I feel like crying And I don’t know why There’s a sadness inside me That just won’t die.
I wrote that almost 20 years ago, when I was fifteen. I don’t remember exactly what prompted it, just the words pouring out. Even then, I knew that there was something inside me that wasn’t right.
Even all these years later, I think of these words. I’ve never come up with a better way to explain how I feel on days like this. I might be having a good day. I’ve laughed at jokes and stuff on TV. But I feel like I could burst into tears at any given moment and there is absolutely no reason why.
It’s been going on for about a week now. A few tears slipped while I was cleaning my closet this morning. I don’t know why those ones fell and others don’t. I cried during Avengers: Endgame, but who didn’t? (Only a monster wouldn’t cry. *glares at nephew*)
It can be frustrating, but I’m mostly just annoyed. Because there’s nothing to do this time, just wait and try to be patient.
I won’t let this undefinable sad cloud stop me from my life. I’ll put together my IKEA shelves for my desk and keep planning my trip to Ontario this fall. I still want to clean my apartment and go to Free Comic Book Day this weekend.
But I’m tired. Physically and mentally. Sometimes I push myself, like this morning, other times I let myself curl up under a blanket and play on my phone (like this afternoon).
Hopefully it will pass soon.
Until then, I’ll keep hearing those words from so long ago repeating in my head. Reminding me that while the sadness doesn’t die, it does go to sleep.
A very long time ago, I shared photos on Instagram and Twitter of what I’ve heard some call a “Story Bible”. To my surprise people were interested and some (*couchShawnacough*) have been bugging me to write a blog post about how I did it. In typical Me fashion, I took photos for the entry and promptly forgot all about it.
Today, the procrastination ends and I will share my brilliant*, not-so-secret genius** ideas on how to create your very on Story Bible.
** hopefully useful
STEP ONE: Table of Contents
Endless reading about Bullet Journals on Pinterest taught me how to make a table of contents in a notebook. You can either buy one with numbered pages or like me, spend some time in front of the TV numbering the pages yourself.
The items in your table of contents depend on what you want in your Story Bible. I was looking to consolidate a lot of scattered information on my characters, their families, and an easy place to see what I’d already written.
As you add these sections in your notebook, write down what they are and on what pages you can find the information. The beauty of the table of contents is that if you need to add information in a different part of the notebook later because you ran out of room, you can jot that page number down here instead of ruffling through the pages while muttering unkind things under your breath. (Not that I have ever done such a thing.)
STEP TWO: Characters
I chose to make three categories of Characters: Main, Secondary, and Minor. Main Characters get a few pages, secondary ones get a page each, and minor characters a few sentences.
What you put in your character section is up to you. I chose to start with age, date of birth, and hair/eye color. These are the most common things I forget when writing a story. With any luck, I’ll stop changing eye color mid-story.
You can use a character profile from the internet if that’s something you use. Mine will likely be a list of facts and personality traits, major life events, etc.
STEP THREE: A Family Tree
Depending on your novel, this may or may not be something you need. In my novel, the majority of my characters come from one large family. Because it is the first in a series, I’ve also included ages to make things easier. (I have multiple versions of this family tree for different stories. Having one master copy with the original character set makes figuring out later ages much simpler.)
STEP FOUR: Timeline
With a large family, as well as an extensive backstory, figuring out the exact order of events has really helped. I don’t want to slip up on something stupid, like mentioning a character that wasn’t born yet being at an event.
You might want to use this space as a basic timeline for events in your novel. Or you might want to skip this section altogether. Use whatever works for your novel.
STEP FIVE: Outline
This was the section that originally sparked the idea for my Story Bible. I had a loose outline of scenes I wanted to write in my original notebook, but it often just mentioned dialogue ideas and sometimes the scenes ended up completely different from what I’d planned.
The outline section in my notebook is going to be filled out as I reread my novel and prepare for rewrites. Here I plan to write down a short summary of each scene, whose POV it’s in, and it’s purpose.
I haven’t finished filling out all the sections in my Story Bible yet, but I’m looking forward to having all my information in one central place.
I hope this entry was everything you were hoping for and that it helps someone in some way. If there was anything I didn’t address that you wanted to know, put it in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond.
Have you ever built a Book Bible? Does it sound like something you would like or just another way to avoid writing? I’d love to hear how other people keep their novel information organized.
There was a time when I wrote fanfiction every single day. I sat at my clunky old Windows 95 computer and typed away for hours.
In those early days, I didn’t have access to the internet in my home. Unlike now, when I am writing this on my phone (and could publish this entry on it as well), I would put my new chapters on a disk and bring that to my sister’s house where I could update my website. My website was hosted for a time on Angelfire (I feel so old) and Geocities, but eventually had its own home at pink-moonlight.net . (Yes, if you really want to see my beginner attempts at web design there are examples saved at archive.org. Go ahead, I’m only mildly humiliated. 😍)
I had originally set up my website for my original fiction. I posted a few short stories and the first chapters of a few longer works. It’s kind of like the old saying, “if a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I have no idea, because no one read that stuff.
But I had discovered Hanson Fiction with a friend earlier that year and the people who wrote those had hundreds of readers. I decided to give it a try and the next thing I knew, I was getting dozens of messages from people who wanted to read more. I was hooked. I had fun writing and people actually wanted to read what I wrote!
I eventually moved on to other subjects, mostly focusing on the show Gilmore Girls, which played a very important part in my life at the time (subject of a future blog post). That was where I really blossomed, writing more than I ever had before. In the world of GG fanfic, I wasn’t a superstar or anything, but people knew who I was. For a socially anxious girl in her late teens/early 20s, that was pretty heady stuff.
I learned a lot during those years. My friend Leigh proofread some of my stuff and yelled at me about tenses. (I will never forget to check my tenses that thanks to her.) I learned how to keep readers interested, how to put enough suspense in a serial novel to keep them coming back week after week. It taught me how to play to my audience, how to make my readers believe the unbelievable.
During the Depression Years, I slowly stopped updating my fanfiction, although I never intended to. Those were the years I barely wrote at all.
When I started writing again, the first thing I wrote was a piece of NCIS fanfiction. I had been binge watching the entire series from the beginning and a story began forming in my head that I just couldn’t shake. Finally I opened up Scrivener and began to type.
I wrote about 65,000 words before I got distracted by another NCIS idea and began writing that. I began building fans in a new fandom. I participated in a challenge where I wrote a story for another writer based on their prompt, even though the deadline nearly killed me (deadlines and I don’t get along).
It’s been several years since I posted that first story. I still get emails about once a month from someone expressing interest in it. Because of that, a year ago I wrote 40,000 more words on that story, to finish up a major plot line. (Now if I can just motivate myself to edit and post them…).
These days I mostly work on my original novels. I read much more fanfic than I write. It’s a great way to relax before falling asleep and there are some truly talented people out there, writing stories for free, for no other reason than their own enjoyment and others. And many have used fanfiction as a stepping stone to careers in writing (and no I’m not talking about E.L. James).
I don’t think most people who haven’t been involved in the fanfiction/fandom world really understand what an important part it can play in a young (or old, there are lots of 30, 40+ writers out there) writer’s life. For me personally, I gained a self confidence in my writing that I hadn’t had before. I learned how to deal with people who disliked my writing. I made lifelong friends who cheer me on to this day.
Writing fanfiction may just have saved my life.
Have you ever written/read fanfiction? If so, for what fandom? Do you know anyone who has? Did reading this change your mind about any preconceived notions about fanfiction? Inquiring minds (ME!) want to know.
Last night, people started posting pictures of an ice skater I like with this girl who is supposedly his former skating partner and girlfriend. Naturally, everyone was having a giant hissy fit and freaking out. Completely overreacting considering it was just a picture and no one knows a thing.
I wasn’t upset. I really wasn’t. I was more concerned that other people were that upset. I found myself reading all over Twitter instead of just quickly checking my favorite hashtags like I’d planned. People were melodramatically announcing they were going into seclusion and never watching them skate again, crazy stuff like that.
So naturally, my anxiety decided that I must feel so much more upset than I do.
Last day of Nanowrimo, Anxiety whispers.
You’ve been feeling really good.
I told you something would happen to ruin it.
You’ll never make it through tomorrow.
See how awake you feel right now? That’s because you’re really upset.
You won’t sleep.
It’s really late. Why aren’t you sleeping?
See, you’re super upset about this.
Everyone’s going to laugh at you because you’re upset.
Just wait until people find out you let a random famous person dating a person you don’t want them to send you spiraling into a mental health crisis.
You’re never going to write all those words tomorrow.
And then when I woke up in the night for a few minutes:
See, you’re so upset you can’t even sleep through the night.
You’ll never fall back asleep.
You’re going to feel terrible in the morning.
You’re so stupid for liking these people so much.
You’ll never enjoy figure skating again.
And again when I woke up this morning:
Don’t feel good, do you? That’s anxiety. Remember anxiety, you hate it. You’re going to feel like that forever now. Or at least so long that it will mess up your life. Everyone’s going to think you’re stupid.
And you will never finish your novel for Nanowrimo. It’s all ruined. The fun is over. You’re a failure and you always wuss out.
I know all these things are a lie. I know it’s just Anxiety messing with my brain. I know it’s my own head spiraling and turning one tiny thing into a huge thing inside of my brain.
This morning I woke up with tingling and cold arms. Which tells me something else that Anxiety doesn’t want me to know: this is merely a poorly timed set of withdrawel symptoms. I lowered my dose last weekend. I was due a day or two of feeling crappy and/or anxious. It has nothing to do with my self worth or how much of a life I have.
It’s just Anxiety on a power trip, poking it’s ugly little head up when it spots a weakness, a crack in the wall I’m building.
But you can’t fool me, Anxiety. You can say all those things, you can make me feel sick and shaky and horrible, but I know you’re wrong. I am not a terrible person. I don’t choose to feel like this.
And I am going to write the hell out of today. When I see the numbers read 50,000 words I am going to remind you just how wrong you were.
Take that, Anxiety.
This was written first thing in the morning on November 30th. I never intended to post it, I just wanted to get some words out of my head so I could get back to my novel. I came across it when re-reading my Nanowrimo novel and was surprised by how coherent and strong my words were.
How could I not share this with the world?
Normally, I would have given myself a day off. But this was the very last day of Nanowrimo and I’d worked SO HARD. I wrote almost 25,000 words in the last three days. I think I had 8,000 I needed for the final day.
I did it. I fought though Anxiety and reached my goal.
I started keeping a mood chart in the back of my planner three years ago and I love being able to look back at the entire year and see many good (and bad) days I’ve had. Anyway, this year orange is the color for an anxious day and February was completely devoid of orange. Instead it was filled with turquoise (for a ‘meh’ day) and blue (a happy day!).
I’ve been feeling disturbingly good mental health-wise the past few months. Disturbing because some days it just feels weird and suspicious. Unnatural even.
For the first time in, probably a decade, I feel like I’ve really got my life on track. I can finally focus on my physical health more. For so long I had to put my mental health at the front of the line because if I didn’t have good mental health, my physical health didn’t really matter. But now I’m at a point where I can focus on eating more nourishing foods and getting more movement.
I’m having fun.
It’s always scary when I start to feel this way because I know it won’t last. I could wake up tomorrow and have a bad day. I could have a series of Bad Days. With Anxiety and Depression there is just no way to know.
Over the years, I’ve developed a routine of sorts. When those Bad Days come (and they will), I know what to do. And that makes them just a little less terrible. For me, I know nothing but time will make that terrible feeling go away. I just have to survive each day at a time until it runs it’s course. Having a routine makes those days a little less scary and reminds me that it will end, just like it did the last time it happened.
Here is how I cope on the days when I wake up and know instantly that things are not all right:
I use television as a coping mechanism a lot of the time. I find the background noise comforting while I do other things. When I am anxious, the distraction becomes even more important.
I have two main shows that I use on Very Bad days: Psych and Castle. Both are light hearted shows that always make me smile, even when I don’t want to. They are well written (at least the early seasons) and the characters are like good friends that keep me company when I’m sad.
On days that are a little less bad, I have others I add into the mix: The Mentalist, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Elementary. You’ll notice these are all police procedurals. I find the predictable format reassuring and they all have clever and quirky characters that keep things from getting too serious. (I love Criminal Minds, but that one has to wait until I’m much more emotionally sound!)
When I’m a little anxious, I might eat a pint of Ben n Jerry’s to cheer myself up. But when I’m a lot anxious, I’m too nauseated and sick to eat. However, I also know that if I don’t keep something in my stomach I will only get sicker feeling as my blood sugar gets low.
So what do you grab when you’re nauseous? Ginger Ale and crackers. Sipping Ginger Ale (Canada Dry being my preferred brand) and nibbling on crackers doesn’t make me feel more sick and it keeps me from feeling worse because of not eating anything. There have been weeks where I drank nothing but Ginger Ale because it was a simple comfort to cling to and remind myself that things were going to be okay.
I even have a specific type of cracker for the occasion. My current ones are Tollhouse Foccacia crackers in Rosemary and Olive oil flavor. I buy them in bulk and always have a box on hand. Over time, I’ve come to associate these crackers with the comfort they provide. Not to mention they are delicious.
This can be a tricky one. I need something complex enough to keep my brain engaged but also fairly simple. (TV isn’t enough, I need something to do with my hands.) Bad Days bring brain fog, which makes it hard to focus or concentrate, which is why reading doesn’t make the cut. I also shake, especially my hands, and find that I’m more clumsy and prone to dropping things.
Very basic knitting projects have made the list. One year I joked that you could tell the status of my mental health by how many dishcloths I had knitted. (I made a lot that year) The kind of project I usually find tedious and boring is all I can manage on Bad Days.
One year when a medication change left me really messed up for a couple months, I sorted buttons. My mom who is a professional seamstress, has always had huge jars of loose buttons. As a kid I remember playing with them. That year, I spent the better part of those two months sorting buttons by color and type, stringing like ones together on pieces of yarn. Was it a useful project? Eh, that’s debatable. But the act of sorting and organizing was a simple job that kept my mind occupied.
More recently I’ve added puzzles to the mix. I buy mostly 500 piece puzzles from the dollar store (and thrift shops too) that are small enough to assemble in the top of a copier box. That way I can sit on the couch while I do the puzzles. I buy colorful ones and sort the various colors into special puzzle sorting containers before I begin assembling the pieces. (Any small plastic container work just as well. I used them until I decided to treat myself to the “fancy” version.) For me, the sorting is just as enjoyable as actually putting the puzzle together.
Phone apps cycle in and out of this routine as well. I don’t like anything timed, nothing stressful. Solitaire is always a favorite. (I did grow up in the 90’s with a bulky desktop that only had solitaire and minesweeper on it after all.) Other puzzle games cycle in and out depending on the day.
Those are the three things that I primarily use as coping mechanisms on Bad Days. I’m sure other’s look different, especially people who don’t have the ability to stay home as much as possible when those terrible days come. In many ways I know I’m very blessed, although staying at home has it’s own disadvantages.
What do you do on those days that nothing is going to make the darkness better? How do you power through to the other side? I’d love to hear from each and every one of you.
I know some of you are thinking, “And?”. Completely understandable. You have to know the background to realize what a huge thing this was for me.
I am possibly the least athletic person in the world, and no that is not an exaggeration. The last time I’d gone ice skating was in my teens (many MANY moons ago) and all I remember is gripping the boards so tightly that my white gloves turned pink from the red paint.
In 2018 I started to get interested in watching Ice Dance. In November I actually took a trip to New Brunswick, Canada to attend the Thank You Canada tour where I got to see a bunch of amazing Olympian skaters including Elvis Stojko and three time Olympic Gold Medalist Ice Dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
Somewhere along the line, I thought it might be fun to try ice skating myself. You see, the danger of watching Ice Dancing is that they make it look so easy you delude yourself into thinking you can do it yourself. (Spoiler alert: You cant.) I discovered a few instagram accounts of skaters who began in their mid to late twenties and started thinking my thirty something body might actually be able to do it.
But nothing is that simple when you have an anxiety disorder.
Learn to Skate lessons would be nice, but before I invest I want to make sure I actually like skating. That it isn’t like how I wanted to garden and homestead and planned how I was going to do it for years and when I finally had the chance to try it turns out I hate gardening.
Due to the fact that the weather can’t decide what it wants this year (snow one day, in the fifties the next) the pond next door hasn’t frozen over (my first choice) so figuring all this out requires going to an actual ice rink.
In front of PEOPLE.
Those of you with social anxiety see my problem.
Due to my lack of athleticism, I have a lot of insecurities about my abilities (or lack thereof) when it comes to anything active. My brain began swirling with horror stories. What if my ankles couldn’t support me? What if I couldn’t even stand in the skates? What if I couldn’t stop falling? What if I fell and I couldn’t get back up on my skates? (my therapist asked me about the worst possible scenario on this one, which involved me crawling off the ice and literally dying of humiliation.)
Needless to say I had a lot to work through.
I bought a cheap pair of skates at a thrift store and a pair of skate guards on Amazon, my thought being that I could try them on and hobble around the house on them and practice standing back up. So I laced them up and tried to stand.
It didn’t go well. I now know that is because my skates are a size too big and I didn’t have them laced tight enough, but on that day the humiliation (even alone in my apartment) was crushing. This was a disaster. My body was just as weak and pathetic as I’d imagined.
Thankfully, my desire to give ice skating a try kept me determined to persevere. I talked to some skaters, did a lot of research, and started trying to recruit a friend to go with me so I wouldn’t be alone in my shame and humiliation. (My mom and sister both refused. They are dead to me now.)
Enter my nephew’s wife Amberlyn, who gamely agreed to go with me despite her own anxiety and fear of skating. (seriously, she deserves all the cookies, she’s awesome) I’d researched the local rink and knew when the public skate times were. Amberlyn actually drove out from NY to go with me (I told you she was awesome).
With my sister in tow (still refusing to skate, instead she was there for moral support and to take embarrassing pictures and videos, as sisters do) I swallowed down the feelings of terror. I was going to do this, even if it was only once. I was not going to let my fear stop me.
We got to the rink. I rented skates and paid the session fee for both of us. My sister helped me lace up the skates so I could be sure they were tight enough. I stood up. So far, so good. I walked to the side of the rink and stepped on the ice.
THE WORLD DID NOT END.
I was as surprised as you are. My knuckles were white as I gripped the boards and shuffled along, VERY SLOWLY. (The boards were very hard to hang onto. Seriously, can’t they take the hockey guard off? I’m trying not to die here)
I began to be certain I’d made a huge mistake. The rink was HUGE. There was no way I was going to make it all the way around, but I had no choice. It wasn’t like I could turn around (seriously, how do you turn around?!). So I kept going, a very determined (and terrified) look on my face. I know this because there are pictures (that I am NOT going to share) where my jaw is clenched and I look fairly constipated… thanks sis!).
About halfway, I felt a little better. There was no force on earth that could get me to let go of those boards but I no longer felt like I was going to die, and there had been no falls or close calls with falling so I felt more secure. About two thirds of the way, my feet began to protest.
I have plantars fasciitis, so I was expecting pain. This was a whole different kind of pain. I had no idea there were so many muscles in the ball of your foot and how much they could hurt. I took a break in the penalty box where my sister asked how I was feeling so far.
I felt good. I was actually having fun. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make more than one loop around the rink, but if I could I thought it would go well. When my feet stopped throbbing I got back onto the ice to complete my lap. My sister took video (not posting that either). She said I looked like I was doing better. I made it back to the beginning an exited the ice.
I did it!
I paid $18 to do one lap around the ice. And it’s been a long time since I was that proud of myself. I’m going to go back, this time by myself. But not until I do some ankle and foot strengthening exercises.
Last year I wrote an article called 10 Tips for Nanowrimo from a 12 Time Veteran. I’d won ten years in a row.
I’m also a Nanowrimo failure, and that’s what we are going to talk about today.
After so many wins, I’d gotten kind of cocky. I admit, I looked down a bit on people for not finishing. I really believed that if most people wanted it enough, if they’d worked hard enough, they could do it. You just had to make it a priority. Clearly, those people hadn’t.
I was very wrong.
I’m actually ashamed of the way I felt. Of all people, I should have understood why sometimes people just can’t. My own mental health has gotten in the way of my doing things I desperately want to more times than I can count.
The last two Novembers I have not completed Nanowrimo. In 2016, my mom had knee replacement surgery during the last week of the month. I’d kept up until then and had about 40k words written, but I chose to prioritize taking care of my mom instead of writing. I could have finished, but the stress could have sent me into an anxiety relapse that could have hurt how well I took care of her.
In 2017, I started out with a struggle. My sister and a couple other people were coming for the weekend and I was super stressed trying to get the house ready to be seen. I got some writing done, but finally accepted that I’d have to get caught up after the weekend.
That Saturday night, my cat Nutmeg died very unexpectedly after a short illness. I was devastated (More about this will be covered in a future blog entry). By the time Monday came around I announced on twitter that I was quitting. There was no doubt in my mind that I could not even try to finish out the challenge.
That was when I decided it was okay to fail. I put Nanowrimo first for so many years. I didn’t realize what a privilege that was. I’m not going to take that privilege for granted anymore. I’m proud to call myself a Nanowrimo failure, because there’s nothing wrong with that.
I still intend to start out every November fully intending to reach 50,000 words. But from now on, I’m going to remember that it’s okay to fail. Every word I write during Nano is a word that wouldn’t have been written otherwise, which makes everyone a winner.
Sometimes Nano can’t come first, or life gets in the way. Or maybe it just doesn’t feel right. So be a Nanowrimo Failure. Whether you win or lose, you still tried and that’s the most important thing, not how many words you wrote (or didn’t write).
Have you ever been a Nanowrimo failure? Winner? Tell me about your Nanowrimo experience(s). What has Nanowrimo taught you?
My last couple therapy appointments left me stunned with two revelations that were pretty simple.
1. I’m Bored
My mother always described me as a kid as never being bored. I always had a thousand things I wanted to do and never enough time to do them all. That never really stopped until my mid-twenties, when Depression took away my ability to act on those things.
Almost four years ago (with the help of therapy and medication) I was able to dig myself out of that depressive rut. Recovery from a depressive episode that long is a weird experience, but that’s a whole other blog entry (Coming Soon!).
So when my therapist suggested that I was bored, my first thought was, “Yeah right.” I’ve never been bored! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how right she was.
I love routine, and mine had been pretty stale for a long time. I binge watch a lot of television shows, read voraciously, and have gotten way too obsessed with a few game apps (I’m looking at you, Dragon Merge, Klondike, and GSN Solitaire!). I’d become complacent and the variety in my life had been non-existent.
I took her words to heart and made an effort to fight this boredom head on. I learned some basic origami. I started making jewelry again. I bought a few puzzles and kits to put together. After a month of solid rain, I started taking advantage of every sunny day and got out to swim and soak up some vitamin D. Basically, engaged my brain in new ways and worked at getting back to my old self who never allowed herself to be bored.
2. I Need To Decide What I Want Out of Life
My second session ended with a question I haven’t thought seriously about in too long.
What do I want out of Life?
The first few days I reeled from it. It seemed like such a simple question, but so very hard to answer. I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about all the things I SHOULD change, but I never really stopped to think what I WANT.
When I was sixteen, it was an easy question. If anyone had asked me, I would have immediately rattled off what I wanted out of life. I wanted to get married, have a bunch of kids, and write traditionally published romance novels. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I would have those things. If someone had told me what my life would be like at thirty-three, I would have laughed at them.
My life is nothing like I’d planned and different in many ways. I live with my parents (I don’t mooch, I pay rent and live in the upstairs of the house). I don’t have a driver’s license (by choice, I never wanted one). I’m pretty cool with being single (I’m bringing Spinster back!). I’m not sure I would want children anymore if the chance came up. If and when I publish my books, I have no desire to traditionally publish.
Figuring out what I want out of life is going to take longer than I thought. But I’m on the job. I see it’s importance now and I’m going to get going. One thing I do know is that I want to post more on this blog, so I’ll keep you updated as I figure it all out.
Has someone (friend or therapist) ever said something so simple to you about your life that you wondered why you didn’t think of it yourself? How did it affect your life? How do you fight stagnation and boredom? As usual, I love hearing from my readers (all four of you, lol).
NOTE: I wrote this entry about a week ago and couldn’t get it to post. My symptoms disappeared as fast as they came after almost exactly twenty-four hours, which I really hope is a pattern that will hold for my next reduction in dose.
It’s been about four days since I took my first lower dose and I feel like crap.
It’s not unexpected. When I was a teenager I was prescribed Paxil, which has a bad reputation but was a miracle drug for me. I decided to try something else after a couple years because I let people get in my head about the side effects, which didn’t really bother me all that much (because, for the first time in my life, I felt AMAZING). Withdrawal from Paxil is INTENSE. I remember feeling like a drug addict detoxing. In a nutshell, it sucked.
After a few tries, my psychiatrist finally ended up putting me on Effexor, which works similarly to Paxil. It worked great, and I’ve been very happy with it until this past year when it stopped treating my anxiety effectively. Many anti-depressants poop out eventually, but I’d been on Effexor for about 15 years at this time, so it was a good run.
I knew getting off Effexor was going to be long and unpleasant, and so did my doctor. (I cannot stress enough to go to a psych doctor for your medication. General Practitioners just don’t have the training and education to keep up with these specialized meds and often have people go down in dose way too fast.) I was prescribed a new medication which has worked wonderfully for my anxiety and I’ve been feeling really good for the past couple months, but the time had come to start the process of giving up Effexor.
My doctor knows I had a hard time getting off Paxil so she’s taking me down very slowly. The plan is to get me completely off by the end of the year. So four days ago I went from taking 300mg to taking around 250ish milligrams.
The first couple of days were uneventful, but yesterday I felt my first ‘brain zap’. (if you’ve never experienced them, you lucky dog, I describe it as static electricity to the brain/upper body) Shortly followed by minor nausea and dizziness, as well as a mild headache.
All in all, it could be worse. It’s like when you’re getting over being sick and you don’t really have any symptoms anymore but you generally feel like crap. I just have to rest and be kind to myself while I ride it out.
Hopefully the symptoms won’t last a long time, but they will likely reappear every time I lower my dose. I’m ready, I’m prepared, and don’t have to worry about my anxiety symptoms coming back because I’ve already got other medications on the job. It’s not fun, but I’ve got this.
The hardest part for me is to balance not pushing myself too hard with getting out of the house regularly. My first instinct is to be a hermit and never leave, but that’s my social anxiety and agoraphobia talking and I won’t let them win.
Mental Illness has left me feeling hopeless for long periods of my life, but despite the general sick feeling I’m dealing with today, I feel hope. Hope that things will slowly improve.
So take that, Effexor withdrawals. You’re not going to rule my life.
**DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a medical professional. I am merely a patient who has been treating my mental illness for many years with medication. Nothing I say should be taken as medical advice; go to your doctor for that. I am merely sharing my experiences with others.
Have you ever had withdrawal symptoms while going off medication? How did you deal with it? (If you’ve never had the pleasure, feel free to ask any questions you might have about the process. I’m happy to share my experiences.)
(From a series of posts I made on Twitter on the one year anniversary of Linkin’ Park frontman Chester Bennington’s death; placed here as a permanent memorial.)
When I got the email last night from @TheMighty about the anniversary of Chester Bennington’s death I didn’t think it would impact me. My first thought was to wonder why people kept track of the day. Today I put on the playlist #themighty put together and I understood.
Last year when I saw the news that Chester Bennington had killed himself and read about his history with mental illness his death hit me in a way few celebrity deaths do. Suddenly I understood why Linkin’ Park’s music meant so much to me as a teenager. Why those songs meant what they did to a scared, anxious kid who didn’t understand why her mind was hurting her.
When #LinkinPark first came out with “One Step Closer” I was 15. To me their music was a complete game changer and I probably listened to Hybrid Theory a thousand times. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. When I was frustrated at the world I would pull out my Walkman and put my headphones in, blasting the album until I calmed.
Today my heart ached as I listened to “One More Light”. I realized how much of his music I had never heard. When “Leave Out All the Rest” played my jaw dropped in amazement. How eerie it is to listen to on today of all days. We all fear never making an impact on the world or the people in it, Chester put it into words.
If I could say one thing to Chester Bennington today, it would be that he did make an impact. That his music made a difference in so many people’s lives. He will not be forgotten. Even through his death, he’s helping. #MakeChesterProud guys.