Saturday, October 8, 2011

I may never be quite the same.

I realized last night that I have spent the past year and a half hoping that my brain would totally recover from the Great Migraine Disaster of 2010. Last night I also realized...and not unhappily...that it won't. I don't understand why, but even though I have made GREAT progress toward recovery, it's amazing how much my mother and I have had in common with that experience...and not long before my migraine disaster of course, she had a minor head injury and we had a lot of similar fallout, cognitively speaking. Recovering from a head injury is not a quick process, generally. I didn't technically have a "head injury" but my brain or my thinking processes seem to have been permanently affected in some way. Maybe I DID have some kind of injury to some part of my brain...medical science hasn't fully defined the migraine experience after all. It's a hazy territory...fitting I suppose.

Last night I realized my brain may never be the same. I might not ever 100% recover, in fact in a moment, I was willing to accept that it simply won't. It's going to take me a while to really fully and deeply accept that...but somehow just allowing myself to have that realization had a slightly relieving effect...because in the face of that kind of epiphany, you are free to move forward, whatever forward may mean, and for a long time now I have needed to move forward.

On May 11th, the May before last, I was a 34-year-old woman looking forward to completing a graduate degree within the month. I had found my handsome Mr. Rollins, begun to acclimate to the idea of parenting three children, coordinated a move, and was in the process of planning a grand circus of a wedding for 300 guests. In the weeks previous, just a few times, for a few seconds, I'd had the odd sensation that the scene in front of me moved...but it wasn't a big deal. On May 12th, as I sat at my desk, I nearly passed out, I became viciously disoriented to the space and furnishings around me. I felt a spring in my head squeezing and resisting. I called for my boss, I crawled to the floor. I thought I was dying. I made him take me to the hospital because I thought I was having a stroke. Doctors told me I was crazy and sent me home. It happened again...and then it was happening 20-30 times a day. I was crushed by fatigue, and each time the squeezing would begin in my head, thoughts were slapped out of my head, my thinking process died in its tracks, words evaporated and I would stare, unable to communicate. I was conscious, but I was trapped in my head. Friends would visit or call and an hour later I had no recollection of the visit or call.

The neurologists at MGH treated me with dignity, took me seriously, understood I was having a true neurological crisis, and with a little investigating, and a little luck, while they never gave me an official diagnosis, they did find a medication that brought most of me back to myself.

I worry that I will always be dependent on medication.

I worry that it might happen again - and occasionally, it does. A upped dose brings me back.

I see now, that if I don't have a conversation with myself about it, I will be trapped in hoping, instead of actively living.

I am probably 95% "back to normal" but what does that mean? I'm see now that this definition of "normal" is no longer useful to me. No longer a fair comparison.

Am I less than I was? For this past year and a half, I think I thought so. Bits of me still believe it I think. But now I see I just need to move forward. Because whether I am or am not is not the issue...whether I am alive and moving on is.

It's so easy to focus on those pieces that aren't working, when those pieces are a part of your mind...a part of what you have always perceived to define you as you. But maybe something totally new can fill in the picture...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It just seems like so much more...

I dropped my husband off at work for the parent-teacher open house and drove home. On my way home, my mind raced to compile a list of all the magical tasks I would complete and relaxing I would do.

At last, with the car to myself, I would first go home and run through a field of daisies with my ADHDog. Skampering into the sunset together to get the wiggles out, we would maybe grab something tasty and then climb into the auto and make a trip to the bank. After that of course, we would clearly have time to stop at my parents' house, before coming home so I can type up a bunch of information for the packet I need to submit to our loan officer for our mortgage application process...

And then...then I realized that I had exactly one hour before I had to drive back to the parent-teacher open house, talk to the teachers for a few minutes, and then pick up my husband at his classroom.

So instead I walked the dog for 15 minutes, moseyed about Facebook for about 5 minutes and now I'm going to go get ready to go back to the school.

But it made SO MUCH SENSE in my brain. Recalibrating my brain was really painful...I had to go over it in my head a few times to make sure that my thinking wasn't making sense, lol.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's in the genes...

I have a family member who is having some interesting health/mental health issues at the moment. I won't reveal their relationship to me because I don't really want to delve into their personal business online by name without their permission. But I'm totally delving into it anyway, anonymously, because it's interesting. Here's a few facts:

1) This is a fairly close blood relative.

2) This person could EASILY be diagnosed with ADHD (which could probably be said of 75% of my family on either side...just saying...) with significant hyperactive traits, both mental and physical.

3) This person has been suffering from a serious depression for YEARS (again, several candidates in the family probably qualify for that diagnosis) though has probably has smaller bouts with depression in earlier times.

Said relative finally...FINALLY just agreed to try an antidepresant (Zoloft). It has been a couple of months now I would say and it REALLY seems to be working...REALLYREALLY. REALLYREALLYREALLY. REALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYYYYY!

Said relative is now running around town doing all of the things they couldn't do while depressed (there were some other health issues too, the treatment of which has increased their mobility). The question (that a mental health provider is going to have to figure out is of course) the fact that it's working THAT WELL a good thing?!

Well...I don't know. But as a bystander I can tell you that they are suddenly yammering hyperactively, energy bouncing off the walls, appeared in our yard the other day to "fix stuff" at our house (which was actually great, preferable I would say to being stuck in a recliner with depression), and those who share a household with them are finding it hard to sleep because the energy and activity in the house at night is just too much. Other people outside of the family are also finding it a little overwhelming for various reasons.

This, I would say, is a perfect example of "is it ADHD, is it bipolar disorder, it both?".

As I said to another family member "is it possible that they were like this before and this person has been depressed for so long that we forgot they were always this hyperactive?". Or "is it possible that their anti-depressant is triggering bipolar mania and we were just so used to their behavior before the depression that it didn't strike us as odd"? I'm not expert...but knowing what I know about the person and about psych issues in general it's impossible not to speculate.

In the meantime, it IS great to see them up and about, even if the energy is a little WILD. WIIIIIIILD! Though I cannot lie: I love the stuff at my house getting fixed!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sleep, glorious sleep!

Last night I got my third night of perfectly decent sleep since realizing I was taking my meds at the wrong time.

It was delicious.

I can't tell you how much better I feel. At the risk of sounding sarcastic (which I NEVER AM) I am delighted to report that though I still feel cranky, reactive, impatient, sarcastic (...never...) and would like my office mates to stop talking and shut off the light, it is SO MUCH EASIER to feel all of these things on a good night's sleep!!! Lack of sleep adds an edge of helpless to the whole three cheers and let's hope that progress continues.

In the meantime...I making progress on all of the little details of life that are trying to kill me. I'm lining up father came over to FIX MY CAR...I enacted a flea eradication regimen in our house that involved de-fleaing all four pets ('s been a bad flea season in New England), bathing two of them (picture a cat being washed in a big sink and then sprayed with the sink's veggie sprayer attachment...I can't believe he let me do that...he ripped the caulking out from around the rim of the sink but I came away unshredded), washing a crap ton of laundry just to be thorough, and spraying and vacuuming most of the house. Last week I conquered the disaster of our basement, cleaning up kitty surprises (jerks), airing it out, and organizing things so that we don't lose our minds when we move, and that effort is continuing. Et cetera, et cetera.

One of the things that was really bothering me about my lack of sleep was the fact that I couldn't remember my dreams. What a freaking metaphor, seriously. I have always (and I do mean always) had a very spiritual relationship with my dreams, and I believe that our dreams give us information that can be important when we're awake. I used to journal them every night. Some were hilarious...some serious...some heartbreaking...always they were always interesting. What some people don't realize is that when you journal them, they become easier to remember. Some of them I would write down when half awake and not even remember...but I would wake up and see my journal open to a page and get treated to a surprise, scratched in almost illegible sleep-writing.

With sleep, the dreams are back. I've really spent the last year and a half adding joyful new things to my life but in the process, totally losing connection to some really critical pieces of myself.

And I didn't have the energy to pull myself back together.

Maybe now I will. Just getting my dreams back feels like a great start. Something to think about while I'm decluttering my basement and working from the ground up to find myself again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

...sometimes a smart person can be REALLY DUMB.

For months and months and months now I've been having a terrible time getting to sleep, and now that I have three step-children living with me I really need to be on my game...

When I first started taking nortriptyline, it made me sleepy. This was PERFECT. I would take it at night and voila, in bed by like 11 instead of like 3. Over time it's evened out so that I can get to sleep by like 1...but that's way too late for my current lifestyle. And I've been exhausted...and when I'm exhausted it makes me have cool problems like VERTIGO.

Yeah...well who's a fucking genius? I AM! I AM SUCH A FUCKING GENIUS!

Strangely, I think it's a poor choice to take your psych meds with alcohol...and I don't really metabolize things in a super duper way so I try to space things out, drink lots of I had fallen into a pattern of having a beer around dinner time...and then taking the nortriptyline RIGHT before bed. And for months I haven't been able to get enough sleep.

Are you thinking what I just figured out?

Last week I stopped drinking the nightly alcohol because I felt it was becoming too much of a habit and it clearly wasn't helping me sleep...and I had finally gotten to a point of being so fatigued that I thought the vertigo was going to catch up with for three nights, I took an ativan at bedtime and got a good night's sleep. Then, two nights ago, I skipped the ativan and took my nortriptyline at about 8:00. By 10-ish I was totally ready for bed. Last night, I took it at about 8:30...totally ready for bed by 10-ish again.

Um...for months I have been complaining that it was taking me like, two hours to be ready to sleep. You know, when I was taking my meds RIGHT at bed time.

APPARENTLY it takes about TWO HOURS for the NORTRIPTYLINE to hit me.

I'm going to try it again tonight to see how it goes.

I feel like an idiot.