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May 20th, 2005

Coming Out the Crazy Closet

Okay...the jig is up. There's been a lot of days-long absences, and lack of quality posting around here and you guys deserve an explanation. No, you do. You come here faithfully every few days, you check on me, you voice your concern when I go M.I.A. - you care and I want you to know what's up.

As I've mentioned on and off here in the past, I am struggling with mental problems. These have recently gone from bad to worse to absolutely unlivable. Everything sends me into a panic, the simplest of tasks seem overwhelming and nerve-wracking, and even my sleep, which is usually unfettered and my only escape, has been afflicted.

For example, driving to and from work is hard. I am nervous, shaky and unexplainably afraid. Of what, I couldn't tell you. I just am. It's like that a lot now. I'm terrified. Added to my growing mental-problems' inventory is now, also, social anxiety. Whoopee. The blunt, outspoken and normally charismatic, open and friendly me has become quiet, withdrawn and jittery at the thought of being around large numbers of people. Even going out to dinner, which I love, is difficult lately.

If I had to categorize it, I say it's a hefty amount of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, mixed in with a healthy dose of Severe Depression, a smattering of Social Anxiety, and all backed up by a solid case of Bipolar Disorder. And there's the Self-Mutilation thrown in, time to time, for good measure. Yes, I've been cutting again.

Not exactly the most fun way to live life, I can assure you. So how bad has it gotten? I've decided to take the Happy-Pills-Plunge. Yes, I'm finally admitting that I need extra help to get out of this slump/funk/crack that I've fallen so deep into. You might remember, in the past, that I had a pretty firm don't-want-to-do-that stance on taking pills. Yet, I told you on May 11 that I was going to the doc and ask to be put on Lexapro. A bit more has happened since then, and I've been trying to deal with it - trying to get it straight in my own head before I came out with it here.

Then, this morning, I read EJ's wonderful & brave post about her own struggles with mental problems and medication, and I knew it was time to speak out. Thanks, EJ; it takes courage to "come out" like that, but you did it beautifully. Everyone who's struggled with this kind of stuff should take a moment to read her poignant poem "Bi-Polar".

To bring you up to speed, my doctor prescribed Zoloft rather than Lexapro, because I'd been on it years before and it had helped. But he wanted me to see a psychiatrist. I did so; she wasn't the nicest of people but was very to-the-point and professional (almost too much so) - the only time she showed any emotion is when she asked to see my scars. She did a double-take and an astonished, "Oh my god"; nothing like shocking the seasoned veterans, I tell ya. She said she did not think Zoloft would be enough for me and prescribed Lamictral.

I'd never heard of it, but I've learned a lot from scouring the 'Net the last few days. I'm terrified - of course - about taking any medication, and my spirits weren't buoyed to read labels on the pill bottle saying "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while on this medication" and "Wear identification that says you are taking this medication while on it". Nice. If anyone has been, or knows someone that has been (or is), on Lamictral, please share your stories with me.

My body has a weird way of reacting to medicines, so we'll have to see how it goes. In the past few days I've bounced around from deciding not to take it all to giving it a try on Saturday (when I'm home and have nothing to do, in case of a bad reaction). Right now I'm planning to take it, but that could change. I'm scared.

I just wanted all of you to know what is going on with me, why I've been so distant or not really here. The simple act of living has become almost impossible to maintain, and I've just been trying to fix myself. All I know is that I'm tired of living - or not living - like this. I'm tired of crying, of being stressed out, of having panic attacks, of being scared all of the time. It isn't me; not the real me - I'm not like this. Let's hope this journey I'm about to begin can lead me back to the old Shanna.

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