Jumpstart

Well. I’ve been on a bit of a writing hiatus. Not for lack of words…I’ve actually started at least 2, maybe 3, blog posts over the past few months. 1 I just never finished and the other two got deleted before I had a chance to publish them and WordPress doesn’t have the best auto-save function. Lesson learned (I’d like to think.) The problem with me is that I tend to put a lot of thought in to the sentences and paragraphs that I write and find it very difficult to recapture the same intensity or intention in re-writes. I get frustrated at my inability to recreate the exact thoughts I was having in the moment and then give up altogether. (Reasons why I’ll never be a professional writer, perhaps…) Then, of course, so much time lapses between posts that I I’m overwhelmed at where to start with a new entry. So, I’ll jump right in…

Art stuff: I, along with several other artists, will be recognized at the Gallery’s “First Friday” event in September. I’ve been there a year but hey, better late than never! I have not done even CLOSE to what I intended still, in part because of also starting a new job at the same time but mostly because people and pets kept dying, It’s been a rough year, to say the least. My art room is currently (again) in usable condition, but I still have a pile of mat board that I’ve found impossible to sort through. I’ve tried, occasionally, but by the time I get 4 or 5 pieces down in the pile, it becomes unwieldy and I can’t maneuver anything around to see what I’m looking at or looking for. I’ve been trying to find a suitable solution for storage, but oddly such a thing doesn’t seem to exist in this area? At least, not for less than $1,000 which is way out of my price range. So, while I’ve printed several pieces and had grand plans of matting and framing them…until I can get to the mat board, that’s on hold still.

In other news…I’ve been off work for about 2 weeks and am not scheduled to go back until mid-September. I briefly considered not telling people or explaining why but then I realized that that only perpetuates the stigma and increases my feelings of isolation. I mean, I have no need to necessarily make daily FB posts about it, but I also am not someone who likes to have secrets. It’s obviously no secret that I have suffered from depression for decades. I wasn’t diagnosed until my early 20s, but chances are it started in my late teens. I’ve seen multiple therapists over the years and have a handful of hospitalizations under my belt. I’ve been playing the med game since my mid 20s, with little to no success, especially not long term. The only med I’ve not been willing to try is Lithium and that is mostly because I know myself well enough to know I can’t maintain the diet or hydration necessary to not end up with toxicity from it. I’ve discussed this with my physicians and medical providers who, for the most part, agree with me. I’ve made lifestyle changes and have tried really, really hard for many many years to just…be ok. With varying levels of success.

I’m so very grateful to have a trifecta of providers who listen to me and who let me make my own decisions as much as possible instead of forcing me to do one thing or another. They trust me to keep them in the loop as far as my mental status goes and in turn, I am able to trust them enough to be honest about my thoughts and emotions. This has prevented probably more than a few 302s…. But any how. That’s all a story for another day. The point of this story is that, in 2017, I was threatened with 1. taking Lithium 2. going to State hospital or 3. doing ECT (electro-convulsive therapy). At the time, I had no health insurance but also had no plans of going to state or taking Lithium, so I said “sure, sure…ECT it is!” Of course, no one does much follow up once you’re discharged and because I had no insurance at the time the social workers didn’t even bother looking in to or setting up any kind of consultations for ECT. So, life went on. It got worse, it got better. I took the combo of meds that seemed to work well enough to keep me out of the pits of despair for a while. I had quit my super high-stress job in 2017 and although I jumped from job to job for a year after that, things were looking up. Not financially, but in other areas of life, I felt I had more control and was doing better at balancing work and life and such.

Things were going swimmingly. My art got accepted in to the gallery in DuBois, which felt like a huge accomplishment. I got a new job that seemed to have me doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. I joined a new circle of friends who were positive and uplifting and like-minded. And then…well. September 23 happened. (well, I guess if we’re technical about it, September 22-24?) If I’m being honest, I still don’t understand, I still haven’t come to terms to grips to whatever…with Mel’s death. But it didn’t stop there. Somehow, that was apparently just the beginning. Mum’s health continued to decline and she lived with me for a very long, stressful week before demanding to return home. That week included everything from projectile vomiting to awful accusations to having to call friends in to help me get her off the floor after she’d fallen out of her wheelchair. Then, at the beginning of March, my beloved kitty Zelda died suddenly and unexpectedly. Almost 6 months to the day Mel passed, my father died. About a month later, a kiddo I had worked with completed suicide.

Things were not improving. I hadn’t been able to keep meds, or anything else, down since about October thanks to a probable ulcer. (Complete with stress hives!) I lost about 15 pounds in 3 months but couldn’t afford the tests necessary to verify the diagnosis and the ulcer meds seemed to exacerbate my symptoms. I visited my PCP at the end of June and she brought up the possibility of ECT again. This time I had insurance and, really, nothing left to lose. So. I started the ball rolling and had a consult on July 18 at the nearest clinic that my insurance covered. Which happens to be about an hour and 45 minutes away.

This has not been an easy process. It has involved many phone calls to my insurance company as well as to the clinic. Not to mention trying to get things situated with work and short term disability stuff. Of course, I’m not covered under FMLA until the beginning of September but putting things off another month just was less and less feasible. So. Long story short, I started treatments on August 5th. At some point, I’m sure I’ll write an entry dedicated to all of that but suffice to say for now, I have to travel about 2 hours to the clinic twice a week, get an IV and anesthesia, have electricity sent through my brain, hang out in recovery until I’m awake and mobile, and then travel the 2 hours home. I’m not allowed to drive during the acute phase of treatment, which lasts a minimum of 6 weeks (or operate heavy machinery, or make important decisions….) I’m also not allowed to take any of my usual meds except synthroid and ativan for anxiety. So. That’s been…fun. The treatments (or the lack of other meds) has caused a significant increase in brain shattering headaches. The first 2 treatments were fine, but the 3rd and 4th have been much harder in terms of side effects. Not having too many memory issues, but the headaches, acheyness, and exhaustion are starting to take a toll. Generally, people start to see improvement around the 3rd week so…fingers crossed things start to shift next week. I’m not sure what I’ll do if this doesn’t help, as I feel like I’m basically out of viable options….

So. I realize that this particular blog entry wasn’t well written or even super informative, and also in no way follows the general gist of the blog in any way. But, I needed to get it down before moving on to other entries, which will hopefully occur in the next week or two. Because there have been good things dotting the horizon, of course. I’ve been able to go to several concerts (Indigo Girls, The Town Pants, Dar Williams, Abbie Washburne, Ingrid Michaelson to name a few), I’ve taken several wonderful camping trips that really helped me to regroup and carry on with the day to day, and I’ve managed to foster some amazingly healthy friendships despite the ever-present terror involved with friendship/abandonment issues. I guess my point is…I’m trying. And I’m so grateful to everyone who has been so supportive of me in my efforts.

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