Regression

I guess this is stage two, if you consider the week of cold turkey fun to be stage zero.

This week brings with it some fun new things. Stage one was all about the sad. Weird random sad. Genuine-reason-sad (‘My dog is getting older and will one day die’) with far-reaching overreactions (‘and thus I will drink a bottle of wine and lie on the floor crying for an hour or two’).

This week is anger. I’m just kind of low-level pissed off all the time. It’s entertaining! Because there are things that might actually, genuinely piss me off going on in my life right now – or would they? How much? This much?

The Is-This-Normal game is my constant companion. I feel like a teenager again, and not in a sexy fun way; more in the way of ‘Duude, nobody understands me and everything is soooooharddddd and I just wanna smoke gross cigarettes and listen to rage against the machine.’

(Bo

So….er. My brain is full of angry self-pity. Keeping a grip on it is a constant job, one that I’d say that I’m doing with about 80% success.

To those with whom I have failed: My apologies. Really.

To the headhunter from my previous job who asked if they could have me back: THANK YOU for giving me an outlet for all this pissy anger! Super appreciated.

To those with whom I have succeeded: Look, don’t be scared of me just because I’ve got this cloud of pissed off living in my head. I’ve got this. Mostly. And IF I drop it, it will not be your fault, and I will later apologize profusely and take any abuse you care to hurl in response.

But mostly, I feel fairly capable of being objective and keeping everything under wraps. It’s actually pretty cool. If it’s legitimate-angry, I can just talk to people using my grown-up voice. (Again. Mostly.)

Bye kidlets. Maybe next week’s stage will be all about flowers and sparkly dragons.

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What is Submitomancy?

Note from Gwen:

Firstly, all things said about me in this post are very, very true. Secondly: This is a post from Sylvia. Sylvia is a brilliant woman, to a degree which I suspect would make her head explode if she knew it. Thirdly: I will do a lot of work for internet/video game badges. It makes no sense, but that’s humans for you.

And now . . .

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Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

I’ve designed Submitomancy to help writers submit short stories and poems to publishers. It’s sort of like speed dating, but for imaginary people.

I aim for maximum efficiency: I have this story, there are all these markets, one of them is going to fall in love with my story, it’s just a matter of persistence.

But not everyone works that way. If I want my submission tracker to be useful across the board, I have to consider writers who work differently.

Like Gwen.

Gwen doesn’t like submitting. Gwen writes excellent fiction, fascinating, fast-moving stories of space fun. And then (correct me if I’m wrong, Gwen), she’ll put off sending it out for as long as she possibly can. Like, forever.

So the perfect submissions system shouldn’t just be super-efficient for me, it should also support Gwen and encourage her to submit her stories more often. The question is: What can a piece of software offer to make this happen?

Badges. Shiny badges. Possibly with sparkles.

Submitted something? Have a badge. Submitted your first poem? Have a badge. Submitted a story a week for 52 weeks? Have a HUGE badge and a kitten.

Submitomancy has to be efficient and easy to use, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too. I know that a lot of writers dread putting their work out there and if I can create a system that encourages them, then everyone wins.

Because the system needs a funds and a critical mass of users, I’m asking writers to show their support now. If you think Submitomancy is a website you would use, or even if you just want to see Gwen submit more stories, then please support the Indiegogo campaign and tell your friends.

http://www.indiegogo.com/submitomancy/

If Submitomancy gets off the ground, I’m going to ask Gwen to come and use it and submit her stories like crazy. And I’m going to tell her to do it for the kittens.

She doesn’t stand a chance.

kitten

The Update

Doc’s response: The worst of it is over, and there’s no point in going on a low dose and weaning off now. Don’t do it again. You did not ‘break your brain,’ as you put it; your brain will be fine.

He said that the human body basically doesn’t like things that happen quickly. Quick force being applied generally results in a broken bone; quick withdrawal generally confuses the little receptors. They will adjust. A three-month period should be long enough for me to know whether or not I’m now a naturally happy gal.

And really, the worst of it does seem to be over.

And that’s all I really have to say on that topic, so . . . world’s shortest blog post? Sylvia’s guest post should have gone up two days ago and didn’t, so this will be a two-post-day. 🙂

Withdrawal: The Dumbass Edition

Aaargh.

Right, so, I went cold-turkey off of my meds. I’ve been avoiding writing a blog post because, well, that is just such a stupid thing to do. I felt like my options were either to pretend I hadn’t done it (very tempting) or admit it (urgh, shame, you useless bitch).

Anyway, I’ve come up with a third option: Pretend I did it all in the name of science! Yes! I was testing all things. For you. And so I can now say with absolute certainty: Going cold turkey off of an anti-depressant is one of the dumbest, most harmful things I could have done. It was awful. And you know the worst bit? It wasn’t planned. I didn’t even have the ego to think to myself, ‘Ah, whatever. I’m sure I’ll be fine.’ It just…sort of….happened. I ran out of cipralex. I couldn’t get in to see my doctor. It was Christmas. Shit got busy, and I forgot to take care of my, well, brain. Because I could have gone to a clinic, or, probably, a pharmacist. I honest-to-God just. Didn’t.

Anyway, having done it, I shall now recount the experience. First and foremost, though, I’m fine and generally expect no lasting effects. I am (finally) seeing my doctor tonight, and an hour after that, my therapist.

So!

The first few days were fine. This is like the first few hours or days after a car accident, when your body feels okay, and then you try to pick up a piece of paper and your shoulder is suddenly welded to your ear. For me, the piece-of-paper moment was just outside of a bookstore (this is important, because buying books generally makes me happy). I was suddenly overwhelmed with that punch-to-the-gut grief – you know that one? It’s the morning-after-a-loved-one-dies grief. As internal dialogue, it goes like this:

*wakes up* mmpfs’morning.
psst
coffeeisathinghrmmmph
Psst. Hey.
should get up. mm. pjs are comfy.
Your dad just died.
Oh fucking hell.

– it’s what I shall elegantly describe as the ‘Fucking hell’ moment. Anyway, it’s kind of overwhelming. It’s hard to breathe (due to having just been punched) and, for me, when it’s uncontrollable it means I’m going to cry rightnow and if I’m not somewhere that’s okay, I’d better get there fast.

So there I was, crying in a bathroom and trying to breathe and thinking, nope, this ain’t normal.

Thus began the funtimes game I like to call, “Is This Normal?”. If, while driving home from work, I find myself replaying various conversations from throughout the day, finding places in them where people might have meant something as an insult, and then trying to determine whether or not it was, and if it was? Is it true? Am I really lazy/incompetent/stupid? -And suddenly, I’m home, which means I’ve spent nearly half an hour thinking about a slight inflection in someone’s voice. That’s when it’s time to play Is This Normal?

And no. It’s not. I mean, I’m sure it is for someone, but not for me.

So, for three weeks I’ve been playing Is This Normal and, if it’s not, trying to control it or at least isolate myself from potentially taking out these imaginary feelings on loved ones. (Because depression sometimes = ‘HEY my feelings are HURT and so YOU must have done it!!!’ which is mean.) That’s okay, I can do that.

Christmas was great – having my family around was really nice, and it was low-key, fun and distracting. After that, I started having plenty of time in my head, which isn’t a great place to be when said-head has just gone cold turkey.

OH. And the DIZZY. Jaysus, the spins were/are so weird. It actually took me a long time to realize that it was probably a withdrawal symptom and not low blood sugar/dehydration/lack of sleep. At least I didn’t get ‘brain zaps’ which sound like the worst and weirdest thing ever. Anybody else? Brain zaps? Sounds super.

About five days ago the full-frontal emotional crazy started to recede. And I’m told that on the outside, nothing changed, which is terrifying because I feel like I’ve been living in a weird tunnel of fucked-up, but I guess that’s what coping skills are for. My partner certainly noticed the change, since he got to witness a lot of the random crying jags and was probably the lucky recipient of a few “I feel badly and thus so should you” moments before I figured out what was going on. (Sorry, honey.) Plus, the dizzy means that I occasionally fall over. (Er…it’s possible no one noticed that. I trip a lot.)

The whole problem with depression in the first place is that if you’re like me, and you’re relatively functional as a friend and employee, all of your depression gets stuck in your home. And that affects all of the poor bastards who have to live there. I’m not really sure what my point is here except to maybe say that at least if you’re depressed all over the place, then your home isn’t a haven for it. It shouldn’t be. There shouldn’t be a haven. If it’s all over your life, then probably, eventually, someone who doesn’t have to sleep next to you every night will say “Hey, dude. You’re kind of a mess.”

The night-stuff came back. That free-floating anxiety that pops up just as I’m about to fall asleep and says “Hey! -” (This is an actual example) “- What if your coworkers’ dog died over Christmas? LET’S THINK ABOUT THAT.” My heart would beat a little too fast and I’d find myself staring at the darkness – not a metaphor – with very wide eyes. Eventually, a few nights in a row, I just got up.

Then I was tired. How many people are more emotionally stable when they’re tired?

I feel like I’m starting to ramble a bit, so in summary, going cold turkey for me meant an emotional roller-coaster, nighttime anxiety, dizzy spells and exhaustion. Experiment over. The last little while has been okay, though I’ve had a bad cold so it’s easy to get lots of sleep (yay cough syrup!) and take care of myself.  The dizziness is gone, which must mean something, right? And I haven’t had that punch-to-the-gut in over a week. What I don’t know is, am I meant to have the anxiety back? Is this something I have to learn to manage? I suspect I can, as long as I don’t have to manage all of it.

I have no idea what my doctor will say – whether, at this point, I may as well just keep going along, or if I should go on the half-dose I was meant to be taking in the first place and wean ‘off’ of it properly. I’m happy with my use of the coping skills that I’ve learned (which include the Is This Normal game) but I don’t want to mess with my brain chemistry (any more than I already have). Between my two doctors and myself, I imagine I’ll have a proper plan tonight.

Conclusion: Cold Turkey = bad idea. (Except in a sandwich.) In a completely different context (think more along the lines of cold-turkey-when-it’s-good, like quitting smoking) this is a pretty great little post:  http://thequestforwellness.blogspot.ca/2012/06/why-going-cold-turkey-doesnt-work.html (h/t to Bayne)

In entirely unrelated news, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley will soon be visiting to talk about her awesome new project, Submitomancy! In the interim, you can check it out on Indiegogo. And you should.

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