And We’re Off

And, here we go again, again an endless series of mundane thoughts and senseless drivel. It ain’t so bad though, it’s my thoughts and my drivel. You have the choice to take it or leave it.

Of course I’d always prefer you take it, that’s the point isn’t it?

Life has been, well, shall we say continuous. That too is a good thing. I’ve been in and out of town and actually accomplishing things on the home front. My new meds Citalopram seem to have taken hold and turned my ambition level around. That in itself is a good thing, a really good thing if it holds.

We just got back from visiting our daughter who just gave birth to a baby girl, Ivy, only 2 weeks ago tomorrow. I spent the week prior and the week after the birth at their place helping wherever possible. My wife, much to her dismay, had to come home to work. Sucks to be her. I do feel for her though, that was me prior to retirement.

She is cute too, Ivy I mean. Of course my wife also cute, that goes without saying. We miss her already and have only been away a day. I have pictures to remind me though, lots of pictures. And photos of Madden too. He’s also in my thoughts. I love them all, what can I say. I’m a sucker for grandkids.

Here we go again

I think “Here We Go Again” is a title of an old song, can’t be sure though and it really doesn’t matter. In this sense it only means here I go, putting up another very late post.

I see it’s not been since January of this year that I visited here to write. I’m surprised! My my, where does the time go?

I’ve been active and there are many things that have happened around me. Perhaps no more than to the average bear but they were, of course, significant to me. Mostly it’s just life stuff.

One thing of note was that since my last post I’ve gone back on the ‘juice’. Now before you get all confused or concerned you must realize the ‘juice’ in this context is an anti-depression medication, in this case Citalopram. Last year I was on Mirtazapine but in my wisdom I chose to get off the meds and see how things turned out. Not too well evidently.

After stopping the Mirts I did not become suicidal or anything close to that self destructive, it was more a case of low moods and and a frequent sadness I couldn’t seem to avoid. In fact, as I told my doctor, I would often get very teary and emotional during commercials on tv. I short I was very often low. This didn’t happen immediately but became more pronounced over time. In a nutshell I was not better, more help was needed, but I persevered.

In January we went to Okotoks to our niece’s. That’s where we had gone to visit during our annual get-away and where I last posted  Typically we go somewhere away from our city to just be away, to regroup and recharge. January is the month our son died so since then, Jan. of 2000, we either take a week in our time-share or perhaps we go to visit kin. In this case the kin won. It was a nice visit, a good escape. I had no overt depression or anxiety but my sadness lingered.

During that same month my Mother moved out of our basement suite where she had lived for a 7 or so years. She and my step-Father had moved in when they found the challenges of living alone, away from town, a challenge. My step-Father Larry unfortunately passed away a few years ago just after his 80th birthday but my Mom stayed with us. Now, through a series of outside circumstance, she felt moving to Langley was the best choice for her and her siblings so she took on the challenge of moving and went to the big city. I supported her move and still do. It is her call and I think I can appreciate her reasons.

Since her move we have spent time refurbishing the suite in hopes of attracting another good tenant. I won’t belabour the point but all went quite well and in the end we gained my (ex) brother-in-law Jake as a new ‘person under the stairs’. I could likely write volumes about the dynamics of him and his wife (and her family) but I won’t. I would like cause you some disbelief and wonderment about how these kinds of relationships could even take place. Maybe not though, I guess they are on reality tv all the time.

But I digress. After our foray away and my Mom’s move I just reached the point where I knew a change was needed. Don’t misunderstand, my situation was neither caused nor exacerbated by either our trip, the timing, nor my Mom’s leaving. They were only pointers in time, the inevitable return to medication was evident by that point.

After our return home a visit to my doctor supported my diagnosis, he determined I was depressed and had a higher degree of anxiety than ‘normal’. A regime of anti-depressants were again prescribed. In consult with the doctor we decided to try the Citalopram as I felt the Mirtazapine did not hold up it’s end of the bargain and let me down after some time. This became more evident as I re-read my paper journal and saw a decline in my moods over time. Another reason I had chosen to stop the Mirts. The Citalopram would also apparently help with any anxiety.

At any rate here we are. After being on the Cital since Jan. 28th I feel better once again. Not so much something you may be able to see but more an even-ess and stability of mood. I have more motivation and am getting some things done. I do hope it continues. My sleep has improved and although I dream crazy dreams now it is more restful. A drawback to the Citalopram is a tiredness during mid morning but I may change when I take my dose to dinnertime and the drowsiness may abate.

So in that sense I hope the tagline “Here we go again” is a positive one and I don’t find myself regressing over time. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Dad, Dad, Dad

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PM

We met with Dad yesterday, my wife and I.  I had my girl call his girl and we did lunch.

First we had to see his doctor.  That was the result of a call I got from Colleen the other day. She is one of the care aides at his “village”.  She relayed to me that Dad is having more pain at night now and I guess he’s buzzing the aides at night trying to get another Tylenol.

He still doesn’t quite seem to understand the fact that there are no pills to get.  At this stage, living in an Assisted Living facility, any medications he has been prescribed can only be given to him if they have been put into blister packs by the pharmacy. There are no meds of any kind that can be taken, or given, on an as needed or as requested basis.  This is to prevent residents from self administering, or perhaps preventing other residents from “helping someone out” by providing meds.  Any and all medications are also kept under lock and key, accessible only by the aides.

Both the doctors visit and lunch went well, although he is still easily confused during professional visits.  He has challenges hearing even with his hearing aids and unless the questions are put slowly and with some volume he has trouble understanding.  I find I often interject and sometimes I think it’d be better if I just kept my mouth shut.  It’s good for him to converse with others and it’s equally important that the professionals talk to him.  Often I find they will pose their questions to me, but that further alienates Dad from the conversation.

We were fortunate in this instance as the doctor speaks easily to Dad and he seems to like her.  She prescribed an additional Tylenol 3 for his nightly meds and hopefully that will keep him pain free through the night.

Lunch was our typical event, conversations circled around family members and what they are up to.  I questioned him as to which of his sisters he has chatted with and whether my sister has called.

Sometimes he’ll come up with some nugget of info that we have no clue as to it’s significance.  As an example a few weeks ago he asked me to guess who he saw in the mall.  When I couldn’t come up with the answer he told me it was Larry and Ida.  Well blow me over.  Both have passed away, Ida some 25 years ago and Larry 2 years ago.  When I mentioned this to him he said it must’ve been his son then.  It’s hard to tell what’s the early dementia and what is just an honest mistake.

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PMHe seems to enjoy lunch with me though and will often want to pay.  I allow him to most times and while it could be seen as taking advantage of him I believe it makes him feel good.  He sees it as repaying me for my efforts in making his appointments and catering to his various needs.  He has little in the way of outings and has no means to do something for someone else either.  Here he can take his “boy” out.

“How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.” -Sir Walter Scott

I have to remind myself he won’t be here forever either.  This time with him will end, sooner rather than later.  Even though I lament his frequent idiosyncrasies it is often part of our aging process.  Whether I like it or not I may be in that situation at some point myself.  At that point it may be my daughter taking care of me, and she will be saying “Dad, Dad, Dad”.  Lord help me.

I Think I’m Feelin’ Better

I think I’m over the mood hump, I hope so, pretty sure I’m feeling better.

The days have cooled down a touch to the mid 30’s, that Celsius folks, and while it is still pretty hot outside we have gained control over the temperature inside the house.  At least somewhat anyway.  Most of this is accomplished by the judicious use of window blinds (outside of the windows preferably), and the opening and closing of doors and windows at the optimum times (temperature and direction dependent).  Doing that we can keep the inside of the house at the mid to high 20’s.  Still not “cool” but certainly cooler than outside.

We’ve never had an air conditioner and I’m beginning to think one would be a good investment.  It would be one of those things you wouldn’t use often but when you want it you REALLY want it.  Still something we are pondering.

Whether the weather (cool play on words huh) was the key to my slump or just one of many factors I don’t know but realizing my past experiences (read that as moody bastard) I would suspect it wasn’t the only one.  Why I seem to experience this swing of moods might be something a team of doctors could look into but my team isn’t available right now and they aren’t returning calls.

I shouldn’t have to look far for the answer to this quandary as the more I think about it, the more I go back in time to the earlier stages of my diagnosis, the more clear the answer to the question becomes.  Could it really be…….just the depression?

If I look back in my handwritten journal, even perhaps some of my earlier posts, I would clearly see one of the benefits I noticed after beginning the meds was the “even-ness” of my moods, a more level experience of life without the ups and downs of good days and bad.  In short I felt better.  It’s just that I don’t want to be on ANY meds, the taking of drugs itself or the having to take drugs is what I think I rally against.  Dumb perhaps, but it’s how I feel.  I think nothing of medicating myself with a drink or two, that is somehow ok, but having to be on medication to be normal?  That hurts me.  What fickle beings we are.

As I sit here in the shade on my deck, the cool breeze wafting through and tickling the wind chimes, I become sad.  This is one of my happy places and yet I feel low, depressed in mood and energy, lacking the full enjoyment of my place or lot in life.  An unfortunate state of affairs.

But I can do something about it, and I will.  If nothing else I will get up and go for a walk.  Exercise is something that’s been lacking in my routine lately.  I’ll do it, here I go, I’m feelin’ better already.

Meds, Can’t live With ’em, Can’t Live without them.

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20120730-173347.jpgDamn those meds, those little yellow tabs of……what, of what?  Life? Normalcy? Equilibrium? …..What are they doing to, or for, me?  Do they have me under their spell, are they my control or my Savior?

Can I live without them?  Will I still be depressed?

Continue reading Meds, Can’t live With ’em, Can’t Live without them.

The Call Has Been Made, All in Favor?

I’ve made the call, the decreased dosage of my meds will begin.  I will drop down to taking one 15 mg pill a day, against the better judgement of my wife.

This is not a decision I’m making without any consideration of the potential outcome.  I know full well the possible negative side effects, however I am going to do it in consultation with my Doctor (may be after the fact that’s all).

From what I’ve read there have been some real horror stories of withdrawal, ranging from increased anxiety to nausea and sleep issues.  Sleep problems were one of the reasons this medication was chosen for me to begin with, in addition to the depression of  course.  I feel much better now though and sleep like a log.

We’ll see how it goes, I’ll try to keep you posted.

Ennui, Now there’s a word

I just “re” learned a word, “ennui”, meaning (from the Free Dictionary) “a listlessness and dissatisfaction, resulting from lack of interest; boredom”.  That pretty much sums up my state of affairs, I’m ennuied.

photo from http://workplacepsychology.net
photo from http://workplacepsychology.net

Nothing much has changed here since my last post (yesterday), there has been no discussion nor questions by my Manager as to what I’m doing or when I’m doing it.  I’m operating in a vacuum on that side.  I told myself that I would try to maintain an ongoing diary of my last days so this is my purpose in posting this drivel, Some day I’ll be able to look back and gain a understanding of my past life.  I don’t know if this can help anyone else but who knows.

I have actually considered making another appointment with my counselor, I haven’t seen her for quite a while and there have been a few changes in my life, most notably a grandson and imminent retirement.  Neither of these were at hand when we last met and I think she’d be interested.  I’ve also changed the dosage on my meds (self adjusted as it were) and that may be of interest to her as well.  She was the one who suggested I write, not a blog mind you but in a paper journal.  So here I am.  I’m also thinking retirement may help me keep my mood on track and my hope is to get off drugs all together.  The whole mood thing has me a bit baffled and is it just my sunny (or otherwise) disposition or some other chemi/psycho issue.  Mostly I just think I’m weird but the verdict could be out on that.

My writing was initially a means to an end, a way to track my progress and if I developed any readership then my postings may mean something to them.  We all want to help others, right?  So I’ve blogged, sometimes faithfully and sometimes periodically, and found I’ve enjoyed it.  It’s helped me avoid some boredom, I’m less indifferent, it’s given me a bit of a purpose different than family and outside of household repairs.  Soon I can focus solely on all these things.  I’ll be de-Ennuied.

Dad’s Day is Here Again

Today is a “Dad” day, where I will pick him up and we will do something.  In this case it’s his Eye Specialist appointment, and we’ve only been waiting for a couple months.  I shouldn’t make it sound like a negative thing, I guess here in BC waiting for specialists of any kind is commonplace and to expect otherwise would be hopeful.  I had to rattle the optometrists cage a bit in order to get the referral, they said the appropriate documentation was sent from their end but it seemed an inordinate amount before I could get a confirmation from the specialist.  At any rate it is done now and we will get his eyes checked this afternoon.

Afterwards we will meet with my wife and we’ll do the dinner thing.  It’s been a while since she’s seen Dad, she’s just busy with other things when my other Dad visits come around.  We both want to try and maximize our visits with him, hard to say how much longer we’ll have him.

I’m curious as to which direction the specialist will go with Dad, being as he’s 81.  One position could be to say “hey, he’s 81 and had a good life, why do anything”, but a more humane or human direction would be to say “hey, he’s 81 and had a good life, let’s fix him up and make the last years better”.  Stay tuned for the answer in the next episode.

I’ve been feeling a bit better now my medication dosage has been bumped up.  Still not up to where I was a couple months ago, from a feelins’ and emotions point of view, but better than a week or 2 ago.  Is it the meds or is it something else, like weather, diet, lack of exercise or daylight?  I just know I felt pretty shitty emotionally, wanting to cry at times and generally unhappy.  Hell of a way to live.

I see Gloria, my therapist, tomorrow.  I don’t know what we’ll talk about, perhaps we’ll discuss the online quiz I took about “My Top Strengths”, from the book “Strengths Finder 2.0”.  I don’t recall if I mentioned them previously but the results came out to “Connectedness, Intellection, Empathy, Individualization, and Strategic”.  I’m not sure what I think of the results, nor could I explain them in 20 words or less, but it was an interesting process to complete and hopefully I can take one nugget from it….

So bottom line there’s nothing profound to report, I wish I could say something you’d go “Wow” about but not today.  Stay tuned for further revelations.

Slip Slidin’ away, Back into the Pit of Despair

It has been a hard couple of weeks, probably more like 6 or so when I think about it. I’ve been sliding back into that dark place, that psychological arena I was in closer to the beginning of the year, the place where there is little optimism, where dark moods prevail and it seems like life itself is being sucked out of you.  I’ll call it a relapse into depression, where for me at least it makes itself known in loss of sleep and an undercurrent of anger.  I had, or have, no energy or enthusiasm towards those things I know I enjoy, hate my job more than normal, and frequently want to cry.  ‘Tis a sad state of affairs and I fear I’m falling into the pit of despair.

I’ve mentioned this mood, the early symptoms and my fears, to Gloria.  As my counselor, or therapist, she has been charged with the task of guiding me through this maze of despondent life, bringing me toward the light and helping me understand the tools I require to remain successful in my travel toward wellness.  But psychological tools are not enough, and I felt perhaps some change in my medication was in order as well.  I wanted to increase my meds immediately but thought my Dr. should be onboard.  She agreed, and a visit with my Doctor was scheduled.

In the interim there were things I thought I should try, simple things that may have a positive effect and at the very least could not hurt.  Knowing I am sensitive to the changes in light, and the winter season gives me the “blues” I broke out my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light and began sitting in front of it as I ate my breakfast before work.  I hadn’t really been noticing any of the typical symptoms I normally experienced with this condition, such as being excessively tired after dinner, nor the sweet tooth that drove me to eat large bowls of ice cream or other sugary treats, but what the hey, it can only help right?  But to no avail, no real improvement and I was deparately waiting for my visit to my GP.

The big day finally arrived, I explained my feelings and fears to the Dr. and he agreed to support me by increasing the dosage of my meds.  He renewed my prescription and I now take 45 mg of Mirtazapine, up from the 30 mg I have been taking since the beginning.

It’s been a couple days now, I think I’m feeling better although the true test will be my sleep patterns, if I sleep continuously through the night or wake up 2 or 3 times as has been the case lately.  I will try to remain optimistic, and the fact I even think of optimism is in itself a good sign.  Wish me luck, I am hopeful if for no other reason that I’ve felt like writing.  I am looking to blogging as a tool, another in my arsenal that can help me out of this hole, a ladder to help me climb out of this pit of despair.

Stuck in a rut, the Challenges continue

I’m stuck in a rut, and I can’t seem to get out.  My challenge at this point is what to write.  Like so many others have expressed over time I too seem to be suffering from writers block.  What is going on??

I do have the odd moment where some concept comes to mind, something that might seem to be a “good idea” but I either forget it when the blogging time comes or I just brush it off and say “I just don’t feel like it”.  This is so indicative of my history that it pains me,  I feel a bit angry at myself, disappointed, and perhaps a few other emotions to boot.

During the last visit with my counselor we talked a bit about this trait, and where she feels it’s best not to stress about it I feel somewhat different.  In my mind I’ve suffered a bit of a set back, I’ve reverted to some of my old ways, I’ve regressed.  Do you notice the negative thread here?  Therein lies part of the problem I think, some of the negativity is returning.  Is my depression coming back, or whatever the correct terminology is?  I’m wondering if an increase in my meds is warranted, or is it all in my mind, figuratively speaking of course.  She counsels me to wait a bit and if I see no improvement in a couple months or so then see my doctor.  I just want to feel like doing this, getting back to writing my stuff, getting out of this rut.