I found myself in a very precarious position eight days ago. I had to go off my anti-depressants as I was to take anti-biotics for my cyst removal surgery. I had to go cold turkey as my hand was forced. Sort of. I did allow for it to happen so I had a hand in it. I was afraid. Very afraid. But I did want to see what would happen. I wanted to know if I was capable of surviving a week without medication.
On the days when I forget to take my meds, the stressors get the best of me. I lose my shit. For the first few days when I had to go off meds, everything was okay. “Okay” like I was still medicated. My body as going through physical withdrawals (i.e. dizziness, light headedness, lags) but nothing to be concerned about. I don’t think.
It was the lack of stressors and triggers that made those first few days…good. Sane, even. I was still in control of my thoughts. I did this “thought test” I do when the need to assess my mental situation arises. The test, albeit morbid as fuck, hasn’t failed me yet: I imagine myself holding my revolver with the intention to blow my brains out.
If I manage to pull away from the act itself and think of other things, I’m alright. I’m good. If I finish the said blowing of brains out, I am screwed. Oftentimes I even pull the imaginary trigger repeatedly, emptying the barrel. I’m supposed to be dead in the thought test, but the overflow of emotions is that strong that I’d die repeatedly. That’s when I know that I have no control over the depression.
As I mentioned, things were calm those first few days. And then the stressor. A major one.
I lost it. I did the thought test and I failed. Repeatedly. I was fucking screwed. Control wasn’t mine. Everything spiraled again – my thoughts, my emotions, my fears and anxiety, all the things inside of me that I locked away were all running rampant and destroying every single foundation I had built to strengthen my mental state. Everything in my head was fractured. I was depression’s bitch.
Here’s what made me proud of myself: after hours, hours that seemed like forever, of the dread and anxiety and void and a good two hours of numbness, I managed to pull myself together for one last attack. I collected myself, bloodied and beaten in the battlefield, and fired a shot. The shot hit. I kicked depression back in the ass. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I made my depression my bitch.
I was spent after the battle. I wasn’t in the clear yet. Still in the medbay, but I survived. Licking my wounds, I assessed the situation. I was in the mental state to do so at that point. I wondered what went wrong. I wondered how I SHOULD have handled it. I did handle it well, but not well enough.
Those moments between the first assault – the major trigger – and my victory were critical. My mental health was completely compromised. Shattered, as a matter of fact. My emotions were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I even went back to a state I’d sometimes go when I get too overwhelmed: numbness. I regressed to the point where I shut off my emotions and feelings and thoughts.
I didn’t realize until then that I was “consciously” capable of doing so. I was unaware when it happens before I sought treatment. That time, I caught myself doing it. And to be honest, it felt “good.” The lack of emotions felt good. But I knew. I knew it was the wrong move. I knew that what I was doing was a crime against my recovery. Given what I know now about myself and my mental health – all the things I’ve learned, strategies I’ve developed to cope – regressing to that state of stoicism was counter-productive to the recovery of my mental health. That is a state that’s much much worse than drowning in thoughts of putting an end my life.
But it felt God damned good. The mental resignation from life itself felt God damned good.
Now that I think about it, that state does align with my belief that death is not something that I really want. I just want to voices and the pain and the emotions to stop.
That was just the first episode. The first of four.
The second one was brought on by the anxiousness of celebrating my birthday when I have, in essence, zero funds. I had already thought of celebrating it by doing absolutely nothing since the lack of money was a factor. I’d just stay in my room, watching television, and sleep.
But I felt like I needed to do something that was indeed celebratory. I am to turn thirty two on Friday and, as some of you dear readers might already know, that was the age my mother was when she took her life.
I felt like I had to celebrate it with a bang. Pun not God damned intended. I still feel like I do, really. But given my current financial situation, let’s just say that I’m currently keeping an eye on my mental state. There’s a gig I want to go to on the 24th. Thought of going to start my 32nd year right. 3D: Danao Dancel Dumas at 12 Monkeys. Can’t get any right than that, in my book.
It was seeing that gig announcement that got me anxious again. I managed to keep my shit together before that. I really really want to go, but…I don’t know. I’ve always hated planning my own birthday. Past few birthdays I had, my plan was to just stay in. It was either Caloi or Gladys who did the planning.
Financial responsibility. That’s one of the many things I have yet to learn.
Anyway, I was so stressing over my birthday plans that I felt an episode coming in. I was losing it again. Another battle was taking place, and as with all battles, I never really know if I’ll survive them until I do. Once you’re in the thick of it, you never really think of the outcome. At least that’s based on my experience. All I ever think about is the fight itself, never who wins or who loses.
I did something that I should have done during that first battle I mentioned: I texted my psychiatrist asking if it was okay for me to take anti-anxiety medications while I was on the anti-biotics. And guess what? It was fucking okay to have the two mix in my system.
What I was doing to myself during those two attacks were tantamount to torture. I had assumed that both the anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication were off limits. Couldn’t help at laugh at my idiocy. Laugh and be irritated.
Proceeded to take my Xanax. Even went out for an emergency pizza run. Managed to be alright afterwards. Felt good again. Felt sane again.
But you know what, I am, in fact, glad that the anti-anxiety medication mishap happened. I learned so many things over the course of the battles and their aftermath, as I always do. I have always learned so much more when the attack happens as opposed to when I initiate counter-measures (take my anti-anxiety medication.) I can assess the battle in the aftermath. I become much stronger afterwards. Smarter. As unfortunate as it sounds, the battle does need to be waged. The battle does need to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I still learn from the times I take my anti-anxiety medication. My head’s clear from all the emotional overflow. I have a good handle on things. I can easily solve the issues at hand. But what I do not learn is just how resilient I am. I do not learn to stop taking for granted my fighting spirit. I do not learn just how much I want to live.
It’s a dangerous test, I admit. I am essentially experimenting on myself. The risk of actual death is great, but I believe in myself and my resiliency. As long as that hope I have always clung to all thirty one years of my life is still there, I’ll survive anything. Even death. Even my 32nd year of living.
As for the fourth battle? It happened just last night. The third one is for another blog entry as it’s a story in itself.
I had a trigger last night. I was already a mess because of the withdrawals, and then I got triggered. I was out of my Xanax and going out to the drugstore wasn’t even an option given my then state. I was crippled. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was, once again, losing my shit. A friend helped to keep me stable. Pam. She’s a doll. Always there for me, cheering me on. Helping me however she can. Talking to her last night about even the most mundane of things helped a lot. I eventually tired myself and managed to sleep. Not before turning my phone off, mind you.
Remember that regression I mentioned? The regression to my stoic state? It happened again last night. One second I wanted to claw my hair out because I wanted to rid myself of the confusing thoughts that I was having, and then just blank. Nothing. I felt nothing. I was numb. My humanity switch was off again.
That was actually when I turned my phone off. I didn’t want to talk to anyone anymore because I didn’t feel anything anymore. I was in a state of nothingness.
Looking back, reverting to that dangerous state was avoidable. While I was entrenched in that battle, my training came to mind. I thought about my victory during the third battle. My training kicked in then. It was the simplest of strategies that I often forget when I’m having an attack or an episode: take things one at a time. Quite literally.
Last night, I intended to do the same. I knew what I had to do. One, remove the sheets I was under in. Two, get out of bed. Three, walk over to my bag where my PWD booklet and prescription is at. Four, well, you get the gist. Literally one step a time.
One of the steps I took was to grab a smoke first just to help calm my nerves. I sat on my bed afterwards to reach for my bag. I ended up back in my bed, horizontal under the sheets. And then my humanity switch turned off.
I was so tired to even continue the fight.
As for today? I’m back on my anti-depressants. I was giddy like a schoolboy on a class suspension. I was excited to go back to my temporary normal. My body is still having slight effects of the withdrawal, but my brain functions seem to be alright again. Well, as alright as it can be on an aftermath of a battle. I’m still scarred, bones a little broken, but I’m healing. I’m assessing things again.
I’m just terrified of where my assessment is taking me. Then again, maybe it’s just the depression doing the assessment. Maybe it’s just the moments when I was devoid of humanity that’s evaluating things.
Whoever it is, whatever it is, I’m terrified.