Getting in my own sway

I’m not sure if you know this, but if you get tired enough you’re basically high.

Cut to me roaming the halls at work, swaying as I walked. Not a sexy, seductive kind of sway. Less hip movement, and more of an I’m losing touch with reality and boy oh boy I need to keep my head from flailing into errant walls kind of sway. Perhaps it wasn’t a wise idea for me to bike to work. Perhaps it was an even less wise idea for me to bike home from work. All I know is, I’m very thankful it was a moderately slow shift, because I don’t think I could’ve handled much workload. I messaged my girlfriend at some point to let her know I was getting motion blurs from turning my head too quickly. It was like bad VR, which already gives me motion sickness. Thank fuck my eyes have a decent depth of field, otherwise I’m not sure I could’ve handled my own body. The saving grace was that as long as I was stationary, I was mostly fine. I don’t need to rapidly turn my head at my desk to do my job, so I could at least get the work done without much of an issue.

Last night I made an important, but boring decision. I decided to stay home from the final of Late Bad. As I’ve raved over the past week, it’s quickly become my favourite local comedy show. The hosts are fantastic, the recurring bits are absurd, and it tickled my funny bones all over. In a whimsical, not creepy way. I think having your bones tickled might be a meth symptom, but I can’t be sure. Hell, I’m not even sure how many funny bones I have. I clearly cannot be trusted as a medical expert. In any case, I was at work thinking I might be stepping outside of liminal time right now, but do I stay up in the present to see Late Bad? I did notice how much better I’d felt after eating a full meal, and I’d thrusted enough caffeine into my body to make sleep an intangible concept. T H R U S T E D. I knew going to Late Bad wasn’t a good idea, but I didn’t trust myself to make smart decisions. Like, how could I know that the things I thought were ill advised were actually, well, that? What if my concepts were twisted all challah-like? It was Rosh Hashana, but what if it was also opposite day?

Deep down I knew I shouldn’t go. Look, there’s no misdirect here. I already told you I didn’t. But we’re living in the future. I didn’t know that even after I’d left work, liminal time or no. I got let out early, and had ample time to actually make it to the show. I was on my bike, and still couldn’t decide. I was riding seated, one-handed, up a hill, texting my girlfriend about my indecision. Then I realised, that I was riding seated, one-handed, up a hill, texting my girlfriend. I wanted to go to the show, but I clearly wasn’t in a sane state of mind to make those decisions. I took stock, and thought back to the festival. I remembered how good I’d felt making smart decisions not to fall prey to FOMO. I thought about my potential next day after staying up late at Comedy Bar. No doubt I’d get a drink, maybe two, get sucked into the frenzy of the final off-festival show and 4am last call. I knew how terrible today’s shift would be, given that it might actually get busy. I understood that, if I decided to see the show, much as I wanted to, it would mean I’d clearly learned nothing from my experiences. I may have been delirious with exhaustion, but I wasn’t a dummy. I went home, chilled out, and had a full night’s rest.

Sure, I kinda regret my decision, but I was going to either way.

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I’d say these men can “get fucked”, but I don’t wish that horror upon their partners

Oh hey, just your reminder that the world is a festering cesspool and we’re all circling its drain.

This Alabama shit is fucking abhorrent. It’s unfathomable that in 2019, people are still putting their fundamentalist religious bollocks above women’s right to bodily autonomy. It’s fucking crazy that they’re all “every life is sacred”, but they seem not to give a shit about how an unwanted pregnancy could directly impact the lives of adults. Like, yeah, every life is sacred, but we don’t give a shit about the quality of life, or challenges faced by those possessing a uterus. Maybe women seeking abortions sincerely did want to raise a child, but the circumstances of timing would mean that their chance to accomplish certain apirations or career goals were hindered by the responsiblity of raising a child. Maybe they don’t have the financial stability to give the child the quality of life they desired, or it would impact their own quality of life. Maybe they were young and out of their depth, and thought it was what they wanted at the time, but they’ve realised that’s no longer the case. Maybe they were coerced into it by some dude who just wanted to get his tip wet, but had no wish to be a father. Maybe pregnancy could have severe health impacts to the mother, and the risks would override her desire to give birth. I don’t know. I don’t have a uterus, and I wouldn’t presume to know what was best for those who do. It’s really fucking terrifying that the bastards putting these draconian laws into place are almost uniformly men. I don’t know how your logical threads connect, but surely anyone could see how absurd that is?

I’ve definitely taken shits bigger than a 6 week foetus. I know that without looking it up. And while I still think of them from time to time (really, I do), I’m very happy that they’re no longer in my body.

After looking it up, a 6 week foetus is about .25 inches, or roughly the size of a sweet pea. Which is not to say that I have anything against parenting. I think it’s wonderful, and I have unending support for those who want to be parents to have the right to do so. I equally support those who don’t want to be parents to have the right to not do so. I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion?

I have no illusions that this clusterfuck was started by anti-abortion lobbyists, and seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. The fundamentally conservative right have been pushing very hard over the past few years to influence elections and grease the wheels of lawmaking through back pocket deals. I know the idea that “money talks” is not new, nor is the notion of corporations buying the rights of citizens. I mean, it’s here in Canada, lest anyone feel comfortable that we’re safe here. This is a movement, and it’s pretty apparent that blind conviction and fury are winning out over nuanced understanding. Yeah, sure, we’re on the verge of a mass extinction and we’re all going to die faster than we’d expected. That doesn’t mean we need to work so hard to drag humanity back down into the mud.

Every life is sacred, but some are more sacred than others, apparently.

Some kind of depresstidigitateur

I’ve been procrastinating for a full hour about writing this. I think it’s time to git’er done.

That could’ve been misinterpreted. I haven’t been procrastinating out of trepidation. I’m not hiding some insidious trauma that’s kept my fingers straying from the keyboard. It’s moreso that my mind’s been on walkabout. I upped my dose of these new meds today, and it’s left me a little addled. Cognitively I’m mostly there. I can do my job fine, it hasn’t hampered any function. I’ve just felt a tad glassy. Like my brain gets untethered if it’s given room to breathe. Because of time and space magic, you didn’t see it, but I just looked away from the screen for a solid minute and stared into infinity. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I didn’t delve through the aether with the mysteries of my subconsciousness in hand. I just zoned out. It happened when I first started the meds and faded as my body acclimated to the to the dose. Now that I’ve upped the dose, my body’s adjusting again.

Since I’ve got nothing else to talk about, and there’s a vague chance that this could help inform people, I’m gonna do a recap. Last week I started anti-depressants. I’ve learned, from friends reaching out, that it’s not awfully uncommon. A bunch of people struggle with depression, and meds have truly helped a bunch of them find the resolve to work through debilitating times in their lives. The thing about starting SSRIs, as far as I know, is that it’s a process. It involves introducing your brain and body to new chemicals, and that’s an adjustment. It’d be incredibly unhealthy to toss a full dose at yourself all at once and hope for the best. There are potential side-effects, like nausea, headaches, weight gain and reduced libido, to name a few. So commonly you’ll start on a small dose for the first few days before upping it.

I started last Wednesday on 5mg. My doctor told me to start there for the first five days, then up to 10mg for the next 25. I’ve been fortunate to have pretty mild side-effects so far. A little nausea, some body weirdness. At times I’ve felt myself drifting a little mentally. These symptoms were more pronounced over the first day or two, and relaxed as the days went by. The effects on my mood have been impressive already. I just feel more in control of my mood. Incidental thoughts that would’ve crushed me a month ago don’t seem quite so severe. Instead of being pulled down into depressive states, I instead have the recourse to look at them and think yep, those are thoughts. The thoughts still happen, but they’re not as holistic or dominating.

It’s been incredibly empowering, and in many ways allowed me to take elements of my life back. Over the past few days I’ve been social and outgoing, something I struggled with immensely as my depression worsened. Anyone who knows me well would find this odd to hear, since I’m usually a pretty social guy. I’ve been able to do things in the evenings, instead of drowning in mental worst case scenarios that prevented me from doing much of anything.

I’m not claiming to be cured by any means. It’s very early days, and hopefully it’s an indication that I’m heading in the right direction. A new wind could blow with this increased dose and perhaps it’ll take my body longer to recalibrate.

The next step, as I said, is to continue on 10mg for the time being. My doctor told me to set up an appointment for a month after starting medication. She says we’ll review how my body is reacting, and gauge whether the 10mg dosage is appropriate, or if we should increase it to 20mg. So far I’m relieved that the first five days weren’t too rough. I’m hoping that this next step will be similarly gentle, but I’ll understand if that doesn’t happen to be the case. It’s all new, and I think holding expectations is unfair. These things take time and, if it’s truly gonna be an effective corrective measure, impatience would only serve to make things worse.

I’d certainly rather zone out every now and again than no longer want to exist.

An alternative to a Hive Vis Vest

Today is not an ordinary day.

That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily extraordinary, just different. Today I’ve had precious little work to do, which has been a welcome reprieve to a busy week. Then, out of nowhere, it was announced that there were drinks and refreshments in the lobby. A simple equation. I had more drinks/refreshments than work to do. I also got to go for a jog (before the drinks and refreshments, of course). If this isn’t extraordinary, it’s at the very least quite nice.

I think it’s weird that we don’t see more bee pattened bikinis. Not least because it’s a very cute pattern. Moreso because I want to be able to say “beekini” a bunch more. Sure, it sounds the same, but it’s straight up more fun. Horizontal stripes are great, and yellow has chutzpah that white lacks. Everyone (aside from Nic Cage in Wicker Man and Macaulay Culkin in My Girl) loves bees. They’re endangered, which is a goddamn tragedy. I don’t know if we’re gonna develop self-pollination after we inevitably ruin the environment for them, but otherwise we lose a ton of fruit. The least we can do is spread awareness and popularise their plumage. Maybe then people will finally pay attention. Aaaaand I’ll be able to say “beekini”, of course.

In a tonal shift, this essay I read was absurdly resonant.

Truth be told, I’ve been sitting on the link for several days now. I’ve revisited it several times, and it hasn’t stopped resonating. I’ve wavered on whether or not I’ve felt okay about posting it. Thing is, I’ve very rarely talked about this with friends, and it’s usually because I don’t want people to worry, make assumptions, etc. Buried somewhere in that is a shame that these thoughts are aberrant, and that there’s something wrong with me. At the same time, this piece made me feel understood and validated on an innate level. I don’t want others to miss out on that. I’m sure that for many of us this is normal, and stigmatising it only seeks to push us away from talking about it.

Frankly, it’s weird that talk of losing a desire to live is so swept under the rug in society. I feel like half the reason so many take their lives is that simply, they feel like they can’t really talk to people about it. That they’re strange for feeling that way, and that loneliness exacerbates those feelings. It’s something that’s been with me for most of my life. I’ve held it in, and those thoughts have ebbed and flowed. A lot of the time it doesn’t even cross my mind. Then I have periods where it’s pervasive. It’s tricky, because my most hated thing to do ever is ask for help. I have this absurd innate belief that if I haven’t earned something, I don’t deserve it. Now, I know that it’s bullshit. But understanding that on a base level is something different. Who knows where it comes from? In any case, while it’s a great help to light a fire towards getting shit done, it kind of leaves little recourse when the floor falls out beneath me.

I think it’s incredibly important to talk about this stuff. Most of the reason that I’m so open about it is knowing so many others who are. Meeting the people who’ve become foundational here in Toronto has emboldened me to respond in kind, and hopefully become a beacon for others who don’t have access to this mentality. We’re all fucked, and the only way we’re surviving any of this nonsense is together.

As always, a life less ordinary is always welcomed. ‘Cause what the fuck do I know about a normal day anyway?

It’d give new meaning to the term “brain-fart”, which is definitely a thing that people say

Years ago I was on holiday with my family. I grew close to this girl, as you do when you’re an excitable teenager with a modicum of freedom. We were having lunch and sharing secrets. She went first and said “so I have a chemical imbalance. Do you know what that means?” With utter solemnity, in hushed tones I responded “does that mean you fart a lot?”

Which is all to say that I started my meds today.

Also I fart a lot.

I had my consultation and received a prescription last Thursday, but I had forthcoming blood test results. I thought about it last night, which isn’t unusual. This has been at the forefront of my brain for some time now. Running in tandem with my desire to get my results back, was an urgency to start and get the loading phase over with. I also don’t get cellphone reception in my office, so it felt unproductive to potentially wait days to get the results, on the off chance that my depression was symptomatic of something deeper. The notion of going on medication has largely been a thirst for agency over my feelings and behaviour.

As things have degenerated over time, regular aspects of my life have been just out of reach. Simple stuff like hanging out in groups, going to bars, seeing live comedy or music. Even having the capacity to get myself to a cinema and watch a movie has been laden with misgivings or doubts. These aren’t things that I’ve ever had problems with before, and frankly I don’t want them to be challenges. Watching a film for leisure purposes should not be difficult, but it has been. I know how ridiculous that all sounds. It’s felt just as ridiculous living it. Then in turn, feeling like my own behaviours and responses have been ridiculous only served to twist the knife. In short, feeling shitty was making me feel even shittier. Downwards spiral 101.

I’ve gone into this with a handful of ideas, and an open mind to accept and validate how it feels. Friends cautioned me to temper my expectations. They said that there’s often a 4-6 week bioaccumulation period, where your body adjusts to the new chemicals. Some mentioned nausea, or unusual physical sensations. Others cautioned over a general mind fog, or difficulty following thoughts at times. Some said it went by easily, without major issues. A friend I spoke to a week or two back said that she’d felt immediately perky, and negative aspects had yet to creep in. I’ve strapped myself in for a roller coaster, to give myself the space to go along for the ride. If I luck out and it doesn’t play havoc with my innards, then maybe it’ll be nice not to hurl mid-loop like I did on the Rainbow’s End corkscrew coaster during my 8th birthday party.

As far as the first day goes, it’s hard to judge exactly what’s happening. I do feel a little unshackled in my body. My limbic responses are sluggish and loose. My stomach has been flitting between normalcy and nausea since mid-morning. My eyesight has been unfocused and glassy. I’ve got a very mild headache. I also feel kinda stoned. It’s perhaps been a blessing in disguise that work has been so busy, I haven’t had the time to fret about it much. Amongst all the physical sensations, there’s been something else. An unfamiliar reserve that’s kept me buoyant. It’s not like I haven’t had negative thoughts. Of course I have. However, instead of being mired by stray thoughts that echo around my brain, I’ve been able to acknowledge them and move on. The closest approximation I can give would be those gutter-guards you get in ten pin bowling. Instead of bottoming out as soon as something goes awry, it’s kept me in. I’ve been able to move forward. There’s a resiliance in my mind that I haven’t had access to in some time.

It’s the first day. Things are bound to morph and change before settling into a new normal. I don’t want to make bold claims of progress. There’s little point in praising the view from the first step when you’ve still got a climb in front of you. Still, it’s nice to be looking up for once.

Hot off depress

Today I went to my GP for a consult on potentially starting anti-depressants. Despite shifting societal views towards mental health, I still feel like there’s a general lack of awareness going on. My social circles are awash with individuals who struggle in some capacity or another. It’s an everyday part of life for many, many people. I firmly believe that normalising the notion of seeking help and destigmatising mental illness is pretty fucking important. Which is all to say, what’s to follow is a rundown of how my experience went, to give some idea of what a diagnosis looks like.

The first thing my doctor asked me as she walked in the door was, “how are you?” I thought this was a conspicuous question to someone sitting in a doctor’s office. It’s hardly that they’d be feeling in prime health. I said as much. I then immediately realised that this could also be a shrewd way of instantly getting the information she needed for her consult. I said as much. She saw my smirk, and raised me a flat stare. It’s fine, she’s been seeing me for years. She knows which comments of mine to take seriously by now.

Before she’d entered the room, I’d filled out a couple of forms. I’d been supplied a generalised anxiety checklist and a generalised depression checklist. There was also a sheet asking me to rank how my moods had been affecting different aspects of my life: Work, home life and social relationships. She took a look through the forms and did some quick tallying. She then began to ask me questions on how my moods had shifted over time. It’s not the first time we’ve brought up this topic. She helped me get registered for OHIP sponsored therapy, which didn’t turn out to provide sufficient help. Before we parted, the therapist recommended that I considered talking to my GP about whether or not she thought medication could help with my symptoms.

I said that I’d first acknowledged signs of depression during my teenage years, with frequency and severity increasing as I entered adulthood. She asked how depressive episodes would manifest for me, and how long periods would last. I told her that they ranged from shorter periods of hours, to days and sometimes weeks off and on. That during depressive states I’d withdraw emotionally, that I’d lose touch with a desire for anything. Functionally I could complete tasks, go to work, exercise, eat healthily and sleep enough, but with no desire for more than keeping the engine running. During these periods, I’d generally prefer to no longer exist. In no way would this manifest as a desire for self-harm or dangerous behaviour. It would be more likened to hunkering down and waiting for the storm to pass.

We talked about the action that I’d taken to combat this over time. I said that I’d been going to therapy for years, but that financially I couldn’t afford to see my therapist as often as I’d need to in order to do the necessary work. I said that I exercised regularly, tried to get sufficient sleep, was conscious of nutrition, and general intake. She asked about alcohol and drug use. I said that I’d admittedly been smoking weed regularly since it was legalised. This had also severely lowered both the frequency and quantity of my alcohol consumption. While I hadn’t been smoking vast quantities of weed, my frequency was giving me trace concerns. I didn’t want to rule out the idea that regular use could be having negative mental effects, and creating a certain dependency. She agreed that it would be wise to ease up, and use it more recreationally than habitually.

She asked about any family history of mental illness. She asked about periods of increased or erratic energy. I replied that while these periods existed, they felt less symptomatic of a response to depressive episodes, and more like my normal personality. In short, if my excessive pun-making was wrong, I didn’t want to be right. She said her line of questioning was to establish whether or not elements of hypomania were present. We agreed that while this very well may be the case, they’ve never been harmful behaviours, or had negative consequences. She also mentioned that she wanted to account for this with potential medicinal side-effects.

At this point she declared that she had enough information to comfortably diagnose Major Depressive Disorder (which is just a fancy doctorly way of saying “depression”), and she wanted to talk options. She outlined the potential routes we could take. She gave me a quick run down on each type of medication, taking care to mention the benefits and/or possible side-effects. She said my options were as such:

  1. I could choose from the medications she listed, she’d give me a prescription and I could start right away.
  2. She’d list the options, I could go off and do my own research, then come back to her once I’d made my decision. After that, it was basically back to option 1.
  3. She could register me with a psychiatrist, who could give a more in-depth diagnosis. It could, however, take months for me to get the appointment.
  4. I could trust her judgement, then circle back to the second part of option 1.
  5. I could trust her judgement, but also get bloodwork taken to rule out any underlying conditions. She could give me a prescription, which she advised me to fulfill after getting the bloodwork back. Realistically, about three days later.

We talked it over, and decided on option 5. She’d narrowed it down to two medications, and she thought one of them would narrowly edge out the other for suitability. She gave me the forms to get my blood work taken next door. She said that once I had my prescription filled, to start off at a very low dose for five days, then increase my dose. She told me to book a follow up appointment for a month after I’d started the medication, so that she could gauge how my body was responding and decide whether it would be necessary to up the dose or not.

I could not have imagined the consultation going better. At every stage, I sincerely felt that my GP had my best interests at heart. She gauged all of my symptoms and history in her diagnosis. I felt both informed and involved in the decision. She carefully outlined the risks and benefits. At no point did I feel like she was trying to give me a quick answer and move on. Medication is a big step, and was giving it the gravity it deserved. I’ve been seeing her for over five years, and I’ve always felt like this has been the case.

I don’t know if my experience has differed from that of others. I get the feeling that unfortunately not all doctors would treat it with sufficient respect, as I was incredibly fortunate to receive. I hope I’m wrong. I also hope that if there’s anyone who’s felt like medication could be a positive step, that they feel validated asking for help. It’s not easy to do. Fingers crossed that it’s worthwhile.

Let’s break it down

I stayed behind for two hours at work today. Oddly, I’m not grumpy about it.

I’ve been dealing with a certain protocol for many months now. It was something I inherited without instructions. Nobody in the office really knew what the deal with it was, but we kept doing it. I’ve been needling away at the “why” for some time, and today I finally got some answers. It turns out that I’ve been doing surplus work since I inherited it. The person who I inherited it from also had been doing surplus work. The person she inherited it from had been doing this protocol for years, and it turns out she’d been doing surplus work for those years, all because nobody had bothered asking why. At this point I’m not even angry, just totally baffled at the absurd amount of extra work that we’ve been doing, for no point or benefit. The fucking weird part, is that we’re just a link in a chain of actions. There are many links in this chain, and none of those links at any point bothered to ask why. So it’s never been caught. It’s goddamn unreal. Having solved that was worth the extra office time.

Today’s been a clear day, and those have been rare lately. I’ve been mentally foggy, gloomy, for a while now. Look, I’ve been depressed for 6+ months, and it means that some days are total write-offs. I haven’t found rhyme nor reason for it. Maybe I’ll have one thought, or hear something, and the next few days will be gone. It’s not that I can’t think, go to work, exercise or complete tasks, it’s that I’m disconnected from them. During these times, I’m not emotionally intact. I don’t *want* anything, I just want to be nothing. I don’t really know what to do to engage myself, because the concept of desire is part of a whole different hemisphere. I go on auto pilot. Joy doesn’t exist, because I’m not connected to the part of myself that feels it. Just totally disconnected. Being in a social space is too difficult, because the pressure of acting in a manner that’s commensurate with normalcy is beyond me. It feels like I have to perform happiness, and that’s really fucking difficult when I forget how that feels. I can’t go out for live music or comedy, because they become hollow experiences. Seeing more than one friend at a time is out of reach. So I don’t. I just stay at home until it’s reasonable to sleep, because being unconscious sounds preferable to the alternative. It’s difficult, frustrating and removes me from myself. I become a void, and frankly that’s a waste of my brain, body and life. I’m tired of it.

Of course, this is only if I’m sober. If I have a few drinks, it all fades into the background. Legal weed has been a double edged sword. It makes me instantly feel better, which is great. It’s helped a lot. At the same time, I’m also afraid of getting dependent on it. I’m worried that some of my mental fog lately has been due to overexposure. That I’m using it too often. No, I’m not smoking excessive amounts, but my frequency is giving me concerns. For the past two days I’ve been a total write off, without any significant reason. I decided not to medicate with weed. My fugue broke around 10pm last night. Today I’ve been clear, but I don’t know how long this will last for. While I’m mentally composed, I’m trying my best to stay present. Tomorrow I have an appointment with my GP to see if she thinks targeted medication would be a productive step. I’ve been stumbling for long enough that it’s time to take a stand.

Yeah, don’t think about that line for too long. It falls apart pretty quickly. So I guess in a way it’s more apt than I thought.