I’ve been writing a lot lately. It’s been a really fulfilling thing for me, and something I realized I haven’t really been able to do since high school. I forgot how healing it can be to take what appears to be scrambled ideas in your head, and to see it laid out in front of you… and realize that not only is it organized thought but that it usually makes more sense than you thought it would have. It has been mostly a creative outlet – songs, poems, etc., but it’s been my journaling too… which typically includes elaborate venting with my typical melodramatic artistic flair, if you will. I think right now I’ve got about 3 or 4 songs on the go which is the most I’ve ever done at once – none of them perfect or finished (and some are honestly terrible haha!) but either way – if something comes to the brain, I write it down. And the more I do it, the more it’s coming more naturally. This is a release that I’ve been looking for, for a long time… but wasn’t able to find. One day I’d truly love to be able to share these with you, though I admit the incredibly personal nature of it makes me more timid, as sharing my art is like putting my complete soul on display – and with everything that’s been going on… that’s a scary thing, and it’s sensitive. And it will have to wait a while before I’m ready to be that open and fragile with the world. Still need time to separate myself from it I think.
I am writing all of this now as I can feel my emotions yearning to flip. Every little thing in me right now is looking for a reason to be sad and honestly, it sucks. I don’t feel like myself. This is me, 3 weeks into switching medication for the first time in a year and to be truthful, I’m scared by it. You know, it brings me back to… well, a year ago… and reminds me of just how dark of a place I was in. And the thought of this new medication taking time to kick in has definitely been stressful. I’m so scared of going back to that place, despite knowing that there’s no way I possibly could. I look at the whole picture and see that I’m a lot stronger and more practiced than I was a year ago. I’ve got more supports, and I think I feel a deeper love for myself than I did before. But yet, it still takes work. It always will. I admit, the whole thing makes me feel pretty vulnerable and unstable.
So that being said – why am I switching medications when switching medications is so taxing? Well, a couple things – Effexor was great to get me on my feet, but the side effects were terrible. They made me sleepy, they made me constantly sweat (it’s so gross, I know)… I realized it was an issue when I was in a sauna at the Scandinave Spa with my mama, and everyone was sitting all calm and happy and zen, lightly sweating their toxins away… and I was lying down looking like someone poured a bucket over my head. On the bright side – after that I felt pretty darn good, so the whole toxin elimination relaxation thing must actually work! Highly recommend. But – that was when I realized maybe what I was dealing with wasn’t normal and that’s why I was constantly dehydrated. So I’ve switched from Effexor XR (venlafaxine) to Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), which is essentially a more refined version of Effexor XR (it’s the metabolized version) and is supposed to be a lot gentler on the body with less side effects. So I’m now completely off Effexor, and on the Pristiq – but it will still take a little while for it to kick in. Luckily the only withdrawal I’m having right now are what feels like little electrical jolts to my brain, as well as tiredness and moderate mood swings – which doesn’t surprise me too much, and I was prepared for that.
I’m very grateful for the timing of Demi Lovato’s recent documentary on her life and her struggles with her own mental health. I was surprised with how much of it I could relate to… resonating with her mood swings, the depression, perfectionism, and her late nights writing and racing ideas etc. That all screamed at me as being me. I knew that feeling, and to find that connection was so enlightening!!That feeling of going between being on top of the world, to suddenly feeling deep sadness… It was a cycle that I could understand. Bipolar is something that is in my family, and something I should have considered for a long time… but I never displayed any symptoms that would direct me to looking further into something like that for myself. But when you spend a year analyzing yourself, trying to understand your brain, the way your body reacts to things, your cycles… you begin to understand things about yourself that may not have been so apparent, initially.. Growing up, I ALWAYS had a tendency to take on too much – be incredibly optimistic – feel like I can change the world and do big things. I would feel joy to a whole other level- like I had constantly reached the top of a mountains and was looking over the world and just basking in all that it was. It was a high. It’s a sense of incredible euphoria that just took over me. These were the days/ weeks/ months that I would be up until 4am writing music, or planning big events for school, and making huge life changed for myself – planning my future. I had always been aware of my depressive tendencies. What I had never realized was that these feelings of euphoria were a huge indicator of what I was actually dealing with. It was all in the bigger picture. I hadn’t realized that what I deemed to be “normal” for me was actually part of my illness.
My doctors of course are constantly analyzing, and diagnoses change with time as a clearer picture is drawn… but right now we believe I have what is called cyclothymia – a mild version of bipolar disorder, with occasional major depressive episodes (which I haven’t experienced in months, thank God).
You know, I never in my life thought that I would be comforted by the words “bipolar disorder” or knowing that I was going to be put on both mood stabilizers and antidepressants. For some reason putting two and two together though – it clicked, and I just cried (…mood swings y’know?). Everything started to make sense. Those months and months of just being ashamed of my emotions, and feeling like I was “crazy” and deeply disliking myself for feeling things the way I do… It’s like I could finally forgive myself. I now understood why I reacted the way I did, when at the time I couldn’t make sense of it at all. It explained why one day I could be over the moon, and the next day I was barely being human. It’s why I would feel invincible after a breakup, and go to bars more, and feel high on life…and then be completely devastated with sharp aching pains that seemed to take over my chest, and tears that felt like acid running down my cheeks. Or why one day I was confidant and making bold decisions, and the next day I could hardly look at myself in the mirror without feeling horrified by who I was. Knowing this – I could now forgive myself. Or at least now I could begin healing that part of me that I’ve spent so much time resenting. And finding that kind of deep wound, and beginning to let it heal – that’s a new kind of inner peace and freedom that I’ve only begun to have a taste of. That’s something I’m excited to continue working towards. It’s nice to remember that even baby steps are successes, because eventually those baby steps add up.
So where does that leave me for now? Well, I’m frightened as hell, to be honest. But I’m excited for things to come. I think these changes are going to be so great for me, and I’m trying to stay as positive as possible. I’m down to part time school as I still try to feel my way around this whole healing thing. Laurier has been good to me, and they have been very willing to work with me and guide me whil
e going through this process. I’m looking forward to continuing my degree casually,,.while I’m eager to change my main focus and move forward with working on obtaining my real estate license. I never thought my path would direct me the way it has (or that I’d actually get my Smart Serve AND start working towards getting my G2!! (Yes, fear the roads, friends haha!!)) but I’m feeling contented by this new move.
I’m so forever grateful for the people who catch me when my self trust wavers, and I lose my balance. There seems to have been more of that lately with all the changes. But still, I’m making time for art, for music, for nature and family and friends! Spending time working on my attic apartment as well, and enjoy a small part time job at a bar in Waterloo. It seems to balance out my need for space, as well as social interaction perfectly. Slowly but surely I’m building on my life, and discovering the person I’ve grown into. I’m not the most patient person when it comes to myself, but I’m trying to be patient to get through these trying times when I don’t feel like myself, such as this past week. The days where I’m exhausted, and hold a lot more guilt in my heart than I should. But I’m doing my best to keep my eyes looking ahead at the big picture. I’ve come to find that what were once small steps towards self-betterment have somehow accumulated to be much larger steps with time. And seeing that will always give me hope. Just have to keep allowing myself to dig my roots in a little deeper, allowing myself to grow steadily with a sense of strength, integrity, love and peace.