Today is day… hang on, I’ve lost count. My memory is still being a bugger, and although I think I feel better, I’m still getting nausea and headaches, and waking up in the night drowning in sweat.
Yesterday, Ginger and I went out in the car, and within about ten minutes, I had the most disgusting feeling of motion sickness. I never get travel sick, except on coaches and buses. Never in cars, unless I read (which I’d be foolish to do, given that it makes me sick). The headache that accompanied the nausea was the kind that makes your scalp sensitive. Like some invisible person is plucking the hair out, working on one follicle at a time.
I closed my eyes, and concentrated on Michelle Branch, playing softly on the MP3. When I got out of the car, I thought I was going to fall over. I’m sure people in the car park of Sainsbury’s thought I was drunk. Round the store, I clutched valiantly to the trolley, but still managed to forego walking in a straight line. I guess I didn’t help when I wandered down the wines and spirits aisle, looking for the Arniston Bay chenin blanc…
The journey home was awful. I wouldn’t let my freezing husband put the heater on, because the warmth made me feel worse. We needed to stop at the pet store on the way home. I needed some water conditioner for my aquarium, and I didn’t want to wait unti next weekend, which is the only other time we could go. Ginger held onto me, and I freaked out at the tethered dog who was barking outside the store. It seemed there was one obsticle after another – a guy with a bucket collecting for an animal charity, crowds, a queue a mile long – I knew I was going to panic. I went straight to the fish section grabbed a bottle of water conditioner, and made for the checkout.
Normally, I look at the fish, maybe wander over to the rabbits and hamsters for a look, but yesterday I just wanted out. We paid and left.
Sitting at home over the past few days, I have felt that I was doing better. I thought I’d gotten over the worst of the withdrawal effects, and things could only get better. I have kept that in mind to help my recovery. To stay positive. Yesterday knocked that theory. I’m not as better as I thought. I’ve never been good at just plodding on. I’m just too impatient.
One of the symptoms of quitting Venlafaxine/Effexor has been that my bowels have discovered regularity.
I’ve always verged on the constipated side, even before panic and anxiety took over my existence. I remember feeling awe when I found out people usually poo every day, not once a week. I remember thinking that pooing every other day was almost diarrhoea, and I guess on the occasions I did get ‘proper’ diarrhoea my ‘normal’ regularity made it a worse experience than most peoples.
The constipation hit its worst levels when I became hooked on dihydrocodeine. Codeine is a very constipating drug, and well, I was taking a hell of a lot more than I was supposed to. I remember trying to tackle this problem once by drinking insatiable amounts of water, and eating nothing but fruit and prunes all day. My bowels said, “sod this for a lark” and promptly clamped down, leaving me in a crumpled cramped mess for the next few days.
When I discovered anxiety and panic, my bowels discovered IBS. It happened quite quickly – I quit the dihydrocodeine (this is deja vu) cold turkey (because my doctor suggested to) and went through a few weeks of hell while my body craved and shrieked at me for its fix. At first, the cramps were unbearable. I remember sending my husband out to the chemist to get me a hot water bottle, which I applied to my stomach until it scalded. My bowels finally settled down into a new, sans-codeine routine. Well, I say routine. Over the last four years, I can see that it was a routine. And, if you count several weeks of constipation and a week of diarrhoea as routine, then it was one.
So, you can sympathise with my poor gut when you learn that for the last ten days (from when I started doing the every-other-day thing) I have had Regularity. It feels cleansing, in a colonoscopic way. The thing I want to know is this.
Do you count ‘every ten minutes’ as Regular?
or, Effexor can kiss my ass
I can’t believe that I’ve neglected my corner of the web for six weeks. To be honest, there’s been other things going on, such as Christmas and money strife, so I guess my mind has been elsewhere.
Up until now, I have stuck with the 75mg of Effexor (venlafaxine) XR even though I had originally planned to quit altogether before now. I had a cold before Christmas, and really didn’t think that I could deal with the added ache of withdrawal. So, I waited until that cleared up completely.
My plan was to reduce the dose by taking it every other day. As it’s Effexor XR, it’s a slow release capsule, and isn’t available in a lower dose. Believe me, if it was available I’d be taking it right now. I started this plan at the weekend.
So, Saturday morning’s dose officially started phase two. On Sunday, I abstained, and went about my day as normal. On Monday, I woke up with all the withdrawal sympytoms I described last time. I couldn’t believe it – after missing only one dose. I realised I had some decisions to make. From previous experience, I know that Effexor gets into my system quite quickly, and that taking it every other day was going to result in alternate days of feeling okayish and feeling like shit.
Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that taking another SSRI like Prozac (fluoxetine) helps with the seratonin levels whilst withdrawing from Effexor, thus reducing the withdrawal symptoms. (Thanks to Lisa for Googling for me) I realised I’d rather take my chances doing that, and quitting Effexor cold turkey, than doing this every-other-day thing which I knew was going to screw with me as much as it could.
Today, Wednesday, is my second day using this method. I’m taking 20mg of Prozac, and no Effexor at all.
I feel like shit, but not as many ‘brain zaps’ as before. I’m thankful. I feel sick, but I’m chewing on peppermints and have a good supply. I’m dizzy, but I plan to sit at the computer all day anyway. I have a headache, but I also have a box of Advil. I’m sweating, but I’m not going anywhere, so I don’t care. What I do know is that this is the start of me being free again.
Over the past few weeks I have felt more and more as though my brain isn’t working properly. It sounds crazy, but my concentration has gone completely. You have no idea how many times I have started with my blog, then deleted the whole thing because it looked stupid. I’ve never been good at accepting praise, or even giving myself credit for things well done, but if there was ever an award for stupidness it would belong to me.
The thing is, I know why all this is happening.
I lie and wait for morning
I think it knows my fear
I want so badly to see daylight
raising my hopes.
I steal seconds of weak sunshine
I wait for the rain to stop
I feel its fingers boring my soul
feeding the pain.
I sense the anger of cold
I feel the earth dying again
I dread the imminent winter
making me S.A.D.
Since I last updated my blog, I have had so much happening, I’m almost living my life from the sidelines.
Firstly, and most importantly, I bought a bicycle. This was something I had been thinking about for a while, because it would give me a reason/excuse to go outside more. Also, it was something my good friend George said about cycling being easier to achieve than walking (from an anxiety/panic point of view).
He was so right. I started by cycling around the garden – mainly because I was afraid of falling off and making an arse of myself in front of all the neighbours. Then, I progressed to cycling to the end of the street. I quickly went from that to cycling around the quiet streets in my estate. The feeling when I’m on my bike is amazing. I feel so free, and it is an excellent way of getting rid of the cobwebs.
Last weekend, I set myself a goal – and achieved it. I had a couple of parcels to send to the US, so I put them in my backpack, and cycled to the post office. This was so big for me, I can’t tell you. My heart was beating so fast, I thought it might burst. However, I concentrated on the cool air of the morning, and obviously the sparse traffic. I took a few deep breaths, and I was fine. In fact, the worst thing that happened was my bum hurting! Five minutes on a bike, and I get saddle-sore!
I am keeping it up, not necessarily going to the post office or anything, but I’m riding around and getting used to being outside without Ginger.
Ginger has done the job interview thing, and it went really well. They are looking for someone who fits in with their small team, rather than someone with a shed-load of qualifications. Ginger said that he felt very comfortable with the interviewer, and not nervous at all. I guess that’s a good sign too. The way things have been worded, and the way certain things have progressed, we are fairly certain that Ginger has the job. It’s been advertised through an agency, and they have forwarded Ginger’s references etc to the new company (henceforth known as, er, SpreadingTheJam Inc – based on Operation Toast with Jam – until I think of something better). Basically, we are waiting for the go ahead from one of the managers who seems a bit incognito.
Meanwhile, Ginger is back at TakingThePiss, and wishing he wasn’t. Next Monday is a public holiday, and I’m guessing that SpreadingTheJam are waiting til that’s over before they take Ginger on.
I think summer is here at last. For the past two days, it has been warm and sunny, and a good excuse for me to get out and about.
I walked to the end of the street again on Saturday, and on Sunday, I made small talk with a neighbour I don’t know that well (I know her cat, Ben, more than I know her) I told her about how I make catnip pillows, and fetched one over for Ben. I felt proud, that I was talking to someone without trying to get out of the situation.
Also on Sunday, I finished my front garden. Now, I have a lovely little brown picket fence dividing my garden and my next-door neighbours, and a deep border in front of it. I have planted all blues and whites, and have included two blue glazed pots filled with lavender. I have a beautiful blue buddleia, and two flowering hebe’s – both blue. I feel happy that I have got all this done, however I now have a fucking trapped nerve in my shoulder (this happens every now and again, but is still annoying and painful).
I’m typing with pins-and-needles in my fingers…
The trippy heart shit is weird. I don’t know what it is, or what causes it, but I sometimes have real trouble at night sleeping because of it. It feels like a surreal cross between heartburn, pins-and-needles, being tickled and being hyper-sensitive. I’ve had lots of theories as to what it is, ranging from being hot, to actual heartburn, to a kind of panic attack. It lasts for several hours, and I usually need some meds to help me sleep. I have tried all sorts of things to deal with it, treating it like a panic attack. I’ve tried reading, watching TV, the usual diversional activities. It’s worse when I lie down, but makes me restless anyway. Often, I’ll come online, because it is something to take my mind off it, and I’m sitting up.
So, it was 2am before I got to sleep last night. The hot weather didn’t help, and I think that started me off being restless. I mentally paced up and down, there was nothing on TV apart from some EMT Rescue thing on Discovery. I couldn’t concentrate on the internet, so I went downstairs. I had a drink, I lay on the sofa. I sat up again, removing two cats as I did so. At 1am, I went out into the garden in my nightie and bare feet, and walked around the lawn, breathing in the delicious night air.
With my feet still damp, I went back to bed, and managed to sleep until around 7am.
I just walked to the end of the street on my own.
It’s not far, but it’s a start. Can you say “heart in mouth”? I’m shaking, but I didn’t panic. I tried to ring Ginger while I was out, but he didn’t answer, so I wrote him a text message instead. I need some praise, dammit!!!
I think texting while walking helped – it took my mind off Being Outside.
Bugger! I feel weird…
I’m meeting my CPN here at home for the first time this afternoon. He’s due here at two.
I’ve met him once before, at the doctor’s surgery. We had a long chat about my anxiety and panic, and his aim is to get me to face my fears.
Well, him being in my house is facing one fear. By choice, I opted for an appointment with him here, because I need to get used to people being in my house. I need to feel comfortable with that. So, here I am, at one thirty, with chest pains and palps, and I can’t sit still. I think I am going to wear out my hoover. I have cleaned the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, the kitchen, and the hall. The lounge was okay, but I have hoovered for England.
The fun part is, he doesn’t like cats. I have let the cats upstairs, where they are happily sleeping on my bed (except Minnie is on top of the wardrobe with her feet in the air) They’ll not bother coming downstairs, especially if there’s a stranger. I’m not sure how to take people who don’t like cats. It’s almost like they don’t like something about me – as my cats are such a big part of my life.
I’ll keep you posted…
So, week three of “Ginger-Absence” begins.
This whole situation is really getting us both down. Ginger hates the job, and I of course, am feeling lonely and bored.
At the end of the day, it is work, and we are grinning and bearing it while he looks for something better.
In other news, my right shoulder has gone into spasm, and I am in absolute and total agony. I am, however, stoned on painkillers and do not give a shit. I also have these groovy muscle relaxant tablets, which help. It does this every now and again. It’s either my right shoulder, my neck, or both. Imagine getting a charley horse that lasts for several days. Well, that’s what this feels like.
The meds make me feel all druggy and wired, and the pain on it’s own is horrible. The most annoying thing is that I can hardly move, so all the things I’d planned to do to keep myself occupied while Ginger was away have been put on one side in favour of watching Biography Channel and Big Brother’s interactive feed.
Oh, and who made my head weigh forty six tonnes in the night???