Constipation/Fecal Loading

I realised that I’ve been experiencing familiar stomach troubles. After scrolling back through posts, my suspicions have been confirmed: my digestive system is pretty messed up during summer.

It doesn’t matter how much fruit or how many whole grains I eat during the hotter months – my digestive system throws a tantrum. It does not want to poop. I get very centralised abdominal pain; it feels like pressure/tightness. It’s a fairly consistent and constant ache, often accompanied by nausea. It makes me cranky.

I need to take laxatives and stool softeners every few days, otherwise the pain becomes unbearable. Roughly 24 hours after taking them, I poop a whole lot of hard lumps. I try massaging my stomach to create manual stimulation, but it doesn’t help. Whatever is going on in there is incredibly stubborn.

Every time this happens, I put up with it for a month or so before going to the doctor. They organise blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds, then proceed to tell me everything is “normal”, but I know it’s not. And now that I have identified the pattern, I can go and tell my doctor.

Keeping tabs on yourself is important.

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A long overdue update!

Current medications:

1x Sertraline 100mg in the morning

1x Valdoxan (Agomelatine) 25mg before bed

Psychiatrist appointments: 6 months apart unless needed sooner.

An update to this blog is long overdue. There’s people chasing information about Valdoxan (Agomelatine) and as someone who has now been on it for almost five years, I feel an obligation to make my experience public – because when I was searching for information about it online, very little was available and not being armed with information can be terrifying. We all want to trust our health professionals, but we also know that mental health treatment is a game of trial and error. There is always risk, and the gamble is you.

My medications have been stable (unchanged) for quite some time now. The only time I am out of sorts is if I’ve forgotten a dose.

Forgetting the agomelatine (Valdoxan) leaves my brain racing and buzzed, and I can’t sleep. I can pick up on this relatively easily, because the drug gets me to sleep within about half an hour of taking it. Realising I’m still awake at some silly hour means I need to get out of bed and take my tablet because I must have forgotten to do it after brushing my teeth. The last time this happened, I didn’t think about the possibility of forgetting my medication. Instead, I was still so wired at 4am that I purchased a $200 doll. I don’t collect dolls. I don’t even like them. I wasn’t right in the head at the time. I fully acknowledged that the next day, and felt quite ashamed when my online order arrived. This medication is primarily used to assist me with sleeping – it’s non addictive and counteracts the sertraline, which keeps me awake.

Forgetting the sertraline is more of an offensive assault than a spending spree turned laughing matter for later. It normally starts with a mild headache, which becomes nauseating and causes a painful tightness/pressure around my temples and behind my eyes. I can barely function by the afternoon and I can’t always access my medication if I’m at work (although I have started keeping a spare tablet in my bag for emergencies like this… being prepared is everything). It normally takes a few days to recover from this. During that time, my anxiety resurfaces and I start feeling hopeless and useless. I have learned to separate those feelings from my logic, and remind myself that even though I feel like shit (and will absolutely allow some self pity), it’s a side effect and I will be ok.

All that being said, overall, my mental health has improved. My depressive episodes nowadays seem to only last days (not weeks or months), and I have identified that monthly hormones trigger it – so I can generally feel prepared for it, rather than have it take me by surprise and have it suck me into a deep dark hole of isolation and misery. This is something I’ll discuss more in another post.

A lot has changed in a few years. My career has taken a completely different direction. I thought I was enjoying my previous job(s), but turns out I was getting satisfaction from the tasks, but not so much the other aspects (stress & people). My new career has been an adventure so far. I am looking to specialize in a certain area… I’m still working things out.

One thing I will say, is that I was sexually assaulted at work recently. It’s complicated, and definitely deserving of its own post. My psychiatrist played a big part in empowering me following the event. It’s definitely something others can learn from as well, so I will try to write about it soon.

“Blood is thicker than water.”

Whoever came up with that saying was a manipulative bastard.

It has taken me a long time to break free from thinking I need my family. I don’t.

I’m feeling empowered by finally being able to accept this – it has held me back from happiness for so long.

What will they think? Will they cut contact with me? Will they hurt me because they disagree with my choices?

WHO FUCKING CARES? NOT THIS GIRL. NOT ANYMORE.

So firstly, everything has been going really well with my meds. I’m still on 100mg Sertraline and 25mg Agomelatine (Valdoxan).

I mean, obviously it’s going well, given that I no longer felt I needed to update this blog anymore.

My psychiatrist appointments have been really great. Three months apart for over two years because I only need check ups now… And someone to challenge my thinking so I can grow as a person.

So… If everything is so great, why am I here?

Well… Something from 15 years ago has popped up. More like someONE. I’ll write more another day; for now I just needed to let that little bit of information out.

Mixing Anti-Depressants

After going downhill rapidly, my psychiatrist felt the most sensible option was to add another tablet to the mix. I was suffering some depression and a lot of anxiety. The pressure building up had become unbearable and I sobbed in his office as I tried to explain how I was losing control over everything, becoming disorganised, forgetting things and losing things. I’ve been feeling like a hard cliff face with rocks crumbling off me every day. I’ve been wearing thin.

I’m now on 25mg Agomelatine (Valdoxan) & 100mg Sertraline (Xydep, Zoloft, Sandoz etc.). The effects of this combination are widely unknown so I think it’s important for me to document it.

I really didn’t want to go back on an SSRI. I hate them; I suffer a lot of side effects for little relief.

So far, the result hasn’t been great, but it’s still early days (barely a week). Headache on day 1, nausea and loss of appetite almost constantly, a dry mouth… And worst of all, I’m sleeping 4-5 hours a night. The nightmares are back, too.

While I’m not feeling suicidal, death is creeping into my thoughts often, in a very relaxing way. I can’t seem to detract from my anxiety with any of the usual methods such as building imaginary scenery, interior decorating or floating on the ocean… However day dreaming that I’m a bony corpse gently shimmying my shoulders, hips and heels in a soft, cold, shallow grave is calming me greatly. I think about the insects crawling on me; picking at what’s left on my skeleton. My worries fade. I’m feeding the earth; my death gives life.

I don’t know if this is something to be worried about yet, but I feel safe as long as the feeling I get from imagining it is calming and not depressing. I’m trying harder than usual to be self aware at the moment because I’m apprehensive about the Sertraline.

Over-Thinking & Socially Retarded Realisations

I saw my psychiatrist last week and I’ve been ruminating on something.

The assistant I’m supposed to be getting at work. I thought I had all these anxieties about the new person – but I’ve totally turned them on myself and have become my own worst enemy. When I mentioned the situation to the doctor, he gently told me that I need to be prepared for the person to do things differently to me.

“Great! If someone can walk in and do things better and quicker than me, I’m all for it!” I exclaimed.

“Well… They might not necessarily do things better or quicker. Just differently.”

I sat there, feeling totally stumped. OK, I calmly started talking aloud about that being fine, and I could let go of it… Then I thought about the kitchen at home and realised that it’s not going to be that easy. Flying solo at work has given me control – just like in the kitchen. Everything has its spot, I wash the dishes in a certain order (glasses first, cutlery last and crockery in between) and I hang around impatiently looking over my husband’s shoulder if he offers to cook. Instead of straight out telling him how to do it, I interrupt and add things to the pot while he stirs and tells me to wait because he’s not ready to put that in yet. I know I can be irritating when I do this, but I don’t care.

Wait. Now I care.

I suddenly care because this new person isn’t someone who loves me just the way I am. This person could make my life difficult; but I’d probably be making theirs difficult first.

Shit. This is going to be horrible. I don’t think I’m ready.

Then I start rambling about how terrified I am of making conversation with strangers. On a short term basis, sure, I can totally ace that because it’s shallow. But on a daily basis? No. On a daily basis, I feel forced to over-share because I have nowhere else to go with the conversation. I’m not familiar with much of pop culture. TV shows, movies, music… I basically live under a rock.

The doc half laughed at how I’m so terrified of awkward silence that I feel the need to fill that gap with inappropriate information about myself. I know he was doing this to make me realise how silly I was being, and it worked. He talked me through “prodding” the other person into doing all the work. Asking open questions for them to talk about themselves and things they’re interested in… So I can sit back and relax. And I can offer fairly closed answers if I want to. Ok, that relieved me a little.

But he asked “are you the kind of person that jumps in and speaks when there’s a natural lull in a conversation?”.

Yes. Yes I am. I hate talking, but I hate awkward silences even more. So I panic and I try to fill the empty space with something random.

A few days ago I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a few years, and she shot questions at me one after the other, barely waiting for a reply from me. And I realised that I’ve done this to people many times because my fear of not having enough conversation has gone into overdrive and I’ve just stood there mouthing off constantly. OHMYGOD. I’m an irritating, interrupting fucker who doesn’t leave space for someone to get a word in or change the topic.

I’ve been sitting on this for a few days now. Am I over reacting? If that’s who I am, why hasn’t anyone pointed it out before? I don’t do it all the time… But I definitely do it. I’d never been on the receiving end of it before; it was really overwhelming. I couldn’t wait to get away from it.

Needless to say, I’ve been very quiet these past few days. I’ve been internalising a lot. I really hope this doesn’t develop into too much self loathing. I don’t really want to open my mouth around other people now, which is frustrating because I’m already fairly introverted and I don’t “drive” conversations most of the time.

I know that I need to work on not always speaking during a silence because it’s not necessarily awkward for the other person – it might just be awkward for me. But I also have to work on coping with/working through those moments. Because they are ALWAYS awkward for me, unless they’re with my husband.

I feel like a social retard.