Side Effects….again.

I’m happy to say, for the most part, I’m doing well; but I’m having a heck of a time with side effects from one of my medications.

Normally I don’t mention the names of medications I’m having troubles with, but feel this would get confusing if I don’t use their names this time.  Please remember that medication side effects hit different people differently.  Some will have no side effects, others will be allergic.  Be smart about your medications.  Keep up with your side effects and discuss them with your doctor.

I’ll start from the beginning of this tale.

Last year my psychiatrist put me on Latuda for Bipolar Depression and it worked very well.  I was very impressed.  However, in January when I had to pay over $1000 every month for Latuda until my deductible with my insurance was met.  I decided to try a new medication.

Enter Geodon.  My psychiatrist had seen similar results from Geodon as with Latuda, so we decided to give it a try.  It didn’t help my moods as much, but I wasn’t on a high dose.  Then the muscle spasms started.  My back started hurting so much.  I could not get comfortable.  This can be a side effect of Geodon.  At this point I had met my deductible so I went back on Latuda.  I was sure all would be fine then, but it wasn’t.

It took me a while to understand what was happening to me.  I simply could not sit still.  It got worse, not only could I not sit still, I felt the need to pace.  I would pace the house.  I would exercise throughout the day.  I just had to keep moving.  It was driving me crazy.  I had a lot going on this past month so it was difficult for me to figure out it was Latuda causing my problems.  I just never suspected it, I didn’t have side effects when I was on it before, but evidently when you go back on a medication it can produce new side effects.  Finally I decided to look up the side effects for every medication I am on.  I wasn’t even going to check Latuda because I had no side effects before, but I decided to look them up.  One of the first side effects listed that you need to discuss with your doctor is restlessness.  I hate it was my beloved Latuda, but glad we figured it out.  I really have been going crazy.  Having to move all the time is overwhelming.

I told my psychiatrist how I was so restless and how it gets worse within 30 minutes of taking Latuda.  She said, “shit”.  She’s a really cool doctor, she was just saying what I was feeling.  Aw Shit!  Now what?  We decided to add a drug (Cogentin) that will help with the side effects instead of taking away the Latuda at this point.  Latuda has helped my depression so much, I hate risking my mental health by changing antidepressants, but I also hate taking a medication to stop the side effects of another drug.  Not a good place to be in right now.  I’ve decided to try the Cogentin for a while.  I may decide to change antidepressants in the future.  If the Cogentin doesn’t work, I’ll be going off of the Latuda if I want to or not.

I started the Cogentin yesterday and I have to say, I feel much more calm.  I’m a little antsy, but I’m not pacing.  I can sit still for a bit at least.  I hope it keeps on working and works even better.

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photo by w. holcombe

I had to drastically cut down on my knitting because my back was hurting pretty bad.  Today I’m able to knit more.  That’s a huge improvement.

I’ll close today with a short list of things I’m grateful for right now…..

I’m so grateful that most everything with my health is doing well.  I haven’t had a flare in quite some time, even though I pushed myself too hard recently.  I’m grateful that I have such a great psychiatrist, who listens and is willing to help me find the best solution.  I’m grateful that is seems the Cogentin is working.  I’m grateful I have friends I can reach out to when I’m not feeling my best and they “get it”.  I’m grateful for my blogging family.  I’m grateful I can knit again!

and….I’m grateful for you.

Mindfulness Monday – Meditation

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“The thing about meditation is:
You become more and more you.”

~ David Lynch

 

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw
ourselves away and become something better.
It’s about befriending who we are already.”

~ Pema Chodron

 

“Meditation is the breath of your soul.
Just a breathing is the life of the body,
meditation is the life of the soul.”

~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

 

*all artwork on Picnic with Ants created by W. Holcombe, unless otherwise noted.  Please do not use without permission of the artist.

Better. Functional Medicine and a Visit from a Friend.

On April the 18th I saw a Functional Medicine practitioner.  It was interesting.

She asked me a lot of questions, a thorough medical history, a short exam….it was a long visit.  But tell me, why do providers send you the information to fill out before you get there if they aren’t going to look at it until you are sitting in the office.  I feel like that’s a waste of time.  Me just sitting there while they read the information they’ve had for days.  Of course, I don’t feel they should do a lot of work when I’m not there, they don’t get paid extra, but being prepared would be nicet.

We talked quite a while.  She thinks I have an autoimmune disease, just like other doctors do, they think they just don’t have a test for it.  I don’t really see what difference it makes to know if I have an autoimmune disease or not.  There isn’t a one stop treatment for those diseases.  Mostly I see doctors giving those with autoimmune steroids.  Something I can’t take.

She wants me to get some blood tests done.  One for allergies, one for genetics, and one for….oh golly, I don’t remember what the other one was for.  My insurance doesn’t pay for any of this.  It’s expensive.  I haven’t gotten them done yet.  I was waiting on my insurance to see if they pay for anything, and now I’m waiting on my ride.  It’s a little difficult when you depend on someone else to drive you places, and that person works full time.  Stuart doesn’t mind taking me, but his time is limited.  We’ll get there.

We talked about my migraines, she is hoping to find a trigger with the tests.  She suggested Magnesium Threonate (see the image above, I got mine from Amazon)and turmeric for the pain.  I started them within a couple of days and boy has it made a difference.  I’ve had days without migraines.  That’s HUGE!  I have that base line headache all the time, it’s been there most of my life, but the migraine on top of that has left me for a few days at a time.  I’m shocked at how much this has helped me.  Shocked!  Why hadn’t my migraine specialists suggested this in the past.  It really bothers me that I may have been helped years ago, if only someone would have suggested the right form of magnesium.  Heck, I never had a doctor suggest magnesium at all.  I started taking it because I read about it.  But I didn’t know there were different kinds and I couldn’t tolerate the kind I was taking.  I’m just so grateful for the relief.

I’ll go back to the functional medicine practitioner after I get the blood tests done.

me and kym

This week a very good friend of mine came for a visit.  It was so nice to see her.  She lives on the opposite side of the country from me, our visits are rare, and precious.  It was so nice to have a real friend come and spend time with us.

Kym and I went shopping.  I went out without Stuart for the first time in over 5 years.  It was liberating, but it was also a little scary.  However, Kym is one of the most level headed people I know and I knew she would not freak out if something happened.  She did something so right.  At one point I felt I needed to go home and I said so, she just said, “Okay, let’s go.”  She didn’t freak out and ask me countless times if I was okay.  She trusted me to tell her if things were getting  bad.  I admit though that I may have pushed it further but I was a little scared and tired.  It was a very good shopping trip.  No I didn’t go crazy with the spending, but I did find a couple of cute things that fit.  (I’ve lost a lot of weight recently, so I need clothes that actually fit me now.  Kym is a good person to shop with.

Vertigo has been kind to me recently.  I’ve had very little spinning, and when I do it is just a slight spin, nothing to worry about.  I did fall last week, and hurt my back a little, but really it’s nothing to be concerned about.  If things go as well as they have been I won’t have anything to write about.  LOL

Mindfulness Monday – Pain

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“Radical acceptance means feeling sorrow and pain
without resisting.
It means feeling desire or dislike
without judging ourselves
or being driven to act on it.”

~Tara Brach

“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior.
You are beneath the thinker.
You are the mental noise.
You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness Monday – Buddha

buddha

“The way is not the sky.
The way is in the heart.”

~Buddha

 

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

~Buddha

 

“Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

~Buddha

 

*all artwork on Picnic with Ants created by Wendy Holcombe, unless otherwise noted.  Please do not use without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – Loss

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“Everything that has a beginning, has an ending.
Make your peace with all that and all will be well.”

~ Buddha

“Compassion invites us to open our heart
to everyone who experiences
joy and loss,
pleasure and pain,
hope and despair.
This includes ourselves.

~Heather Strong, Mindfulness and Grief

 

*all artwork and photos on Picnic with Ants created by W. Holcombe, unless otherwise noted.

When an abuser dies

dead flower

**This post may be a trigger for those who suffered physical abuse or molestation.

On January 4th I got a text telling me he was dead.  My first thought was “good”.  Then I got hit with a wave of guilt.  How could I feel good that a person died?  I felt like a bad person.  We aren’t supposed to talk ill of the dead, but when the dead did some horrible things I think it’s time to talk about it.

It’s not like I didn’t tell before now.  The first person I told said I was lying and stopped speaking to me.  To this day she will barely acknowledge me.  We were very close, it still hurts.  I told my mother years later, she believed me, but I asked her not to do anything about it because it would have ruined her relationship with her sister.  You see, my abuser wasn’t alone, his wife was with him.  His wife is my cousin.  My sister listened when I told her, said she was sorry, but she is still very close to my cousin.  It hurts me terribly.

I felt very guilty about this the abuse.  I was a teenager, I felt like I should have been able to stop it.  To not feel like I just wanted them to love me.  I was a very confused teen.  I was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It was easy to confuse me.  I was a teenager.  These people were grown-ups, they broke the law when they molested me, even if it seemed to be consensual.  There is a reason we have those laws.

After the initial abuse he would grab and fondle me when people weren’t around.  I tried to stop this.  It was very hard.  I was so confused.  This was someone who was supposed to protect me, yet this is how I was seen; as a sexual object.  I lived with my cousin and her husband.  It was not a good thing.  I was never comfortable.  They threw me out of the house because I cut school.  I was a straight A student, I cut school, it didn’t affect my grades, but that wasn’t enough for them.  I was told to get out.  I don’t feel the punishment fit the crime.  I had less than 2 months until I graduated from High School, and I had no where to go.  (It’s a long story as to why I was living with them.)  I turned to a friend and lived with her family until I graduated.  This house was so much different.  I felt safe.

It is hard to tell this story without going into too much detail.  I don’t think that is necessary.  I want to tell you all that if you were abused it is not your fault.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  If you have been grabbed or fondled, you have been abused.  If you have had sex without your consent, you have been abused. If you were too young to consent, you have been abused. They call it harassment or rape when you get older.  It’s all wrong.  No matter what you do, what you wear, how you act…it’s wrong to treat you as a sexual object.  It’s wrong.  You should never feel like you did anything wrong.  I carried that guilt and shame for a long time.

Now, I feel a tiny bit of release.  He’s dead.  And I feel good about it.  Does that make me a bad person?  No, it makes me human.

Does the pain and confusion go away when an abuser dies.  No.  Maybe that’s because nothing is really settled.  For me, I still have people who don’t believe me.  I don’t feel like either of them paid for what they did to me.  They kept the same people close to them.  He continued to have sexual relations with many women.  (I don’t know that he abused anyone else who was under age.)  She is still part of a close knit family.  I’m the odd man out.  Everyone ignores the girl who told.

How to cope with the feeling that arise when an abuser dies.  (from Athena Moberg and Bobbi Parish of The #NoMoreShame Project)

  • Remember that nothing you feel is wrong. Emotions are never right or wrong. Nor does feeling them make you good or bad.
  • Don’t try to suppress or fight any emotions that may arise. Resisting our feelings often forces them to return even stronger and more demanding of our attention.
  • Don’t be surprised by any emotion that comes up, even if it surprises you that you feel that way. Sometimes our emotions are letting us know we have unacknowledged issues to process. Keep in mind that emotions we experience following our abuser’s death can often be conflicting.
  • Don’t focus on sorting out which one is right or wrong. Just acknowledge them, feel them and use them to process whatever information you need to.
  • Attend your abuser’s funeral only if you feel it would be beneficial to you. Family members may try to pressure you to attend the funeral, if only to keep up appearances that “everything is fine”. If you do choose to attend any services it might help to take a safe, supportive person with you.
  • Be prepared to grieve the loss of things you always wanted from your abuser. Perhaps you wanted an apology. Or you wanted to confront them and have them accept responsibility for what they did. Maybe you wanted them to finally become the parent/ sibling/etc. that you needed. Giving up those hopes is a loss that you may need to grieve.
  • Seek help if the emotions brought up by your abuser’s death feel overwhelming or insurmountable on your own. A support group, therapist, grief counselor or Trauma Recovery Coach. Even if you felt that you had already “finished your work” the death of your abuser is such a significant event that it might necessitate some additional help. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost ground in your recovery. It just means that some new ground has been uncovered.

To read other stories about how people deal with the death of an abuser see the links below: