Parking Garage Finds
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imageFound on 11/13/15 in the parking garage. A missed opportunity for free clean pants and an interim card stub.
Wind Storm Find
imageimageFound on 11/17/15 in my neighborhood during a windstorm. The next morning I saw 6 or 7 more paper airplanes in various styles in the same area where I found this one.
Post Wind Storm Find
imageFound on 11/18/15 in my neighborhood. Not sure if this is related to the windstorm or if things just got crazy in an unrelated way.

 

 


 

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For Depression Explorations

Most people who have never taken antidepressants don’t realize this, but one doesn’t simply take the right antidepressant on the first try. It’s possible, but the first two I tried didn’t work out so well. Another fact you need to add to your bag of expectations is that they don’t start working right away. It can take a month or more for the effects to present themselves and you may need to adjust your dosage several times (followed by more time for effects to level out again). Patience is the name of the game.

My Fun Journey began with Escitalopram, aka Lexapro, after I realized that I needed more than counseling to start climbing out of my depression & isolation. I did feel slightly better which meant I was able to nap in a few different places per evening on the living room carpet instead of just having to pick one. I think I tried a higher dosage before moving on to the next one. There was a lot of crying throughout the Lexapro phase, continued from the pre-antidepressant phase, as well as continued fatigue. The difference between the Lexapro phase and the pre-antidepressant phase was like the difference between your bedroom floor coated wall to wall in 1 inch of poop or 1 inch of diarrhea – not quite as terrible but still extremely shitty.

The next leg of my adventure was when I moved on to Venlafaxine aka Effexor aka Satan’s Anus (because it’s the worst when you’re trying to exit out of it). I felt more functional overall on Effexor but there were some pretty worrisome side effects which really affected my sleep quality and also were on the alarming side of the prescription instructions. Like, if these things are happening to you, you probably want to take something different maybe right now. Every night for over a month, I woke up in the middle of the night needing to pee. Also, each time I woke up to pee I noticed my legs were sweating through my sweatpants. Not my armpits or scalp or anywhere else, just my sweatpants. A tad unnerving considering my legs don’t sweat that much compared to armpits and head when I’m working out or being too warm in other fashions.

The cool part about Effexor is that you don’t need to be a drug/substance abuser to feel the intense effects of withdrawal. I was told to taper off of Effexor and taper onto Wellbutrin simultaneously over a week, possibly 5 days if memory serves me. I will try to find my paperwork to confirm the timeline. While I was taper-transferring, there was also a crazy snowstorm in town, while I also began feeling very dizzy, disoriented, isolated and was having some electrical brain zaps. They were like if you had a bug-zapper and a lot of moths IN YOUR BRAIN. A few days of being effectively stranded at home (I was in no condition to drive in snowstorm/snowy road conditions) my sanity was beginning to unravel and I called my wonderful sister to take me to the pharmacy. I had called my doctor’s office – and the cool part about western med (corporate whore) doctors is that you can have very intense experiences and they can tell you that it’s not even possible that you’re feeling that way and that all the opinions you read on the internet of the same thing happening to other people are because all those people are lying whackos. Here is one such lying whacko, for example. Nonetheless, they honored the fact that things were not going so smoothly for me and prescribed me a week of Prozac to take on top of the taper phase. After a small fiasco of the pharmacy not getting the order from the doctor’s office and me calling the office a few times to convince them they needed to re-send it, and also freaking out a lot, I got my Rx filled. All I gotta say is THANK YOU PROZAC & also WHAT THE FUCK, PROZAC? I remember feeling so happy and wishing I could hold on to feeling so good while also knowing that I was never naturally as happy and it probably wasn’t healthy to sustain such a happy existance. My chemical happiness was annoying me (thanks for sticking around and poking through the happiness barrier, poor self-esteem and depression!) but it was a welcome break in the monotony and isolation. I didn’t remember the last time I had felt so good.

So my current jam is Bupropion aka Wellbutrin. I have had to adjust dosage a few times but have felt no side effects after exiting Satan’s Anus. Funny enough to mention, when my doctor was searching her computer for the new option, she stopped on this one and said, “Ok, so this one has the mildest side effects, and it works for A LOT of people.” I thought ‘Great. Good thing we didn’t start with that one.’ I also want to mention that I had been alcohol free since I started taking antidepressants. In total I didn’t have alcohol for 7 whole months, and I was well into the Wellbutrin phase when I started dabbling again. I have had a few times when I realized I probably shouldn’t be having drinks as often as I was since it interferes with progress you can make on antidepressants, but where I knew I didn’t want to drink alcohol starting out because I didn’t really want to do anything, at all, I had started feeling like I could handle a little bit of it. If I could go back and do things perfectly I would have probably kept the no alcohol thing for longer but honestly, I was feeling a little left out of some fun things and being sober all the time kept me focused on all my depressive thoughts and how I was different from everyone else. I don’t feel guilty about this but like I said, I would do things a little differently.

All in all, I am thankful for antidepressants as I think I would have suffered quite a bit longer without them, but I am looking forward to leaving them behind me in the future. In my experience, they are not the whole story. Depression is a manifestation in your mind & body telling you that you really, REALLY need to change something (more like some things, or maybe all the things). I’ve been going to a counselor since before starting antidepressants and have learned a lot about myself as well as all the different areas I can or need to improve. I didn’t think I had low self-esteem/confidence, but what I really did over the years was just turn off my feelings and reactions. I learned I am highly sensitive, I need to eat better, I need to exercise more because I feel so good afterwards. I learned I did not know how to mourn, and over the years prior to my Major Depression diagnosis, a lot of people I knew died in different ways and they were very traumatic to me. I learned a lot of other things but instead of listing them all here I will try to post more often on all of those topics.

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A few weeks ago I posted about my depression/anxiety reactions to seasonal allergies. I figured I could add to that information with some things that I’ve learned that might help other people deal with their allergies more efficiently. Let’s all take a moment to remember that I am not a doctor, and find an appropriately-sized grain of salt to take with the following information, but also let’s celebrate the sharing of experiences so that we all don’t have to make the same allergy mistakes as each other, year after year.

Stuff You Gotta Do:

  • Identify allergens. An allergist can help you find out what pollens & other particles you are reactive to, but the one I went to drew the line at food (not including anaphlaxis from severe food allergies or celiac disease, which are kind of in their own categories – as far as who wants to help you with it at the medical center where I currently go for doctors to make me feel stupid about trying to figure out my health problems)
  • Get medicated. I take an over-the-counter allergy pill as well as a prescription nasal spray. My goal for improving my health is to not have to take these forever, but if I have to, at least I know I won’t be miserable.
  • Avoid making it worse. I’ve found that a lot of things I used to do would make my allergies so much worse. I generally avoid dairy, wheat, and most types of alcohol because I know they have inflammatory effects on my body, which is especially important during allergy season because they amplify the inflammation from allergies. Eat nutritionally awesome food and also get enough sleep. Try to find fun things you can do that won’t make you hate your life.
  • Learn more & be prepared. There’s a lot of good information out there, and yes, there’s even an app for that. I love ZYRTEC’s Allergycast iPhone app, also available on Android and accessible on the web, all for free. Knowing the forecasted pollen levels can help you decide if you need extra medication or to hide indoors all fucking day.
  • Do some hippie shit. There are all sorts of awesome things you can do that your non-alternative doctor won’t tell you about. Get some raw, local honey and eat some every day. I have a really cool chiropractor who does what is called a Nasal Specific, where she inflates a little balloon inside all 10 of my nasal passages, one at a time, to expand them and reduce congestion. You can also get a neti pot and add eucalyptus oil* to the solution, as well as take a daily Allergy Bomb*. My friend Cassidy who is a Young Living consultant (here’s her educational site) hooked me up with a dropper bottle full and some veggie capsules, and I’ve noticed that my eyes feel not itchy after I take it. (*some people may not react well to certain oils, so dip a toe before you jump all the way in.)
  • Take probiotics. There are studies coming out showing that peanut allergies are caused by the absence of certain gut bacteria. Cultivating good gut germs not only helps with processing allergens and foods more efficiently, but also with production & transfer of happy brain chemicals. (Remember to keep your sugar and fake sugar consumption to a minimum, as they both have negative effects on beneficial gut bacteria.)

There are probably tons of other great stuff that you can do to combat seasonal allergies that I don’t have time to list right now, so don’t give up on not feeling shitty. One last thing to remember: After the Spring allergy season dies down, there is another pollen bloom in the Fall (as early onset as August, to as late as October) that will fuck your shit up if you’re not ready for it. Thanks for reading, please add your allergy-fighting tips & tricks to the comment section!

 

         

Seasonal Allergies Can Suck It

Fuck you, pollen!

Another post for Depression Explorations

A few years ago, I started noticing that I was feeling very isolated, panicked at times, sad & upset. The next year I noticed that the feelings returned, and also realized that they usually were happening right after work and I was often wondering “What the fuck is wrong with me?” during my 15-minute drive home from the office. Coincidence? I put together that it was during allergy season, particularly the onset around the first week of March. I immediately decided to blame it all on the over-the-counter medication I was taking for allergies. I switched to another OTC allergy pill and forgot about it again.

The next year, after I powered through allergy season, by summer it was very apparent to me that I was not doing so well in general, and I went to my doctor knowing that I was depressed. Time had given me perspective that this yearly carnival ride was not due (at least not entirely) to allergy medicine, but the allergies themselves. I requested an appointment with an allergy specialist and reacted highly to 18 out of 20 allergens in a scratch test. The doctor was dilly-dallying around for a while after the welts presented themselves and the medical assistant had helped him document the reaction scores, and I wanted to choke him for some calamine lotion to quell the itchy discomfort organized in a grid on my pasty white back.

During this time I was desperately searching for The Reason I was depressed, so I was looking at information that linked allergies to depression and anxiety. Allergies definitely played a part in my depression, and presented itself more as anxiety during the beginning of allergy seasons. Depression is in part a state of high inflammation, and with allergies this inflammation is exacerbated. There is also information that points to inflammatory compounds that enter your brain, and also the reduction of serotonin, both of which can alter your mood, and can keep you in a depressive state long after the inflammatory particles have made their way through your body.

I was reminded that I should be writing more about this for my blog today since I woke up in a fairly good mood this morning, which quickly turned sour when I got to work (check it out – walking through the outside air, even for a few minutes, during mid-late morning through the evening during allergy season, can get enough pollen into your body to make you feel like an asshole or also a real sad-sack, or both). I tried eating lunch at a quiet table and a very talkative person joined us, and I quickly made it clear that I didn’t feel like talking by stating my grumpiness level and staring at my phone as if I’m not on the internet all day for work. It feels less hopeless than years past that I can point to allergies as the reason for my semi-permanent Jerkface Mode, but for some people there are more serious ramifications for having seasonal allergies. I’ve included some links for further reading below, and would love to read more if you have come across other good resources:

 

Edit: I’ve written a followup post to this one:

I think everyone could benefit from counseling and self-improvement, not just people suffering from mental illness or in the middle of a crisis. Taking personal inventory, letting old hurts go, and finding out why certain things hit you with more impact than they should are all things we should be doing periodically, but if you’re like many people (and myself – before counseling), you’ll let things build up until it’s absolutely necessary to deal with everything and then good luck figuring out what to tackle first. Holding a mirror up to the contents of yourself as a person may seem horrifying or at least uncomfortable, but if you’re ok being yourself around everyone else, you should venture to look at who you are by yourself.

About finding a counselor:
When I was looking for one, I was very depressed and overwhelmed about everything. I tried finding a counselor by a recommendation from my primary care doctor, and gave her a call to find out if she was taking new patients. She was not and gave me another name, who was also not taking patients and passed me on to a third recommendation who was again had no availability. Each of these counselors got back to me within a day to a week, some of them with multiple voicemails back and forth with me before passing me on to the next, and I was so overwhelmed I usually was not able to make another phone call for a day or three. It was three weeks after I started trying to make an appointment before I called the local behavioral health clinic in my insurance network with yet another name who was not taking any new patients, but I could see a male counselor within a week or two. I was hoping my counselor would be a lady and was worried that he would not be able to understand me as well as a woman, but I’m glad I started seeing him and have had no problems talking with him.

Some things I would have done differently with what I know now: call the network behavioral health clinic first and see a readily available counselor. You can always try someone out and if it’s not a good fit, try someone else. I also would not have worried so much about the gender of my counselor, they’re all trained professionals and if it ever came to a point where things were uncomfortable, I could transfer to a female counselor.

Overall, I’ve had a resoundingly positive experience with counseling. Aside from being uncomfortable about people potentially judging me about being a person who goes to counseling, it’s one of the best investments in myself I’ve made and has opened up considerations that may have taken a lot longer to get to, if they would have happened at all without it.

Back to Depression Explorations Index

One day I was getting ready for work and I heard a report on the local radio station that a 26-year-old woman was found in the river near Benham Falls. When they said her name, I hoped there was a different person with my friend’s name, but I went and checked her Facebook page and people were already posting about how much they would miss her and could not believe she was gone.

We were roommates as freshmen in college, and though we hung out a lot during the college years, we fell out of touch after graduating and I hadn’t talked to her for at least a year. I had no idea until I talked to some of our mutual friends that she had been depressed and that it was in fact a suicide. The only thing my mind could make sense of was that she slipped and fell and wasn’t able to swim back out.

One of my friends’ mom came to meet up in town with all of us for the funeral, and afterwards met up with us for the wake in a bar, where she told me one of the most important things I’ve learned as an adult: depression is a chemical thing. She told me that some people most often in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties can experience a chemical switch, when your brain chemistry rapidly shifts and you become depressed very quickly. I’m not sure if that is exactly what happened to my friend or not but it really helped to know that even though it was a pretty horrible reality, that it was explainable in a scientific way. The girl that I knew, who was so vibrant, friendly, caring, intelligent, and so many other things would never have killed herself in her right mind.

After that I started realizing that everyone I had heard of who killed themselves were not in their right minds at the time. Whether it was a housing investor experiencing panic during the collapse of the housing market or someone who had been suffering from long-term depression or another mentally-afflicting condition, none of those people would ever take their lives during the best of times when their minds were unclouded and fully engaged in life.

I’m not sure if it is helpful or not to disclose that I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, as everyone has a different experience with depression, but knowing about the chemical, scientific aspect of it before I knew I was depressed probably helped. I never planned on becoming depressed but I guess you could say that I had formed a plan for if I did, and that was to ask for help, even though I didn’t know how hard that would be until I had to do it. I want to inform people so they also know that if they ever fall into depression that it is something that can be helped and treated. I also want them to know that if their doctor is like mine and doesn’t push them towards all the different things they can change and try and adopt in their daily lives that they’re not limited to waiting for medication to make them feel better.

Back to Depression Explorations Index