Monday, January 23, 2012

Thoughts on Anxiety and Medication

Note to my three readers: I'm going to be writing about mental health and anxiety/depression and whatnot. I guess it's kind of personal, but also not so personal that I don't feel comfortable putting it out there in the public domain. I think talking about these things is important, but obviously nobody is obligated to read them.

One other note for myself - sometimes I need to have it reinforced that it is okay to talk about these things. I always have this nagging urge to blame myself for feeling this way, like if I was just a better, more moral, upright, and stronger person, I'd be just fine and able to quit bitching about it. But the fact is that I've had anxiety problems since elementary school - I just realized the other day that those times when my parents would pull me out of my birthday parties because I was hyperventilating and freaking out all over the place? Yeah. Those were panic attacks. I've been having them for years. And it's an enormous step forward for me to be able to not just admit it, but to be responsible for really dealing with it.

Today I did something that I've been considering doing for quite a while, but couldn't because of the whole no-health-insurance thing: I saw a doctor about my anxiety, and I'm going to try medication for it. The college I'm at has a reciprocity program with WSU, so I'm able to use their health services and whatnot, which is neat. (I have lots and lots of thoughts and feelings about WSU, but I'm not going to go into them now. Suffice to say that while I love the reciprocity thing, WSU has always pissed me off, and their brand-spanking-new "Wellness Complex" is absolutely no exception to that rule.) Anyway, I figured that, since today was also the first day of taking the medication, it might be useful for me to do some mood tracking, because in the past I've always had trouble really identifying how I was reacting to medication (at least until things got bad, like with the Lexapro, which was a disaster, no thank you).

My appointment went well, I think. The counselor referred me to a really nice doctor, and she and I chatted for about forty minutes about what my anxiety levels have been like (high. Always high. Never not high, unless I'm really zoned out in a book or something), how I deal with it, whether or not it affects school and work (it had better not affect school; that's a big part of why I was there), and what kinds of medications can help deal with it. I told her that I was on Zoloft in high school for a little while, but that while I couldn't remember having any distinct side effects, it also made me wary because I couldn't remember.

She first recommended Lexapro, because apparently it works well for many people, but after I explained the whole depersonalization/dissociation experience, she said that it'd probably be best to stay far away. We settled on Citalopram, which is the generic form of Celexa, and actually pretty close to Lexapro, though I guess it tends to work more on anxiety than depression. I was still pretty reluctant to go on anything relating to depression (I really don't think I've been depressed in quite a while; I have my low points, but one, that's part of the natural cycle of bipolar II tendencies, and two, that's part of life. Which is fine), but SSRIs are generally what they use to treat anxiety, so I guess that narrows the field a bit. Cost is also an issue, since...well, I still don't have health insurance. For right now, my options are limited to what you can fill for $4-10 at Target.

I took my first 10 mg of Citalopram at noon, and while headaches are listed as a side effect for starting the med, I'm not sure whether or not it's too early for me to feel any. I do have a little bit of a headache, and I'm lightheaded when I stand up, but that could easily be because I haven't really had time to eat anything yet today aside from a really delicious slice of lemon cake from Starbucks, which was my reward for marching my butt down to Target right away and filling that damn prescription.

Run on, sentence, run on.

There are some other side effects listed whose possibilities make me nervous, but that's the risk you take when you go on medication, I guess. I just keep telling myself that it's okay; I'm not obligated to stay on anything I don't want to. If something doesn't work, I can try something else, or I can opt to go without. I've managed so far. It's not comfortable, but I have. Mostly, though, I'm sick of the panic attacks, sick of the social anxiety, and sick of the obsessive tendencies that I really try not to think about (re: my fingernails, etc.). There's just no good reason for being this wound up all day, every day, when you can do something about it.

This entry ended up a lot more scattered than I wanted it to be. There were so many things I wanted to talk about! Which is weird, because this is only my second entry in like, six months.

Edit: I left this entry for a little while, and now that I'm back, I can say for a certainty that I do feel kind of weird. Like, there's sort of a pressure in my head, and I'm a little foggy, but also have a lot of energy? I don't know. Every time the phone rings, it freaks the heck out of me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts on Losing

From the Pursuit of Harpyness blog, which I just discovered:

Born in New England and raised in Nova Scotia, Elizabeth Bishop was one of America’s greatest 20th century poets. She served as Poet Laureate of the US, and won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for poetry.

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

- Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thoughts on School

Well, today I went back to school.

Not in the sense of, "Oh no, I forgot something at school and I must go back." No. I went back to school after two years of doing nothing but working.

And it's weird.

I have an Anatomy class at 8 AM Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with a two-hour Friday lab. My professor seems okay; the impression I got this morning was that he knows exactly how hard this class it, and he would genuinely prefer it if his students succeed. That's always helpful.

In two hours - no, an hour and a half - I have an Algebra class (from 11-12 PM). I've heard that that professor is nice, and also cares about her students. And then on Tuesday nights I have a three-hour computer class. Fun.

I just went to get my books, and though I was convinced that I would have enough financial aid to cover them, they still ended up running $84 over because - get this - these three books are costing me $430. Three books. And yeah, I know that textbooks are expensive, but...I'm buying all of these used. This just shouldn't be. Though I have to admit that complaining about having to pay $84 for books is like complaining that a 9-credit semester is costing me $90: it's ridiculous. I'm very grateful that my financial aid is so generous this semester. I may end up applying for a very small loan, but that will be to help make up for the work that I'm not going to be able to do because I'm, you know, studying and not able to cover for people at the bank.

I'm sitting in the cafeteria smelling the (probably awful) coffee coming from the...ah, "Cobblestone Market", and wondering if it would be worth it to put a cup of coffee on my credit card. Probably not, but the jury's still out. I'm very sleepy, and I'd rather not get a caffeine headache on top of it. If I do go get coffee, though, I'm going to have to lug about sixty pounds of books through the line.

So yeah. That's that. Here I am, living the dream, getting my degree, and somehow, at least for this semester, not putting myself further in debt. Unless you count the interest that my previous loans will accumulate while they're on deferment, of course. If I sound somewhat less than thrilled right now, don't worry about it. It's just early, and the cost of those books really took me by surprise.

One last thing: a few days ago, I submitted a piece to the fantastic Six Sentences blog. Well, today it was published! I know it's just a small thing, but it's super exciting to have anything published, so I'm pretty thrilled.

Heather, if you read this, the piece is (quite obviously) about our experience at the Assembly of God. Also, want to hear something freaky? I had to go to my mom's new church to pick up Sarah last weekend, and guess who attends? Joanna's sister. She said hi to me and I was all like, um, do I know you? BUT I DID KNOW HER. So. Yeah.