Sunday, April 26, 2009

Addition to the Last Post: I Don't Want to be a Zombie

Appropriately enough, something that I forgot in the last post is that I seem to be having some cognition problems since I started the lithium. Even after the fuzziness faded, for the most part, once I got used to the meds, I still had memory problems. They weren't as bad as when I was on the effexor, but they are still there. I really can't remember names at all. I blank on movie titles and the names of actors. I'll have a word on the tip of my tongue, I can even see the object or person in my head, but I can't remember the name of it. It took me two weeks of mulling it over in the back of my mind to remember that it's the lead singer of OH FUCK I can't remember it now. So yeah, it sucks. And if I had to do this while taking a class with a good deal of memorization, like either of my art history courses, I'd be completely screwed. Guess taking any foreign language classes are out now.

But what is probably even more troubling to me is that I seem to have lost some of my ability to make connections between ideas. I keep telling people that this medicine made my IQ drop 20 points. Everyone seems to kinda laugh this off, but it is genuinely how I feel. I have a difficult time making the connections needed to understand some Newsweek articles. I keep thinking of my Rhetoric class, reading Foucault and having that light bulb moment. There's no way I could even understand Foucault now. I couldn't even read the text, much less make the needed connections. And I can't seem to get any fiction writing started. Even when I think I have an idea to start with, I can't come up with what follows. It sucks.

I once saw an interview with the author of a (non-fiction) book about the connections between bipolar disorder and genuis in creative/artistic pursuits. In laying out her case in the book, she brought up several great artists who, though undiagnosed in thier lifetimes, usually because there was no such thing as a bipolar disorder diagnosis, have reportedly displayed symptoms common to bipolar disease. She also studied several living artists with a documented history of bipolar disorder. It's interesting to wonder if what helps make one an artistic genius, or even just creative, also makes one bipolar.

Now, I'm not disgnosed as bipolar, but I am on a combination of drugs typically prescribed to bipolar people. I also don't think I'm going to create some great masterpiece. But I still wonder about the "is it worth it" question. If we had these drugs then, do you think it would have been better for Van Gogh to have his mental illness under control if it meant he never produced Starry Night or any of his other masterpieces? Do you think he'd have taken the medication if it meant he wouldn't paint? The same question could be asked about so many people now famous for their artistic endeavors. Hell, even about non-artists. Someone, maybe even the author I wrote about above, said that Winston Churchill was probably bipolar. Can you imagine how different history might have been if Churchill was on lithium, instead of just self-medicating with alcohol?

I'm not really looking for any concrete answers. I'm not going to run off to my doctor to ask for a med change. And I'm certainly not going to just stop any medication. All that said, I still would love your thoughts and opinions.

I Don't Want to be a Zombie

When making the initial decision about whether or not to begin taking psychiatric drugs, I was scared to death, afraid I’d end up a drugged out zombie. While there are tons of unflattering portrayals of people on psychiatric drugs and psychiatric drugs themselves from movies, television, and literature that I could choose from, the one I kept coming to was a character in Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour.” In the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to Deirdre Mayfair, who turns out to be the biological mother of the main character. She has been put on heavy psychiatric drugs for several decades, by the order of her family. She opens her eyes, but that is the full extent to which she interacts with the outside world. I felt that I would rather die than end up like Deirdre Mayfair, even if it was what was “best” for me and my loved ones.

Of course, that was an extreme worry, especially when we were only talking about putting me on an SSRI anti-depressant. As long as I’ve been on the “right” anti-depressant, I’ve had no large problems. Of course, even then, there was a certain amount of tinkering going on to get the “right” anti-depressant…but I did not have the kind of issues I was worried about before I started taking them.

The same cannot be said, however, of adding other drugs to the regiment, as any loyal reader knows. The lithium has proved to have a longer and more difficult adjustment period and I’m still sorting through and dealing with the side effects of it. And I’ve been thinking a great deal about when it stops being worth it, when you should change meds, things like that. Do you have to act like something out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” for it to be too much? What if the meds just interfere so much that you can’t function like a real person, can’t get/keep a job? I’m not thinking of changing meds now, but I’d like to share the side effects I’m dealing with now, some minor but annoying and others that I feel are interfering or could interfere. I’m sharing the side effects so that those who don’t have experience on psychiatric drugs can see what it is like and, for those of you who do have that experience, maybe I can get some advice. I would also love to hear anyone’s thoughts on when those side effects would be too much for you.

Ok, so there are still basic general things that are still going on that I’ve written about before. I’m not going to grow my hair out again because it got so gross and was falling out after I started taking the lithium. I still have the “can’t feel my stomach” phenomenon, which is only slightly annoying. I had hoped that it would help me curb my eating, but it actually hurt it. I tend to eat with my eyes, eat comfort food and junk food, and I don’t know when to stop eating until I’m about to puke. I’ve also lost my taste for chocolate, unless it is in ice cream/shake form, trading it in for a craving for salty and greasy food and gummy candy.

Something I didn’t connect to the lithium until recently, and in all reality could really be a side effect of my birth control implant, is the acne I’ve been experiencing. Not to be too gross about it, but I have been getting clusters of acne that don’t turn into whiteheads and don’t heal. They end up looking like large red areas on my face. Many of these are along my chin line. I’ve also felt them in my hair, but I can’t see those so much. I didn’t have the clearest skin before but they were usually individual whiteheads in the T-zone which cleared up rather easily. I also have problem areas on my body, which don’t seem to be clearing up at all. When I saw that this wasn’t going away, I became diligent about washing my face twice a day. When that didn’t do it, I bought an acne fighting moisturizer. I’ve now moved on to a trio of acne controllers sold together. It’s only been a couple of days. We’ll see how it goes. But I hate being in my mid-20s and having to fight acne this hard, when it doesn’t seem like it is working. I know it sounds shallow to worry about this, but it does interfere in my life. I don’t want to face people during job interviews, when doing things for the organization I volunteer with, or in other social settings with these hideous red spots on my face. I don’t want to take pictures, even to commemorate an occasion. And I’m even more nervous when I wear make-up to “hide” the blemish, as I’m always afraid that it just makes the blemish stand out more. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this new regime works.

Another thing that I hadn’t noticed a lot until recently, though it also seems shallow, is the effect of the drug on my sex drive. It’s complicated to explain, so please bear with me. It’s not that I don’t want sex. It is also not that I don’t enjoy sex when I have it. But I don’t seek it out and I don’t initiate it. It’s been months since I’ve been to Craigslist looking for some strange. I suppose, on the one hand, it’s a good thing for me. It has smoothed out a good deal of my compulsive sexual tendencies and I know several people who would say that is a good thing. But, on the other hand, it might be contributing to the lack of physical relationship between Obsedian and I, as if I didn’t have a hard enough time initiating sex with other women. It could also create problems if/when I start a relationship with someone who isn’t as sexually aggressive and comfortable initiating the sex as TyRoy. I have always felt, and still do feel, like sexual contact is an important part of any intimate romantic relationship. I never wanted to be “that girl,” the one who didn’t have sex with her man, who wasn’t GGG with her partner, who was experiencing “lesbian bed death” with her girlfriend. But maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about becoming that woman. Even though I might not actually initiate the sex, I do try to think of things TyRoy might like, wear panty hose and high heels for no reason other than to arouse his sexual interest, though I think most women, me included, just have to smile at him to get him aroused. And, though I still haven’t been able to push myself on her, I have developed a good way to get to see Obsedian more often, in private, and late at night. Now I just have to have the balls to act.

Last but not least, we have the tremor, which I’ve written about before. The doctor put me on a beta blocker, propranolol, which is typically used to control blood pressure. I take a very small amount and we end up bumping it up everytime I go to see him. It was working ok, though I was having a hell of a time trying to remember to take the middle of the day pill. Then, about a week and a half ago, the tremor started bothering me again. Mostly it’s just been the benign shaking that only I notice. I’ve also had a couple of twitches in my body. None of that was too major though. But then Friday morning I had an episode of bad shaking and that fuzzy feeling that I thought I had left behind once I got adjusted to the meds. I really detest that fuzzy feeling. I was glad when it seemed to disappear, as I knew I probably couldn’t work or function like a normal person while having that feeling. I started to feel better after some sleep, though the tremor is still bugging me.

Ok guys. So there it is. Tell me your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Irreversible

***Spoiler Alert****
***Trigger Alert****

Just watched the movie Irreversible. Now, I kind knew going in what the movie was about. When it came to American theaters in 2003, it was pretty controversial for two especially brutal scenes, one of a murder and one of a sexual and physical assault. It was also told in a “reverse” manner, somewhat like the movie Momento.

What I’m writing now is just my first impressions after having just watched the movie, without the aid of any recently read reviews or commentaries of the movie. I’m also probably not going to be able to make any arguments that will stand up to scrutiny, but it is just what is in my head about the movie.

From the start, I was struck by the all the homophobic language. As cops lead a man on a gurney and then a handcuffed man out of a bar called Rectum, homophobic slurs and commentary are hurled at the two men. In the next scene, which happened before the first, the audience first sees all kinds of sexual activity going on in a dimly lit “backroom” area, both solo and man on man, where most of the men are in leather. Now, I’ve never been to any sex clubs, let alone a sex club exclusively for gay men, but I am not sure I believe that places like this even exist. I have been to gay bars, even gay leather bars where I was just about the only woman there, and I’ve never seen anything like these places featured in movies and television shows where gay men go to have all kinds of sex. So, anyway, there are several minutes of “lurid” gay sex. Then the man on the gurney shows up and starts asking everyone if they know a man called Tiena. The guy who was arrested in the previous scene is trying to get the guy from the gurney to leave, to stop whatever he’s doing. And if you didn’t know from a movie synopsis before you started watching the movie, you’ll find out in a scene or two that these guys are looking for the guy who raped someone they know (gurney guy’s girlfriend). Let me repeat that: They’re looking for a guy who raped a girl in a gay club/bar/sex club. In the process, gurney guy throws out “faggot,” “cocksucker”, etc, slaps around a guy, and then he tries to beat up the guy he thinks raped his girl. When that guy overpowers him, the arrested guy gets in the fray, first to defend gurney guy, then just letting out all the anger he must feel as the sensitive, thinking-too-much guy he’s shown to be later in the movie. So in the second reverse chronological scene, we’re shown the “deviant” sex backroom and then the straight guys beat up one guy and kill another guy, presumably both gay men, in an all gay club. Now, despite how bad I feel rape is, and how willing I am to punish a rapist as severely as possible, as an LGBT person, I was sickened to think that a place where a gay man might go to feel safe and express his sexuality around other like-minded men would be a turned into a place of violence against them by two straight men.

Then, as the movie proceeded, there are several more scenes were the victim, the woman they are supposed to be getting revenge for, Alex, is mentioned, but not seen. For awhile, it was starting to seem like this movie was more about their sense of vengeance than about the victim. Probably the first third of the movie is taken up with Gurney Guy seeking first a witness to the crime, then the club where the witness has told him the perpetrator is hanging out. During this, Gurney Guy assaults a prostitute and threatens to cut her and uses derogatory language to and about an Asian taxi driver, then assaulting him and stealing his cab. What a good boyfriend. Arrested Guy pleads with him to stop, to go see Alex at the hospital, all to no avail. When watching those scenes, I thought that it might be nice for them to go see the woman, but, during that first watching, one doesn’t know how much time has passed. I figured they already knew she was stable. No, you later find out that this is happening just after the police left the scene of the crime. They have not been to the hospital at all before running off to get revenge. Also, isn’t it the victim who is entitled to her revenge? If she died, then maybe it should all fall on their shoulders. But she was the victim of the crime. If anyone is going to get blood for blood, shouldn’t it be her? It just feels like this is taking away all her agency.

The first time we see Alex is when she is being put into the ambulance. She is all blood and dark hair. Just before this, a bystander, when asked what the police are doing there, replies that some whore got raped. When Gurney Guy sees her and starts wailing over her, he calls her his girl. So far Alex is – a rape victim, a whore, and Gurney Guy’s girl. It is her rape that has supposedly driven the story so far, but she isn’t even really a person at this point.

Then the next scene is the scene in which she is raped. She is wearing a very slinky dress and using the underground tunnel to get to the other side of the busy, multi-lane street, to the side where all the taxis are. (And, of course, she is told in an earlier chronologically, seen later scene not to go alone because it is too dangerous.) There is a lengthy brutal rape scene. Very length, very brutal. After the man is done raping her, he then kicks and punches her in the face, saying that he wants to ruin her beautiful face. There is also quite a bit of class issues in it, as he calls her a rich bitch several times, seems to resent her class, or perceived class. We also find out that the man who raped her is also implied to be the pimp of the transgendered prostitute Gurney Guy roughed up earlier in the movie. When raping Alex, he says several times that he does not usually like “cunts.” Does it disturb anyone that the straight guys are the (anti-) heroes for an agent-less woman raped by a gay man?

It is at this point in the movie that I had this thought: If you lived in a country where everyone was white, how would you know who to be scared of when walking alone at night? That’s not exactly what I mean. In American movies or television, there are certain stereotypes of people we should be afraid of. This is a reflection of who we think we should be afraid of in real everyday. These people are almost always male, marked by their clothing as poor or working class (like they aren’t wearing suits), more often than not black or Hispanic, blah blah blah. I’ve read several articles written by middle and upper class people of color who were suspected of shoplifting or being up to no good just because of the color of their skin. But I wonder who white people are supposed to be afraid of when there are no people of color around? I grant this isn’t the actual reality of any European country today and that immigrants in France are face discrimination, but it still made me wonder. It also just reinforced how stupid those stereotypes are, that my parents lost more to the banksters out of their 401Ks than they would lose to a mugger on any given day, and that most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows personally, not strangers like in this movie.

The rest of the movie is why she left the party before either of the men and flushing out the relationships between the three. It ends in a bright park, with children playing, on a kinda cheery note, like the movie puts back together everything that was broken by the end. I guess that’s a more interesting way of ending the film. It also lets people who’ve seen something pretty disturbing leave the theater feeling good instead of like they want to shoot themselves, which happens way more often in movies like this. Also, it goes from dark and “depraved” and violent to bright and happy and loving.

But I have to say I’m still deeply troubled…….

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sometimes I Feel Like I Can't Do Anything Right

Even when I am doing better, it still feels like it is never enough. As I said in my last post, I am frustrated and disappointed with how my job search is going, or not going as the case may be, and with how little I'm actually doing currently for the places that I have tried to volunteer with. Thankfully, I was able to be more productive for my household, but it still doesn't feel like enough. When a person's largest problem is that they don't don't feel like they are worthwhile or contribute to society on the whole, it doesn't help that person to actually not be able to contribute in a positive way to their own livelyhood.

Another recent development that hasn't really helped me is that I've started going through a decent amount of pain for a frustrating percentage of my time. I'm not really sure why this is either. In high school, I started seeing a chiropractor after prolonged back and neck pain and limited upper body mobility that my general practicioner didn't really think was anything at all. It is the chiropractor's opinion (and mine) that my back and neck pain are probably a result of a car accident when I was 12. I see him on an irregular basis, when I have an issue. I have, at different times, experienced nagging leg pain, what I imagine restless leg syndrome feels like. It usually only bothers me when I lay down to sleep. Stretching gives me temporary relief. At my most recent physical in July when I was having this problem, the doctor's nurse told me that it was a vitamin deficiency and to start regularly taking a multi-vitamin. This in combination with a trip to the chiropractor stopped the pain. For awhile at least. I had to stop the multi-vitamin about a month in because it had iron and iron causes me to have horrible heavy periods. I should have looked for another but it is very hard to find a multi-vitamin without iron. And I mostly didn't have any more problems with it until last month. Maybe one night here and there, but nothing like this. The nagging pain has started to bother me when I am sitting as well as when I lay down to sleep. It makes me want to move, to stretch out farther in bed, to shift position, which makes me not a great person to sleep in the same bed with or to even sit on the couch with sometimes. And the pain has started to spread to my forearms. I've been taking ibeprophen every 6 hours. I went to the chiropractor two weeks ago. It helped for a couple days, but then came back. I'm not sure what to do now. I'm not sure if it is the result of back problems and nerve pinching. And I can't really afford to go to... well, any doctor to explore what it could be. But it sure makes sleeping and functioning even less fun that it was before. I'm kinda screwed all the way around.

Then there is the latest bit of drama. BT's ex gf, the one he was with after he left me, sent me a message on myspace to apologize for everything. I responded, thanking her, telling her that, though she said she didn't believe anything he had said about he and I, I had a hand in the end of the relationship, that I wasn't innocent, and that I didn't wish her ill, as there was enough blame to go around. I also told BT that she had contacted me, giving him the gist of the conversation but not copying it, because I didn't want him to find out through her or any mutual friends of theirs and be upset that I hadn't told him. I am really trying hard to be civil and friendly with him. She replied with some info about their relationship that I hadn't asked for, though it had to do with some legal issues I knew they were having that I really don't want to be a part of. That's when I heard from BT- he wanted a copy of the messages to use in the legal wranglings, despite my saying that they weren't going to help him. While he didn't get angry, as far as I could tell, he did REALLY want me to give them to him. When I let her know about his request, including the fact that I had told him to have his JAG lawyer call me or get a court order, she got mad at me for ever having told him about her messaging me. So, in a petty moment, I said fuck it to myself and sent it on to him. There was a moment in there when I felt like maybe I wasn't going to be the hated pariah in this whole situation. Maybe my ex-husband wouldn't hate me and we could at least be civil, even if we couldn't be friends, and I wouldn't feel like the woman he got with after me, who no doubt heard lots of bad things about me and felt all kinds of bad things about me, many because she felt that I had hurt the man she loved, doesn't hate me. Guess not.

Fuck. I really wish I could drink without a blindingly painful hangover, because getting really drunk is about all I can come up with right now.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Disappointment

*Sigh* I started the week before last pretty excited. Joblessness has been getting me down lately, but I got some advice that pushed me to go ahead and start purueing volunteer opportunities, then adjust my scheduling if/when I got a job. I decided on signing up to volunteer with an animal shelter (the same one where I got my older cat) and the metro LGBT community center. All the while, I would continue to do work for my folks and apply for jobs, including jobs I might not normally apply for.

Well, two weeks later and I'm pretty much nowhere. Which is where I started. So at least I didn't move backwards.

I filled out the application to volunteer at the animal shelter Monday before last. I still haven't heard from them. I checked out the website and it said that, because they have a large number of people who want to volunteer, it often takes 2-3 weeks for them to get back to anyone. Selfishly, I was hoping to be able to fill some time up sooner.

In what I thought was a good sign, I heard back from someone at the LGBT community center the day after I sent them an email and was invited to join their membership committee meeting last Sunday. It was a great meeting and I felt energized and hopeful. I was only supposed to contact two other LGBT groups, go to one of their meetings, and tell them about our upcoming activities. The one group doesn't meet for a few weeks, but going to talk to the other group is more complicated. I took the women's football team during our meeting and it was suggested that I ask if I could come speak to them just before a practice. I never heard back from them. I also didn't hear back from the committee's leader, who had said he would provide talking points when we went to talk to these groups. Last Sunday, we had a specific event that we were supposed to be promoting, which was supposed to happen next Saturday. It has now disappeared from the website. I sent another email but it isn't looking so good....

I'm still applying for jobs. I even applied to a few housekeeping jobs. And one of them sent me an email back saying that they were going with more qualified applicants. I know, I know, I know. This means that they are looking at candidates who have previous housekeeping exprience. But what I read was that I'm not even qualified to be a housekeeper. Ever feel like you'll never find a job? Then, you start to look back at times where you messed up on jobs, and you start to think that you don't deserve a job. Today Mom said that they don't call it a "down" economy just because all those numbers are down. It's the people that are down too. In my head, I keep imagining our cities and towns turning into those dark, dirty, scary places of late-1970s and 1980s indie movies. I watched Repo Man last week. Wow....... That movie is crazy.

Helping around the house was going well, but health issues have derailed that the last half week or so. Sorry if this is TMI but- Well, my period started up today, so I'm guessing that my need to sleep for 18 hours a day was some lovely PMS. So I haven't gotten out to do the shopping that I was supposed to do for my folks and we don't have alot of food around right now. But I did manage to be awake to go with my mom to her eye appointment today, as she was worried they would dilate her eyes and she didn't want to drive herself home. Yay me!

Lastly, there's the love life. Meh. What love life? My regular lover has been out of town for work and, when home, too tired and overloaded to hang out. And my other dating relationship seems to be at a standstill. Partly because of lack of privacy, also because of a lack of sexual aggression on both our parts, and well other stuff. I don't want to push anything and I really don't think either of us know exactly what we want so it's kinda just where it's at.

So, no lovin', no job, and no selfish selflessness. Let's hope next week is better.