On My Mind: Antidepressants, Inner Certainty, and Answering A Call

Have you ever experienced a strong but calming certainty take root in the pit of your stomach; replacing the anxiety and depression and fear that usually dwells, churning inside you like lava. Or raging beneath your skin, like a storm in turbulent water. It is as if the lava suddenly cools. The storm on the raging sea, calms.

And what had been a constantly seething and turbulent monstrosity that fed on the indecision and depression and uncertainty and fear and anxiety about everything; about the direction of your path, about your life, about success, about the past, about the pain, about the loss–about everything that haunted you late night, or at 3AM–calms.

That monster, be it a raging ocean inside you, or churning lava forcing its way out, lived and waited, stronger than you, it took over everything; until bit by bit, you lost who you were–until, suddenly, the ocean calms. The lava cooled. Your head clears. Everything suddenly fell silent and everything could almost be described as feeling safe. The rage and fear became quiet, as the molten lava that had been eroding you, layer by layer, began to harden and soften into stone. The certainty made everything less severe. You knew without a shadow of the ceaseless doubt that haunted you, that what you were, in this moment doing and being, exactly what you needed.

That certainty became solid ground beneath your feet. Your spinning mind, the unending grey, the demons, the noise…all fell silent. But, not the silent of tension or charged air, the silence of the world after the storm demolishes everything. And with the rain, you found your suffering, your self-hatred, your unending anger and frustration, had begun to drip from you. As if your body was rejecting that poison.

This is a feeling, I hadn’t ever experienced until this past month. First, it was glimpses, these momentary breaks from the turmoil inside me, but in the last few weeks, the certainty has taken root inside me. And what had started out as complete and utter chaos and destruction of my world has become the birthplace of something so much greater than I can yet comprehend.

I don’t force myself to do what I think I should be doing, anymore. All the anger inside me, has soften and all but slipped away. I’m done playing the comparison game–it is one you will only ever loose. I’m done hating myself. And, I’m done with being borderline abusive to myself. I’m just done with pain. I’m done hating my body because it is ‘defective’, I’m done hating every aspect of who I am. Done putting myself beneath others. If something does not feel right, then I won’t be doing it anymore. I’m not going to try and force myself to do what I think I should be doing. Basically, I’m simplifying my life. And, I’m moving on. Whatever calls to me, I now answer.

All of this self-love-revelation-esk stuff has come somewhat out of the blue. It started off as these little decisions–after putting it off, I started watching documentaries that forced me to stop and examine my life; how I live, how I want to live, how I was currently living, and the impact and consequences of my decisions–from what I eat, to what medication I take.

And, in part, these documentaries spurred me into action. The past year, I have spent in relative isolation, clinically depressed and suicidal. I was on insane amounts of pain medication and antidepressants, and yet I was losing days at time, in this grey haze–this fog that muddied my mind. Nothing was working. And, I wanted to die. I wanted to just not exist.

And then, a few weeks ago, the antidepressants I was on began to make my nerve pain 10x worse. I immediately reduced my dose and called my doctor. It’s take about four weeks, but I’m now off all the antidepressants I was on. I’m no longer attempting to stop my chronic pain with insane amounts of prescriptions narcotics that never worked anyways. I’ve been coming at pain management and depression management from an entirely new point of view, and though the pain is still there and the depression is always going to be with me, I am not suicidal. I am not spending every in bed. I’m not angry. And when I get sad, I’m only sad, I’m not dragged into the depths of despair. And, ironically, I am actually in less pain than I have been in. I’m no longer numb. I’ve actually been relatively happy. For the first time in years, I’m actually okay with everything.

I only recently found out via message boards and various websites that the antidepressant I was on, has caused and continues to cause severe problems for people who are on it for an extended period of time. Fellow people who deal with chronic pain and depression, have reported the same things as me, after awhile of being on this medication, they were all suicidal, more depressed, in more pain, they had no memory, they basically lived in this grey fog–for me, I was floating through days, that became weeks, and weeks that would feel like days. Time was passing by me and I had no ability to actually see anything. I was so severely depressed, I was spending basically everyday in bed, in extreme pain, I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t drawing, everything I had loved–turned into this grey inability to feel anything.

And, then, I started getting these feeling in my legs, hips, arms, body, that felt as if I was being electrocuted. Which was a side effect of Cymbalata (the antidepressant I was on). So, I reduced my dose, talked to my doctor, and I’ve now been off it for a week. All of this happened because I started listening to what I felt was right for me. And, the difference it has made in my life is nothing short of a revelation.

And, now with a clear head, and still hurting body, I’ve resolved to listen to that inner voice I used to drown out with shoulds and have-tos. Don’t force yourself to do what you think you should be doing. Make life work for you. Find things that make your soul sing. And seek out those things. Be happy, when you can. Don’t be scared of anger. And if you’re taking antidepressants, and you’re still living in a grey world, losing time, forgetting days, and still suicidal, talk to your doctor and maybe do some research on what you’re taking. It may be time to consider other options to treat your depression or anxiety (of which I have both–and also PTSD which is a whole other story) but consider these things WITH your doctor. You can not just stop medication without him or her knowing that is incredibly dangerous. Never stop your medication cold-turkey. And remember, this is just advice based on my own personal experience. Being on antidepressants was the right move for me at one point in my life, but they outgrew their usefulness a long time ago, I just didn’t have the ability to realize it. And, they were only exacerbating everything else which I also didn’t know. Something I didn’t know about many mood-medications was that most of them after a few years stop helping and, for whatever reason, start harming you.

If they work for you, great! But if they don’t, think about whether or not the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

And, regardless of whether or not you are on meds or not, be nice to yourself. Whatever you need to do is to survive is okay. And whatever you are doing right now, is exactly what you need to be doing.  Even if what you are doing is rewatching the same TV series for the third time this year. You are doing the best you can, and all you should ever demand from yourself is to try to improve upon who you were yesterday.

When something calls to you, answer it.

Certain things had been calling to me for years–the most random things, documentaries and books and music, and though this calling was persistent and incessant, I never answered it. I think on some level I believed it would make my life harder–somehow. And I was in such a bad place, (I didn’t know yet but I was experiencing severe adverse symptoms from the antidepressants I was on), that even the idea of possibly considering thinking of answering that call was nothing short of impossible and exhausting.

But, slowly, I began listening.

And, that has changed everything.

 

"I would have you know that, if you kill such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me. Meletus and Anytus will not injure me: they cannot; for it is not in the natureof things that a bad man should injure a better than himself. I do not deny that he may, perhaps, kill him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is doing him a great injury: but in that I do not agree with him; for the evil of doing as Anytus is doing -of unjustly taking away another man's life -is greater far."

Socrates

“And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong -acting the part of a good man or of a bad.” -Socrates from the Complete Works of Plato So, at long last, I’ve been reading Plato: The Complete Works. I’m loving it. Learning more about Socrates has proven to be immensely fascinating. It’s easy to see why so much of what he said and did resonated with so deeply throughout time. It is important to read. To read widely. To read about what interests you. To read about what you’re passionate about. And it’s really important to challenge yourself (sometimes) in what you read. A bit of escapism is always good but books should also challenge you. Should make you think. The best thing about books is how profoundly they can open your mind and change your world. I love that moment when your reading and this revelation just slams into you. That what you’ve always thought or believed or wondered has in fact been thought by countless others. The way in which books and stories connect us is profound and everlasting. And then, there’s an instant, a moment when it’s like you’ve been struck by lightening and your mind is blown open. And you understand the world in a way you haven’t before. And, suddenly, you see and feel the world in different, deeper, and unexpected ways. Though the element of escapism is sometimes necessary; I would say that even the best and most fantastic fiction presents you with a different way to see the world. 

I have to say that reading more philosophy has proven to be just as good and much more poignant. Really, it soothes the soul. 

Anyways, this quote has been one that has been floating around in my head since I read it so I thought I’d share it and yes geek out a little.
 I owe my college philosophy teacher for opening my mind to Socrates and many others. And, I’m working on getting the other books you recommended. Seriously, I owe her big time. 

I was supposed to see Linkin Park next august. They’ve been one of my favorite bands since my early teens; their music has always spoken to me, like it has to so many others. And then yesterday morning, I like everyone else, found out that at age 41 Chester Bennington killed himself.

My heart is broken.

I found this out on a really bad day when my own depression had taken over and my own demons were screaming.

The news that the lead singer Chester committed suicide is just heartbreaking. This comes after Chris Cornell’s suicide this past May. This time, I had to say something, about him. His music. About suicide. About depression. All of this is reopening an infected wound that never gets a chance to heal.

What kills me though, is this: Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington were friends. It’s no secret that Bennington took Chris’ death hard. But what just kills me is the fact that they were both friends. They knew each other. And both of them were suffering, in unimaginable pain, and it seems that they didn’t talk about it. The pain that led them to take their lives was one that they shared. Speaking from experience, when you get to a low like that you believe you are completely and utterly alone. Friends and family become as as distant as stars whereas you are the unreachable bottom of an endless ocean, suffocating.

Suicide is a last resort, it is not selfish. It’s a way to end an unbearable amount of pain and suffering, or/and sometimes, a last ditch resort to end a sheer lack of feeling and apathy. The numbness and apathy that infects you becomes too much. You either feel too much, or feel nothing at all. Sometimes, you wonder if you’re even real. You feel like a ghost, already dead. It feels like you are utterly alone in a cruel and pointless world hell bent on slowly killing you. Your life feels worthless. Pain is too great. Your mind is screwed beyond belief. And these feelings talk to you.

They tell you how much better off everyone, including you family and friends, would be without you. And sometimes your brain or some small part of you tells you that isn’t true. And yet, that feeling solidifies into fact. And, you believe that your family, though they’d miss you, would eventually get over it and ultimately be better off with you. We keep our suffering to ourselves, from fear of stigma or weakness or denial or just an inability to articulate what you feel. And this is one of the reasons Linkin Park and their music has always resonated with me so deeply. And yet, Chris Bennington (and countless others all around you) were/are suffering in silence.

I’ve been suffering in silence too. In the past I’ve chosen not to talk about just how far I’ve fallen. I’ve gotten close to the edge before–the one time, things got to the point where it was only the intervention of a loved one that stopped me from taking that final step.

I know how alone you feel sometimes.

I know it feels like not one person on this godforsaken earth cares.

But, I need to tell you, whoever you are, that you are not alone in feeling like this. I also know this as a fact. And I may not know why you feel the way you do, but I do understand.

If you are struggling, please, please reach out to someone you trust. If you can’t talk to someone in your life about this, or you don’t have someone to talk to, there are other options. There are online support groups. Communities. There are counselling services. There are people who care. And people who will listen. You–your life–is invaluable. Whatever darkness you are drowning in, whatever demons you are facing, please do not be afraid to tell someone. Don’t be afraid to admit you need help. There is never any weakness in admitting that you are not okay and asking for help.

You have no idea how you impact this world by just being you. You matter more than you can ever know. And, to people you haven’t even met yet.

Do not live in silence. Do not be ashamed of your struggling. Do not be afraid of your scars. Do not hide away your demons. Do not keep all that pain locked up inside. See your doctor. Talk to a friend. Join an online support group. You do not have to go through this alone. You are not alone. 

Shatter the silence.

These tragic deaths are the consequences of a society that refuses to talk about what matters. We shy away or outright ignore anything and everything that makes us uncomfortable. We are brought up in families that sweep broken shards of glass underneath the kitchen carpet and act shocked when we end up cutting our feet. We refuse to talk about what we need to talk about. We like to pretend we are all good. We are terrified and ashamed of our own darkness. Feeling uncomfortable is not what we should be scared of, what we should fear above all else is staying silence, and allowing the pain and suffering to consume us.

Your story is not something to be ashamed of.

Needing help is not weakness.

Telling your truth, and inevitably making someone uncomfortable, is
better than paying the ultimate price that stems from an oppressive silence of a society content to let itself suffer and die.

 

We sometimes forget that those we idolize suffer too–often in silence. We forget that the light someone else shines comes from a darkness that plagues them. We expect these people we look up to, to always be there…in many ways, it could be said that we take them for granted.

Humans are ironic; our very nature is self-contradictory, self-obsessed and complex.

We imagine ourselves to be utterly alone and yet the evidence that proves we aren’t is all around us–in our books, movies, shows, music, art….and yet too many of  us are silent about what really matters.
We post so much of our lives online and yet we say so little. We avoid conflict, we avoid pain, live in denial–self-medicate, self-harm. And each and every time we ignore the cry of a soul–our souls, or another’s, we hurt ourselves more than we can ever know. We need to start talking about what matters. We need to listen so we can understand. We need to shatter this silence. We need to talk about what we have been trained to ignore.

We need to end the stigma.

And, we need to fight like hell because you can and will survive the bad days. Sometimes, it will be by sheer force of will alone…and if all you can do, is lie in bed and survive until tomorrow, that is enough.

You’re not as alone as you feel and you are so terribly invaluable you can’t know how many lives you have and continue to change. You. Your story. Your voice. Your truth. Your very existence matters and is not dependant on anything. You are as important as oxygen is to the living. Be brave. Have the courage to take the steps you need to, when you can.

Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell and countless others have changed and touched more lives than they will ever know. And it breaks my fucking heart to know that they were in a pain so profound, that they believed death was the only way to end their suffering. They died feeling utterly alone. They’ve left behind this world. All of us. Their voices–their words, were a balm to aching souls everywhere, they were beautiful. They were artists. Their voice, their message, their music, their art is now gone. And now, the loss inflicted upon this world is lasting.

 

These tragedies are the cost of silence. Of pretending. Of shame and guilt and pain and suffering.

If you are struggling, get help. Talk to someone you trust. Read. Talk about the things you aren’t supposed to. Shatter this poisoned and infectious silence. Your life is not worthless. You are not alone. You are worth more than you know. And, you do have a future.

When you feel cold and lost in desperation, when you’re waiting on the edge of the unknown, and with the cataclysm, raining down, insides crying save me now, you will feel impossibly alone, but build up hope, even when failure is all you’ve ever known, remember all the sadness and frustration, and let it go. (Iridescent-Linkin Park).

Know that the pain does not last forever, bad days will pass, I promise you the beauty of life will come again. And rise inside you like a fire-struck dawn. It may take a while. And, some days you will not feel like you can survive. The light will fade. You will feel alone. But, you’re not, and there will be days where the sheer brilliance of this cold and beautiful world will flood your senses, overwhelming you with its raw beauty. And I promise, you will be so grateful that you didn’t give up.

 

Shatter the silence.

You’re not as alone as you think you are.

I promise.

Strength

It is valuing yourself more than you value someone else and it is putting yourself first–when your first instinct is to hold others above yourself. It is being okay with being alone. And it is getting up, again, after the world has forced you to your knees. It is piecing yourself back together. It is learning to love your broken heart and your aching soul.

It is finally accepting who you are and not apologizing. It is realizing that you do not deserved to be treated badly. It’s realizing that being with the wrong person is easy, and it is weak, while being on your own rather than settle for something half hearted. It is learning to love your scars and your imperfections. It is the moments of self-acceptance that come–hard-won–to silence the self-hatred you hold in your heart.  It is forgiving.

It is doing what’s right, especially when it’s hard. It’s walking away, it’s telling your truth, and unapologetically, living your truth. It is caring, it is compassion, it is passion. It is the smallest steps taken with a courage you didn’t know you had that show your true strength. Strength is not in the cold and unfeeling, it is in the bravery of feeling everything.

OMM: Update on the EDS Life

In the last three-four months, actually in the last year, things have gotten worse. But I would say I’ve managed to hit an all time low in the physical health department. I don’t even want to go into half the problems that I’ve been dealing with because they are pretty awful. But the worst part of it all is that not one doctor (I’ve seen three specialists and ended up in the ER three-times now) has helped me. My body is literally falling apart, the pain has gotten five times worse, the fatigue and dizziness, and nausea and isolation and depression has all taken a nosedive off the highest cliff, and not one doctor has been able to figure out what’s wrong. I survive in this body but truthfully, some days I really feel like I may be dying. It feels like something is seriously wrong and I’m being tossed around from doctor to doctor. All the while, the few tests they’ve ordered have come back fairly normal. Which is another EDS thing. Yay me.

The pain meds have pretty much all but stopped working. I’ve been switched from morphine and toralac to perks (which didn’t work well) to hydromorph and naproxen. I’ve developed an inability to keep my food down, I’m constantly nauseated and throw up at least once a day. Really, it’s no surprise that I’m not coping very well.

 

I was supposed to be going to university in the fall–that’s out the window now, as I’m basically chained to my bed. The isolation is crushing me. The pain is never-ending. The nausea is punctuated by short breaks, small moments of relief that occur after I’ve thrown up.

I’ve been inactive on basically all social media. I’ve been closing myself off from the world because I feel this hopelessness that is something I don’t want to admit to. I feel like I am going insane most of the time–because how can this–how can any of this be real?

Depression has been escalating–the edge of a razor blade is beginning to look appealing–again, but more than that my waking hours have begun to pale in comparison to the dreams and even oblivion.

My computer is breaking. Which means that writing has become more and more difficult. Typing, compared with handwriting, entails about a three (sometimes four) degree drop in pain levels on a good day. So writing, which makes up about everything I have to stay sane right now, has been a lot harder. Everything has become trapped inside of me. To a point where no matter how exhausted I am, if it isn’t my body keeping me up at night, it is my mind.

I feel like I have been dragged into a cavern, deep beneath tons of ocean water, everything is dark and cold and I’m drowning. All the while I can see everyone around me either treading the surface of the water or slowly rising to the surface. Most days I am numb. Other days, life doesn’t seem to be worth living. Even admitting this brings an overpowering feeling of shame and anger and hatred into my heart. All these feelings directed towards myself. I know for a fact loving yourself is important but these days it is really hard not to be angry and hate my body. My soul has become an endless sea of rage and sorrow that cannot be dulled, and sometimes it cannot be contained. Underneath all these feelings of anger and sorrow lives an unyielding monster that is trying with all its might to swallow me whole and drag me down further.

About four-five months ago I had the “brilliant” idea to create a specifically writing-centered site–one where my anonymity was stripped away, I paid for it–it was a waste of money, because I’ve barely been able to get on, much less have I had any energy to do anything. But besides that, with the way my life is right now I don’t want to have to constantly worry about how I want to be perceived–what I want my name attached too. I know a lot more about myself than I did a year ago–some cracks in my heart healed, or at least, I thought they had started to. But tonight, I sit against my wall, typing this, and feel utterly lost. Completely alone and altogether barely keeping my shattered together.

I have people in my life who love me and yet all I feel is this sorrow and grief rooted in my very soul, slowly freezing me from the inside out. There are these moments that depression becomes a numbing anger-fueled apathy and other times where every single moment of suffering and pain becomes an insurmountable wave that crashes down upon me–forcing me further down.

I often find myself wondering why happiness is so evasive.

It doesn’t help that I’ve had to go down on my antidepressants which I still haven’t been able to talk to my doctor about–which I know is not good, but apparently with this class of drug if you take it too long it can cause some serious side-effects. Some of which I only found out about in the last week. I was originally on 90 MG of Cymbalta, about a month ago I went down to 60, and now I’m on 30. I’ve been on this medication and subsequently taken off of it, before back when my life basically fell apart and I ended up spending the summer in a hospital and a wheelchair. And then after awhile I ended up back on it, then back in February after the suicidal thoughts got even worse, my doc upped my dosage–which maybe helped for a month (…?…). But now, my short-term memory is screwed beyond belief, I’ve been getting more and new nerve pain (which is ironic considering I was put on it to help with pain along with the clinical-depression). It had begun to feel like every time I tried to sleep I was being electrocuted. The same thing happened when I tried abilify (which is the worst mood drug I’ve ever been on).

So to say I’ve had a lot on my plate is a monumental understatement.