Quick Updates

I’m back from England! It was a great trip, and I cannot wait to tell you more about it — especially to give context to all of the pictures and videos I’ve posted on Instagram.

Some really quick things that are going on, or have happened…

I’m employed! I have very gladly accepted a position with StreamerSquare as their Communications and Operations Coordinator. The past few weeks with them has been great, and I am ready to fully dive deep once we finish GuardianCon. We have four amazing shows, our discord, patreon, and youtube… and a wealth of knowledge for anyone who is interested in live streaming — either as a hobby or professionally.

One year older! Officially 35! Still kind of surreal, but at the same time enjoying it as always. Birthdays are still a weird thing, and I’ve stopped expecting them to go anywhere near a plan or anything. But I think giving up on this idea of having a “good” birthday is too defeatist and not something I’m going to be doing any time soon yet.

Balance is something I’ve been actively working through. I have no idea what this will look like for me, but I know it’s something I need. There was something in England, small moments, where I felt more like myself than I have in ages. And I didn’t even realize I was missing anything, that I was missing myself. But I’m working on figuring all of that out.

I’m not working on turning anything into a side hustle, but I am looking for a second job (or potentially another twitch client). With my roommate moving out this month, I’ll have the full rent and full utilities to pay myself — on top of my car payment and insurance. So the need for balance will be especially important as I work and also try to make the time to finish my thesis and thus my Master’s degree in the next couple months.

Since I’ve been gone fore basically most of June… What’s new with you? What’s going on? How are you doing? Let me know! Let’s catch up!

June Goals

Looking back at May, I keep struggling to even figured out what happened this last month. Having a break from grad school work turned into a fierce struggle to find an apartment for July. And then dealing with health… Anyway.

May

  • Take donations to the women’s shelter & goodwill. Nope. lol I’ve mainly been collecting more things to donate, even from my mom as well. Come July, we’ll have a nice pile of stuff to bring over.
  • Establish thesis hours. Also no. I did not touch my thesis at all this month.
  • Apply to jobs. Lots of jobs. Kind of yes? I applied to a handful of jobs. And found A LOT.

June

  • Not go broke. Yep. That’s pretty much my main focus. I have one potential job lined up.. and just waiting to get that all confirmed. Applying to more jobs, but with being gone for pretty much all of June, it’ll be pretty tight.
  • Enjoy England. I’m looking forward to a few weeks with my family, and just relaxing and taking in a new place.
  • Not be too awkward about my birthday. Birthdays have been weird for me. Not because I don’t like them — I do, I just… haven’t had good luck at having birthday parties or gatherings or anything… So I try not to get my hopes up about them. But birthday in England? I’m ok with that.

How did your May turn out? What are you looking forward to in June?

Let’s talk about mental health, and antidepressant withdrawal.

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed me posting a lot about my recent ordeal trying to get a refill on my medication.

I’ve been on Pristiq (or Desvenlafaxine) for over a year now, maybe long. I had been on it once before, right after undergrad while I was living in Chicago. It’s not a cheap drug, so without insurance, it’s not something I can easily stay one. However, it works for me.

It’s what’s called an SNRI, or a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. They, like other medications of this sort, work on the brain chemistry, increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine available. For me? It clears some of the fog so that I’m able to process things. I’m not just this overflowing well of emotions that I can’t contain. And most of all, that constant whispering from my depression telling me all the ways I am a horrible person, that I am worthless… It’s muted.

It’s not a perfect drug — I don’t think one exists — my depression isn’t magically cured. I still have bad days. I still feel like crap, I still feel worthless and undesirable. But it’s manageable. Before I ever tried an antidepressant, I’ll admit that I bought into the stigma that antidepressants change you. I thought I’d be less of myself… That maybe I might lose that creative side of myself. If anything, being on pristiq has allowed me to be more of myself.

However, there’s something they — they being doctors, psychiatrist, anyone really — never told me. Abruptly stopping pristiq can lead to some serious physical reactions.

I didn’t know you could go through withdrawal from antidepressants. Withdrawal is for addiction, and these aren’t opioids. But that sudden halt of your antidepressants can really mess with your body. I had no idea what was happening the first time — last summer — when this happened. I was so miserable, I found myself lying on the floor, cold and crying. Since I knew what would happen, I tried to taper my medication this time. Make it last a little longer until I could get a refill. Tapering like I did? Taking it every other day… It just made the withdrawal start sooner, though it delayed the full effect of it.

The dizziness started first, with the headaches. They became extreme when I was driving home from Cleveland. I had a hard time focusing, keeping my eyes open was a struggle. The nausea started that same day — but I didn’t actually start getting sick until this morning. There are chills. My arms and legs are tingling, the lower part of my face started tingling last night. And, the only way I can describe it, is that the dizziness moved into my chest. There are these things that they call “brain zaps” which are basically what they sound like — little electro shocks in your mind. The irritability comes and goes. My poor cats try to comfort me and I literally push them away because I can’t handle things.

There are the mental symptoms as well, beyond just irritability. The obvious one is that the depression comes back. Last night was particularly hard. I spiraled. I self sabotaged. I was so physically miserable that I lost control and let the hurt overtake me. The other symptom is vivid dreams and nightmares. The first time, the nightmares were bad. And these past few days, I haven’t wanted to sleep because of that. It’s why I only got 3 hours of sleep last night. Thankfully, I haven’t had the nightmares yet. But obviously the lack of sleep isn’t helping.

The good news… I did finally find someone who could renew my prescription. And as of an hour ago, I’m back on my medication. I have no idea how long it’ll take before it’s fully in my system enough for these withdrawal symptoms to go away.

I wanted to share this because I feel we don’t talk about mental health enough. So many people are going through things, and we need to remove the stigma that it’s shameful. We especially need to remove the stigma that getting help is something to hide or be embarrassed about. Having anxiety or depression doesn’t mean you’re broken. I’ve talked to a couple doctors about this over this last year on pristiq: this might not be a situational thing. Grad school might be intensifying and escalating my vulnerability to my depression or anxiety, but I might need to be on pristiq, or something like pristiq, indefinitely. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just need to work with my doctors to monitor the side effects and also make sure we have a plan in place if I do need to stop taking this medication.

I used to think being open about my mental health would cause others to not trust me. To not think of me as capable. Or worse, they’d prove that all of the lies my depression tell me are absolutely true. That I’ll lose jobs, lose relationships… I was ashamed of it. But that stigma has to end.

I still feel absolutely miserable. But I’m hopefully back on track and the withdrawal subsides quickly. I’m not ok, but that doesn’t make me bad or broken.

May Goals

The semester is practically over! Still weird to think about being done with classes, “for good.” (aka for this degree.)

While, technically April is the beginning of Quarter 2 — May is sort of the start of that for me, thanks to semester scheduling.

Anyway, let’s look at my April Goal…

APRIL

  • Low Spend/No Spend. … I tried. And outside of a couple pieces, I didn’t really buy that much. But.. there was the date. And maybe a couple gift subscriptions on Twitch… And a couple trips for fast food… So it wasn’t a complete win, but also not a complete fail either.

May is going to be a big time… as it’s my last major bit of freedom before my vacation. And there’s a lot I should be doing..

May

  • Take donations to the women’s shelter & goodwill. I’ve been continuing to declutter and just get rid of things that I’m not using. Choosing to drop things off at the women’s shelter first, and whatever is left will just get taken to goodwill.
  • Establish thesis hours. I need to get 2 chapters, minimum, drafted this month. Definitely do-able. Definitely important.
  • Apply to jobs. Lots of jobs. The last day of my assistantship is the 3rd, and so, yeah, a job is very important.

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but those last two will consume most of my attention. I also have a creative project with a friend I’m hosting — so I’m looking forward to that. And I plan on streaming a little more this month. Maybe trying to figure out a schedule now that classes are done.

And as I apply for jobs, I’m also scouting out apartments. That’s been.. fun. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m not really worried either.

How have was your April? Did you keep up with your goals?