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 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 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 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 after a decade of it being perfect) 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, your depression is improving, 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



  1. So great to hear how things have been with you! It doesn't have to be sunshine and daisies, you are loved. Glad to see your voice on the page again. I also lost my ability to write for a few years and am only starting to get a post out here and there. It's all fine. <3 LL&P

  2. I'm still here! I've been reading your online journals since you had LJ, before your weight loss surgery. I'm usually absurdly quiet/lurky, but I feel like if there's ever a time I should comment, it's now.

    RE: neck arthritis, my dad has it from a military career (mainly helmet wear) and it's no joke. It's really limiting and painful.

    I'm glad you were able to get some writing out and felt comfortable enough to post it here. Depression is the worst, and it really does take everything. It's like I have to crawl on my hands and knees through broken glass that's also on fire to get everything back once it's pulled me under.

    I'm glad weed is helpful. It's one of the best things about living in a progressive state!

    I missed you, and I'm glad most things are somewhat resolving/getting resolved.

    Even if you can't write again for a while, I'll stay subscribed, and I'll be here until I'm not (like, I die).

    P.S. I live in Denver and if you ever want to hang out, I would totally be up for it! I know I'm a stranger to you, but you don't feel like a stranger to me. That's probably weird :P But it's true! I think you are a wonderful human and I'm always sorry to hear when you're struggling. Either way, I'll be quietly cheering you on!

    1. Hi! I'd love to meet up sometime! Warning: I can be super shy!

  3. I love you and have missed you. Happy to get caught up ❤️

  4. Heidi, I don't think you remember me, we used to talk on rare occasion years ago on Facebook. While I'm a unique SA/FA who's wls positive (as a very last resort) who had a gastric bypass reversal.

    I know you've been through a lot of stuff but have you had your labs checked lately? Not only that, the malapsborption issues can happen not only with nutrients but meds too, in all therapy classes.

    There are studies that show that in bariatric peeps and it can happen at any time, meaning that even if someone had no problems in the past, as they get further out, took their vitamins etc or other meds,

    It's worth looking into as it could be playing into severity of neuropathic pain (something I'm dealing with now and not only am 16 1/2 years post rny, I'm almost 8 years post rny reversal.

    Anyways I'm glad to see you're writing again and that cannabis helps, but if you're having issues with meds/vites orally, look into that, OK?

    Peace, Lisa

  5. So glad to see you writing again! I'm sorry things have been so shitty, but it good to hear you are finding some relief. I'm a huge fan of acupuncture as well....I haven't used it a ton, but when I have - it's totally taken care of the issue. Hope things continue to get better - and that I'll get to keep up on Heidi's life again!

  6. I was just thinking of you and how I've missed your posts! I'm so glad you're writing again. <3