Off My Meds

So as I have stated, I had an adverse reaction to a medication I take regularly, at the end of last year, and I have only started to resolve the problem, at the start of this year.  It just so happens that the offending medication is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor I take for my agoraphobia and other anxiety issues.  These medications are not the sort that you can simply just stop taking.  You must taper on and taper off them or you’re gonna be in one epic and massive world of hurt.

Well, if you’ve known me for any period of time, something you will realize about me is that I am stubborn.  I try not to be, I realize how destructive it can be, alas, I am not perfect…so I pitch mental fits, like a 2-year old.  If I can not see the point or purpose of doing something “your” way, I just wont do it that way…period.  Nothing can be said or done.  Enter my medication.

The Adventure Begins…

On the first trip to my dermatologist, he said it looked like lichen planus, we took a biopsy and got on google, searching ‘lichen planus (xxx)’ with every medication I take and there was one study associated with my Cipralex.  From this we drew the conclusion that it must be this but to be safe, we wait for confirmation.  I was told I would get the biopsy results and should have my stitches out, at that time (biopsy spot on my wrist had two stitches) I would get the results.  Two weeks from my appointment was Christmas Eve, didnt realize at the time but, yeah.

On Dec 20th, my sutures looked like they were healed and since I, sadly, have a lot of experience with injuries around my hands, I knew if they stayed in longer, it would be an ugly-ass scar so, enter the stubborn “I have a pair of sharp scissors and I know how to fucking cut thread” girl.  The following day, I called to get the results of my biopsy but the doctor is on vacation, because wtf its the week before Christmas and, who isnt? (the lady I was talking to on the phone?  maybe?)  So she tells me, so apologetically, that the results are, in fact, in the file but since the doctor hasn’t seen them, and signed off on them, she can’t tell me what they are.  oh.my.fucking.gawd.are.you.serious…  *deep breath*  Okay, okay…that’s fair, I get it.  What if she suddenly has a stroke and in the midst of telling me what the paper says, she inadvertently tells me I have rectal cancer and Im gonna die in 3 days instead of….oh, I dont know, “yeah its your meds”.  I get it, whatever…safety first.  Of course I thank her, she is the messenger and I’m certain she sees the stupidity in it also..

In this moment, I have an overwhelming need to just take responsibility for myself, or maybe it was just a rush of frustration, helplessness and desperation.  I decided I would start to “taper” myself off my Cipralex.  Now.  A smart person would, at this point, go do some research about what that safely meant.  My IQ is above-average, I’m certainly no hill-billy but, did I do that?  No…no I didnt….because I’m stubborn and on the inside, still a lost little girl trying to fake like I got it under control.  So with the mental thrashings of a child wildly flailing logic and restrictions off, I decide since I was taking half of my current dosage, not that long ago, I can knock it down by half and be okay.

And I was.  Okay.  Until Jan 7th, when I went to see the dermatologist for the follow-up, where the results *did* confirm that it was lichen planus caused by a medication or “outside influence, not genetic”.  Now…here is the absolute epicenter of my frustration and the ‘inciting incident’ for the pain and suffering that has followed.  I blame no one but myself, regardless of the clusterfuck, I chose this and I accept it.

Welcome to the Shitshow

There *is* socialized medicine in Canada.  I don’t have to pay for medical care BUT.  If I chose to, I can.  Now, when I first arrived here, and I was not a resident or eligible for social services and still needing to get my medication, we found a private clinic.  My doctor that prescribes my Cipralex is at this clinic, so is my dermatologist, conveniently.  You would think, since I just found out from one doctor in the clinic, that a message could somehow be sent to another doctor in the same fucking clinic, that a patient they see is having a reaction to a medication they prescribe causing them to see another doctor in the clinic and how about you change the meds……..but no.  I have to make another appointment for a week later, come back and see my main doctor so she can write a new medication on a piece of paper.

My stubborn side is going crazy….are you fucking serious, this is really how it has to be….fuck this, fuck you, fuck Cipralex, it’s been 18 days at 50% dosage, I’m stopping.  I’m not taking this medication that I *know* is causing this shit all over my skin, I’m just not doing it.  LOL!  Not only am I not doing it, I’m just not going to go get a new prescription, either.  I’m going to see if I am ready to operate, without meds.  I’ve been taking that one for 3+ years.

You know, I was fine for about…eight days.  Then there was a sickness I couldn’t shake, cold sweats, dizziness, brain zaps worse than I have ever felt, stopping me in my tracks.  Nausea.  Profound sweating.  For shits and giggles, I looked up what the appropriate taper level is for Cipralex (10% every 3 days; not half for 10 days then cold turkey), side effects for stopping too quickly and how to cope with them.  Here is a list of the ones I am dealing with:

  • aggression
  • balance issues
  • brain zaps
  • concentration impairment
  • crying spells
  • dizziness
  • electric shock sensations
  • hallucinations
  • hostility
  • highly emotional
  • indigestion
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • increased headaches
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • over-reacting to situations (my poor partner, seriously)
  • tingling sensations
  • troubling thoughts
  • vivid dreams

It’s been 16 days off my meds.  The painful side effects are lessening.  I still feel very much like a fire hose that’s on and no one is controlling it, sort of like, Laurey with the lid off.  I find myself reacting to everything, whereas prior to this, I felt calm within.  I’m trying not to let just that small aspect of this, derail me as it has me asking myself, “Well, was that really progress or was that the pills?”  I know I can’t possibly know that answer right now, as it’s still too soon.

Positivity Round-up

Regardless of the amount of pain and discomfort I’m in, I am actually excited to take the cast off and try to walk without the crutches.  I know it won’t be easy, and I expect to stumble but, I’m excited and optimistic to try.

Here’s some pretty pictures I took of one of my journal covers.

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Birth of my Pure-self Portrait

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Earlier this week, if you’re a friend on Facebook, you may have seen this photo I posted with a very brief blurb about how I hate acrylic paints and I’m a “needle & thread girl” blah blah.  I wanted to elaborate some because, I feel, this is something that I think a lot of us face, on some level.

A Brief History of Laurey’s Artful(less) Life

Growing up, my mother was a major influence in my life in a great deal of ways, some good, some bad.  She was, in my youth, a ceramic hobbyist.  She would frequent a small ceramic shop close to our house and made friends with the owner, a lady that happen to also live in our neighborhood.  As I grew, so did my mother’s love of ceramics.  Eventually, she ran a couple businesses of her own and because of this, I grew up in a ceramic shop, in some form or another.  To this day, I adore the smell of greenware dust, the smell of the liquid slip and the metallic scent of the underglazes.  I have a small cache of extremely happy memories associated to those times in my life, but I also have a much larger (sadly) stash of bad memories.

Now, I believe that at any given time, all any of us can do is live our lives from a place of where we currently are.  Duh.  😀  What that means, though, is that if I am currently hurting, this is the place I am living my life from.  All of my actions towards others are filtered through this hurt and the hurt becomes the lens of my life.  So, let’s say, if I felt passionately about ceramics and it became what I turned to, to heal my hurt and I became so deeply attached to it that when my youngest daughter showed an equal interest in it, because she loved her mommy and wanted to do things with her that she knew her mommy liked, maybe that hurt I’m looking at everything through, would make me see something else, like my baby girl is trying to take this special thing that is mine and I would have to share…and I would react from a place of protection, like an alligator over her clutch, or an older sibling upset the younger sibling was taking something that was “theirs”.  I have no idea what the truth is on my mother’s part: it’s her story to tell.  I just know that how I was made to feel and how those feelings permeated every aspect of my development of “self”.

Another aspect of ceramics, that I didn’t mention in my “happy memories” is the kiln fired stage of: bisque.  This is what happens when you fire “greenware”.  You can underglaze greenware fire it, then put a clear glaze over it and fire it again to get the glass-like finish or you can just fire to the bisque stage and paint with…you guessed it, acrylic paints.  The ones that were used seemed to be like they were marketed towards ceramists but I am 100% certain you could use the shit craft paint from the dollar store since you would have to spray a finish over it at the end, no matter what because you cant fire the acrylics, they would incinerate.

Anyway, there’s more to ceramics than that but I’m only explaining because I made this association, recently.  The acrylic paints Im using for art journaling are bringing up irritation from this time of my life.  I’d already drawn the connection between my obsession with the eyes on the ladies I draw and paint feeling dead and wrong to my mother because she was so good at painting eyes that students in the classes she hosted always begged her to paint the eyes on their figurines.  This was after I explored why I hated drawing/painting faces.

Pin-Cushion Fingers

So, having all these negative feelings around something that I’m supposed to be liking, something I’m paying money to learn to do, just adds pressure and stress.  It occurs to me, “This is not who I am.”  So then one has to ask, “Okay, who are you, then?”  I don’t know.  I search back to the earliest moment I can remember feeling creative, what was the source of that joy?  A little brown sewing basket.  It had a pair of scissors (super dull), a tapestry needle my momma threaded for me and the two pieces of preprinted Carebear doll fabric  (Cheer bear, fyi…yeah, the pink one….*shiver*) my mom cut out and started stitching for me.  I was so proud to sew the fabric together, even if the pretty sides were touching and I couldnt see the doll yet, I knew it was there, I knew it was coming and it was gonna be awesome because *I* made it.

So, if sewing and stitching are that creative spark, it makes sense that I love fabrics and textures, as well as colors.  It makes sense that when I moved in with my sister, whose artistic pursuits have never been denied or questioned, my first magnetized action was towards embroidery and cross-stitch.  I loved the freedom of the embroidery stitches but everything was Christmas trees and Easter baskets, so to cross stitch I went because even if its just a million little x’s, I can use those like pixels and create anything….well, in theory.  Cross stitch lead to knitting and crochet which lead to accusations of being an “old lady”, even though the name-caller was older than me.  So into ‘hiding’ I went.  I sewed some beads I had, onto a piece of felt with a sewing needle and thread, one day.  Everything about that object made me happy but when I showed it off, with pride, it was answered with the dream-killing, “What’s it supposed to be?”  Creativity is so fragile.  Little did I know, in this dark time, I found my saving grace.  A little picture on Pintrest, a close up of a woven embroidery stitch that wasnt a fucking easter basket, it was just there….no apologies, no excuses, no purpose other than to be what it was, beautiful.

EN-EE-WAYZ

If you’re still with me, wow…thanks.  Fast forward to now.  I am truly free to not only explore who I am but to be whomever I decide, without judgement.  In the process of therapy, I’ve come to refer to the voice within as “My Pure Self”.  This is the voice that tells me what is right for me, some people say it’s God, some say it’s intuition, I say it’s the person I would be if I wasn’t “living my life from the place I currently am on my journey.”  She is, my essence and I listen to her, as staunchly as I can.  Doing so feels authentic, it feels purposeful and appropriate.

So when I see this interview with the creator of the woven stitches that so warmed my heart, Arlee Barr, I read slowly, taking the time to not just read the words but think on them.  I examine all her works of art and am struck by her piece, Sad Self Portrait.  It just clicks.  All the faces I’ve struggled to be happy with, created in paint/pen/marker, it was to create this face to stitch.  That piece of fabric I tried a “tie dye” technique on, using watered down fabric paints, that ended up a big spiral with a fractured arms, what if I put the center of that on the “third eye” of a face I drew…I could stitch it, and stitch other colored fabrics to it, and cover it with textured stitches, a lotus, my hand, circles and more loosely stitched lotus, she would be the image of what I imagine my pure self to be.  She would be my, Pure-self Portrait.

So it begins

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Stitches were too light so I used a water soluble marker to darken the stitches.  Below is how they looked wet.

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This is the stitches after I ironed them dry.

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Still not dark enough so I used a black fabric marker from Pebeo.  Much better

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Here is the basic layout of the other painted fabrics and an old bedsheet.

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And here is the sketch I created for basic fabric layout and appliqued lotus placement.

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To be Continued…