goosebumps

Firstly, I need to say a massive thank you to Giles, who is what is commonly known as an Utter Treasure for sorting out my archives. In the end, it involved fiddling with the database, which is even more scary than fiddling with a perl script. Big hugs and copious booze for him. *muah!*
The archives are a bit disjointed, because the backup didn’t include anything from this year, so I’m adding those manually as I go. Unfortunately, it means that some comments will be lost, so apologies for that.
names have been changed to protect the guilty
This week, Mr D has been on a CAD course in Telford (the “he’s already a cad” joke has been done, sorry). Apart from writing about how I’m managing for six days on my own and whining about it, I couldn’t think of much to blog about. Mr D and I been talking about how Telford is just a spit away from Bridgnorth, the place where I spent most of my childhood summer holidays. My Grandma’s best friend had an ancient cottage in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town, and most of my summers were spent sitting on a rug in the huge garden listening to the birds sing and reading whatever Famous Five book I had taken, while Grandma and Aunty Pat listened to Radio 4 in the cool of the sitting room. Grandma was a keen seamstress, and would invariably take some half made teddybears or dolls with her, and masked her tight lipped irritation with Aunty Pat, who wanted to help but didn’t always “get it quite right”. I remember Grandma once saying to me “I do wish she’d find her own sewing to do”. It wasn’t that Grandma didn’t appreciate the help, I think she was just such a stickler for getting things done in a particular way.
The last time I went there was about 16 years ago. Mr D and I took Grandma the two hundred miles to see Aunt Pat, and all her friends and relations (think Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh). It was a strange and bittersweet holiday. Everyone was getting old, and there was this sense of urgency to see them one last time. It was a bit of a pain, Mr D and I were young, and wanted to run off and do our own thing, but literally every day but one was taken up with visiting people. In hindsight, I’m glad we held our tongues and went along with it, and it’s taken me a long time to realise that. Aunt Pat died a couple of years later, and the cottage passed on to her nephew and his wife. The last we heard, Bill and Penny were living in a caravan in the garden and restoring the cottage, with input from English Heritage.
When Mr D said he might look into Bridgnorth and take some photos of the town, so I could see if it had changed much, the last thing I expected was the phone call I got on Tuesday evening.
“guess where I am”
Yes – he’d found the cottage, and walked down the drive with a view to knocking on the door and saying hello. He’d seen Bill, asked if it was him, then said, “my wife asked me to drop in and say hello”
Bill paused for a moment, and exclaimed, “dominocat!”
Cue goosebumps moment number 1. Mr D had only been to Aunt Pat’s once, and we only stayed a week. Yet Bill knew who he was straight away. Bill and Penny’s hospitality was as warm as always. They caught up on gossip from both sides, including the fact that their younger daughter Anna hand just had a baby – which leads nicely to goosebumps moment number 2.
The last time Grandma visited Bridgnorth when she was still sewing, she left behind some dolls that she’d made. I think the idea was to raffle them in aid of “Save the Children” a charity for which Aunty Pat was a keen fundraiser. Bill said that the last of the dolls was given to Anna for her baby just two weeks ago, prompting them to get all nostalgic and wonder how I was doing.
That, internet, is what’s known as fate.
Bill and Penny have said that we can go and stay. I think we might have to take them up on that…

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The Whisker Project

Cat Whiskers – Urgently Needed!
Yes, you too can help save the insatiable needs of another crazy cat lady. Corie is collecting cat whiskers from her blog’s readers. Not that they all grow them, but maybe…
Until now, I thought I was the only one that collected cat whiskers. Yay! I’m not mad!
*thinks about this for a moment*
Okay.

Procrastinate

Last night, something of note happened. The nice lady doing the weather on TV said the F word. Before we all write in to the BBC, that F word was ‘frost‘. (I’m saying it quietly, it might go away). I realised suddenly that it was most definitely autumn, and that my vain attempts to hang on to the summer were ebbing away. I’m sitting here wearing three hundred layers of clothes, and there’s no leaves on the trees, so maybe I’m mildly deluded.
In September, I remember thinking, “I must cut the lawn one more time this year”. In October, that thought was repeated several times, and suddenly, it’s November and Far Too Late. I now know without any doubt that I will have the messiest garden in the street for the next five months.
To be honest, the last few months have been very much like that. In August, I finally relented and realised that I needed some kind of medication to help me out. My doctor looked at the long list of SSRI’s that I’d tried (and failed with) and said, “why haven’t we tried Prozac?” So, I tried Prozac. For two months, I waited to see if anything would happen with my anxiety and depression, while my weight steadily crept up and up.
Body image has always been a big issue with me. Even when I was a sensible (and now enviable) size 12 (UK) I had ideas that I could do with loosing a bit around my backside, or my tummy needed toning, or something. The very first time I took an SSRI I gained weight. However, my depressive episodes were fairly sporadic in those days, so whatever I gained, I usually lost again. When All This Shit™ started around four and a half years ago, I started taking SSRI’s more regularly, and I’d guess that I’ve been on one or another for about 85% of that time. I started Effexor because I’d asked my doctor to prescribe “the thing that’s least likely to make me gain weight” – Effexor was it. So, when I gained around 8 or 10 pounds with Prozac, I went back to my doctor and said, “I’d prefer not to take anything, and deal with the panic attacks myself, rather than gain any more weight”. I think at that point, she realised that any SSRI she prescribed was likely to increase my weight. I wonder how true this generalisation is, but I don’t fancy experimenting to find out, thank you.
What she suggested was different. She weighed me, checked my BMI, and suggesed something new. That new thing was Sibutramine. When it was first released, the drug companies marketed it as an anti-depressant. Reports came back that it worked better as an appetite suppressant, so it was re-marketed as an obesity treatment. Dr H reasoned that because my weight was such an issue for me (not to mention the strain on the arthritis in my hip and lower back) and because I met the strict prescribing criteria, she saw no reason why I shouldn’t try it.
When I get over the fact that I’m on an obesity drug, and that on paper I’m “clinically obese”, I’m really happy with this stuff. I’ve been on it for six weeks now, and I’ve lost almost a stone, and my mood is so much better. As a result, I feel more inclined to do things, rather than just stay on the sofa being miserable all day. I’m still having panic attacks, but somehow I’m dealing with them better. Before, I’d spend the entire day moping that I couldn’t cope, that maybe I’d failed because of an attack. Now I tend to think, “bloody stupid shit” and get annoyed with it. The subtle difference is that I now have the mental fortitude to fight it.
M, my counsellor, retires at the end of the year, and for a while after she told me, I felt completely lost. She has been a rock to me, an incredibly positive factor in my recovery (although she seems to think that I’ve done all the work). I sincerely hope that everyone dealing with deamons like mine gets a counsellor like M. I’ll really miss her.
The other Big Thing is fiducia. Last month, I aquired a domain and got new hosting for the child abuse survivors website that I wanted to do. It’s still relatively basic, and is a ‘work in progress’, but I have huge plans, and have already received really positive feedback from friends, M, Dr H, and others. If anyone reading this wants to contribute any suggestions, please fiducia@fiducia.org.uk.

Routine

I saw the following on 4rthur and had to share. Written so eloquently by sick_boy:

“I like routines. They are comfort in a world where, as an adult, it is not acceptable to carry around a ragged blue blanket and rub it against your cheek when things go wrong. They are also a yardstick with which to measure life’s exceptions and excitement. There is, however, one part of my daily commute that renders me a little uneasy. About half way down Boyne road (a leafy terraced suburban idyll) on my daily constitutional to the station I pass a cat. It is a longhaired cat with lots of patches of colour on its furry little coat. This cat has a routine that clashes with mine. Around 7:45am Mr Cat climbs onto his pedestal atop the brick gatepost and sets about his vigorous daily bum licking exercise. He goes about it with some gusto. He is a very thorough cat.
Every morning (inclement weather asides) our eyes meet, he pauses, blinks, I nod and for one moment there seems to be perfect understanding between man and beast. Albeit a quiet, uneasy understanding where, through my anthropomorphic paranoia, we both know that I wish I could perform the same feat on myself. And so we both set about our ways, though I am sure he doesn’t post messages on a cat message board about a Scottish pervert who pauses to watch him lick his anus each morning.”

Where the hell have you been, missy?

Do I even remember that I have a weblog?
I do, but it seems I have writers block. The last few weeks have been pretty much the same as before, I still have nausea and headaches, and I still feel as though I was given a lobotomy in my sleep at some point. I think I’ve put off writing because it’s the same old, same old. It has taken me six weeks to come up with anything, and that ‘anything’ is just me saying I’m still here.
About a million years ago, I worked as an Occupational Therapy Helper in a stroke rehab unit. I remember wading through a textbook one time to find out what something was called, and was most impressed when I found the term “spatial relations apraxia”. I think I have it, although not for the reasons that people who’ve had strokes get it. Basically, it means that when you go to touch something, you miss. (How the hell does one explain this with Effexorbrain?) Someone holds out a pen and asks you to touch the tip. You see the tip, you reach out, but for some inextricable reason, the place where you confidently land is six inches away from the pen. It’s known as ‘past pointing’, and I’m sick of my brain not realising where stuff is. Every damn thing I type needs numerous corrections. Maybe that’s why I’ve stopped posting, because it’s too much of an effort to get the words onto the screen without screwing it up. Every time I screw up, I feel like a failure. It’s all little things, but they add up.
Having said all that, I’m going to have a bash at re-designing the site, so apologies if it looks like shit for a while. I will be back with a shiny new syle-sheet, and a clean contemporary look (hopefully). If not, I’ve saved the style-sheets, and can always try again when someone injects me with brain cells again.

Thinking

I realised something this morning. I’m almost four months Efexor free.
I also realised that I’m four months Efexor free and still experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Not the raging in-yer-face symptoms that I had when I first started – they’ve definitely abated – but silly things like clumsiness and memory loss. I get my words mixed up sometimes, and my moods are up and down like the proverbial yo-yo.
There have been times that my mood has been so low that I’ve thought I’m slipping down into depression again. Then there’s been the times where I’ve felt incredibly happy, blaming it all on the warm Spring weather (see previous post) and the new garden bench on the patio. Yesterday was classic. I got up, felt really miserable, even though the sun was shining brightly and it promised to be a warm sunny day. I ended up in tears over my hair. It’s short and easy to do, but I was hot and my scalp started sweating, I think in hindsight I was scared that the Efexor Sweats were coming back. I couldn’t get going at all. I lost my temper in Ikea when Ginger put on his usual “I hate shopping” face and answered every question with “ugh”. He seems to think it’ll make me ignore whatever I’m asking about and move on, but we’ve been talking a lot about home improvements lately, and I obviously want his opinion on things. Once we got home, we went into the garden, and I mowed the lawn (which now looks horrible because I’d put some of that weed & feed stuff on last week). I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the garden with the cats, rescuing Minnie from a stand off between her and a wasp, but generally relaxing and feeling happy.
Ginger has a theory that I got upset because I knew I was going somewhere with people – Ikea. It makes total sense. I have a tendency to get flustered or upset before events like that. I don’t know. What I do know is that I tend to ‘over-think’ sometimes.
It’s a thought…

Way to go, Jen!

I just wanted to reserve a small part of cyberspace to say “congratulations!” to my friend, Jen, who recently passed her bar exam, and is now a fully fledged lawyer.
Jen – may all your cases be interesting and rewarding, and may all your clients pay top dollar 🙂