Walking Towards Uncertainty

I’m at the point again wherein my mood is way down and the reason is unknown to me. I have my suspicions, but it’s hard to properly discern the culprits as my emotions and thoughts are limited by the medications I’m on. That is, assuming, that the medications are the ones that prevents me from feeling. One reason could be is that I’m, once again, in denial.

 

There is a wall between me and my emotions once again. Be it denial or the medications, I can’t seem to figure out what I’m feeling, aside from being melancholic.

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Trapped Between What Was And What Could Be

I’ve been finding myself retracing my steps from the year prior. It’s an exact step by step retracing of what I did this time last year. I was already in rehab exactly a year ago, fresh out of The Medical City’s Psych Ward. I’ve been, involuntary, mind you, reliving my days there.

 

As I’ve probably stated here once, I’ve been avoiding nostalgia and the general reminiscing of days gone by. I have a tendency to dwell on what was so I’ve started a personal campaign of being in the moment, to focus on what is.

 

I am failing that campaign.

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More Active Imaginations

I’ve been doing Active Imagination on myself. I’ve done four trips into my unconscious, so far. And all were enlightening. The more I do it, the more I learn about the inner workings of my psyche. I do have to exercise caution as there exists the possibility that my psyche would shatter in these journeys. It is unguided, after all. Last thing I’d want to happen is that I’ll be stuck in my thoughts.

 

Here’s what I came up with in those times I did Active Imagination:

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Logical Emotions

I’ve been beholden to my phone for years now. I find myself most times absent-mindedly holding my phone for no reason at all aside from waiting for that next social media fix.

I’d be lying in bed, phone in hand, aimlessly scrolling through trivialities and nonsense and posts that I’d already seen multiple times. I distract myself. That is the objective.

 

I distract myself, oftentimes unconsciously, from the thoughts in my head. These are the same thoughts that I need to face head on. These are the thoughts that must be given my full attention at all times.

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Active Imagination

During my psychologist appointment last week, we delved into my unconscious. I told him of a recurring dream I have:

 

There’s this vast house that I’ve practically memorized already. There’s a wing on the upper floor that fills me with fright. In the dream, every single time I get closer to that wing, I get this sense of fear and dread.

It’s the kind of fear that I get from watching horror movies. Like there’s something evil in that wing.

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MS Word Recovered Document – 11/29/2018

I’m unsure if my change in disposition went unnoticed by the world at large. I barely publicly talk about my mental health anymore. I barely had the same passion as I once had for most things, especially, and most importantly, my mental health advocacy. The same lack of passion extended to my photography and my music.

 

I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped being a fan of art and beauty. And without that love for art and beauty, without my own artistry, I found myself lacking an identity as being an artist – in whatever capacity, be it as a writer, a musician, as a photographer. Being that is all I’ve known of myself. Been one since I was a teenager writing poetry that’s now been lost on the annals of time.

 

I’ve sporadically put it out there to the world that the lack of personal identity has caused me a great amount of confusion and pain. I became a man without steady ground to stand on. I became a man completely hovering aimlessly, directionless.

 

 

It was not for a lack of trying. I tried to be the person I was, I tried to be the person who made me who I am. Early this year, I once again decided to go the music route – the route that I set for myself in 2012, the time I started writing songs. I even invested in the tools that would help me with that. But circumstances discouraged me, again, from finally accomplishing the goal I had. I sold of those tools, as I’m inclined to do once a roadblock manifests on the path.

 

A few months later, I decided to go back to something that once gave me the stability that I’ve often craved for ever since I was a child battling my inner demons. I went back to familiar, safe grounds, one that I excelled at – photography. I can’t, for the life of me, remember why my re-attempt on photography didn’t take. I had a borrowed camera. I invested in new lens. I was, for all intents and purposes, back to form. I was back in my comfort zone.

 

But as I mentioned, it just didn’t take. The emotions I felt when I was in the process of capturing life as it happened weren’t there anymore. It made me feel like a fraud with a camera. It made me feel like I was past my prime, that I didn’t have what it takes anymore. Me being me, mental illness and all, got discouraged and just stopped taking photographs again. I surmised that, perhaps, it just wasn’t for me anymore.

 

Of course, the assumptions I had for the failed resuscitations of what I loved doing were merely justifications as to why I quote-unquote quit. Admittedly, I am easily discouraged. But there was another factor at play – one that involved the pills that were supposed to make me feel better, make me feel living instead of just alive.

 

In the early part of the year, the mood stabilizers I was on, Abdin, was slowly losing its effect on me. It happens as time goes by. There’s really no one pill to cure them all, after all. That factored in with the decisions I had made to drop things that I was inherently passionate about.

 

And so a change of medications were in order. I was on lithium (just like the classic Nirvana song.)

 

The lithium was a godsend. It did what the previous meds I was prescribed wasn’t able to do – it limited my emotions. There was suddenly a wall between me and my emotions. The lithium did was it was intended to do, to stabilize my mood. However, it had initial drawbacks.

 

Not the pills per se, but how I reacted to them. As a depressive, my emotions and feelings are heightened. Amplified. I feel too much, even to less at times. I feel things more than normal people do. Something goes wrong, I consider it the end of the world. It leads me to an abyss of desperation wherein the only way out is to lead my physical body out of the realm of the living.

 

The lithium prevents that from happening. It blocks me from feeling too much so I won’t get overwhelmed by emotions. However, in the early months of being on the pills, I was confused as to what was happening to me. The changes in my mental health was foreign to me, considering that I’ve spent decades living with enhanced emotions. I was so confused that I translated the changes as me losing every bit of me that made me who I was. It was nerve wracking, to say the least. Bouts of insanity became the norm. I was fighting what was happening to me.

 

I wasn’t as passionate as I once was. I stopped becoming a mental health advocate. Is stopped being a photographer. I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped creating the one thing that has saved my life time and time again – music. I felt as though those weren’t in me anymore due to how the lithium nullified my capacity to feel passion.

 

And as a person who’s lived his entire life being a creative (and I don’t mean to use the term as just a buzzword,) I was shattered. I was in hell.

 

And then…days before my thirty fourth birthday, I was gifted with a revelation that I never considered in those hellish months. I received the best gift I’ve ever had in recent memory as it effectively made sense of what seemed excruciatingly senseless.

 

I relayed to a friend the hell I was experiencing with the lithium, how it blocks my emotions, how it was preventing me to feel “normal.” Her response was monumental and enlightening. What she said was that perhaps what the lithium does to me is what makes me normal now. For all intents and purposes, the lithium makes me feel things normally. Normal, in such a way that every normal person – those not afflicted with mental health issues – feel. All this time since I started on the lithium, I was actually feeling emotions the way they’re supposed to be felt by normal people.

 

I’ve lived decades feeling emotions in an intensified way, and in an instant, the emotions are filtered. That’s a mental culture shock, if there ever was one.

 

So now I’m coming to grips with these new processes. I’m adjusting to the massive changes in my mind. And I must say, so far, so good. I’m doing my best not to let the emotions cripple me. There are still relapses, of course, especially in matters of the heart. But I’ll make it out of it.

 

So what can I expect from myself in my thirty fourth year of existence? One, to live more. Two, to finally accomplish the goals I’ve set out with much delayed music. I mean I’ve already accomplished my goals in photography, so it’s time to finish what I started with my music.

 

It’s a new era. Time to do all I can for it. It’s time, once again, to live as much as I can.

Whatever I’ll lose, I can regain.

Going in on yesterday’s therapy, I considered having my doc up my dosage of mood stabilizers. Or, perhaps, try a new anti-depressant. I need the extra mental reinforcement. I need my mental foundation to be stronger. I still consider the foundations I have now to be weak, as it’s been shaky the past months.

 

But as my doctor and I talked, the more I realized that I’m letting my impatience take over. Despite the attacks and episodes, I’m still very much in control of them. I may have resorted to oversleeping lately so the attacks would cease, but that’s part of me taking control. That’s me using whatever I have in my disposal to combat the attacks.

 

Of course, the strategies I’ve concocted recently has its pitfalls, but I’ll reassess the situations I’m in. I’ll reassess the strategies, see what works with my current environment and my current path back to being a full-time photographer. I’ll have to make adjustments again to my lifestyle and how I operate. I’ll make mistakes, I’ll make errors in judgement, but nothing I can’t correct. That’s par for the course in being a depressive on recovery – learning from trial and error.

 

My life since I started treatment has been an experimentation. I was reborn that first time I walked into my psychiatrist’s office. I’ve gained much. I’ve also lost many. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve also unlearned lessons and attitudes that were harmful for me.

 

Maybe my life will forever be like this. Maybe this is a cycle that I’m bound to live with for all my life. That I’ll have clinical depression until the day I’m gone. Maybe it’s more manageable than incurable. But I’m willing to stay the course and fight til life permits me to.

 

What have I got to lose, anyway? My sanity? That’s been decaying and rebuilding itself for decades. My life? I’ve been on multiple lives already, got a lot more of that in the tank. Whatever I’ll lose, I can regain.

Letting Go Of Ghosts

Battle Notes – February 14, 2017

 

As I’m typing this, the time is 9:09pm. Less than three hours until midnight. Less than three hours until I survive another Valentine’s Day.

 

But first, I have to apologize for the four month absence. Life has been, well…life. So many things have happened. Can’t even list them all down at this point. Need to focus on what I need to write.

 

Anyway…

 

This year’s Valentine’s is rougher than last year’s, no doubt. I was losing my shit again earlier. My breathing was compromised. Chest heavy. Felt like I was trapped in a prison I created for myself. But I know it’s my brain’s doing. It’s the depression’s doing. It’s that thing inside my head that was fucking with me again.

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The Seven Day War: A Week Without Medication

The Seven Day War: A Week Without Medication

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.

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A Month Away

Preface

Forgive the desolate tone of this blog post. It’s one of those weeks.

 

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I

Six months to a year. That’s what I was told when I asked how long I was to take the medications. Of course, that was just an optimistic estimate. But I still held on to that. “I’ll be fully recovered in a year,” I thought. “I’ll finally free of the darkness that made a home in my head.” I knew it would take much longer since I’ve had the depression undiagnosed and untreated for almost all my life. Let’s say, thirty one years. That’s thirty one years of darkness versus a year of recovery.

 

A year won’t cut it. Let’s be real, here. I knew that. I knew that it will take more than a year. But it was nice to think that after a year, I’ll be the me I should have been if it wasn’t for the depression.

 

In less than a month, it will have been a year since I started seeing a psychiatrist. It will have been a year since I’ve been taking anti-depressants. What’s changed since then? What’s happened since I first walked into the clinic?

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