The Right Answer

The past couple of weeks have been difficult for me. I decided more than five weeks ago to cut my anti depressant in half, and after a battle for stability for almost the entire time, it’s quite certain that something needs to change.

As of two days ago, I made the decision to go back up to my original dose of the anti depressant Citalopram. It was actually quite an easy decision for me, and not one that I feel bad about making. Sometimes the only way to know what’s best for you, is to try certain things and just see how it plays out. For me, being on 20mg of Citalopram instead of 40mg has not had the effect I thought it would. I’ve been a lot more unstable and it appears to be getting worse not better. Am I regretful that I tried? Absolutely not. I would make the same decision again five weeks ago. It’s only by trying that I’ve learnt what my body can cope with, and what I still need help with.

The good news is it normally only takes a week or two to get the full effects of going back up to 40mg, and I’m hoping that I’ll see and feel the benefits soon. It has opened my eyes and changed my perspective a little on anti depressants. It’s now finally clear to me that actually it does have some positive effects and something that I do need, at least for the time being.

Quite a few people have asked me if it made me disappointed to have arrived at this decision, but for me it’s not disappointing at all. In fact I consider it a triumph. I made a decision, the result followed, and because of it, I am now more in touch with what I need help with, and what my physical and mental body can cope with on it’s own.

Knowing what drugs you actually need, and what drugs you don’t, is really important for getting the most out of your life. I do think that it’s easy to become dependent on medication that you might not need, and as long as you are open minded and aware of what you are taking, it’s not too difficult to monitor and adjust your requirements to suit you well. It’s a learning experience, no one knows what they really need, and it’s only by trying and observing we can arrive at the correct conclusion.

Of course, as you go through life, things change, and so the conclusion of yesterday might not apply today. It’s important to recognize that we all go through change, and keeping in touch with this allows us to make better decisions going forward. I know that my decision to go back up on the Citalopram is a good one. I’m also aware that in 3 months it may no longer be required, and maybe It’ll  be time to cut it down again.

The right thing to do, the right choice, the right answer, is only right for as long as it is. Understanding that the right answer today, maybe the wrong answer tomorrow, is a valuable tool in maintaining self awareness and keeping your life in check.

It’s certainly helped me, and will continue to be a significant part of my thinking when it comes to the balance of a healthy mind.

I hope these words find you well,

Cheers,

Harry

Happiness is a Way of Life

As you may be aware, I’ve recently halved my anti depressant from 40mg to 20mg. Well it’s been about two weeks now since I started to taper down, and although I’m still really happy that I did, it’s quite clearly having a significant effect on my mood. Around 72 hours after you start tapering is the worst. You just feel tired, and depressed again, but knowing it’s a withdrawal and accepting that with a calm mind helps a lot to get through the difficult early days.

For the next week I was feeling better each day. It appeared that I was starting to stabilize on 20mg, and I was thrilled. The last 24 hours however, have been much more challenging again. I can feel my stomach sinking, my mind wondering into the now foreign lands of negativity.  Am I worried, a little, but to be perfectly honest not really. I understand it’s just another part of the withdrawal. I was on 40mg, which is the highest dose you can be on. It’s no surprise that my withdrawal is going to be more severe than say someone who was taking just 10mg.

So what can I do about it? Well the first thing is don’t worry. Easy to say, hard to do. What do we mean when we say don’t worry? A phrase so often used, yet never explained. What is the process of “not” worrying. In my opinion, the art of not worrying, is actually far more about actively doing or thinking about other things as opposed to “stopping” your worrying thoughts. It’s almost impossible to stop worrying, because the action of telling yourself not to worry, is in itself a worry. Therefor, I have found it’s far more useful to simply accept however you are feeling, and then move your mind onto something else. Something preferably enjoyable. It can be something you’re going to do, or something you did in the past. Honestly it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is making that decision to think about something else. I guess a better way to define how to stop worrying is “Worry about something else, worry about something you enjoy or enjoyed”. Suddenly it’s not a worry, it’s a feeling of satisfaction, happiness or contentment.

I have found the act of moving your mind to a different place, far more valuable than trying to train my mind to “not worry”. You simply just don’t need to think about some things. Absolutely you may need to be aware of certain things, but at no point is mentally draining yourself by worrying about them in anyway useful.

Today has been tough for me. I can’t even say why, because really there’s nothing wrong. I’m quite happy. I’ve just got back from an absolutely awesome weekend with my best friend Tom. We skated all weekend at a few different parks. I’ve realized I have a passion for recording.  I may even upload some of the edited vids for my next blog.

Things are great. They might not feel great, but feelings are not great at feeling grateful. I know however that actually I am grateful. I am feeling great, and it’s a great feeling.

This withdrawal will probably last on and off for at least another week or so. They’ll be tough moments and tough days, but there will also be great moments and awesome days. Far more of the latter, and no withdrawal is going to stop me from enjoying my life. I’ve already given up too much time to unhappiness, I don’t plan on giving up any more.

I hope you don’t either, because happiness is not simply conditional, happiness is a mentality. Happiness is a way of life.

You only have to acknowledge it, and it’s yours.

Battle Scars of Pain

As many of may know, I’ve had chronic back pain for around 18 months now. It’s been a real challenge to overcome it, and it’s tied in with many of the underlining reasons I got addicted to the pain killers Codeine and Oxycodone.

Well thankfully it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but not because it’s less painful, but simply because I don’t really allow it to control my life. I really try not to pay attention to the pain, and for the most part, it works relatively well.

There are of course always those bad episodes where you kind of have to acknowledge the pain seems worse, in order to take the necessary steps to reduce it. Last night I had one of these episodes, and the result of it kind of shocked me to the core. The reason I’m telling you about it, is not for sympathy, but more to show just how complicated chronic pain can be. The things that you’ll do to manage it are beyond normal or even reasonable.

I went to bed around 10:30, but got up around mid night. Conceding to my back pain, I realized that I had to heat my hot water bottle up so I could place it on my back as I tried to sleep. The intense heat from the hot water bottle does absolute wonders for the pain, and as far back as I can now remember, you won’t find me in my house without one behind my back.

I wasn’t wearing a shirt, because naturally…who does when trying to sleep, and there happens to be a mirror in the kitchen. While I was waiting for the hot water to boil, I decided as many of us do at certain points in our life, that I wanted to know more about how my back looked.

So I positioned myself to see it in the mirror, and what I saw made the hairs on my neck stand on edge. At first I wasn’t even sure what it was, and I actually almost freaked out, thinking what the fuck has happened to my back. It didn’t take long for me to work out what had caused it. Third degree burns, all the way from my lower back to right under each shoulder blade. It looked absolutely vile. I was repulsed.

Then, after a minute of looking at the implications of putting almost boiling water against my shirt every day for over 6 months;

me

I went over to the kettle, poured the boiling hot water into my bottle, and went to bed.

Even after seeing what using it as much as I do has done to my back, I would still rather have the burns and scars on my back, than face the pain when it flares up. If that’s not a good example of how chronic pain can effect your life, I really don’t know what is.

As I write this I’ve got the hot water bottle behind my back. This is the morning after seeing it for the first time. Yet hear I am, knowing that having it there is going to be making it worse, and probably increasing the chance of it becoming life long scars. Yet I write, and yet it sits. I will not move it. I can not move it.

The pain is worse than the fear of disfigurement and scarring.

And my pain is entirely neurological. It’s not even “physically real”.

I guess the funny part is, this blog doesn’t seem particularly positive, but actually, it is. I understand what I’m doing to my back and while I really wish there was a better way, I know that ultimately until my back pain disappears I will have to continue managing it in any way I can. The hot water bottle is so effective it’s not worth it for me to stop. I actually kind of feel like I can’t.

But I’m not worried. It’s not something I can really control, I can only do what I can to manage it. Maybe someday I’ll be able to stop using the hot water bottle, and hopefully it will fade away. Ultimately though, I have scars from surgery, and some people have asked if I would have them surgically removed. I wouldn’t dream of it. These scars define who I am. They are a part of my life. My history. I feel the same way about the burns on my back. It’s not that I think they look good, they look awful, but I am not prepared to be uncomfortable, unhappy or ashamed of who I am.

This is me.

And I’m proud to be me.