Tag Archives: illness

Reaching

Therapist: “So it seems like all those travel anxieties you had leading up to your Africa trip were, as usual, in vain, because none of them happened.”

Me: “Ummm….were you listening? I got a violent stomach bug,  vomited across two separate countries/airports/airplanes, spent the whole last leg of the trip exhausted and achy– and I in fact STILL don’t feel like myself.”

Therapist: “Right but your fear is always that you’ll feel sick for no real reason. This was an actual REASON.”

Oh you are really fucking reaching today lady.

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Hi Again! Here’s Where I’ve Been.

I’ve gotten many comments about my lack of posting lately. Most of you think it’s because I’m too happy and in love to bother writing anymore. HAH! No.

Yes, I love Eric dearly and yes we are very happy together, but that would never be the reason I stop posting. If I’m writing less, that is usually a bad sign. I write more when my energy is good. I make myself write when my energy is bad, too, because it is definitely therapeutic. But you’ll certainly see more frequent posting when my spirits are up.

SO STOP BLAMING ERIC.

Jk, you can blame him a little, at least for the blog’s decrease in entertainment value. My pre-Eric dating life was more amusing. For you guys, at least. Living it was bona fide hell.

Anyway, back to the point. Here’s where I’ve been:

I have felt like absolute dog shit for the past 5 weeks. No, not depression (wahoo!), but feeling this awful for this long was starting to make me FEEL depressed, which is when I knew I had to make a change. I was blaming the new Paleo diet (for those of you not familiar, Paleo is essentially a whole-foods diet…nothing processed, no added sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes). I had started feeling this way about 6 days into the diet (after an initial first week of feeling fabulous), so I was certain that my body was just transitioning from carb-burning to fat-burning for energy, and it was taking a little longer than normal because I’ve been feeding it approximately 16 gallons of sugar-coated garbage per day for the past 34 years and now it’s like WHAT THE FUCK DO I RUN ON NOW!?!? CHRIST.

So I was just giving it some time.

But weeks passed, and I still felt incredibly weak and depleted. I essentially felt as if I possessed no muscle whatsoever. My arms and legs were extremely heavy, and when I walked, I felt like I was going to teeter over. It hurt to hold things in my hands (even my phone. I HAD TO PUT DOWN MY PHONE, GUYS). I was so irritable I wanted to punch everything in sight, which is less than ideal when you work with children.

But I really didn’t want to give up the Paleo diet, because the switch to this lifestyle had instantly cured my two biggest life-long ailments– headaches and stomachaches. So I kept riding it out, certain my strength would return, as well as my ability to not be a fang-toothed fire monster.

It didn’t. I started crying every day because I couldn’t run anymore. I could barely make it up the stairs to my classroom at school. I couldn’t carry a grocery bag.  Social events made me anxious because I didn’t know how I’d feel. I pushed myself to go to a friend’s outdoor-concert birthday party, only to end up crying hysterically to her when I didn’t have enough energy to stay on my feet.

Nobody likes the girl who cries to the birthday girl. I know that’s not even a thing, but I made it a thing, and I think everyone involved can agree it was not a good thing.

So I had a ton of blood work done. Checked all my vitamin levels, thyroid, cholesterol, blood pressure. Everything came back fine. I started to think I was going insane (you know…again).

I googled everything I could find on issues with pervasive weakness. About 3 hours into my google search, as Eric tried to gently pry the computer out of my hands and suggest I do something productive, like stand up or blink, I came across a testimonial from a girl who had very similar issues. They were related to her birth control. Specifically, she started noticing herself fall apart as soon as her pharmacy switched her over to the generic form of her pill.

This had recently happened to me. About 7 weeks prior, my mail-order pharmacy had sent me a 3-pack of the generic form (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol) of my regular birth control (Aviane). I wasn’t thrilled about the switch without notice or approval, but I naively trusted it’d be the same thing, and I’d be fine. Well, you know how the saying goes– “naiveté killed the cat.” (Yeah, I know, it’s “curiosity.” But that doesn’t fit this context and there’s no good quote about naiveté so BACK OFF.)

I immediately googled “Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol.” The reviews and patient testimonials were insane. Basically, women switched to this pill and turned into Medusa. One girl swore it caused her divorce, because she became a completely irrational and emotional lunatic. Another used to be a marathon runner and then found she could barely walk (um, hello?!). Another gained 15 pounds in 3 weeks despite going to the gym every day and being in the most active, healthy phase of her life. Another stopped having sex with her husband because the sight of him disgusted her (that sounded more like a life problem than a medication problem, but godspeed to that couple.) Overall, the pill had a user rating of 1 star (for comparison, the name-brand pill I’d been taking had a rating of 4 stars).

“Holy shit. I’ve been poisoning myself,” I thought as I scrolled through testimonials that easily could have been written by me. I had basically been waking up every morning and swallowing a tiny little dragon pill that turned my insides to mush, my pupils red, and my breath to Game-of-Thrones-worthy fire darts.

I stopped taking the pill immediately. Didn’t even ride out the pack like they say you’re supposed to. Just stopped mid-pack and threw the rest in the garbage.

I quit it last Sunday. By Thursday, I was myself again. My body no longer feels heavy. I’ve been running every day. I have my strength back (not 100%, as I haven’t worked out in 5 weeks, but it is infinitely better). I can walk up stairs and not lose my breath. I can laugh again. I don’t hate everything.

Needless to say, Eric is relieved.

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So the point here is four-fold:

  1. Know what’s going into your body.
  2. Know that generic drugs are NOT the exact same as the brand-name. By law they do not have to be. They can be stuffed with fillers and binders that might be EXTREMELY harmful to your body, particularly if you are someone who is hormonally sensitive, as I am.
  3. Pay attention to how your medication affects your mood and energy. If it’s not good then
  4. Go off of it before you murder your significant other.

Number 4 is very important. Because if you murder your significant other, it should be because that’s just who you are as a person, not because a pill made you do it.

You’re welcome.

I’m glad to be back!

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Depression Is a Real Illness

Well-meaning friend, after reading about my current struggle with Depression :

“You’re depressed? But you have Eric now!”

Yeah, and you know what’s weird? Eric has me now, yet he STILL struggles with Diabetes!

Depression is a real illness.

And as with any real illness, love and support is undeniably helpful, but it is not a cure.

I think as soon as we stop thinking of Depression as something that can be fixed with a loving relationship, a fun night on the town, or a day in the sunshine, the sooner people will feel comfortable coming forward with their struggle and getting the actual help– the medical help– they need.

Let’s change the conversation.

And if you’re not sure how, start here.

 

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Can’t Wait to Catch That

At early dismissal, to a parent who looked like she had the flu: 

Me: “You look like you’re really not feeling well. We can absolutely do your conference another time over the phone so that you don’t have to come in tonight.”

Parent: “Yeah I’m really sick. But don’t worry, I’m still coming tonight.”

Yeah I’m not sure you understand what it is I’m worried about. 

It’s not you. 

  

You Are What You Read

Eric says I read too many heavy, serious books about mental illness, and that maybe this contributes to my anxiety and hypochondria. So this time I chose one where, yes, the main character DOES have bipolar disorder– BUT he lives a super full, productive life, has a job he loves, is married to the love of his life, has a baby on the way, and takes really good care of himself. While it’s tough for him and his family to grapple with his bipolar disorder, and he often gets knocked down, he always finds his way back, and it’s actually a really inspiring take on living with mental illness. 

His wife dies, though. 

Of cancer. 

BECAUSE WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OF CANCER. 

  

Lessons in How to Handle a Biopsy

Eleven days ago I had a biopsy done because my doctor saw something that looked, as he so eloquently and not at all alarmist-ly put it, “less than impressive” (what every woman wants to hear from a man staring up-close at her half-naked body…but I digress).

Since then, I have spent 11 days googling and thought-spiraling myself into a diagnosis of about 568 different versions of cancer. (Are there even that many kinds of cancer, you ask? Well, the answer is YES, if you count all the varying combinations one could have. Because some people have ankle cancer and eyebrow cancer at the same time, guys). So in the past week and a half, I’ve been having pounding heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating profusely, plagued by nightmares, and overall haven’t been able to relax. At all.

My doctor just called and everything is completely fine. The results were 100% normal.

So clearly, there’s a lesson here.

If you make yourself sick enough with worry and completely destroy your mental health (and the mental health/patience/will to live of those around you) for 11 solid days, God will say “Ok, everyone here has suffered enough” and reward you with a clean bill of physical health.

So YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE ADVICE.

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My Students Will Know I Have a Mental Illness

The other day some teachers in my school were discussing how the 5th graders have been very into googling their teachers to see what kind of dirt they can dig up.

I’m sure this trend will catch on with the 4th graders soon enough, so just to prepare myself for what my students might find, I googled my name. The very first thing to pop up (besides my LinkedIn page) was an essay my father wrote about why he supports mental health organization Active Minds.

It goes into detail about my battle with Depression and Anxiety, focusing specifically on a time when I was deeply, deeply depressed, to the point where I had to quit my job and move home. It talks about how I couldn’t function. How my brain essentially lost the ability to comprehend the simplest of information. How I was terrified all the time, and couldn’t stop crying. How I was completely dependent on those around me. How I took, and continue to take, medication for mental illness. How I saw, and continue to see, a psychiatrist.

And you know what? Good.

Sure, I could worry about the general stigma and misunderstanding. I could worry about judgement from the students’ parents. I could worry that the children, families, or administration would look at or treat me differently.

But I don’t. At all. The old me would have.

Here’s how I see it now:

Your teacher was really sick and she got better, kids. And she works extremely hard to stay better, even though some days can be pretty tough. But she keeps going. And she has wonderful, strong relationships with caring, amazing people who are there to support her through the darkness and celebrate with her in the light. She stumbles, and sometimes it takes weeks or months to get back up. But she does. And she’s stronger and wiser for it.

I think that’s a pretty great lesson for a 10 year old.

Don’t you?

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Now let’s just hope to god they never find my blog. IMG_6871