emoji here/

LeighTX

I'm so glad you're doing well today. My husband is in the process of adding new meds, the Effexor just wasn't doing the trick alone, but I'm not sure the new mix is working either. It's so hard to know, and to get it right! I worry a lot.

Catherine

Way to go, Amy! Glad you're taking care of yourself and that you've got such a great support system. Sending you love.

ChrisL

One wee baby step at a time. So very glad you are doing better! Not quite the F word, but well on your way!

Erin

You know, you are making me think about the current state of things in our health care system, and it's kind of bananas that anyone seeking treatment for anxiety and depression doesn't have medication management appointments. Yeah, I know, the cost of western medicine in the US, blah blah, let's not even go there or think about it. What's important is that you're feeling good today and it sounds like you have a wonderful support plan/system in place.

I have suffered with anxiety my entire life. It's been pretty near debilitating in the past, but it's at it's mildest right now, at this time in my life. I mention this because when it creeps in for a visit, I am dumbfounded at how it changes the way I feel and the thoughts I think. Just dumbfounded. I never saw it before, when I was in it all the time because that was just my baseline normal. It gives me even greater compassion for you and for everyone living with it, living around it, living through it.

I'm kind of just rambling here. But also, I dig your to-do lists! Celebrate that sh*t! <3

BG

I've been on the Lexa-Spar combo since April...totally life-changing. It's incredible to find myself partway through a situation that would have triggered a panic attack in the past and realize that I'm...breathing. Not sweating and flapping my hands helplessly. Not feeling remotely barfy. (Ah: the low thresholds of YAY with depression-GAD-panic disorder.)

I'm so very glad that it's helping you, too.

Amy Bridges

Why can't I post a gif in a comment. It's really my most effective way of communicating.

Mariya

Those little things are big things when you're getting better. You're doing great! Things will get even better from here. So much better that you'll have difficulty imagining how bad they were before. Sending love!

Amanda

FINE = Feelings Inside Not Expressed :-)

Sheri

I took Lexapro when I first started clawing my way out of depression and anxiety. I eventually felt so much better after a couple of years that weaned off of Lexapro. I was good for quite a while, but then I felt those feelings coming back. The first time admitting/recognizing you need help is the hardest (like breaking a wild horse).....it's easier to accept after that. I went back to the doc and we found a combo of meds that work for me. I take buspar, too, along with Zoloft. Been on those for a few years now and I'm pretty normal, unless you ask my hubby and he'll just say I'm weird! Anyways, I just want to say hang in there. It definitely takes a few weeks for the Lexapro to really get in there and kick butt. Just keep taking your meds and keep writing! *Big hugs*

Laura

Take it hour by hour and day by day, girl. +1 for Lexapro, my ex-h was on it and it worked great until he stopped taking it (because he was fiiiiiiiiine). My Zoloft is also fucking magical (although does nothing for anxiety).

You've got this. Be good to yourself. I'm glad you are still here.

RzDrms

I burst out crying at my desk at work at the words “and am looking for a group setting to attend as well.” I could just picture you there, talking, getting out into the world (but into a safe place), discussing any negative things to help turn them into positives. I’m SO FUCKING HAPPY to read this post.

(And then the kitty photos at the end made me LOL!)

Dawn

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Jelourai

"FINE", per Aerosmith, stands for "Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional". You are not alone, and I'm so glad we're not without you. Keep going ❤

Susan

One teeny, tiny baby step at a time. I'm so glad you are still here. Keep fighting. And kitties are the BEST.

Masha

I'll let all those knowledgeable people comment on the important stuff. I'm here to say those kitty photos are hilarious and that I also have that ON t-shirt and it makes me quite silly/happy when I wear it.

Heather Laura Clarke

It's all about little manageable lists for sure. I update Google Calendar entries when they're finished, editing the name to like "DONE -- Send invoices," and on bad days I'll add entries like "DONE -- Curl hair" and "DONE -- Order groceries" to feel better about what I've accomplished. xo

Angie

Thank you for sharing your story with us. You inspired me to book an appointment with my psychiatrist because I've been struggling. Thought I was fine (just fine, no problems) but tired, so tired, and getting a little snappy and not sleeping well, etc. etc. He adjusted my medication and things are getting better, so thank you so much, Amy. xoxo.

SarahB

Yep. One step at a time. Patience. I hit a new low last summer that required several weeks to climb out of, and I set such goals too. It can be so hard to just be nice to and patient with yourself. I at least once a day had the "how would I treat a friend in this situation?" to remind my negative thoughts to tone it down.

You're doing all the right things. This will get better.

Chrissy Cooper

lexapro is my go to too! sometimes old school is the way to go.
I love the way you write Amy. The honesty and humor is right up my alley and I have read you for years. I am so glad you're still with us. <3

Melodie

Sending much love to you. Your words touch more lives than you know.

Nature Nerd

I dunno, these sound more like gigantic amazing steps rather than teeny-tiny baby steps. And writing about this stuff? That's like a giant fucking leap lady. You are helping so many by writing about this shit that many don't want to admit. It made me so happy to hear that you are doing well today. Thank you, thank you for your posts.

Marianne

So much hope and love and all that jazz from afar.

Lindsay

My doctor asked me yesterday how my moods were after I had just finished crying to her about my skin issues from the god forsaken IUD that I have. To which I replied, "I'm fiiiiiiiiiiine, just a few nagging things but you know, the norm."
It's so true, "fine" means you're lying out your fucking teeth.

LOL Love the cat - thinks that Momma is a jungle gym. LOLOL.

Hugs lady,
Lindsay

Lisa

Rooting for you.

Lorrian Ippoliti

Yay. BIG YAY! And more weird internet stranger hugs to you.

xoxoxoxoxo

Alison

So so happy to read this today. Hugs and continued good days to you.

KJ

I'm glad you're here. I'm glad that you are finding effective tools to help. Thank you for sharing what you have been going through. And yes, fine is a bullshit word.

Amy in StL

Be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself when you get impatient. Treating ourselves easy is the hardest thing, isn't it? So many times I'm told that I'm so critical and I want to laugh because if you think I'm critical of that girl going to work in leggings and shower slides, you should hear how I talk to myself when I'm getting dressed! I'm learning to be easier on myself and it's.... not easy.

Judi

Thank you for staying alive. You are loved, even by strangers.

Elonda VanMaanen

Good job staying focused on going forward! Small steps are still steps in the right direction!!!!!!! Also, I love your cat. (Plus your other animals but she just makes me laugh)

Amelia Bowler

The kitteh (Finn or Rey?) is like "I'M THE REAL STAR OF THIS BLOG!"
I hear you on the self-criticism. And then the temptation of beating yourself for the self-criticism. Oy.
I'm starting to get better at catching myself and reframing, like saying "I'm learning to ..." instead of "I'm terrible at..."

reenie

I feel like you might get the continued help you need now, and that makes me so happy. There's not much worse than getting up the nerve to schedule yourself an appointment for anxiety and/or depression...waiting the ungodly long time for an appointment (like really - who finally gets up the energy and strength to call a psychiatrist or psychologist and doesn't need immediate help? 4 months! Yeah - sure, see you in 4 months...I'll be FINE over here until then sob sob SOB.) and not having the medication work. They tell you it takes time, but you've already made someone listen to you and now you're supposed to go back and say you still need help? GAH I completely understand your hesitance to pursue the drugs that will help.

You're still here...and we're still here, waiting to hear how your story continues.

Lesli

Being a kitty... ladder? climbing surface? ...is plenty. I once saw a therapist who told me to picture myself as a small child when the mean voices started up and it made a difference. I wouldn't say the mean things I say to myself to anyone else, but NEVER to a child, unimaginable, so to say them to myself... it's not good. That helped me visualize what I was doing. ANYWAY, I'm glad that you're doing better. You help so many of us do better and just enjoy the day because of what you've put out into the world. Don't let that go away, please.

KimAZ

Holy shit: FINE is the worst word. I will stop using it immediately. Thank you for this epiphany, Amy. I’m so glad you’re here.

Jenine

That's one goofy cat. Here's to taking each day as it comes and having resources to handle the rough and the smooth. Good to hear your good news. :)

Kristine

One step at a time.

So glad you're here.

Stacey

I'm so glad to hear this!

Leslie

See? Even the cat is happy that you're doing better. Small steps being checked off the list are good. It's important to realize how hard some of those small appearing things really are, and checking them off can be empowering.

Go Amy!

Suzanne

This is the best post ever. Post hospitalization, you should be seeing your doctors multiple times a week. Older medications sometimes are the best (my ADHD meds got switched last year and guess what, Adderall is SO much better than Strattera for me).

One day at a time. You've got this.

Rebecca

Yay × 1,000.

Julia

you'll never know how helpful your writing is to other people.

Amy Shaughnessy

Lexapro = BFF for me. Night and day (as in sobbing uncontrollably vs actually being able to deal with things like a functioning human) for me. Keep being kind to yourself - you're so, so worth it.

Peggasus

I am happy to see you still writing and here with us. I've recently discovered that my son (he's grown, 31yo now) has anxiety issues, so I am following your journey closely. He was diagnosed with ADHD while he was a young teen, but eventually stopped taking whatever it was that he was prescribed, and has a house and a job and a long-time live in girlfriend and several pets, so he's good. But still, the anxiety issues continue. He has an appointment for next Monday when he will bring it up with his doctor. You talking about what you've gone through is helping people you don't even know, so I thank you. Carry on with your funny and honest self, not only your family, but the world needs your voice. Team Amalah!

Lori

I’m so glad you’re feeling better. *hugs*

Sarah

Just know that we are all behind you, no matter if you are feeling really, really good, fine, or totally shit

Stacy

I am so glad to read this and so very, very glad that you are here.

Katie

Keep fighting. There are so many of us out here in Internetsland that love you and we've never even met you. I've been reading since tiny baby Noah, and I can't believe how far you have come since then. Please know that so, so many people look out for you each day and hope that you are doing well. I'm such a nerd that I secretly hoped I would see you when I was chaperoning a trip to the DC area, because I know you and the boys go to the Smithsonians so much. And Mt. Vernon is my favorite part of the trip, just like little (big) Noah.

We need fighters now more than ever. With all the madness and cruelty our county is spawning every day, we need you with your strong, witty voice to help spread the message of the normal people. I'm so glad you're still here. Please stay a long while.

Bree aka Frema

You are doing great. We're glad you're here, Amy!

Mo

Thank you for putting so much effort into taking care of yourself. And thank you for returning to us to provide goofy cat photos.

joan

Eh. Fine is not all it is cracked up to be. It's just like all those skinny models in magazines. Fine is a photoshopped version of life. No one is really fine, not most of the time anyway.

I am so glad for you that you are getting help. I could never bring myself to do it and now with the pressure of the effing hell we are all living in plus some peersonal sttuff, I don't have the tools to cope. In hindsight, I think all of us need therapy when we are well, so that when the shit hits the fan, we are ready for it. Kind of like another class in school.

Jen

I’ve been reading your blog on and off since before you had Noah but have never posted. I have always loved how open you’ve been with your life/family/likes/dislikes etc but I really can’t explain how appreciative I am of the way you’re being so open about something so unbelievably personal and raw. My brother has struggled with depression and mental illness and I’ve felt at such a loss as to how to help him. What do I say or do? I’ve come to realise that I just have to love and accept and be there as much as humanly possible. I’m not here to judge him, who the hell am I after all?! I’m glad you have people that feel the same way. I’m glad you have your family and hubby and lovely children and fur babies. I don’t know you and we’ll never meet but please know that even strangers as far away as London are thinking of you and wishing nothing but the best for you

Jess

Love, love, love you and SO GLAD to read this. Take it day by day. You have an army of people rooting for you and sending you all the most magic, good, happy, unicorn sparkle fairy thoughts. xoxoxo

Laura

Fine really is a four-letter word. This post makes me so happy and also, I want to share it with my daughter who I think is on her way to depression/anxiety.... you have a way of putting things into such perfect words (e.g. "the meanest voice in my head is yelling the loudest". Oof.).

zoot

I'm glad you're finding things that work. Lexapro was the first thing that started working for me too (at least working without sleep-impairing side effects) although I feel like the correct dosage is more of a tricky thing to find. Good luck finding a group! I have friends who SWEAR by their groups but I have yet to find one that meets before 7pm. I can't do 7:30 or later because I'm an old lady.

Continued love and light to you and yours. Thank you for the updates. You are all on my heart.

Christine

My husband asked me yesterday how you were doing. That's right, a stranger asked an Internet stranger after you because I've been reading your blob and various work and talking about "Amy says..." for so long. YOU MATTER in our house! And I'm glad I had something good to report to him. Here's another pat on the back for you (and also LagLiv) - I have an appointment with a dr. next week to get checked out because the news these days is bad but probably shouldn't be inducing days-long crying jags...your recent posts and hers on mental health finally helped me pull the trigger to call someone, so THANK YOU.

Amy A

I am waiting for the post hopefully not too in the distant future where you are looking back at this time and have subsequently found yourself to be a new person; that’s the great thing about the proper treatment for depression. Last year around this time I hit a very bad low with anxiety and it took a lot longer than I wanted for the meds to kick in. But they did, and I’ve now this summer handled having my elderly mom (with dementia) move in, with me becoming her full-time caregiver, a devastating house fire three weeks ago, where I had to single-handedly get myself and my mom and dog out quickly, the subsequent emergency respite placement of her into assisted living, and the finding of temporary housing for me and my family while my house is being restored.
My point? Last year at this time no way could I have handled this. Now with the correct meds in place I am f-ing Superwoman, and you are, too. Not that I’m wishing the preceding events on you, or on anyone, for that matter, but letting you know that you are incredibly strong and you will persevere, because that’s what we Superwomen do.

Yung

So glad you’re feeling better. Please be vigilant about tracking your progress with the drugs you take because sometimes the drugs themselves can cause depression. Also, how is Jason doing? Hope you continue to get better every day!!!

Taua

💙

Jeffiner

I've noticed that there seems to be a decrease in funny/stupid cat pictures on the Internet and more and more horrible shit. Thanks for working to restore the balance of the Internet with cat pics.

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