Antidepressant Withdrawal Hell

ErinMedication14 Comments

Antidepressant withdrawal from drugs like Cymbalta are truly hellishI feel terrible. I have what feels like the flu: nausea, muscle aches, nerve pain, tremors, hot and cold flashes, weakness, and lethargy. It’s lasted all month. The cause? I cut down my antidepressant by a measly 3mg.

I don’t normally name my antidepressants on this blog, because meds affect everyone differently, but I’m naming this culprit: Cymbalta. I’ve been on it for about seven years, I think, but man, it has not helped me enough to warrant this kind of suffering in tapering off of it.

When I’m not wrapped up on the couch in agony with heating pads, chugging ginger tea, or Googling what to do I’m just feeling really angry and lost. I feel angry that a drug I took to help make my depression better could wreak such havoc on my body. I’m coming off the medication because of daily chronic migraine that has lasted over a year.

I was certainly surprised when I first admitted to having feelings of depression – hopelessness, despair, suicidal thoughts – that everyone rushed me to get on medication. But I thought, hell, if a pill can help, why not?

And medication has helped me in some aspects, like energy levels, but after spending fifteen years on different medications, I’m not doing very well at all. I can’t think like I used to, I can’t function like I used to before meds. I haven’t been able to work. That’s a problem! Not to mention the migraines it’s given me. Migraines are why I’m saying good-bye to my antidepressants.

Maybe if all the medication had truly helped my depression I would maybe not be writing a blog about depression. I’d be writing about how fantastic life is.

And now I’m getting off meds because enough is enough but this withdrawal is full-blown awful. I am so freaking sick. My psychiatrist, well, I’ve refused to go back and see her because all she would say is “just stop taking it.” My neurologist laughed when he heard what a 3mg taper of Cymbalta is doing to me physically. All I can say is thank God my family doctor believes me when I tell her these symptoms. She hasn’t been able to do much to help me other than just listen and encourage me, but that’s something. I can hold on to that.

A slow taper of Cymbalta is the best way to get off of it. They say it takes one year of slow tapering for every five years you’ve been on it. This is going to be a battle.

My psychiatrist who first put me on Cymbalta abruptly left his practice a few years ago after getting a brain tumor. During my worst moments I’ve thought about how much I just want to scream at him for putting me on this medication. In reality, however, I think I’d just be so happy to see him if I did run into him. He was/is (I don’t even know if he’s alive) the greatest person, and that’s why I trusted him with my life. He didn’t mean to hurt me with medication, he meant to help me. He just didn’t help me. All the medication he put me on hurt me.

I need to write to get through this. I need you. I have a lot to say, I’ve just been in a really rough spot. There’s a lot going on in my life that is making me just curl up inside myself the way I used to. I get this idea that if I don’t talk about things then maybe they won’t be real. Well, they are real. And like my favourite SARK quote says, “Expression is the opposite of depression.”

LoveErin

ErinAntidepressant Withdrawal Hell

Good-Bye Smarch, Hello Smapril

ErinDay-to-Day Life7 Comments

lousy-smarch-weather-600x400Yay I’m writing!! *HUGS*

It isn’t Smarch anymore, it’s Smapril, but you officially have my permission to add make up your own words (or steal from The Simpsons) until it stops snowing. Smarch sucked! And Smapril is off to a crappy start, but hey, we’re still here.

Today’s post is all about finding the small things to keep you going when life is all crappy. I’m sharing some secrets, some songs, some hope. I hope to make you laugh a little and feel stronger about the times you cry and somehow format this thing all right with my laptop screen dimmed to the lowest brightness possible.

Firstly, however, a giant THANK YOU to those of you who donated to Daisies and Bruises following my last post. It means a lot to me that this blog means something to you. We’re all in this together. If you’d still like to support our mission to restore hope and make life easier, here’s the button again!

Donate Button

Smarch for me was full of stress. Someone I care(d) for very deeply got very sick very suddenly and passed away. A good friend got into deep water, I found myself taking care of a Great Dane named Dug, and what else? Oh, on Easter I hid dried soy nuts around my street for squirrels because I could. Then I went inside and kicked myself for not hiding more near my windows so I could least watch the squirrels get all excited. Live and learn, right?

Some of you may remember that a few posts ago I started talking about going off my antidepressants. This is continuing, as it does I’m looking for signs that I’m still alive or creative or surviving. One thing that’s been revived during this process is my love of music. I can stand to listen to it again because I am in slightly less headache pain. Thank goodness.

I love music so so much, but between you and me it’s the only art form I refuse to play with. Meet me in real life and I can sing you some interesting camp songs but that’s about it, and don’t expect me to sing in tune. Ever.

At the beginning of Smarch I found myself listening to a song called Suicide Hotline by the Prettiots and I realized that I have a bit of a sense of humour with my struggles and how essential that is.

Woolf took a dip with some rocks in her pockets
I’d say comparatively, I’ve got a bad case of the fuck it’s
It’s not that bad and I’m told I’ll be fine
But it feels like shit right now, so just let me whine

I’m not fine but I’ll be okay
I probably won’t kill myself today

It’s not the best written song in the world but it’s catchy. Sometimes catchy is good. And I haven’t been fine but I will be okay. I can’t promise for an awesome tomorrow, or that any of us will even be here tomorrow, but for today I’ve got this.

Speaking of camp songs, if you know me EXTRA well, some of the camp songs I know the words to include bible camp songs. If you watch the Simpsons with me during Smarch I just might know the words to the songs Rod and Todd next door sing.

Last night I heard a song that resonated with me right away. I’m not a religious person (any more) but I heard the lyrics to this one and thought, “Wow, this sounds like a prayer.” A prayer for a positive future, for a holding a candle to the past while being determined for a better tomorrow. I’ve been listening to it on repeat.

For all of the light that I shut out
For all of the innocent things that I doubt
For all of the bruises that I’ve caused and the tears
For all of the things that I’ve done all these years
Yeah, for all of the sparks that I’ve stomped out
For all of the perfect things that I doubt

I’ll be good, I’ll be good
And I’ll love the world, like I should
Yeah, I’ll be good, I’ll be good
For all of the times I never could.

The past sucks, and sometimes April is a Smapril. It’s going to be another week before spring weather returns here in Ontario but it’s coming back. The sun stays out later every single day. We need to hang on to hope for spring, hope for warmth, and try our best for today. When we go to bed tonight we can say we tried our hardest to do right, to do well, to hold on.

Life is never ever perfect, but art and giggles and hope, in whatever form we can find, well, all those things can add up to being enough. Enough to keep going. If we keep going and try our best, every day is worth it.

Thank you for being part of my today and tomorrow.

 LoveErin

ErinGood-Bye Smarch, Hello Smapril

Please Support This Blog

ErinBlog Maintenance4 Comments

Hi friends!Support This Blog

March is the month our domain expires and it’s time I ask for a little help funding this home of ours.

If this blog helps you, inspires you, and makes you feel a little less alone, please consider a small or big donation. All funds go directly to maintaining this website!

Here’s the button. Push it!

Donate Button

Sharing this blog post helps too, as does sharing a link to Daisies and Bruises whenever possible.

I really appreciate the support. THANK YOU!

Yours in camaraderie, survival, hope and a million better tomorrows,

LoveErin

ErinPlease Support This Blog

A New Room in Depression Recovery

ErinThe Big Picture34 Comments

Am I recovering or relapsing? I'm moving through my pain of depression and migraine

A journal cover collage I Made at Eighteen

I miss writing here. Forgive me for being quiet lately; I don’t feel like myself.

Over a month ago, I wrote about deciding to go off my antidepressants to see if doing so could help my migraines.

I’m playing a confusing game of cat and mouse, trading one pain for another. On one hand, I feel like I’m getting somewhere, but on the other, I feel like I’m going crazy.

So far, the migraine pain is down but my time spent crying is going way up. My drive to do creative things is better, but I’m having a really hard time actually doing these things. I can’t concentrate. I can’t rest.

I feel like I’m losing my community here at Daisies and Bruises. I don’t feel strong enough to advocate for anything. I feel like a shadow of my reflection, some foreign ghost.

Somehow, though, I feel closer to who I used to be before I became so depressed. Yes, I’m crying an average of three hours a day but I’m also thinking about a future for myself. A future beyond depression.

Is this recovery? Is this relapse? Or am I in the middle of a change that’s impossible to predict?

I feel like we can’t ever really predict where we’re headed at all in life. We can try, we can plan things and make goals and maybe even reach them, but actually getting to the finish line is an illusion.

It’s like those line-ups a Disneyland. You think you’re at the front after waiting for forty-five minutes but then some park employee leads you through the doors not to the ride itself but to a different room. In this room there’s another line of people who look oddly like the people in the room you just left, except they’re not the same people at all.

I keep forgetting how far I’ve come, how many rooms I’ve been in. I don’t know if I’m at the back of the line or at the front. I don’t know if I’m being scammed or if I’m almost at the ride that I’ve heard can be really good.

Life…what if it can be really good? What if the ride really is worth all this waiting?

I’m frustrated, I’m confused as hell, but I think I’m where I’m meant to be. I’m not comfortable but I don’t want to die right now. I want to live. I’m moving. Walking from room to room is better than just standing in one spot.

I wish I could tell you where we’re headed.  I mean, I started this blog thinking that I could somehow eradicate stigma around depression and give people the hope to continue living. And maybe that’s what this blog is doing…but I never thought it would end up like this, with me questioning my sanity as I recover.

See what I mean about multiple rooms?

I feel like I need your help but I don’t know how. I don’t even know what I want. I’m not sure I should share my health struggles to an audience so big – especially when I feel so vulnerable – but I really like this little home we’ve created.

Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for waiting and for reading.

I’m really grateful for you. That’s all I know.

LoveErin

ErinA New Room in Depression Recovery

Choosing Depression Over Antidepressant Side Effects

ErinChronic Pain30 Comments

For once I'm choosing to be very depressed over the side effects I have from my one antidepressant.I feel lost in a foreign place. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am choosing depression over something else.

Why would I do such a thing?

The answer, in a word, is MIGRAINE. I’ve had a migraine every single day for a year. With the dawning of 2016 I’ve felt myself surrender. I cannot take any more physical pain. I can’t.

The person I am today feels so different from who I was a year ago. . I used to go out, see friends, read, write, sit in coffee shops and daydream. I used to run (okay, a little) with my dog. I used to do art for fun.

I’ve lost my routine, my independence, my accountability. I only leave my apartment to go to doctor’s appointments or to buy food. I’m lucky if I see a friend once a week, and if so, it’s a short outing. Going on my laptop hurts my eyes so much that I’ve stopped almost all online activity. As a result, my ties to the world are unraveling.

The world is going on without me. I can’t afford to lose any more.

After trying a zillion different migraine treatments (seriously) I’m decreasing the antidepressant that helps me the most with my mood and energy. My migraine pain is lessened on a lower dosage. I don’t know if my migraines are a side effect of this medication, but I know the medication makes my pain worse when I take it.

I’ve tried to do this many times before and every time I decided it wasn’t worth it. But now, I’m trying even harder. I don’t have a choice.

With lessened migraines I might be able to “function” better. As in, stand up and turn on my lights and listen to music. Call a friend. Walk my dog. Do something without an ice pack on my head. .

On this lower dosage, the world is literally darker to me. I definitely feel my mood going downward. Yesterday I started crying on the bus but I didn’t care. I walked home just letting the tears flow out of me as if I were alone. That doesn’t feel like the real me. It feels like the super depressed me.

I feel sad but it’s also this numbness of emotion. This numbness feels better than being in physical agony, counting down to the moment my skull explodes.

Ugh, I know all of this sounds really bleak. And here’s the kicker: it’s my birthday tomorrow and I totally don’t care at all. I have zero excitement whatsoever.

This numbness sucks but I feel like I have to deal with it. This way, I can see my family on my birthday. I can go out. I can eat. I can make the best of what I have.

I am only in the early days of lowering my one antidepressant. If and when suicidal thoughts come back, the tides will turn and I’ll probably go back to choosing physical pain. I won’t let myself die over this, but I have to fight harder to LIVE.

I’m being supervised by three doctors so I am in good hands. I don’t want you to worry but I don’t want to sugarcoat things either. This is what my life looks like right now. It’s dark.

Maybe my eyes can adjust to the dark. Maybe I can learn to walk in the night. No, I wouldn’t want this for anyone, but sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we have to take what we’re given and make the best of it.

I sure as hell have to try.

ErinChoosing Depression Over Antidepressant Side Effects

Celebrating 2015 & Having Hope for the Future

ErinThe Big Picture13 Comments

Me With My Writer Pals

Me With My Writer Pals

Raise your hand if 2015 went exactly as planned.

Yeah, me neither! I was sure this was going to be MY year where I accomplished or at least set off on my biggest life dreams. Instead I spent 90% of the year on the couch with an ice pack on my head trying to balance my migraines alongside my mental health.

That’s the way it goes, sometimes, or a lot of the time. But that’s okay because we get second chances, and third chances, and fourth. Pretty much the only thing we have to do at any given time is survive, and if we can do that then there’s hope for tomorrow.

I reread a favourite book recently, The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (read it – it is pure magic!). At one point in the book one of the characters says (I’m paraphrasing here) that no matter what happens, it’s comforting to know that everything coming in our future will land on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

I find that comforting. We can count on things like calendar days, the sun rising and setting, and life always being a giant mess of good things and bad things and okay things and awesome things.

There’s hope for 2016 and it most likely won’t go according to plan. You never know, it might be the best year we’ve ever had. It’s possible! We have no freaking idea and that’s okay. That’s what makes life fun.

I’ll be here in 2016 and I hope you will be too. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever you do or don’t celebrate, I’m so glad you’re here with me. That’s all that matters. We’re here, we’re surviving, and tomorrow is on the horizon.

*PUGS AND KISSES!*

LoveErin

 

ErinCelebrating 2015 & Having Hope for the Future

Why I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

ErinDay-to-Day Life, My Art, The Big Picture11 Comments

Why I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

If you got one of these from me, it’s a good thing!

I feel alone and invisible a lot. It’s part of having depression and I think it’s also part of just who I am.

I spend so much time in my head that I forget to interact with the outside world, and then when I don’t have any interaction for a while, I feel like no one notices me. When really, people are probably noticing me and I’m just unaware.

Only a few things will break me out of my “alone and invisible” spell. One of those things is when another person who appears to be having a rough day. It’s usually a stranger I see on the bus or sitting alone at a coffee shop.

Yet I want to respect the other person and their silence.  I know that when I’m feeling awful, I don’t usually want to talk to people I don’t know. Sometimes I actually want to be invisible. If a stranger were to talk to me at that moment I’d probably be very startled. So when I see another person who appears to be having a hard time I want to give them their space.

Here’s where it gets difficult because that’s the only time where I want to talk to people! I mean, I have to, I have to say SOMETHING because I feel like we’re related. Like we’re both from another planet that most people don’t know or talk about. Planet Depression. Planet Pain.

That’s when I hand out a Daisies and Bruises button. It’s me wanting to respect the person’s space and privacy while still giving them the message that they aren’t invisible to me.

I never stick around long enough to find out what the other person thinks. I shove the button into someone’s hands before making my exit.

Is that the right thing? I probably shouldn’t run from situations where I want to connect with someone. I’m too scared though. 

Does it help when I give out buttons? I have no idea.

Do people notice the a website on the button and think I’m some do-gooder who is promoting a service? Maybe. But here’s the TRUTH:

I make my buttons by hand. I make the design, use a circle press to punch it out, and then I put it through my small button maker, which both laminates the paper with mylar and presses it over a metal shell. I pop it out of the button maker and I stick the copper pin in the back of the shell. Finished!

I could send my design to a factory that could do all that repetitive work for me, but I like making my buttons one at a time. My hands touching my work so I can then hand it to you.

It’s personal. Daisies and Bruises is just a blog by a girl who has depression. I don’t run ads here because I’m doing this to help people, not market to them. I’m a writer, an artist, a fellow invisible-feeling sad person. Buttons make me happy. I hope my button makes you happy.

If you’re one of those people who found my blog through me giving you a button, and you’re so inclined, please do comment and let me know what you think.

LoveErin

 

 

 

P.S. Yes, the buttons are available here if you really want one. If you order a Daisies and Bruises button, you get an additional one in the envelope for free so you can share one with a friend, too.

ErinWhy I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

How to Be Strong

ErinNews Stories11 Comments

We can take care of ourselves and feel strong in this dangerous world. We’re all feeling scared as hell. (Ignore my shitty formatting here and read the good stuff)

One of my good friends and I have been talking about how childhood trauma prepares us for oncoming trauma, which we’re never ready for. Part of growing up in an earthquake is learning how to stay steady on your own.

Here’s what I know:

How to Be Strong

  • Recognize your strength. You can’t feel strong without accepting that you have strength. It takes strength to exist. If you’re existing, you are strong. Even if your depression coping skills could use some work, you’re still coping the best you can. Literally, I never started feeling strong until I accepted the fact that I could be much stronger than I feel. Ask someone who supports you how they think you are strong. They’ll give you a bunch of reasons if you can’t find them yourself!
  • Let Yourself Feel. I thought I was coping okay with all of the bad news in the world but today I surprised myself by breaking down crying. Crying never feels practical. It’s like this giant human inconvenience that saves us. I felt SO MUCH BETTER after crying. If you feel like being strong is hiding your emotions, think about this: what would happen to the violence in the world if everyone could sit down and cry? Literally all the violence would stop.
  • Don’t Hurt Yourself or Anyone Else. Even if you can’t see your strength or safely let yourself feel, hurting yourself only makes you weaker. You can’t be strong if you’re attacking yourself. The world hurts us badly enough without us resorting to hurting ourselves or hurting other people.
  • Do Your Thing And Trust It. Recognize that you can’t be perfect. I’m honestly feeling like a jerk right now because I literally know over 150 people in France and I haven’t talked with them in a long time. I am worried sick. Realistically today, though, what can I do? I can write. I can let them know I’m thinking of them. I can keep myself safe to promote a safe world. I can stop beating myself up for the things I can’t do and start doing things that I can do.

Tomorrow is never promised, but the best way to predict our tomorrow is to take care of ourselves and each other for today.

LoveErin

ErinHow to Be Strong

Please Wait for Me

ErinBlog Maintenance12 Comments

From a great day just over a week ago. Good days still exist! I hope to have more soon.

I had a great day just over a week ago. They still exist! They’re coming back.

Waiting is not something the Internet does very well, but I am asking you to wait for me because I am coming back. I am coming back in huge ways and I promise not to leave you behind.

What we’ve had here on Daisies and Bruises is magical. You’ve helped me, I’ve helped you, we’ve talked about depression together, breaking stigma and sharing in the delights left in our darkened lives.

My migraine treatment is colliding with my mental health treatment and vice versa. I have no idea what the hell is going on except that I’m in A LOT OF PAIN.

It’s making me question my entire life. I don’t like it but I’m trying to trust that this is part of my overall healing process.

As soon as I’m able I will be back here to pick up this magical thing we have created together. Please remember me and wait for me if you can. Things will get better. I know they will. I just have to hang on until they do.

Thank you for hanging on with me.

LoveErin

ErinPlease Wait for Me

Judging the Mental Health of People You Don’t Know

ErinThe Mental Health System16 Comments

phrenologyI’m really surprised at how much people compare their struggles to someone else’s without knowing the full story.

The other day I was sitting in a waiting room, ten minutes before seeing my psychiatrist. There were three other people in the waiting room and soon a name was called and two people stood up and left. It appeared as though one of them was the “patient” and the other person with them was there for moral support.

As soon as they’d left the waiting room, the remaining woman leaned over and said, “You know, I really feel sorry for people like that.”

She looked at me, clearly expecting a response. I just smiled a little and kept reading. I couldn’t focus though, thinking about what that woman had just said to me.

I remembered that I’d had the exact same experience the last time I’d been in that waiting room! It was a different person who had leaned over and said the same words to me, that they felt sorry for another patient.

This rarely ever happens to me outside of a doctor’s office setting. It really makes me angry.

I don’t feel “sorry” for anyone I don’t know. I feel compassion and respect for other people and leave it at that because I don’t know their story. Their story is their business, not mine.

Only my mental health is my business to comment on or judge, and even then, I’m biased.

I feel like people say things like, “I feel sorry for people like that” to somehow convince themselves that they “aren’t that sick, thank goodness.”

The woman might as well have said, “I’m glad I’m not that crazy.” And she assumed that maybe I wasn’t “that crazy” either and by making that comment we could somehow be on the same level of sanity. What the hell?!

No one knows what someone else is going through unless they ask them and know them. And even then, we shouldn’t judge. We all have biases that can offend others.

For example, I’m writing this blog post with as much description as I can so that you can imagine the situation, but I’m making judgements too. Like, I assumed it was a woman talking to me in the waiting room, but perhaps that person doesn’t identify as female. I don’t know their gender or what pronoun they prefer.

That’s why I don’t talk in waiting rooms. I am there for my health and no one else’s. Deal with your own life, your own problems, and don’t make assumptions about other people. Although it may be human nature for us to judge one another, most of us have a conscience to keep us from saying whatever pops into our brain.

My dad has this sign in his workshop that says, “Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear.”

My brain is engaged and I do my best not to comment on things I have no authority on.

If someone makes a similar comment to me in the future, maybe I will say, “I don’t know that person so I’m not judging them one way or another.”

Sometimes, though, it just is easier to smile and then bury my face in my book. Maybe that alone conveyed the message that I wasn’t into judging other people.

Can you relate to this story? What do you do in these situations?

(If you enjoy this blog, please consider leaving a donation! It really helps me afford necessities like food and wifi to keep me writing!)

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THANK YOU! *HUGS*

LoveErin

ErinJudging the Mental Health of People You Don’t Know