Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weight-Lifting and the Flu - next in a series of Palmer Fishman's Mixed Mental Health Metaphors

Weight-Lifting, Flu and Chemo 
more Mixed Mental Health Metaphors from Palmer Fishman
(now with illustrations!)

You have to try harder
Get out there and do it
Just make yourself get out of bed
Nobody else wants to get up early for work,
        but they do
You're lazy
You're making excuses
You're weak
You think you're special

Even people who love me
people who supposedly understand the nature of major depression
Say these things to me,
sometimes wrapped in prettier packages

This is what I tell them:
Go bench-press 500 pounds.  Now.
Too much?  How about 100?
OK, you could do that on a good day,
after being healthy and in training for awhile
with a spotter?
But this week you have the flu
and the weight falls on your chest.
Nobody blames you or
calls you a weakling
you have a fever and you're vomiting and
can barely walk
It's understandable.

But if I have no desire to be alive
which is a damn sight more serious than a fever and I
can't force myself to get out of bed
even to eat or go to the bathroom
Why do you think I should
be able to bench-press 100 pounds?
Or go to work?
Or make it to a meeting?
Or answer the phone, for that matter?

What if someone you know is fighting cancer
They're in chemo and
can't keep food down and
generally feel miserable and everyone's
worried they might not make it through
You don't call them lazy because they can't
maintain their usual hectic schedule

But say you have major recurrent depression and you're
always worried you won't make it, you're not even sure what 'making it'
means anymore.
You think you might feel better if you don't 'make it'.
You can't enjoy or desire
Even your favorite things.

Yet your coworkers call you a slacker or
your friends give you advice from another world, like
'when I feel a down I go to yoga and it really helps' or
'you just have to chill the fuck out'
Completely missing that this is not just
a little down
This is on the same scale of 'bad' as cancer treatment.

So please don't think I'm lazy
I'm trying as hard as I can
I need the equivalent of chemo, and if
I'm on serious drugs or had ECT, believe me that
the side effects also suck the life-force out of me and I am indeed
fighting for survival
I 'just' can't bench-press anything
today.  or maybe this whole month

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dread Attack (Dosage)

I had a dread attack yesterday.
 It's different from a panic attack.
With a panic attack you have great uncertainty and great anxiety.  
With dread you have great anxiety because you are certain that things are going to suck.

Thanks to the average half-lives and known times-to-stable-blood-level for Prozac, I can be pretty sure that it will take at least a week from when I change my dose to when the shit hits the fan, for better or for worse.

The last few weeks,
ever since I stopped having visions of offing myself,
I've had mini-explosions going off in my legs whenever I sit still or lie down.
         ( I can't explain why I don't get them when I'm working online...
                             it's very suspicious.)
Having the sensation of bugs running around inside your thighs is
               not fun, whatever Timothy Leary says.

Especially if it means you never get a good night's sleep.
The word of the middle-of-the-night is.... side effects!
So I lowered my Prozac dose, first from
             20mg to 15mg, then down to
             10 a little over a week ago.

Yesterday I got creeping dread, this feeling of hurtling toward another major fucking depression
   (depression being a hole in the ground) and
               not being able to slow

Not yet completely depressed,
                but feeling it coming, and knowing that even if I
                        increase the dose again it won't help for at least
a week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trigger (back to trauma)

I have read about soldiers with PTSD being triggered by loud
  noises and sudden
     movements that put them
   in the war zone

My trigger isn't as obviously scary as
   explosions or gunfire

It's the sun
The sun in my eyes
the sun in my eyes while I'm riding in a car or
   worse, driving

The sun was in my eyes that morning,
from around 7:30 to 8am,
coming up the Southern Highway from Managua center

Otto says the sun in one's eyes makes
  sleepy, not just me but since

I can't remember the accident, and I
   remember feeling sleepy with the
 sun in my eyes,
I am terrified that my body somehow
  gave in and
  lost control and
  let the Pathfinder plow into two sisters waiting for the bus
      to go to work

Yesterday we were on a winding road,
  coming back from the monestary at Montserrat,
           (near Barcelona,
   a sacred place and home of the Black Madonna
    but that's another story)

I was in the back seat
There's nothing wrong with falling asleep in the back seat, right?
and yet
   when my lids grew heavy from the
sun in my eyes, it was

That awful half-awake-yet- dreaming-state took over
I fell
   backward off the edge of control
  into my nightmarish imagined trajectory of an accident in which I
somehow, horrifically,

unwillingly relax my body and
get dragged back to wakefulness by
airbags and carnage.
Trauma flashback from an
           unreliable source

I no one knows if this is how the accident
really happened

the police concluded I had "excessive velocity" which
makes sense only if my foot had become lead with sleep
     or by unholy possession
I always drove slowly up that hill
I was the one who still slowed down even after the
     government removed the
         life-saving speed bumps in the name of
               improving fuel economy

I had been the one writing letters to the police about
    basic traffic safety issues
and Nissan had issued a warning to mechanics
      that the airbags were detonating spontaneously
        a warning that apparently did not reach Nicaragua, or went
              unheeded in a country where airbags are the exception
   not the norm

Given all the above, nevertheless,
Because the last thing I remember was feeling sleepy and the
first thing I remember is being
by the airbags,
feeling sleepy
    in a moving vehicle
         facing the sun is my