Missed medication and recovery curveballs.

Sometimes recovery really is all over the place. Sometimes it’s messy. It’s uneven. It leaves much to be desired. Sometimes recovery feels like falling backwards, and sometimes it even is heading backwards for a while. Recovery is dynamic, changing, just as we humans are not static creatures. Our experiences parallel this.

On this blog, I try to have an optimistic outlook of recovery as a process, and all its ups and downs. I’m getting used to focusing on the stages of the process, which is good, however I need to remember that this trend line isn’t straight. It’s pointing in the right direction, but it’s a rollercoaster to get there.

A few nights ago, it was one of those nights. I felt as though I was back to square one, smack bang down where I started. One little blip, episode, moment, whatever you want to call it, really isn’t that major in the big scheme of things. But at the time, it can feel as though everything is crashing down, that everything is crumbling, and that all is against us. All of a sudden we feel alone, stuck, a shadow of who we have worked so hard to become.

To help manage a number of symptoms, I take the SNRI Venlafaxine every day at the same time. I have always stuck to this, and have never missed a dose. I have been warned, profusely, about the side-effects of missing a dose. These side-effects are apparently greater in intensity than most SSRI medications, as Venlafaxine has a very short biological half-life, meaning that it is metabolised and eliminated from our systems quickly. Therefore, taking a dose late or missing it altogether means that the side-effects of withdrawal are intense, and can come about quicker than expected.

Woman Wearing Black Jacket Beside Green Leaved Trees

One morning, I forgot to take Venlafaxine. It had completely slipped my mind, which is very unlike me. I went about my day fine, and it wasn’t until I began work in the evening that I realised that something wasn’t right. Every movement caused this whooshy sensation and dizziness, so even just looking to the side would cause everything to flip and spin. My coordination was a bit off too, as I kept dropping things, and also kept getting words all muddled up. It was scary, as I haven’t experienced this before. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that I had forgotten to take my medication.

To cut a long, embarrassing story short, I ended up having a panic attack and leaving work early. My managers and supervisor were so, so lovely. I felt so guilty about what I put them through, but they were so kind and understanding. I am so very grateful for them. I have had a couple of panic attacks at work, however each time I am amazed at how supportive my colleagues are. The next day I’m always a bit nervous about going back, about what people will think of me, but each time they treat me normally and the same as always, and that makes it so much easier.

It’s interesting how big of an influence Venlafaxine has on my body. Not only does it enable me to work on my recovery, rather than merely existing on the brink of survival, but also it simply has changed me. Venlafaxine has changed my life, for the better, and I am so thankful that I have access to this medication which I need.

In the moment, it’s easy to think that we haven’t changed at all, and that mental illnesses will always reign over us and have complete control. It is instances like this night at work that remind me that difficult things still happen, but I have the tools to handle them now. Recovery is all over the place, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. It changes us in the process. Are we all the better for it? Who knows. But one thing is for sure – it makes us strong.


Planning for a healthy 2018.

Ever since my therapist explained the importance of planning my days to help care for my mental health, it’s like a lightbulb switched on in my head. And it’s still shining bright!

For someone like me, who has had a longtime foe called anxiety, simple, everyday tasks can easily become overwhelming. They can feel as though they are all stampeding towards me, and by that stage, my brain utterly convinced that I can’t handle any of them. This contributes to the frequency and intensity of the panic attacks I experience. It goes without saying that generally, the more collected, confident and organised I feel, the less anxiety reigns it’s ugly head and spews out panic attacks. Sorry for the ugly image there. But as anyone who has even merely heard of a panic attack knows – there really isn’t a pretty way to describe them.

A few months ago, my therapist began to help me plan my days for several reasons. The first, as explained above, is that it aids in stabilising my mental health. The second, is that on days that seem impossible to live through, even if I can accomplish the smallest, easiest task on my list, this lessens the feelings of hopelessness, and turns them more into a sort of hope. The third is that I thrive on productivity and routine, and being busy helps to keep anxiety at bay. It also helps my confidence and self-esteem. Last but not least, something I am working on through recovery is creating balance and engaging in self-care, so planning helps me to schedule it all in.

As 2018 is rapidly approaching, my little organised and perfectionist self is getting so excited about a brand new year. New classes will start, I get to take brand new notes (!!!), and I am also hoping to take up the opportunity to start planning my days in a new way.

At the moment, I have a standard planner, where I chuck in everything from my shifts at work, to class times, to assignments, to therapy times, to family and friend things, to birthdays, to random notes. It’s all a big, messy jumble, which is quite an eyesore. I feel as though if I curated it all in a different way, things would seem less overwhelming. It would also enable me to have clearer intentions for each day, and to work my goals into my plans to make them achievable.

White Paper With Note

So, please enter, (about three years too late, I know), the bullet journal. Or something of the sorts anyway.

One of my goals for before January 1st 2018 is to have organised out my planning for the year. I’m hoping to create healthy daily morning and night routines, which includes things that I am learning impact my mental health in a positive way. Things like taking my medication, reading, going outside, exercising, mindfulness time and communicating. I am also hoping to write down my toolbox of strategies, such as mindfulness skills, and DBT techniques, so that I have a physical list in front of me when I need it.

Also, I’m not going to lie, but I do get all wide-eyed in wonder looking at all the pretty colours and the aesthetics of bullet journals. That is definitely part of the pull towards it all.

Something that does put me off bullet journalingĀ a little bit, is how perfect they always look online. I know logically that this isn’t real life, and that these books are not perfect. However, I’m afraid of getting so wrapped up in it looking perfect, and never being able to make it that way, that it will all just crumble around me. Therefore, this is something I have to remember throughout the process, and to just let myself simply be. Hopefully along the way of creating the journal, I will learn give more energy to being creative rather than being perfect. Creativity and growth beats perfection any day.

Some ideas of what I am hoping to include in my bullet journal are goals, well more aims, for my mental health and mindfulness, alongside goals for university, work, writing, and life after graduation, such as jobs and house savings.

2018 – you scare me, you make me excited, and you fill me with hope.