Yet again, I find myself writing for no specific reason other than I find it a little bit cathartic. Maybe it’s a personal self-indulgence, probably very few people care, but I have some thoughts and things to say and diaries are “out” and blogs are “in”.

Well, as anyone struggling with mental illness knows. Scratch that, anyone living in a climate that has drastic seasonal changes know, seasonal changes bring about mood changes. I’m pretty certain this is true for all of us as humans. Those of us with Interesting Brains know that seasonal changes can be especially difficult.

Honestly, this year ain’t too bad (yet/fingers crossed/knock on wood). Then again, I’ve done this for going on more or less 6 years now, so I’m less stupid (term used endearingly) than I’ve been before. I’ve been feeling some “melancholia” as the docs from the 19th/early 20th Century might say. At a certain point, I think/hope that I just know in my gut that things aren’t good in a psychological kind of way, and that I have the power and thankfully the support to be proactive. I’ve tried lots and lots of antidepressants before, and I think the consensus in the past has been that they don’t do much for me. They don’t catapult me into (hypo)mania as is the general worry for people with Bipolar Disorder I/II, but they haven’t really helped. Then again, I was younger and never really kept track of my dosages and length of treatment. But trying to look at my life objectively, I can see that while sometimes these feelings are mere reflections of the stage I’m at in my life, they could also be indicative of a need to switch-it-up, medication-wise.

I’m not suicidal. But… I hate talking about/admitting this… the thoughts creep. I always stand so, so far back from train platforms. Part of me is concerned that with no premeditation, I might just leap in front of an oncoming train (or sometimes, bus). When driving, I contemplate what it might be like to get in to an accident (I’ve been blessed that I’ve never been in a driving accident.) This is so grossly morbid, right?

I’ve learned that these are signs. I know that I should not be having these thoughts. I know talking about them with anyone I care about probably isn’t fair, because I don’t want them to worry. But these are MY personal red flags.

So a few weeks ago I talked to my lovely pdoc about maybe adding in a lil “antidepressant” action. As I’ve written about before, I personally feel like I’m done with the SSRI’s. They don’t work for me. I know they help lots and lots and LOTS of people and I want people to find the best treatment plan for them. They do not work for me. But Wellbutrin is a little bit of a different animal. I’ve also written that I don’t believe so much in the classifications the drug companies and doctors and people give medications.

So a quick Wikipedia told me that Wellbutrin serves as a non-tricyclic antidepressant fundamentally different than SSRIs. I guess I was operating on the assumption that it was an SNRI, but I AIN’T NO DOCTAH/scientist. Anywhoo, specifics aside, I’ve been on it for (*checks calendar*) just over 5 weeks. From what I remember, the effects of an antidepressant isn’t supposed to be evaluated until about 6 weeks from starting, and I’ve been tapering up gradually and will probably still increase.

I guess I should start getting to my point. I think the Wellbutrin might be helping. I’m still having the neggies (maybe that’s my new word for negative thoughts), but something I’m experiencing is changing. I want to take this med, and I have faith in it. I don’t think it’s a placebo effect. LET ME BE HONEST, its reported side effects of weight loss, etc., are super appealing. I haven’t dropped any significant amount of weight, but after my prolonged stint with an atypical antipsychotic (read: Abilify… sorry I’m not sorry to name-call), I’m convinced it contributed to a crazy 30 lb weight gain. So I remain cautiously hopefully with the new concoction.

I haven’t been dancing nearly as much as when I was in school (did I mention I officially earned my BFA? Woo for me?) and haven’t been eating especially well, and I know my weight fluctuates ridiculously for numerous reasons, but a little weight loss would be nice. I’m not going to count on it, but I’ll hope with proper exercise and diet I can get to where I want to be. Abilify, while trying to stave off depression, literally emotionally ruined me over the inexplicable weight gain on a tiny dose. This is one of those things that must be weighed with pros and cons for whomever it is prescribed, but it seemed to do more harm than good for me.

Alright, I set out meaning to make this post about Season Affective Disorder (SAD). Sooooo many people struggle with this. No energy, no motivation, depression. When Daylight Savings hits, it will become worse. Fall back, ugh. All of a sudden, it’s dark in the evening. It’s rough. But for anyone with psychiatric problems, it’s important to recognize changes in mood and be proactive. Goodness, I’m mostly such a hypocrite as I suck at being proactive. But I hope it helps. I’ve gotten a newer, stronger light box and need to work on sleep hygiene (BTW there’s a sweet iPhone app called ‘Sleep Cycle’ that I’ve enjoyed using). SAD doesn’t mean you have to be sad. That’s what I’m hoping! I hope all are enjoying the transition to fall. All being said, I love fall.

Leave comments if you’ve had similar experiences or thoughts on SAD, medication, etc.!

Stay well.

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So, in my evolution of diagnoses and treatments, the question is becoming more and more clear: for whom are the names of mental disorder actually for?

At first blush you’d think obviously they’re for the patients, so they can be treated by the doctors. They take all the disparate little nuggets of crazy and attempt to put them in a box and tie a ribbon and say: “Ok, so what you have is called [insert disorder here]. This is what we do about it.”

But it’s kind of a load of crock, isn’t it? No one is the prototype manic-depressive, or schizophrenic, or anoretic, are they? I want to make clear that I understand why the diagnostic criteria exist (obviously if there weren’t any methodology, err’body would be CRAY-CRAY, amiright?). They do act as sort of a feeling-outness. Yet, they’re also academically rigid. I’m not going to pull out my DSM-IV right now and come up with a concrete example (JK, guys, I don’t have a copy… that’s what the internetz are for…), but off the top of my head: You need “9 of 17” of these symptoms to have ADHD (for example). To be considered afflicted with bipolar 2 disorder, you must have all the symptoms of depression, plus like one episode of hypo-mania (it’s like the cherry on top). See what I’m getting at?

The real question is… do you have symptoms of a mental illness that is impairing your life? That’s where we should start. How does it impair your life? Are you like, hearing voices? Or are you just a little blue? Unfortunately, we assign values on a scale of crazy of all the possible disorders. SchizophreniaWhoaaa, buddy. Psycho. Stay away. AnorexicAw, she just needs to eat a lil’ sumthin. DepressionThe open secret of the psychological world. Lots of people deal with it at some point or another, but “coming out” is a sheepish badge of honor. 

Let’s get real: we’re all mad here. Of course, there is no normal. There is no baseline of how you’re supposed to think, feel or act. So it comes back to whether or not you can function effectively.

I mentioned before that I recently got a diagnosis of ADHD, which I can tuck in my back pocket right along side of the Bipolar Type II and Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnoses. But for real-I don’t live in these three separate boxes. I don’t hop from one state to another. They’re all different names for the same thing. (Isn’t there a Death Cab for Cutie song titled that? Maybe that’s what they were getting at…)

What the names and the criteria and the pills and all of it really means is quite simply: I am mentally ill. Now, maybe that’s even more ambiguous than any of the rest of it, but it’s at least streamlined. Everyone has their own cross to bear in life. Some people unfairly have many, many crosses to bear. But I find it useless (for me, at least) to consider all of these things as different. Maybe this is a personal revelation, and everyone else already knows this.

But it’s my belief that we don’t all know it, or feel it. Let’s think through some more things, shall we? How many meds are prescribed “off-label”? Even legitimate medical websites list “approved” and “off-label” uses for drugs. These are arbitrarily based on scientific studies that will never be 100% certain because the test subjects are humans. This is just more evidence for the fact that we know jack shit about the human brain. Yes, we know more and more and we are lucky to be living in an age where there is so much research and science and therapy. But let’s not fool ourselves. Nobody really knows anything. Pretty much every major psychological drug treatment for mental illness was kinda found on accident. I don’t feel like citing sources here when I’m recalling things I’ve read from memory, so just google about it or read one of my faves (among others) Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families by Francis Mark Modimore. Regardless, I will stand by my feelings that we know so little about what’s actually going on that we give people drugs, observe how they behave, and infer what’s going on physiologically in the brain based on that. It’s an imperfect science.

I’m not complaining. I feel happy to have a drug cocktail that’s worked for me relatively well for a while now. I have a medicine cabinet full of stuff that doesn’t work, or that I use in a ‘crisis’, etc. But my day-to-day hasn’t changed much over the course of the last year. Yet before I found this combination, I literally feel like I’ve been on 74% of the drugs out there for “bipolar/depression/anxiety”. It’s all trial and error, baby. Which sucks when it’s your brain that’s on the line. All we can ever do is keep tweakin’ the combos and crossing our fingers. This is also a reason I avoid discussion boards like the plague. If anything I’ve gleaned from glancing at them it is that drugs work differently on everybody, everybody has their own mix and match scenario, and people like to bitch to other people.

Maybe this is why I like my mom’s euphemism “Interesting Brain“. Because that’s what it is-it’s interesting (and it’s interested in the world around it, but that’s another thing). It’s curious. It also doesn’t like to behave in ways we think it should. It needs a little help being optimized.

This thinking is what helps me get over the sad trombone (womp-womp) chorus of “I’m broken. I’m flawed. This is my fault” and just accept that on the spectrum of differences among humans, this is where I lie. Some people shun medication (people I know, who wax poetic about the evils of 21st century medicine to my face with no clue who they’re talking to ). Stuff like ibuprofen. “It’s not natural,” is an argument. I say: more power to you! If you feel healthy using no medication, go for it! I choose to use psychiatric medication to help me lead a life that I find to be happier and more productive. That’s what it’s about, ain’t it?

So screw the DSM-IV. I’m not BP2/GAD/ADHD. I just am. I have these symptoms, I do these things, and these medications make me feel better so I take them. And when side effects, or symptoms or fanciful whims strike, they change around a little bit. But I’ve accepted their place in my life and am grateful for a wonderful doctor and supportive family and friends. Even if I do get annoyed when they ask if I’ve taken my meds…

While I have some fun updates on my ADHD status and my new venture into a Ritalin perscription, I feel like recent developments trump that conversation and I will hold off until another time to address my very personal experiences in that regard…

So anyway… just about a week ago exactly we found out that the healthcare individual mandate (and, ergo, the crux of the Affordable Care Act) were upheld by the SCOTUS and we will as a country, in fact, have semi-substantial healthcare reform. And okay, as a hardcore liberal I do know that there should be more. But a recent Forbes article (found here: did give me a new perspective and hope that we are at least on the right path towards universal healthcare and that godwilling we might see some sort of manifestation of that in my lifetime. I know progress is a slow shift, and no true liberal is entirely happy… but we all have got to be thankful for something. Yea, that actually kind of sounds terrible-I hate the concept “be thankful for what you have” (caveat: even if it’s sort of shitty)… but how can you manage some semblance of happiness without squelching the cynical voice in your head sometimes?

Anywho, I think in all of my close following of the politics of passing of the bill a couple years ago, there was a final sweeping sense of Damn-They-Did-It once it was passed in Congress (/the Senate). Yet, in the past year things became a little more on edge. It turned into “shit, it might actually go away”. No more so did this feeling bubble up than in the last couple of months leading up to the revelation of the SCOTUS decision.

Obviously, personally, I benefit immensely from this legislation. I know with little doubt that my family is willing (and thankfully, able) to keep me on their insurance plan until the age of 26 if need be. While I hope to get a job with some sort of benefits by then, dance and the arts in general are notorious for not being *able* to offer healthcare. With all of my superfun interesting brain situations, this would no doubt prove prohibitory if not financially devastating were I thrust into the healthcare market on my own. Could I afford my meds that keep me sane, functioning and healthy? … Who knows? And while I truly hold on to the hope that I won’t end up back in the hospital, I have to know that the costs if I were landed in the hospital that the bill for an uninsured 20-something would literally debilitate me. But how (now I can say the words “would I”) have obtained insurance? Mental illness certainly proves to be a “pre-existing condition”. I would have been screwed before I even entered the market. I am truly a benefactor of my time in history.

Sometimes when I start to think about it, everything behind this healthcare law gets me real choked up. How would I have survived? Of course, I still have to consider this question. But….. seriously? I am so thankful that I probably won’t have to find out anytime soon. But I can’t begin to fathom the consequences, and I am painfully cognizant that others before me have not had the luxury of history being so abreast of their side and their plights in this ongoing struggle. I don’t pray but if I did, I would pray for those who have blazed this path before me without health insurance and without a job or a family who could provide it. And I pray for the futures of teens and young adults coming to terms with mental illness who will hopefully feel less of a burden and a panic of covering the costs of their life-saving meds and therapist/shrink/psychiatric appointments. And if anyone wants to fight with me about the use of the term “live-saving”, I will take you on head-to-head.

Sometimes I worry that these posts are becoming less coherent and more diary-like, but it feels more real to me to sit down and just write rather than to think through a whole concept before getting the words out there.

Happy belated Fourth to anyone out there reading this, and happy belated Constitutional Healthcare Day.

First of all, whoa?! Another post already? IKR!

Secondly, I wish I had a more clever title for this post.

So, this whole Zombie Apocalypse is officially A Thing, and it makes me really really really really sad. Like I want to cry and punch the Internet in the balls. When I first heard about the whole thing, and tried to read a news story about it, I had to stop. And I’m the kind of person that finishes a book I don’t really like just because I feel obligated to figure out how it turns out. But trying to read that story made me physically squirm and finally close the browser tab.

Now more and more stories are popping up, and there is a legit meme spreading. I find it sickening, in a whole different way than I am sickened of the events that are being reported on. This cultural phenomenon of morbid humor in the face of real tragedy is a striking barometer of how people view and engage in discussions around serious mental illness. Results are in: people are ignorant assholes.

Look, I am ALL about The Funny. I appreciate crude, rude, and weird humor. I can make jokes about my own struggles (in fact, many people faced with hardships in life find this to be a great coping mechanism-no news there). This is different. This is the total dehumanization of various individuals struggling with homelessness, severe mental illness and/or drug addiction, and complete societal neglect. The individuals who are committing these acts are people. Human beings, driven by who knows what horrors and demons to commit these appalling acts. They need help. And there are thousands and thousands of others who might not make news with the outrageous freakishness of their conditions, but struggle just the same without any safety net and without a mere sliver of compassion from society as a whole.

You have someone in your life who is mentally ill. A family member, friend, neighbor, classmate. No, they are probably not going to try and eat your face. But we can’t go about marking the “socially acceptable” mental illnesses apart from the “OMG FREAK OUT ZOMBIEZ!” cases. It does nothing to further the discourse and challenge the institutions that perpetuate suffering from mental illness. Obviously, I don’t like putting myself under any sort of umbrella with the “zombies” showing up in the news. But to try and distance myself from Those Kind of Crazies would be to discount my own profound privileges and shy away from an opportunity to say that the way we talk about mental illness is not okay.

By the accident of birth, I have a loving family who is financially and emotionally able to support me on my journey to navigate my own Interesting Brain. I am a few quirky neurotransmitters and some thousands of dollars removed from those Psychos In The News, and honestly, that’s not a far leap. I’m not saying that even if I were unmedicated and gone totally off the reservation that I’d eat someone’s brains or do something truly gruesome and violent, but I’m fairly certain I would do something irrational and self-destructive.

There are too many people that suffer from mental illness who are homeless, insurance-less, unmedicated, and potentially dangerous. But with assistance, I would hazard a guess that a majority of them could be productive, or at least functioning, members of society. No, it’s not cheap and it’s sure as hell not easy to rehabilitate someone with severe mental illness-but what are the options? Leave them to die on the streets, potentially commit heinous acts of violence (gun OR zombie-style), or view them as disenfranchised human beings desperate for help? Those are the options. Those of us who are managing mental illness and lucky enough to feel sane some of the time are obligated to drag the larger conversation in the right direction. We know what it’s like to face enormous stigma with even so-called ‘mild’ problems like depression or PTSD. How can we LOL at the OMG ZOMBIES memes without betraying our own humanity?

People are legitimately ‘scared’. I’ve seen plenty of facebook posts, tweets, etc. and people genuinely fear that this phenomenon is an indication of a society headed for demise. You know what f*cking scares me? Rahm Emmanuel and the city of Chicago shutting down mental health clinics in underserved communities. People who fight rabidly against affordable, accessible healthcare. Politicians that wax poetic about 2nd Amendment Rights and blissfully ignore the lax gun laws that allow gun sales to mentally ill people who have no business handling firearms. I’m scared of the day that I become financially responsible for my medications and treatments, because this country and the system are so broken that there is a chance I wouldn’t even qualify for insurance based on this “pre-existing condition.” Hopefully in 5 years you won’t be hearing about me on the news as the girl who couldn’t afford a shrink and wasn’t on her meds who went nuts and jumped in the Buckingham Fountain naked and got arrested. That’s what I’m afraid of. So take your “zombie-apocalypse survival kits” and shove it.

Internet, please stop it with the zombie apocalypse and go back to kittehs and .gifs and “Call Me Maybe” videos. Thank you.

So, I’ve been cray-cray for a while now, y’all. Literally, lots of crazy. And it just so happened a couple months ago(ish) my main shrink (AKA my really great psychiatrist) made a totally nonchalant comment about “ADD tendencies” and I went “whaaaat?” in a .gif -style Michelle Tanner face (if that reference is lost on you, google search the “what should we call me” tumblr… I’m working on getting better at social media but it ain’t happenin’ overnight).

So anyway… in no way, ever, did I *ever* conceive of myself having any sort of ADD/ADHD attributes. But of course… the googling kicks in, and while it is always all too easy to self-diagnose, for me it truly became this big moment where you go “Ahhh!” and a choir pops out and angels sing.

I literally thought, without question, that so many of these “symptoms” were just plain ole’ character traits. And they were character traits I wasn’t happy about-but I never thought to bring them up or address them in the mix of addressing other shit (like, oh-you’re going to jump off/out of a moving car now? situations).

So pretty much what I do is this: I’m pretty smart. I’m not going to toy around about that. But I’ve gotten by on what I can only now call “hyper-focus” which is an “ADHD coping mechanism”. I’m using a lot of quotations because it’s still weird to me, after 4-5 years of this other shit (Bipolar Type II, yea!) to start calling my “behavior” something “else”. Maybe if I “use” enough “parentheses” you’ll get over it.

See, now I’m just letting myself get “all ADHD”?! Ugh! See, part of this is what I think is sort of fun about my personality. I’ve always been quick to jump subject to subject, because my brain just works like that. I’m grateful I have a best friend who can comprehend the logical leaps and will chuckle instead of being all “Umm….”. Okay, so, that’s certainly not all. Since as long as I could remember, I’ve loved writing. But procrastination has been the bane of my existence. Yes, I know tons and tons of high school and college kids procrastinate. But one of the most flag-raising things for me is that-hell, I still got A’s! I would procrastinate, pull an all-nighter, and do fine. And in some ways, yes, this is a self-perpetuating reward system for sub-par work. But when my par is average, who the hell cares? This only has gotten worse as I’ve meandered through college, lucky enough to have professors that will excuse late work, etc. if it’s done well. All that I’ve attributed to The Bipolar. But now, with new insight, everything magically makes more sense. A lot of my self esteem issues comes from weirdly conflated ideas that I’m not Good Enough or Doing Well Enough. And honestly, this has never truly been a problem. From ages 10-13 when I was in junior high, I was obsessively worried about not being Good Enough (so much so that I caused myself a self-injury problem). But, who was putting this pressure on me?

Honestly: No one. From lots of retrospect, if I really examined what I was thinking: I was the only one putting crazy amounts of pressure on myself. And it only got worse. And I got by, because (this is me really trying to make myself sound like less of an asshole…) I just kept telling myself it wasn’t good enough. Ultimately, I think this construction of Good Enough has a lot to do with the (sometimes criticized) idea of Personal Best. I seriously haven’t been doing my “personal best” at any point that I can remember, and I think that’s where the colossal sense of failure sets in that No.One.Gets. Because honestly, I’ve done Fine. I’ve done better than fine! But I know I can do better.

What the hell would have happened if I could have just started those essays a week earlier? Or worked a little harder without going on facebook? Or was better at paying attention to lectures that were speech-based (versus visual)? Would I have done better? Probably. But I was doing more than well enough, so that it really didn’t matter.

And when the other problems set it, that’s when all of this became really irrelevant. Until recently. Until those fateful words by my pdoc. Until I went to the psychologist (neither my normal shrink nor my therapist who is a licensed counsel worker… this lady is in the same practice as my shrink and came well-recommended, though). Then, the first-line battery of questions hit me like a stale PsychMD quiz.

Obviously, I procrastinate.

Well, duh, it’s really difficult to read anything longer than a paragraph unless it’s interesting. Oh, wait-some people don’t have to read it over 5 times to get the content from it… Hmm…?

Oh, my friends just think it’s funny when I’ve had a couple beers and start interrupting them. Oh, you really shouldn’t answer a question before it’s been asked? I thought maybe it was just a sign of being On Top Of It…

Hmm, I know I’m messy, but I hate it. Why can’t I ever keep my clothes folded and my dishes clean? Yes, yes, so many excuses and such a personality defect, but I get so disappointed with my failure to act Like A Grown-Up that it can end up exacerbating depression

What does this all mean? Well… after a litany of questions and a sleepy morning of ‘objective tests’ the psychologist handed down the diagnosis of ADHD. Even she applied a sort of “well… what?” attitude as she told me she’d send the results off the the shrink and let him take care of me (medinically) from there. But it’s more than “well-you’re-done-with-school-what-else-is-there” thing. What if there really IS something there that can help me feel more productive? That can give me the this-is-interesting energy of hyperfocus that I assumed to be the norm? Then I’d get a lot of a hell done! I don’t know what pdoc is going to say, but I know he won’t ignore the report (or ask if I fibbed on some of the questions, like my ex BF did-and yes for the record I called him out on being an ass).

Don’t worry, I’m not in some hypomania-induced state of grandeur-but there is a little part of incredulity in me. What if there is something that can help me Get Shit Done? What if it can help me sleep like a Normal Human Being?

I had a wonderful conversation with my counselor, and while it could be considered ‘unlikely’ to have a co-morbid diagnosis of BPD II, GAD, and ADHD, it’s not out of the realm of impossibility… and MORE IMPORTANT, as I have discovered, is that for anyone with an Intertesting Brain, none of this shit is cut and dry. Diagnoses change over time, treatments change. So it’s not THAT unlikely that some other drug cocktail might make me feel more functional.

I actually find it an indicator of success, and a road to stability, that we can all be more worried about me getting my shit done and on time than worrying about me throwing myself out the window.

Really, though.

More to come!

It’s happened again in my dance career-twice in one school year. Being an understudy has led to dancing a show.

Last semester, roles were “double cast”-a.k.a. one person danced a role one night, another the next night. So you knew the same parts, just didn’t dance them at the same time. A wonderful girl and friend of mine was “double cast” with me, so we rehearsed the same roles together for months. She was coming down with debilitating shin splints, and the night of our second show it was decided she couldn’t perform. We were alternately cast in two roles, and she had another part in one show. On the first night, she did the only pure “solo” of the piece, and her “other” part. The second night, she was cast in the part I did the first night-that included a mini solo within a group section. Upon finding out that she couldn’t perform, I had to take on the role of both the group section as well as the “solo”. They happened to be back-to-back and I had never practiced them like that. I was heartbroken. This girl was/is my friend and I didn’t want her to be in pain. No one wishes pain upon someone they care about. Of course, it was a chance for me to perform more-but still, it was hard. I took it on, and in the end I did okay.

This semester, I had a “rough patch”-or, to be honest, a minor mental breakdown. I took a few days/a week off of school to try and straighten things out. Unfortunately, this was week 3 of 3 with our first guest choreographer, and I had to be cut from the piece due to absence and became an “understudy”. It was difficult-I felt guilty, stressed, and inadequate. The absences seem so trivial in retrospect. But most psychological breakdowns do. The paralyzing anxiety of leaving my bed, my bedroom, my apartment-who but a few can understand that? It’s so utterly irrational. But in the moment, at the time, it’s painfully true. I just… couldn’t. And I hate myself for it. One thing I hate about myself and my chosen (prospective) career path in dance is that I was able to show up to rehearsal this past Monday with 103 degree fever. Why? I’m not sure. Part of it may have had to do with the fact that I had already  missed rehearsals. But part of me knows that physical problems/pains/etc. aren’t such a big deal. I can be there. When I’m not “well” mentally, that’s when I fuck up. It feels so unfair to be so stupid about my future. I ask myself, “why can’t you just pull it together, damnit?”… but that’s the nature of it. I can’t. Not quite yet. I’m getting somewhat better, though. I’m able to ask for help and to acknowledge the problem. But so many times I feel too young to have to deal with it. No one understands, it’s not fair, blah blah blah.

I sat in the audience last night at dress rehearsal and watched this beautiful dance piece and cried for only the second or third time. I was trying to move past it (and I *think* had been fairly successful at being mature and professional about the situation). I had the chance to dance in it, and I blew it. And yet I didn’t “blow it”. If I were logical I would say “I had to take care of my mental health at the time and accepted the consequences that happened because of it.” But who is mature enough to say that? I blew it, and even last night, I acknowledged that part of me would never forgive myself for losing that opportunity.

Then, tonight. The most awful thing. You see, our group performed 3 pieces out of 6. I was cast in 2, an understudy in the 3rd. The two I was in were first (1) and last (6) on the program. When the cast returned to the dressing room after the piece I was not dancing in (3), it was all wrong. She was hurt. She snapped her ankle during a trio. She wasn’t there-she was carried off and taken by her family to the ER. Everyone was in tears or close to it, and the energy brought me there with them. In the piece or not, I was (am) part of this ensemble. It’s horrible. Someone you care about, who you’ve worked along side of for four years… for our capstone performance… to be injured like that. It’s not fair. It sucks. It’s sad and everyone is sad and it sucks. But, seriously, the “show must go on”… So our director takes us into a studio and we reset the last piece to accommodate her absence. The performance is a little off technically, but we were all there performatively. In all likelihood, I will be dancing the other part tomorrow. That’s the point of the understudy, right? I’ve been learning the parts, doing everything I can… but as an understudy, it’s a lose-lose. Either you learn everything, and never perform it… or someone is hurt, and you do have to perform it. I believe you have to be a little coldhearted to want to perform it. It breaks my heart that this girl is so hurt. It’s not fair-she should be dancing. But it doesn’t look like she will be. So I have to do everything I can to make it work. I have to make it right, I have to make it good, I can’t let anyone know it is anything other than it should be. It’s pressure, but at the same time-it’s an obligation. Through my hardships, I was given the privilege to stay on as an understudy. It’s a role no one wants to assume, but I took it as a learning experience. As the show grew closer, I assumed I wouldn’t be needed.  Those first few moments after the injury, I guessed what might happen.

So much is upon me now. I was told I “don’t have to”… if it’s too much stress. But this is what I’m trained for. I do have to. This is my job, like it or not. And I don’t like it. I don’t like anyone to be hurt-let alone someone I care about and admire as a dancer. But “professionally” this is what happens, and I have to treat it as such. I hope I can live up to it. I don’t want to just do “okay”-I want to do it justice. I want to impress.

I have no comprehension of how this person comes out of me. How I can be so weak and insecure and depressed, and in times where it might matter, I know I have to step it up. I have the option to stay back-but why should I? I know so much of this dance, and if I have confidence, I know I can do it. The only thing standing in my way is myself. And that is utterly ridiculous. So I have to do it. There’s truly no other option…

Until tomorrow…

It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve felt like I had anything to say to the world.

Okay, that’s not true. I’ve had plenty to say, just haven’t gotten around to blogging.

Well, let’s jump right in, shall we? I’m just gonna throw this out there… SSRI discontinuation syndrome sucks. I feel like this must be like what people on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew go through. That might be a tad dramatic, but at the same time maybe not. Maybe the physical withdrawal isn’t quite so bad (though for some I’m sure it very well could be), but the psychological/emotional component is just as hard to deal with. Endless questions-is it a good idea to go off this med? What is the cost-benefit analysis of the side effects? Is this med the one that’s helping, or is it one of the others? What if I go off of it and feel like shit? What if I get off of it and feel f’-ing AWESOME!?

A little background: In the never-ending quest to finagle the right medication cocktail, the shrink and I decided this winter that a little SSRI action might get me through those winter blues we all deal with at this latitude. Since I’ve been on almost every class/type of anti-depressant in the book since the tender age of 17, it might as well have been a lottery of what to go with next. Now, I love (in a he’s-a-damn-good-doctor way) and respect my shrink, and I trust that he knows a lot more than I do, so when he decides that Celexa is worth a shot, I figure why not? So I go about doing my thing this winter, no major breakdowns or hospital visits (HIGH FIVE!) Things always get a little rocky once in a while, but I’d like to think I’ve become somewhat less of a dumbass about things. Anyway, spring has begun to sprung or whatever that saying is, and I decided I think I’ve put on a little padding with the Celexa (I’m VERY sensitive to drugs, even at very low doses). So I asked if hey, maybe this could be a good time to taper down. Dr. B doesn’t want me getting all hypo-manic (or worse, mixed-stated) so he thinks it’s a good idea too.

So I cut back a little, then a bit more. Then oh, HAI there, nausea, awkward sweat, and shaking. This is where I feel Dr. Drew might be really helpful, in his handsome gray fox way. I’d like to take this time to clarify that I don’t mean to be an asshole when I compare people going through withdrawal dealing with substance abuse and my issues with prescribed psychoactive medications. There are parallels, and it’s important to note that many people who have psychiatric problems also have substance abuse problems and vice-versa. I just picture Dr. Drew as, like, a magical, calm, detox-tastic force.

Overall, I try to ignore the withdrawal. I’m very weird in that I avoid dance and school when I’m anxious/depressed/emotionally icky… but when I’m physically not at my best, I try to push through. One would think that it might go the other way… but it doesn’t. So anyway, I’ve been feeling weird on and off (not to mention moody and prone to random crying jags). I thought about sitting down about halfway through my second dance class today, but I gave things another shot and ended up feeling pretty darn good at the very end of class. Then I walk to Starbucks, get a little iced tea and sit down. All of a sudden I feel lightheaded and I start thinking about how awkward it would be if I just fell over or something. I figure I’d be better off chilling out at my apartment on my break before rehearsal, so I gather myself to head home. Then, I get nauseous. I hate being nauseous, and I have a very hard time fighting it. So not to get too gross and graphic, but I luckily made it home before I got sick. Now I’m in a rumbly-tummy, post-sick, feeling pathetic and gross state where all I want to do is curl up and watch a Jersey Shore marathon.

But alas, the world doesn’t stop turning for SSRI withdrawal. I have to find a way to get my ass up and make it through rehearsal. But it’s times like this where a person might start to feel very alone. I’m not saying I do, and I already texted a loving friend who has her own issues who kindly suggested Popsicles to make the burning in my throat stop. But this feeling, of physical withdrawal symptoms… It’s gotta be really hard for anyone to relate to who hasn’t gone through it. Not only do us hot messes have to deal with losing control of our moods, but when it comes to the necessary evil of medication, losing control of your body becomes just as much a part of it.

This isn’t the healthiest, but I’m sure I’m not alone when sometimes I wish I’d just have the willpower to snap out of a depression or get a grip when I’m in the throws of an anxiety attack. Rationally, it isn’t that easy and that isn’t how this stuff works, but when the problems live in the corners of your mind, you’d like to think we have a little free will. And we do, to an extent. But the thing about this physical stuff is that I can’t even pretend like I can will power myself out of it. I can use will power to get my ass up and decide that I have to push through, but no amount of will power will make me not throw up my iced tea. In some ways, this is a lesson: physical or mental, you have control only to a point and the way in which you wield that control can only affect how you handle what happens, not what happens itself.

I’m not sure if I’m even putting into words what I’m feeling. I just wanted to get some of this stuff out there. I tappered off and/or went cuckoo and stopped taking Effexor before (which, let me tell you-those brain zaps are NO joke), but since then I don’t think I’ve been on any sort of SSRI for any period of time. Maybe this is why I’ve avoided them? I would make a t-shirt that says I ❤ Lamictal. It’s seriously some great stuff for me. But when it comes to the SSRI’s, we are definitely frenemies. And I think we’re in a fight right now. We won’t be speaking soon.

Bye for now-stay healthy, anonymous Internet!