Anxiety

What is this feeling that I can’t shake? I can’t seem to switch off from all the work tasks that I need to do, even over a weekend. Even though you think that you have had a relatively good week, & sent out all your communications & feedback, you still dread that one E-Mail that arrives over the weekend, pulling you into self doubt & asking if you have done enough, could you have done better, did you remember to do X?

I think that the problem is partly waiting for new meds to help with the feelings, but it’s also not sure of your next move & will it be the right one. Stress seems to play a large part, & learning to accept the feelings, processing them & moving on from that point. Spending quality time with family & being outdoors certainly helped, & I need to get a personal grip on my surroundings, & not let them control me.
It’s not easy, & it will be an uphill battle, but slowly this feeling should pass, & I have to pay particular attention to it. I can’t just let it control me, I have to be the boss.

It’s a rocky road to recovery

Sleep, glorious sleep!
Changing your medication regimen is not an easy task. Side effects which I usually don’t experience too much, have really affected me, & I have battled to get through a full work day without suffering from these.
The two biggest ones, have been insomnia, & feelings of nausea all the time, as well as intense tension type headaches in the back of my head.

This however should all pass, & it’s a game of patience. You can’t expect to take a pill & feel immediately better. Already last night, I got my first decent nights sleep in 3 days, & woke up this morning feeling more refreshed. The nausea & headache is still with me, but with careful symptomatic meds for these have eased it.

I’m starting to feel a bit more like my old self, & am beginning to be able to formalise plans in my head & commit to paper, which is an important step. There is something to be said by doing this, & makes space for more ideas & thought processes to be created.

It’s a difficult road, but with the support of my family, they will help me back onto the right path.

The road to recovery

So while I had plans to write a daily blog on my experiences, life always seems to get in the way of the best laid plans.
From my last post, the days have all seemed to roll into one. I had managed to get an appointment with both my Psychiatrist & my Psychologist on the same day, which worked out perfectly.
I had always known that something was off kilter with my current regimen of meds that I was on, & I had a detailed discussion with my Doc about this.
I was taking Stratera for the ADD, Lamotrigine for mood stabilizing, & Rivotril for anxiety. What wasn’t being addressed, were my very depressive mood & thoughts. I had prepared for my appointment, & written a list of words of emotions that I had been feeling over the last few months, & this was definitely a big help in keeping the discussion on track with both my doctors as to how I was feeling.

It is always good to be able to speak to someone “impartial”, outside your normal support structure, as advise that they impart is always taken better. There is still a lot of work to do with my Psychologist, & it is very much a longer term strategy there, & I see the shorter term solution as medication. I am a believer that medication is the way to get you to a point that you feel that you are well enough to be able to make life decisions & to act on them, which is then where my Psychologist comes in to help with coping mechanisms.
My condition has has serious ramifications on both my personal & work life, to the point that work is placed almost on a knife edge as to whether you will still have a job. I certainly cannot afford to loose my job over this disorder, but I needed to be able to get to a point that I could come up with, & want to work with strategies to make it better & be a normal functioning person. Family is a lot more forgiving, while work will tolerate things to a point. I have not told my employer exactly what is wrong with me, & I don’t really want to use it as an excuse either.
My doctor has prescribed me a heavy anti depressant, along with changing the meds for ADD & Anxiety.
Suffice to say, changing my meds always has a transition period, & this time I am experiencing some unpleasant side effects as I get used to the new meds. I am on day 3 of them, & the side effects have been affecting day to day functioning. Nausea has been a big one, as well as fatigue during the day, but then insomnia at night, creating a vicious cycle of needing to sleep, not being able to, & then feeling tired all over again the next day.
I am hoping that this will be a short transition, & already if my stomach decides to settle, I feel more awake & open to possibilities that I haven’t experienced for some time. I am not however relying completely on my meds to make me better. It takes a conscious effort to make changes in your life, to pull yourself out of the position you have found yourself in, & to refuse to relapse into your old ways again.

It is hard, but I have to do this if I want to remain a functioning member of society.
My wife has been & is incredibly supportive, but at the same time firm in what she does to help me through this, & has a vested interest in my well being.
The is a lot of work to do, but I know I can pull through this.

Day 15 (21st August 2017)

Why am I so tired?
I got to work, & felt totally drained before the day had even started, & felt totally down. Maybe it was Monday blues, & I thought that it would improve pretty quickly as I got involved in some work, but it didn’t. I procrastinated & found every excuse not to do what needed to be done.

After having a chat with my wife, I put down on paper exactly the emotions that I was feeling, & they were all very negative. Words like Apathetic, Indecisive & Indifferent were on the list among a page of others.
Definitely something not right, but putting these down on paper certainly lifted my spirits a bit, as I really found that I had something meaty to discuss with my doctor, who I managed to get an earlier appointment with for later this week.
By the afternoon I started to feel a lot more active, but still procrastinated when it came to doing work tasks that required me to be proactive as opposed to reactive, which seems to be how I have been going through most of this year.

I know that I can be better than this, & that I am not incapable of doing my job. I do it well when I am all together, but this is seeming to elude me right now. I am more convinced now, that there is something that is not working properly with my meds, & all of the thoughts that I am feeling are symptomatic of deep depression.

I also did some reading on the net, & came across a very good site for metal health, at http://www.Sadag.org, which is the website for the South Africa Depression & Anxiety Group. There were some very good articles on the site, & I was looking to see if there were any support groups that I could attend to be in a group that are feeling the same way as I am.

I have realised, that the only way to beat this disorder, besides ensuring that I am on the right medication, is to be open & honest with yourself & your immediate support group (Family). After that, including some close work peers into your circle of trust, is also a good way to relieve some of my problems.

i am now certainly looking forward to my appointments with both my psychologist, as well as my psychiatrist (Back to Back), as I have a clearer understanding of the emotions that I am feeling, instead of stabbing around in the dark.

Day 8-11 (14th-17th August 2017)

So it’s been a few days, but travelling & back to back meetings for the whole day over 3 of the days, makes it a bit made it tricky to do a daily blog. Back to the normal though, even though I am now feeling very tired, but it’s a tired that comes from feeling you have achieved something.

With all the hype around building a stand for a trade show & the tight deadlines, makes you dig deep into your reserves to produce the goods. It definitely gets the adrenaline going, & I feel in a way brings out a more hypo side of me, & I get into a mood that I feel that I can go forever. Even sleep with my usual evening medication was very difficult.
I know that on the other side of it though is going to be a trough, that in the past was sometimes a deep trough.
This time though, I am going to try to minimise that & drag myself through it kicking & screaming if I have to.
My positivity is certainly  elevated at the moment, & it’s amazing what a boost of goodness you feel when you have achieved something, & then been recognized for it as well, & your opinion matters, instead of feeling steamrolled or sidelined.
After this hectic week, I am definitely looking forward to the weekend, for some well deserved R&R.

Day 7 (13th August 2017)

It seems that the days of having a lie in are pretty much over, even on a Sunday!

Pretty good day however & trying to keep busy. The funny thing at the moment about writing these posts, is that I have to force myself to remember what happened in the day. My short term memory is definitely not what it should be, or what it used to be. This is a concern, & certainly a symptom to chat to my doctor about. I know that we had a good old Sunday lunch, which consisted of a great braai with potato salad, followed by a walk around the block with my son. Always nice to be able to spend time with him.

This evening I read a brilliant blog by Amy called “blue light blue”. (www.bluelightblue.com)

In it she talks about her life & dealing with major depression & anxiety. She is brutally honest, & I really got some good advice from it, as well as realising exactly now, that what I have is a disease, just like the terms used for other diseases.
It is important though to talk about it, & start including your close circle of friends & other family members as well, so that they can also help you cope.
I may never go off my medication for what I have, but finding the right mix is what I need to do.

Read the blog, it has some great advice.

 

Day 6 (12th August 2017)

It’s the weekend! No real lie in though for my brain. Body starts its racing thoughts from about 5:30 am in any case, but at least I don’t have to get up yet & can lounge around in bed a bit.

This allows me to research some interesting information on the net, in particular the benefits of Omega3 & Magnesium in your diet as a supplement, for the treatment of depression, both in bipolar & depressed patients. I can’t believe that there are so many people out there that only use natural remedies to control their disorder. I am keen to give these a go, as I read that if I am acutely depressed, anti depressants are NOT the best thing to take for depression if you have bi polar, & are taking mood stabilisers as well. I don’t want to just stop any medication without chatting to my doc first, so I just  study the charts, & see that the Omega3 (Found in fish oil mostly), has a chemical called EPH, & it is this ingredient that i am after. I need a supplement that is going to give me about a gram of this per serving.

I’m out & about running some errands this morning, & pop into my local Clicks to fill a script for my son, so I take a look at the Fish Oils & Magnesium supplements. I find GNC, which was actually on the list from this American Doctor, & there just also happens to be a representative from the company on duty as well! I discuss the requirement with him, & he directs me to the Ultra range of the fish oils, that with only 1 tablet, I can get the dosage I require. The cost sounds steep at around R350.00, but it’s 60 tablets, or a 2 month supply. The Magnesium “Slow Mag” is around the R120.00 mark. Both prices are not too bad, & affordable. I make some notes to discuss with my doc later this month when I see him.

The rest of the day is pretty chilled, spending time at home & watching a movie. Later in the afternoon my son & I get out into the fresh air, & take a solid 4km walk around the neighbourhood, which feels great, although I think my calves are going to feel it tomorrow!

The rest of the evening is also pretty chilled & my son & I make a simple dinner of cheesy garlic & fresh basil toasted rolls, which was great!

Relatively early to bed, but knowing that we are already halfway through the weekend leaves a bit of a hollow in the pit of my stomach! I don’t want to feel like this, & am trying all that I can to personally pull myself up out of this slump, but it is very difficult.

I vow to keep on trying though, & my next appointment with my doctor can’t come any quicker.

Day 5 (11th August)

Finally, not a 4am wakeup, managed to get to 5am.

Already a sense of anxiety is washing over me, & one that is what made me wake up in the first place. My thoughts are racing again about a million different things, & I can’t calm the noise. Part of my anxiety, is that I have a management meeting later today, to go over the business performance. Not that there is a big concern about that, but rather it’s about having to deliver my report & then field questions about it that fill me with anxiousness, so bad that the Rivotril that I was hoping to wean myself off, had to be put into use again, but only a half dose.

This seems to take some of the edge off, & allows me to function a bit more normally. I am the kind of person that hates to be put on the spot with any questions that I do not have or do have the answers to, but cannot articulate them properly in the spoken word. I would rather hide behind a computer screen & formulate responses to questions from there. It’s not that I am socially awkward around people; on the contrary most of the time I am perfectly fine, but I don’t at the moment crave to be in the company of others at work. It’s worth mentioning, that I am the only person in my office, so if I want to speak to someone, I have to leave my office to do that. Sometimes it does get quite boring, but for the last few weeks, it’s been nice to “hide away” a bit.

As the meeting time rolls around, my chest starts tightening up & I have to really work hard to practice some deep breathing as my chest tightens & feelings of dread filter in again. I take a full Rivotril to quell this feeling, & when 3pm rolls up, I am prepared with my feedback, & at the suggestion of my very supportive wife, am prepared to field any questions with a response along the lines of “That’s a very good point, I’ll get right on it”.

3:02, Meeting postponed till next week. I can’t take this, but the feeling of relief that washes over me is tangible. It’s so anticlimactic, that all the angst & Adrenalin gives me an instant headache! Immediately the stressor is gone, I relax a bit more & am able to focus on a few work tasks to see me through to the end of the day, & the start of the weekend, which I always look forward to for the most part to be able to spend time with the family & away from work, but there is always that nagging feeling of anxiety again, that an EMail is going to come my way that needs to be attended to right now, & not wait until Monday.

I am working to try & find these coping mechanisms, & I have just read a very good book by Dr Reid Wilson entitled “Stopping the noise in your head”. Worth ordering or seeing if your local library may have a copy.

Till tomorrow.

Day 3 (9th August)

Woke up again at 4 a.m. just before the alarm that was set for early, as my daughter had to be at school to leave on a tour.

By the time I got back home, I was wide awake, & tried to find something to watch on TV, as the rest of the house was still asleep. I must have dozed off, because I woke up at the end of the movie!  That little cat nap was actually exactly what my body needed, & later in the day when I thought that I would need to have an afternoon snooze, didn’t happen, & I still feel awake.

I still had a feeling of anxiousness over whether I should do a report from work today, or leave it until tomorrow. My brain really didn’t want to do it, although the anxiety that I was feeling over it, & the insistence from my wife got me over that & I did it. It wasn’t my best work, as I was in a bit of holiday mode, & the early morning was starting to make itself felt.

During the morning, my wife showed me some research that she had been doing on the net, & I found a very interesting website psycheducation.org, that had a huge amount of information on it, & is probably one of the best sites that I have seen.

Sleep took me a little longer this evening, as doing mentally stimulating work revs me up, so that I can’t or don’t feel like sleeping, & even with my evening tablet (Olexar 2.5Mg) which if I am in a relaxed state before bed quells the emotions & racing thoughts so I can sleep, didn’t make me feel instantly tired. Eventually, I found the relaxed mode I was looking for, with a bit of reading, & had a restful nights sleep.

Day 2 (p.m.) 8th August 2017

So I have decided that keeping busy during the day & working hard to maintain focus is definitely a way to ease my symptoms, & prevents me from hitting a mid day energy crisis.

Feelings of anxiety crept in this afternoon as I drafted E-Mail responses to work colleagues with thoughts of what the responses might be from the higher powers that I work for, but I have a pill for that! I’m trying to stay off this particular medication, & this was the first half dose as well of Rivotril that I have taken since last week. It did work however & yes I did get a half dreaded response to one of my mails, although not as severe as I have experienced in the past. My tight chest that I was feeling earlier seems to have eased off as well, a sure sign that it was medication that reduced what I think was perhaps partly a withdrawal symptom?

I think that this may have been partly due to being open & honest with one of the directors in the business who I think is more understanding of what I am dealing with emotionally, & the deep feelings of depression that I find myself in at the moment. I am pretty sure that he may have told the other directors to perhaps back off a bit & let me get myself back together again, which I’m hoping will then reduce the feelings of being worthless & not seeming to be able to do anything right & getting chastised for it.

I’m hopeful that this is the case, & that I can again try to work hard towards getting back to the person that I want to be. Life is not all rainbows & unicorns, but if I can feel strong enough to tackle things head on, & not be caught up in feelings of angst & under-performance, we can turn a corner.

Tomorrow is a public holiday, & I have had my hopefully last cigarette. Hardly ever having smoked at home will be of help with that urge to want to smoke during the work day. Again, I think that by keeping myself busy, & actually not really feeling like lighting up, is a step in the right direction. If I can just get through Thursday & Friday, then the weekend again for some downtime, will further reduce the urge to smoke, which if I think about it; the office & its stresses were perhaps part of why I started again. For my health I have to do this. Cold turkey. No patches, gums or tablets this time.

Already I am looking forward to some downtime midweek tomorrow to break up the work week into bite size pieces. They say that the way to eat a whole elephant is one bite at a time, so I’ll probably start with the tail!