When I Forget a Dose of Medication

Yesterday, things had been clicking along normally. I went to work (I’m currently teaching part-time in an adult education program, preparing people to take the GED test), came home, and did stuff around the house. I then picked up my children from school. I didn’t notice anything was off in my mind or spirit until my kids had a little dust-up, an I over-reacted in a major way. My tirade hit such a high octave that my voice began to crack, and still I kept on, though somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, What the hell is this? Why am I flying off the handle over something relatively minor?

The three of us finally settled down, and I was completely drained. I mean, drained like I’d just spent eight hours toiling away in a middle school language arts classroom (which, for the record, is mighty drainingI used to come home and collapse in bed for two hours). I carried on with other household chores like laundry and getting supper ready while my kids occupied themselves. At one point, my youngest approached me in the kitchen, and I said, “I can’t listen to anything else. I’m sorry. Just please don’t ask me anything right now.” My son, who’s heard this from me before, shrugged and went back to the living room, and I tumbled under wave after wave of guilt.

Right before my wife came home, I sat down and began a post. I got as far what you read below:

This is going to most likely be an ugly and not terribly hopeful post. As I write this, my children are asking me questions, and I’m doing my damndest not to snap back. It’s a losing batttle, I’m afraid.

This happens periodically….

At this point, my wife walked in the door, and my youngest son ran up to her and said, “Daddy said I can’t talk to him now. He can’t listen to any more voices.” My wife looked at me, and I clutched my head and said, “It’s true, I can’t. There’s just too much audio stimulation going on.” Of course, my kids started arguing immediately, and it felt like knives tearing into my brain. I went on the porch to get away from it and deal with laundry.

All the while, the noise in my head kept on, joined by the hyper-critical voice that was one reason I used to drink: to shut that fucker up. I don’t understand, I thought amid all the mental and spiritual chaso. This wasn’t a bad day. I shouldn’t want to crawl into bed and shut everyone out.

And then I passed the cabinet where we keep medicine. I looked at my bottle of anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medicine. “Oh, bloody hell,” I said. “I didn’t take it.

stache man 1
How I feel without my medicine: angry (and moustachioed).

I’m normally med-compliant. If I don’t take my medicine every morning, I usually fare all right until the afternoon, and then the wheels come off. Or they can come off. I’ve certainly missed a dose before and not had an issue. That wasn’t the case yesterday.

I walked into the living room and told my family I’d missed a dose. My oldest son glanced up from his game and said, “Well, that explains a lot.” And it does. I went back to the kitchen and took my pill. About an hour later, I felt a little more like myself.

This experience comes on the heels of another one that surprised me. I’ve developed a crippling fear of dentists, which I never had growing up. Now, I feel trapped and like I’m going to choke to death when I’m in the chair. Anyway, I hadn’t been to the dentist in something like two years, so I asked my doctor for a Klonapin to calm me down. I took Klonapin daily during my ill-advised year back teaching in the public school setting. It worked like a charm then, and when I quit, I also quit taking Klonapin. No withdrawl and no regrets.

But I was freaking the hell out about going to the dentist, so I took one. I expected to calm right down have that feeling of relief as my obsessive, terrifying thoughts were put behind a wall. That’s what it always felt like; the thoughts were still there, but they were trapped. I could carry on with my day.

This time, though, the thoughts remained and within five minutes, I felt inebriated. I couldn’t walk straight, let alone think straight. “I feel drunk,” I told my wife, who was going to drive me to the dentist. “And I don’t like it.”

alcohol-hangover-event-death-52507.jpeg
The not-so-good-old days.

That was the freaky–but good, I suppose–thing: I hated the feeling. I hated that I started babbling about nonsense, just like I did when I drank. It got to the point on the drive to the dentist that my wife looked at me and said, “You need to tone it down before you get there. You’re rambling.”

The dentist visit wasn’t pleasant, but I guess the pill worked enough that I didn’t bolt from the office. But my anxiety was almost through the roof the entire time. When I finished and walked home, I was furious: the pill hadn’t done what it was supposed to, I hated dentists, and the world could go fuck itself. Why these thoughts? I was coming down,l that’s why.

I’ve been using essential oils for quite some time now, and I’ve recently added Copaiba oil, which has an almost immediate calming effect on me. I believe I’ll stick with that when I go back to the dentist (and, in future posts, I may mention some other oils that benefit my emotional well-being).

Gah, what a long post. Thanks for reading. Happy sober Friday.

Advertisements

Reflections on a 1001 days of Sobriety

I recently installed Sober Grid on my phone and noticed yesterday that I had been sober for 1,000 days. That aint nothin’. Now it’s a 1,0001, which has a nice ring to it, as well. So here are some thoughts at 1,0001 days sober.

Like many recovering alcoholics (and just peope in general), I’m good at isolating. I’m very good at telling myself and others that I just need some time alone to recharge. While that’s true sometimes–say, after a long day or work or being in a hectic social situation–it’s usually just an excuse to separate myself from the world. And why not, right? Why not forgo interaction with other people in order to write poetry and music and enjoy your own company?

For me, too much time spent by myself reinforces the idea that “it’s about me.” If I stay in my head and keep my own counsel, I don’t run into trouble, but I also don’t grow. And I sure as hell dont help anyone else.

Take as much time to yourself as you need, my brain says. You’ve got two little kids who take up a lot of energy. And if you don’t have time alone, when will you write? 

Valid points, but that doesn’t mean I get a pass. It doesn’t mean that I get to extricate myself from the world and carry on like I have nothing to offer anyone except my family. Ugh, it’s painful for me to write this, but I have a lot to offer people. I just read that sentence and shook my head. Gah! What’s that line about an egomaniac with an inferiority complex? Maybe that is the line. I think I’m pretty darn great, but that’s fine because think that. Anyone else who would willingly spend time around me must be weird, and if they knew better, they’d steer clear. It’s like I have a monopoly on me being a good, talented person, and I’m automatically suspicious if anyone thinks that. Weird shit, I know.

I wasnt always like this, but I became more and more convinced of my worthlessness the more I drank. Depression and anxiety certainly play a role, too. One of the reasons I drank was because alcohol deadened the negative voices…for a while. Like they say, it worked until it stopped working, but that didn’t mean I stopped drinking.

I have to go forward acting as if I have things to offer people. Not being disingenuous or manipulative, but kind of faking it til I make it. To that end, I’ve started going back to meetings. I’m going to church and making an effort at talking to people, though the idea freaks me out.

Most importantly, I’m not drinking. It’s tempting every now and then to take a break from myself, which alcohol could certainly offer, but the price I’d pay is too dear. I’d pick back up where I left off and would drink with a fucking vengenence. No thanks.

That’s all from me. Happy sober Monday to you fine folks.

Musical Interpretation of Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorder

As I’ve indicated before on this blog, I write instrumental music as part of ongoing personal therapy, and for the simple joy of it, too…it’s usually not a chore, but it can stir up strong and not-aways-pleasant emotions. Ultimately, writing music is cathartic for me, even if the process is sometimes painful.

When I wrote the first part of a piece I’m tentatively calling “Losing the Sky of my Mind,” I didn’t expect it to cause such an emotional reaction in me, but in listening back to a rough cut of the track, I felt uncomfortable, uplifted, scared, anxious, and happy all at once (perhaps because I haven’t been able to refill my medication?). Like I do with poetry, I’ll go where the music takes me, though I suspect I’ll write two more parts and combine them all in one piece.

Until then, if you’re curious, you can check out the track on my SoundCloud page.

 

Sober but Twitchy Christmas Eve

There were many Christmas Eves when by this time (1o:45 AM) I would have already been on my way to being drunk. If we were visiting relatives, I’d have little wine bottles hidden in my bag, or I’d sneak into the kitchen and find whatever liquor was available and have three or four shots. I’d keep a good base-line buzz until after lunch when I’d find myself alone as family did Christmas things, and then I got down to the real drinking. I’d chew gum, brush my teeth, drink water, even take an alcohol-induced nap…and no one seemed to notice. Perhaps they were so used to be isolating myself–even during Christmas–that they didn’t notice or get to close to me. I spoke little for fear of slurring my words.

During the evening, when it was more acceptable to drink wine, I’d knock it back and replenish myself by darting upstairs and drinking more. To anyone paying attention, I had no more than two glasses of wine on Christmas Eve. I knew the truth, though I vigorously blocked it from my mind: I was probably bordering on alcohol poisoning, as I had many times before. I’m amazed that my drinking history doesn’t include a trip or two to the hospital.

On January 5, 2017, I’ll have two years of sobriety…and I have no plans of fucking that up. But under the guidance of my psychiatrist, I’m in the process of switching anti-depressants. I’m tapering off one, and it’s a quick taper. I spoke to my psychiatrist before leaving down because I felt I was going to explode out of my skin…I also felt like running into a brick wall repeatedly. On top of that, I felt like I had an enormous hole in the middle of myself that I desperately needed to fill. I know what I would have filled it with before, and the thoughts whizzed through my mind, but I didn’t act on them.

Today is hard, but I feel better than yesterday. I have an anti-anxiety pill if things get to bad. I wanted to type this entry to hold myself accountable and reach out to some fellow alcoholics.

I hope this finds you all well. Merry and sober Christmas Eve.

 

 

A Recovering Alcoholic Walks into a School…

…and to be more specific, “A recovering alcoholic with clinical depression, OCD, severe anxiety and bi-polar spectrum disorder walks into a school and does the best he can, and soon discovers he needs a lot of help.”

I’m out sick today, as I was yesterday, with some sort of illness that may very be the accumulation of stress at school. For those new to the blog, I teach English to 8th graders. The situation is, in a word, awful. I left public school years ago for definite reasons. Also, I was drinking myself blind in order to get through that time, a pattern which stayed when I moved onto a less stressful job environment.

I’m a good teacher, but my strength isn’t with middle-schoolers. It probably isn’t with high-schoolers, either, since I did that before and left completely disillusioned. Of course, I taught at an alternative school then, with an administration that supported only certain teachers. In my current situation, not only are the students a serious challenge, the county’s requirements for the teachers seem impossible to reach. I do best when I work with adults, teaching reading and writing, but there aren’t any schools in the area except one that offers that as a job. I worked there for five years and left because of the insane demands placed on teachers (seven classes per semester).

I wish my summer job search had yielded different results, but it didn’t. I took this job because I needed money. I was hopeful that I would find my niche in middle school, but that isn’t the case. I’m on the verge of severe panic attacks nearly daily and relying on a new medication to prevent them. Before work, I’m nauseous and sometime throw up. One morning, I sat in my car, pounded the steering wheel, and burst into tears.

I’m going to the doctor in a hour to see if I can get another effective medication that doesn’t carry the risk of dependency like the one I’m taking as a last resort (which is quickly becoming the only option). I’m also in the process of getting a psychiatrist to manage my meds.

I have to make it through the school year; breaking my contract isn’t an option. At this point, I’m not concerned about flourishing; I’m concerned about maintaining my sobriety and surviving. The only bright spots at my school are a few of my fellow teachers who know my situation and are supportive, and my great administration. I’m aware that I’m quite fortunate in that regard.

Perhaps if I can get my meds right, I’ll be able to move out of survival mode. I’m trying to be hopeful, but it’s hard.

I’ll take any positive thoughts, good vibes, and prayers. Thanks.