Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Is This Thing On?

Psssssst...remember me?!

I started and abandoned dozens of entries since last time so I’m going to kind of meld them all together in order to give a decent representation of what the hell has been happening in my world.   I should really update that "about me" page! I honestly have no idea if anyone even checks in here anymore but, damn it, I always viewed this as a diary (oh man, remember Diaryland!?!?), first and foremost, so lack of audience be damned!

I don’t know how to explain why I stopped writing.  I never even understood it myself while it was happening.  It was like, depression finally stole the last thing it could from me.  Writing was always there. Always. I started a journal when I wa 8 and never stopped.  I filled dozens and dozens of journals in high school alone and I wrote even more when I moved the it online and didn't have to write longhand.  So when I say it was always there...I mean it was always there. And then that was gone too. Part of me couldn’t help but connect the severity of my depression with the absence of journaling/writing as therapy but I don’t know which came first.  Did the intensity of the depression cause the lack of writing or did the lack of writing worsen the depression? I’m sad so I can’t write so I’m sad so I can’t write so I’m sad...ad infinitum.

I tried to write because I knew it would help and was something I desperately needed to do.  But it was the first time writing took effort. It was the first time I didn’t do it immediately and naturally and constantly.  It was suddenly requiring thought and reminders and deadlines and demands. Hours spent staring at blank pages, ordering myself to write.  And it still wasn’t happening. It was the first time I felt so dead inside I couldn’t even find the words to express it. For the first time, writing felt like a chore; something I had to force myself to do.  And that feeling of forcing myself to write - that feeling of writing being a punishment - was so alien and...wrong...that I avoided it like the plague.

Depression took everything from me.  And then it took one thing more.

But I guess maybe now, with things improving as much as they are, I feel like, nah, motherfucker, you’re NOT keeping that from me.  And even though (for the first time ever) this whole journaling thing feels weird and I can’t stop stressing over how poorly I feel I am at it now, I’m hoping that if I can just spew this out and post ANYTHING on here to break the silence, I can move forward and start blogging again.  Because things are actually improving! And over the last month or so I’ve quickly shifted from: “I should journal because it might help” to “I’m physically ACHING to write even if I don’t have the slightest clue what to say!”

So, hi, I’m Heidi.  Let’s get this bitch started, shall we?!

Mental Health
As you’ve inferred, the depression has been bad.  I came so close so many times to admitting myself into a psych hospital since moving here three years ago.  I even discussed it with my psychiatrist, chose the hospital, and put the information in Matt’s phone. Just in case.  Along with sticking a list of my doctors and current medications on the fridge in case he...well...in case he had to call an ambulance and I wasn’t able to relay the information.  Matt asked if the episode was the worst I’ve ever had and I wasn’t sure the answer. I mean, the depression was crippling and all I could think about all day every day was suicide but I haven’t cut/burned myself in a lot of years and I haven’t had to go to the hospital.  There were several times when it hit me so hard and pulled me so deep that I nearly asked Matt to please lock up the knives because I didn’t think I’d be safe from myself with access to them. I think what made it so extra awful is that my life is pretty wonderful. I mean, I should be happy!  But..I wasn’t. The depression was debilitating and the isolation continued to intensify. I’ve disappeared off the face of the earth, for the most part. Going months without talking to the friends I so badly wanted to contact but just couldn’t find it in me to interact with anyone. I’m still struggling a lot with this.  A lot a lot.

When I was in my darkest place, I resented Matt for loving me. He was the only reason I stayed alive and part of me hated him for it.  And, I mean, I felt he deserved better than me before this shit started worsening and worsening and worsening. It's as if I was waiting and wishing for him to see that.  Please please please realize I'm the worst person who ever lived and kick me out of your life. Please please please just dump me so I can kill myself and not have to feel this pain anymore. Please please please stop loving me so it won’t hurt you as badly when I finally finish this.  I'd try to think of ways to kill myself that would be as least psychologically traumatizing to him as possible. But I just couldn't do it because the idea of causing him any pain just...it fucking guts me. The idea of causing him the sadness and pain and guilt I went through (and still deal with) when David killed himself is something I couldn’t make myself ignore long enough to end things.  And my relationship with Matt is years longer and a million times more intimate and intense. It would kill me if Matt died and I couldn’t bring myself to intentionally cause him even a small amount of that. I know how manipulative and abusive and fucking vile that is to feel. To basically blackmail someone into staying with you by saying you’ll kill yourself when they leave. I tried so hard to hide it from him.  Lashing out and isolating but not letting the words come out because even then I knew how damaging it would be to him. And, god damn it, the point was to get rid of him, not trick him into staying!

It’s been three years that I’ve been dealing with this shit constantly again (after a few years of some mental stability in Alabama) even while taking approximately 4,000 pills a day.  It’s just so much more exhausting than I could ever even hope to explain. This makes three decades of depression/suicidal bullshit. 30 years. Man, I really should not have done that math.  Yikes.

I mentioned that I started seeing a new psychiatrist last year and how she was absolutely horrified to find out my previous one took me off my mood stabilizer.  “Trying to treat bipolar depression as if it were regular depression? No, that will never work. It’s no surprise you’re feeling this way.” I also mentioned that the mood stabilizer (Seroquel) causes muscle pain and spasming (a common side effect of bipolar meds) so severe I couldn’t handle it.  Then I started taking medication to fix that aaaaaand...didn’t work. Like, at all. I’d be awake with my muscles twitching and failing for 16 HOURS if I risked taking it. Once again not being able to take my bipolar meds = depression like a motherfucker. Shocker.

Hey, did you know I live in Denver?  Where weed is legal? And having a med card makes it semi-affordable?  (Not entirely affordable but semi so.) And did you know that if I get even slightly high-ish, the weed calms my muscles enough to take the Seroquel that treats the suicidal depression?  Ta da! Also, the Seroquel is literally the only thing that has cured my insomnia once Ambien stopped working (immediately and out of nowhere) a few years ago. They cycled me through sleeping pills and pills with the side effect of unconsciousness and nothing worked.  The last couple of years I was lucky to get a few hours of sleep every two or three nights. There were times I was hallucinating from exhaustion and was so tired I’d take 2-3x the maximum dose of Ambien because the possibility I might sleep even ½ the night felt worth risking death for.  It’s usually day two of no sleep when I look at Matt and want to punch him straight in his beautiful and peacefully sleeping face. But now since I can take Seroquel, I get to sleep. Not especially long or well but I sleep. (I’m currently waiting on CPAP supplies so, hopefully, that added into the mix will make it even better.)  My psychiatrist is in her late 60s, wears orthopedic shoes, and is married to a man who looks like Santa and who keeps a fully decked out vintage sled on their front lawn and her response was, “Thank god for marijuana!” Even my doctors who aren’t pro-weed responded that, it works, you’re sleeping, you’re taking your meds, KEEP SMOKING!

I had my first meeting with a new therapist and felt pretty safe and not judged so that’s a good start.  I’m trying really super hard to commit to seeing her twice a month. I want to go to therapy, I swear I do.  It’s just difficult. And her being my third therapist in three years makes it more so. The idea of catching someone up on my entire fucking life is just exhausting.  Oy. Though, I also frequently don’t go because I feel I have nothing to say. Huh. I guess I have decades to talk about...even if I can’t think of anything to say about the present.  

Physical Health
Since moving to Colorado three years ago, my body has been...uncooperative.  Then the pain went even more ballistic starting this past fall and continuing to worsen through winter.  The cold really doesn’t help my pain levels. Extra especially not the nerve damage in my hands and arms, which continues to get worse since being initially diagnosed around five years ago.  I’m not exaggerating, if I forget gloves and my fingers touch snow (like, just long enough to just sweep it off the side window of my car, for example), they burn like fire for fucking days. Just brushing against snow makes them tingle and be partially numb for an entire day.  But it doesn’t actually need anything to trigger it and, once again, my nerve pain began exploding almost every morning. Screaming in my sleep, crying in my sleep, waking Matt up with my screaming, waking myself up with my screaming, sobbing and screaming and biting into a pillow for hours until it finally calmed down.  And until it does calm down my hands are useless; I even have to have Matt open my pill bottles for me. Arthritis-friendly caps, my ass! The damage is caused by jacked up vertebrae in my neck crushing the nerves and the pain is truly beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I have chronic pain and damage that’s crippling but that ain’t got shit on the nerve damage.  I received (crazy painful) injections in my neck for it several times this last year and it did little to improve things.

At the beginning of this year I started seeing a new chiropractor twice weekly and that combined with weekly massage therapy had me semi-functioning.  (I hadn’t been to either for three months due to my previous chiropractor moving back to New York. And holy god in heaven, my body regressed hard in that time.  But, back at it!) About six weeks ago my massage therapist mentioned acupuncture in passing and how it’s helped her. Honestly, I’ve always viewed acupuncture as snake oil quackery but, since my chiropractor also does acupuncture, I figured I’d bring it up with him when he adjusted me.  The reason I ultimately decided to give it a try? Because when I asked about it, his response was, “I didn’t believe it in at ALL.” But then so many of his patients were having success with it that he started auditing courses, especially those for healthcare professionals, took classes, and he’s now an acupuncture practitioner.  The pain in my hands gets so bad that I’m absolutely willing to try anything that might help so I began getting acupuncture.

Dude...my nerve damage hasn’t freaked out once since the first session.  There were two or three mornings since when my hands did the really intense pins and needles thing which was irritating and uncomfortable but not very painful and only lasted 10 minutes or so.  Honestly, even if it’s all placebo bullshit? I don’t care. I honestly don’t. At all. If a complete mind-fuck causes my agony to even remotely subside? Commence the mind fuckery!

This past year I also discovered the nerve damage makes tattooing my arms much more painful and difficult.  My arms hadn’t been tattooed since before the nerve damage occured. Now, when some spots are tattooed, it literally feels as if the skin is being flayed from me.  And, without fail, those specific spots will become almost immediately infected. To the point of requiring 10 days of prescription antibiotics. My arms also don’t heal as well as they did before, causing the work to look flawed.  It’s a mega fucking bummer. Alas.

Continuing the Many Ways in Which My Body is Quickly Disintegrating theme…  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia an eon ago and it’s always been a struggle. Then?  Oh my god, the fog started. I’ve always been familiar with the term Fibro Fog but assumed it meant just a kind of vague haziness in terms of memory and thought.  Then my mind started falling apart, I looked into what the fog actually entails, and my jaw seriously dropped in shock.

I was experiencing the following:
  • I’d walk into a room and not remember why.  Again. And again. Numerous times a day. I’d force myself to repeat out loud the reason I was doing it so I couldn’t possibly forget...and then forget as the words were coming out of my mouth.
  • My mind blanked out in the middle of conversations.  Even better? When my mind blanked out in the middle of sentences.  ½ way through a sentence I’d have to stop because I have no idea what I was saying.  I’d stare blankly at Matt, desperately trying to remember what we were talking about and what words I’d spoken literal milliseconds prior.  This happened dozens of times a day.

  • Saw double and triple.

  • I lost entire days and hadn’t the slightest idea what happened during them.

  • I constantly stumbled, tripped, slammed into walls, fell, dropped things, knocked things over…
  • Everything had this incredibly surreal feeling about it.  Everything sounded like I was under water and everything looked blurred, like my eyes were smeared with Vaseline.  I was constantly popping my ears and squeezing my eyes shut as hard as I could, over and over and over, trying to make things clearer.

It was so bad I cried.  I cried because I was so scared and positive it would last forever.  I can’t even explain how terrifying it was; I honestly thought I was experiencing early onset dementia or had a brain tumor because it was like flipping a switch and everything changed in an instant.  It wasn’t gradual at all and it went on for months, the worst of it taking up most of the summer. Thank god it eventually passed and the few times I’ve experienced it since were completely minor by comparison.  Fingers and every other appendage in the world crossed that it doesn’t ever return to the degree it reached before.

Oh and now they think my arthritis has spread to my neck.  Seriously, neck arthritis. Come on, what the fuck with that bullshit?  Sigh. In the last couple of years I had a hell of a lot of procedures done by my pain doctor.  Things like epidurals, nerve blockers, burning off layers of my spinal nerves...etc. Unfortunately my levels of agony reached the point that I had to start taking pain killers again, after a few years of not regularly needing them and sometimes not needing them at all.  Ahahahahaha that’s a distant memory at this point! I currently take pain killers, muscle relaxants, and nerve blockers. Also, prescription-grade muscle rub, CBD oil, chiropractic adjustment twice weekly, massage therapy weekly, and acupuncture. I’m hoping once it warms up a bit more I can start doing physical therapy and/or walking in our apartment pool; it’s heated but not quite heated enough.  But we’re getting there and I know this because the screaming drunks have started using it on the weekends again! Oh, the sounds of the impending summer!

Another health related thing I’ve been dealing with…  My sex drive. Rather, my complete and utter lack of said sex drive.  As you may have noticed over the last 15 years of TMI posts, my sexuality is something that’s an incredibly important part of my life.  And it’s been gone the last three years. Gone. It started weakening until becoming non-existent around two years ago. That sure as hell didn’t have a positive effect on my mood!  It fucked with my depression, my self esteem, my self care, my self identification, my relationship, my attitude… My libido going from 1,000 to flatlining practically overnight fucked with every single aspect of my life.  I noticed it within a few months of moving here and immediately started asking my doctors for help. And didn’t stop asking. Shit, after a few years “asking” turned into straight up “begging desperately.” Switched psych meds, switched pain meds, skipped pain meds, stopped nerve blockers, switched nerve blockers, hormone testing more than once, added vitamins, added supplements…  And it just kept getting worse. A couple of months ago I brought it up again with my psychiatrist and very very very strongly stressed that it’s fucking with my entire life and the whole situation is just not acceptable.

Hello Viagra!

When I started messing around with recreational and then medicinal weed, I noticed I would actually sometimes feel horny.  Not every time and maybe not often but it happened. So I was, like, okay, some hope. I’d discussed female Viagra with my primary and she didn’t want me on it due to shitty side effects and the fact that research showed it barely working.  My then therapist stressed it was likely psychological but I replied that while I was absolutely open to that possibility it did not feel that way. It wasn’t the feelings of shame or fear or vulnerability of whatever else that I have felt in the past.  Admittedly, they’re exceedingly rare but I have felt them so I do know the feelings that can be brought up in me. But this just didn’t feel like that. At all. During my last appointment with my psychiatrist I made it clear, this needs to be figured out and dealt with.  She went straight to the men’s Viagra! Situation fairly successfully addressed! Cheers!

I guess that kind of sums up what’s been happening.  Health-wise, at least. And the health shit has far surpassed everything else these past years.  Social life is pretty non-existent because of isolating to an almost impressive degree! I got accepted at the local community college but can’t be certain yet that I’ll pull the trigger and actually take a class in fall.  I’m just scared I’m no longer capable of being a good student. Or even a decent one. My car lost another window! This time from a heavy frost that iced it over so thickly it came off the track and just...fell into the door.  It’s still in there! Oh and a deranged neighbor ripped a side mirror off! Slowly but surely my car is getting completely overtaken by the duct tape I use to repair things. It really needs to be replaced because it has a lot of non-cosmetic damage that isn’t worth repairing but I come from the school of thought that you join AAA and keep your piece of shit car until you’ve driven that bitch straight and solidly into the ground.

Hit 3 ½ years with Matt!  Though I still haven’t let him marry me yet.  I will one day, I swear! And the cats are as adorable as ever!  Though, in December, Patty had to have bladder surgery. So I’ll now leave you with a photo of her recovering in her


Monday, July 24, 2017

Grand Canyon Road Trip

Warning: A horrific number of pictures ahead!

Aaaaaand we’re off!

A drive-thru weed dispensary called Tumbleweeds. I mean...god damn, Colorad, you’re so adorable!

We spent the night at Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge! The main pool is the size of a football field and is around 90F. The separate smaller pool is 104F.

Here’s a much more impressive photo that I’ve blatantly stolen from the website!

We definitely want to return for a long weekend sometime. Extra especially in the winter so we can soak in super hot water while surrounded by snow.

We finally arrived at Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, a super pretty hotel that’s an hours drive from the Canyon. The reason we chose them is because they offer a two hour train ride to the canyon and Matt loves trains. The morning of our ride we woke up and, surprise…SNOW!!

Heidi: The Grumpy and Always Punctual Engineer

“Look majestic!”

58 miles out of the way and so completely worth it. I miss, like, five things about California and this is definitely one of them.

We went to The Meteor Crater Interactive Discovery Center.

"The world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. The breath-taking result of a collision between an asteroid traveling 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago."

For scale, look at the teeeeeeny tiiiiiiny people on your bottom right.

"On July 31, 1999, some of (Eugene Shoemaker's) ashes were carried to the Moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe in a capsule designed by Carolyn Porco.  He is the only person whose ashes have been buried on any celestial body outside Earth."

The End!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Last Year

So I’m, what, nearly a year behind at this point? I’m not sure what happened. But let’s try to play a little catch up!

Soon after Gene Wilder’s birthday we went to a special screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In attendance were the actors who played Veruca, Violet, and Mike!

Did a little bit of decorating for Halloween.

I had cotton candy hair.

 Matt continued being adorable.


On my birthday we had front row seats for A John Waters Christmas!! I wore my Divine dress too because I love dressing thematically! Sadly, taking photos was prohibited. At one point he made a joke about Chaturbate and I was only who laughed so he walked over to me and said, “You’re the only one here who knows what Chaturbate is!” I felt so proud!

It snowed and was so cold the nearby lake froze over.

And Matt walked on water.

I surprised Matt with tickets to Todd Snider, his favorite singer.

 My two favorite bellies!

Went to the ER with a concussion on Christmas.

Spent a week at the Grand Canyon. (Insane number of pictures to follow.)

Health - Physical
Hmmmm. Well, let’s go with the good!

I have a new pain specialist who’s pretty awesome and offers a lot of options aside from pills. We started the procedures in February. For the pain in my lower back, they burned off layers of my nerves on both sides of my spine. For the fire-agony-nerve-damage in my hands (which wakes me up screaming/causes me to cry in my sleep) they injected numbing compounds into my neck (which is where my jacked vertebrae are crushing and destroying the nerves that go to my hands). Even under anesthesia and IV painkillers, I had to bite down and cry out into the mat I was lying on during the injections. But they helped! Until they didn’t. But doing them on the regular definitely makes them freak out less often. Which is a fucking miracle. 

Next week I’m getting injections in my sacrum. Which I’m excited about due to how much agony that spot holds but equally terrified over because I know how screamingly painful those injections are going to be. Even doctors just brushing them fingers against it makes me cry out and jerk away, no matter how hard I steel myself, clench my teeth, and hold steady in preparation...the pain is so bad I can’t stop myself from screaming out loud and jerking away. Sometimes so hard I’ve slid right off the other side of the table! Most recently I pulled away a foot and slammed face first into the wall. STILL BETTER THAN HAVING MY SACRUM TOUCHED. Sigh.

So alllllllll that shit + massage + chiropractor + painkillers have been such a good combination that allows me to be much more functional than without. Not as functional as I desperately want but it’s a huge improvement!

Health - Mental
Okay. This has been...difficult. Very difficult. On the verge of hospitalizing myself numerous times the last couple of years kind of difficult.

My psychiatrist made some adjustments to my meds numerous times and it just...wasn’t working. I shouldn’t take 9.5 pills every single day and STILL want to die constantly! I started seeing a new psychiatrist two months ago and she was stunned that my previous one decided I wasn’t bipolar and took me completely off my mood stabilizer. Which happened two years ago. Which is when I moved here and haven’t managed to get out of the suicidal depression since. When I told him a few months back that the last two years have been unbearable and I haven’t felt sane since moving here he basically told me I was wrong and went through my entire file telling me each month I said I was fine. My question is… He says the last two years have been fine for me. So why did he, less than a year ago, bring up electroshock therapy? Do you really talk about ELECTROSHOCK with someone who you think has been just fine? What the fuck, man.

The new one immediately started back on the mood stabilizer. And then had to try another. It’s been difficult to find a medication that doesn’t cause muscle spasming/pain/twitching so horrible I can’t stay on them. The one most recent had me screaming and twitching for 12 hours the two times I took it before having to stop because it’s just not...I can’t handle it. Tomorrow I start it again with the addition of another medication that should stop the muscle issues. But honestly I’m scared to death to start again because it was just so bad.

I also have a new therapist and I like her a lot. In our first session I was explaining my history with medication and hospitalization and depression and how it’s this constant struggle against my own brain. She asked, “What if you stopped fighting it?” And that’s what caused me to finally start crying. “What would it feel like to stop struggling against yourself? If you just accepted that it’s who you are. I don’t mean giving up on your medication and therapy. But what if you accepted that some people have sadness in them. That it’s part of who you are; that the darkness makes you compassionate and complex. Wouldn’t it feel good to stop fighting?”

I cried because I can’t fucking imagine that. I can’t imagine my brain not being the enemy that constantly needs to be controlled and corralled and beaten into submission. I can’t imagine not trying to find a way to destroy that part of myself. Sigh. But when I don’t fight, I spiral and spiral hard. So, we shall see! I think I’m going to enjoy working with her.

Matt and I are at 2.5 years and holding strong! It’s hard because the health shit and depression have basically caused me to stay home 90% of the time and I want to do more. I want Matt to be able to do more. But it’s getting better due to the new pain control stuff. Now if only the depression would calm the fuck down. We have been on some adventures so yay for that! I’ll have a couple more posts soon about the last two!