Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Psychiatric Consult

Based on the downward emotional spiral I have been on for the past, let's say, 2 weeks, I knew that I needed help in getting ME back.  I spoke about this in my last post, which did help me to clarify things in my mind, and helped me to make some realizations.

As I've said in the past, blogging/journaling helps me enormously.  It allows me to get thoughts, ideas, concerns, fears, worries, etc. out of my head, and helps me to process them.  I actually went back yesterday and re-read my last post.  Believe it or not, I didn't remember writing a lot of it, which was kind of scary.  But, reading it again helped me to figure out what I needed to do.

I need professional help.  Therefore, I called CTCA to start the process.  They now have a psychiatrist on staff, and I was able to get in to see her yesterday for a consult.

Accepting that you need help and going in for it, talking about it with a stranger, trying to make sure you are honest but don't sound is tough.  But, I desperately need help.

I guess I'll start with what I've been noticing, and what prompted the phone call.

Lately, I have been feeling like I am not myself.  I can't concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes.  I got several books from the library.  Haven't been able to finish most of them.

I have been having the worst case of chemo brain I've ever experienced.  I will be talking with Levi or someone else, and the word or thought that I just had is gone.  Completely gone.  Or, I can feel the word, but it's just out of reach and I can't quite tell you exactly what it is I'm trying to convey.  I feel utterly stupid so much of the time right now.

I am completely overreacting to things; case in point...I generally don't get too upset when the kids spill something, or break something, or do some other kid-thing that is a mistake.  Sunday night, Julia broke a candle container in the bathroom.  It was maybe a $5 glass jar, and with the stones and candle, the entire thing may have been $12.  I completely, utterly lost my shit.  And, as it was happening, I had this part of me that was almost outside of myself, gawking at what I was saying and doing, wondering why the hell I was making such a big deal out of something so small.  I am also finding myself snapping at the kids, at Levi, for things that I usually wouldn't even blink an eye at.  And, again, at these times, I can't stop myself, but I also have this part of me that is just dumbstruck at my overreaction.

I haven't been sleeping well, at all, for several weeks.  Some nights, it takes me forever to fall asleep.  Last night, I didn't fall asleep until well after midnight.  Other nights, I'll fall asleep but wake up several times for no reason.  Sometimes, when I'm laying in bed trying to get to sleep, my brain is running in a hundred different directions.  The thoughts are not productive, either.  One night, I had a 45 minute conversation in my head about wanting to pain the walls in the house, and went on and on about color, texture, why I should try that color, wouldn't grey be nice, should I try a blue-grey, wouldn't that match Julia's eyes, maybe I should go with more of a green-grey, maybe I could do alternating wall colors, would that go with the couch, maybe I should recover the couch, how about it I painted the ceiling.....ARGH!  I haven't had a good, restful sleep in too many weeks to count.  That isn't healthy.

So, I went to the consult yesterday.  I am so glad that I did.  She and I talked about how much I have been through, what my concerns are, etc.  It was good to have someone validate what I'm feeling and experiencing, and to tell me that it's normal.  There was such a sense of relief when she said that.

I'll try to convey what she told me yesterday.  In laymen's terms, she explained that the brain has a finite amount of neuron receptors (I think that's what she said) to work with, and they need chemicals to work properly (seratonin, etc.).  With the amount of shit I have been through over the past, well, 2+ years, she said that my brain is basically running on empty, and it's scraping the bottom of the barrel to find fuel to work with.  She likened my brain to a race car....if you have an Indy 500 race car that is used to running on racing fuel to keep going fast all the time (i.e., to make my brain function normally in spite of all the crap going on), it's eventually going to run out.  Right now, my brain is like that race car, but now, it's running on old, leaded fuel.  It can work, for a short time, but in the long run, it's unhealthy and unsafe.

So, how to fix it?  We talked about several options, and decided to start with an SSIR called Celexa.  Here is some information about that - it's just a starting point, and we are going to try it out for a few weeks to see if I see a difference.  If not, there are other things we can try.  I haven't looked at the side effects, or the reasons why it will or won't work.  I'm leaving this up to her.  I don't want to clog my brain up with useless information and more things to worry about.

She did give me some information about short and long-term side effects.  Short term - some mild nausea at first, but that should go away.  I may feel slightly tired, but again, that should go away.  Long term - there may be some sexual side effects (I won't go into those too much, especially because I know some folks from work read this....).  Once my brain chemicals restabilize, there may also be a sense of emotional numbness....I may not feel down and depressed anymore, but I may also not be able to feel joy.  She mentioned them only because she wanted me to be aware that, if I start to see these things occur 6-8n months down the road, I should bring them to her attention.  Other than that, it seemed to be the right decision.

She also put me on a drug to help me sleep called Temazepam (name brand Restoril).  I tried taking one pill last night (dosing is for 1-2 per night).  It didn't help.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I felt like I wanted to sleep, but was on the edge of falling asleep but needed a push to get there.  It sucked.  I'm going to try two tonight, and if that doesn't help, I'm to call her tomorrow to get on something else.

I feel some relief knowing that I have a medical professional helping me get through this.  I explained to her yesterday that I feel like, for so long, I have been like a quilt.  There are all of these pieces of me that I've been able to sew together, strongly, tightly bound together, making up who I am.  Lately, though, I feel like those bonds are gone, and I am trying to hold my life together my short, weak threads.  It's terrifying.

I just don't feel like me.  I've noticed that my kids have seen it - they've actually asked if I'm okay.  That, to me, is the worst part.  So, I will gladly take these pills, and pray to the pharmaceutical gods that this kicks in quickly and helps me get back to being the me that I so desperately miss.


Joan B said...

i am so glad you are comfortable seeking help and blogging about it. it must be incredibly hard to fight and fight just to feel well and you finally get a break and bam, your brain goes into high drive. I hope you feel better soon as really, you have been through more than most do in a lifetime and deserve a break!!

ps. curious to see if the drugs help sleeping. I pretty much get no more than 4 hours a night on average and it sucks!!

Laura Loe said...

I am so glad that you sought help when you saw the signs that you needed help. I saw Dr Hygebeli (sp) for a long time while I was at CTCA and I do not know what I would have done without him and Marcia. I really hope the meds she gave you will help you. I was on Restoril at one time and really did not like gave me headaches. Dr Hygebeli had me on Trazidone and that stuff woorks great... it knocks me out. If I am at the computer and it is kicking in I will start dropping the mouse. I cannot force myself to stay awake. If the restoril doesn't work you might want to mention Trazidone.

I wish for you a good nights sleep and much happiness ahead.


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