Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mittens

I let Mittens, my beautiful Maine coon cat, my little man, my monster, the love of my life (just a few names I gave him over the years) go to heaven on December 23, 2015. He had been sick for over a year, but really wasn't himself in the last few months of his life. He was another part of the anxiety I'd been dealing with, because I wasn't ready to lose him, but I also wanted to know exactly when it was the right time to let him go. 

Back in August 2014, I discovered a lump on the right side of his cheek. It was odd, but after it grew a bit more in another month or so, I finally found a vet to look at it. Well, it was a tumor. There wasn't any way to find out  if it was cancerous or not unless it was removed. I didn't have money to do that, but after two more trips to the vet to have the area around the tumor drained (and a seriously stressed out Mittens), I finally decided what the heck? I would do surgery for him. I cashed some bonds, put some savings together, and had a few people generously give me money to help pay for the surgery. That was at the end of January last year. I spent the next 2 weeks after that with Mittens in a cone. Fun times (NOT!!)!! In the meantime, the vet confirmed to me that the tumor wasn't cancerous, but there was a big chance something could come back. She was right. A month after Mittens' surgery, I noticed a small lump already in a different area. But, I knew I couldn't do anything about it, I just had to try to give him the best life like I had been that I could until it was his time to go to heaven.

Mittens lasted a lot longer than I really had anticipated. And I'm so thankful that I didn't have to let him go in the beginning time after my breakup, or over the summer. I don't know if I could have handled it that well on top of everything else. Mittens wasn't too playful, but he'd still cuddle with me and want to be with me for the most part. The lump continued to grow and ended up being a lot bigger than the previous one, and also covered a lot more area. It was all on the right side again, behind his right ear, and even under his chin. He didn't seem to be in pain, but I can't imagine that he was comfortable.

I kept asking God to please let me know when the right time was to let Mittens go. I believe He finally answered me the day before I took him, because Mittens spent that entire day hiding under my bed covers, a place I had never allowed him to go in all the years I had him. And at the time when I made the decision, I was at peace with it. Of course, I was sad and bawling my eyes out the day I brought him, but I was thankful that I knew that Mittens was no longer going to be in pain. A few weeks later, I got Mittens back home with me in a simple, but lovely little box with his ashes. He'll always be with me no matter what.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Tough Times

I have been having an incredibly hard time with anxiety and depression for over a year now. Well, it really started with anxiety. I had a several long spells of anxiety that I didn't recognize as such until many months later. The first time was in August 2014 after my friend's wedding, when I somehow hurt my neck. I was trying to get it better so that I could go on a week long vacation with K. to North Carolina. But during that time, I wasn't sleeping well at night, and it never got better, even on vacation. I would wake up after being so exhausted within a few hours, and then couldn't get back to sleep. This went on for over a week, and after we got home, it kinda went away eventually. I was so relieved! And then it happened again when K. and I went to Cleveland for my appts a week after coming back from North Carolina. It didn't seem to last as long. I still didn't recognize that I was having anxiety. I thought it was just bad sleeping issues, and just feeling exhausted during the day.

Fast forward to last March. I finally decided to end my relationship with K. after 3 1/2 years. I finally acknowledged to myself that it wasn't going anywhere, especially since he couldn't say he loved me after all that time. There was a period of a week where I had the anxiety again, and this time I understood what it was. I couldn't sleep, I was constantly thinking of what I was going to say to him, I couldn't eat. It was awful. I knew right after breaking up that I would need to go to counseling, and so I did seek that out. And then for maybe a month or so, I had a period of time when the anxiety went away. I was trying to still work out all my emotions from losing K. in my life, but I was ok.

Until then I wasn't. Anxiety started up again some time in June, and it didn't leave. It still hasn't really left me. I was in the E.R. on Mother's Day after several nights of insomnia led to creeping thoughts of suicide. It scared the shit out of me. I have never, ever, ever considered ending my life, EVER. So I called my parents and told them I had to go to the E.R. They just gave me Xanax, which honestly, didn't do much for me. I would take it, get very tired for about 2 hours, and then I'd wake up and not be able to take anymore until hours later. I understood why people could be addicted! Not me. I ended up not even taking them and just living with the anxiety until I had to see a psychiatrist. I ended up in the E.R. once more for suicidal thoughts again about a week or so after the first time, just at a different hospital. I was eventually put on some meds to help me sleep through most of the night, which helped some of the severe exhaustion I was experiencing, and that was causing me to have those thoughts. I saw my therapist weekly to talk about things, and I tried to just stay as busy as I possibly could. It was an incredibly tough summer to get through before I could finally see the psych in August.

I was started on Lexapro, given klonopin, and a different medication to help with sleep. That journey was tough, too. Trying to get used to the Lexapro was extremely hard. My stomach was terrible, I thought I had ulcers it was that bad. Increasing the dosage after 5 days of starting it led me to believe that it was causing neurological issues in my face. I tried to stick with it for as long as I could. I'm not sure it really truly helped me. After being on it for almost 2 months, my psych told me I could go down on the dosage to start weaning off it because of the mouth problems I was having. Going lower seemed to make me feel a bit better. By the time December came, the business of the month and the holidays made me feel pretty good. I actually had almost a month of no anxiety. I was off Lexapro by Christmas day. I felt like my old self. I really enjoyed Christmas and I was starting to see someone, so I got to ring in the New Year with someone who was much better than the person I had left in March. I was actually happy!

And then a couple weeks into the New Year, overthinking got me back onto the anxiety train, and I couldn't get off it again. This time, the anxiety started turning into depression. Now, I may have had depression from all this before, but I didn't really feel it. This time was so different. I basically go through my days because I have to, and I'm not enjoying too much of anything. The guy I started seeing, well that ended because my emotions were so back and forth. A couple weeks ago I called to ask if I could see my psych sooner because there was no way I was going to make it until March to see him next. I had my appt with him this past Wednesday. I told him how I'd been feeling. I asked him if it was possible to try another medication in the same category as Lexapro, and he said he didn't like to do that, especially if I thought it hadn't helped. So he prescribed something called Remeron (mirtazapine), which can help depression, anxiety and help with sleep. I've taken it 2 nights so far, and well, I truly hope that I will be able to adjust to this med. I know and understand that it takes weeks with this meds to get acclimated to them, so it takes a LOT OF PATIENCE to see if they are going to help. But in the meantime, I guess I'm glad that I don't work because I just don't know how I would function at a job at this point. The med makes me groggy for most of the day. And I'm on a low dose that I need to increase in a few days. Crossing fingers that I can stick with this and ride it out until I see my psych in a few weeks again!!

I need to start blogging more about the things that I'm having a difficult time with, and what's been causing my anxiety and depression in the first place. I choose to write in my blog now because maybe my story will be seen by someone and they can relate. I hope to be able to look back one day and realize I came out of a very dark cloud and I'm a better person for it. Right now, I am just trying my best to put one foot forward every day. I have a huge amount of sympathy and understanding right now for people who have suffered depression and/or anxiety for most of their lives. It's a battle that is to be fought every day, and I can see why sometimes people just lose that battle. It's incredibly hard! I have always been such a positive person most of my life, that this has thrown me for a loop. So I hope blogging about things more will help me as well, besides talk therapy and medications. Fingers crossed!