The SSRI slow dance

I have a debilitating mental illness that is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is fairly typical for someone who has Aspergers and also fairly typical for someone who has experienced trauma. While I would not claim that my life has been more traumatic than other peoples our trauma is an experience that comes in many colors. Being bullied in school, losing my brother as a young adult and a failed marriage all contributed to the anxiety condition that was probably laying dormant ever since I was born because of the way my brain is hardwired for anxiety as someone with autism. I lived unmedicated for way too long and because of that my anxiety got worse and worse. I believe my vertigo spells are a direct result of my anxiety, last January I started to take a drug for my issues and the results are night and day.

I consider myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist but a realist. I am more interested in how things are rather than how they might be or how I hope the can be. With that in mind the drug I take is not a cure. If I stopped taking it tomorrow first I would have to deal with withdrawal effects as the amount of serotonin my brain is used to changed. Once those passed my anxiety levels would most likely return to the levels they were at before I began medication. Drugs are not a cure they are a mask, a band-aid, they are meant to cover symptoms while you heal, physically mentally and psychologically.  This is neither good or bad it’s just how it is. But it’s also where I need to be

Everyday when I wake up I am tired, too tired, this is a direct effect of the Lexapro in my system. increased serotonin can make you feel lethargic so getting up is a chore. To offset this I make sure that I have plenty of time to wake in the morning, get my breakfast ate  and head off to work. Some days are harder than others because sometimes getting to sleep is tough, this is also do to the serotonin in my system. At night the chemicals in my head and the chemicals in the medicine do a little dance and that can make things a little strange. I’ll have slight eye image issues, weirdness that is hard to describe but it’s almost like slight hallucinations. My body temperature will also be a bit funky but it all regulates after awhile. This doesn’t happen every night or every week but every now and then I’ll have this happen. Once it passes I am able to go back to sleep.

Having said all of that, with all of it’s small quirks and such being on an SSRI is totally worth it. I don’t have panic attacks anymore, I will occasionally get small bouts of dizziness but no longer so bad that I think I am going to pass out. My temper is better, not perfect but better. I am more present in life, more in tune with what is going on around me and not stuck in my own cycle of thoughts all of the time. I’ve been more emotionally available to Corrie, more willing to take risks, good risks. I can get through an entire day without thinking the whole world is going to fall apart at the seams. Sure I have a few annoying side effects but compared to the living hell I was going through with GAD with OCD.

Next week I’ll continue on this thread, from my unique Christian Misfit perspective, If Jesus is enough, and he has healed me why do I need to take medicine to combat anxiety. I am looking forward to it.

Undercover Angels

My wife and I just experienced true kindness yesterday, the kind of kindness that we all hope still exists in a world that is becoming more riddled with apathy and cynicism but you aren’t quite sure it’s still out there until you are presented with it. I usually tell people that I don’t believe in God because I’ve seen him, but I do believe because I see his fingerprints, this is a story about fingerprints.

SO some context is needed, I had a horrible week. Last Thursday I was involved in a minor fender bender, I was rear ended when waiting to be able to turn right. My truck took some damage, and I took some damage too albeit minor. Needless to say by Saturday I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was heading outside to take a rode on my new trike which my family and friends had just helped me purchase when I noticed my wife’s bike was missing.

She had her bike locked to the fence pole, it had a combination lock on it so someone had to cut the chain and then exit our property to have stolen it. It must have happened in the middle of the night. This was the 3rd bike stolen off of our property in 2 and a half years of living there. Needless to say Saturday morning, when my neck stiffness from an accident 2 days ago was setting in and I had a headache that I could not shake I was in no mood to have pity on some entitled jerk who stole our property. I was ready to purchase a gun and learn how to shoot. I’ve never wanted to own a gun in my entire life but I have had enough of crooks sneaking on my property. I was ready to do something about it.

Corrie posted an ad on Craigslist in the lost and found. She wasn’t feeling any better about this than I did, and her ad reflected that. She isn’t quite as colorful as I am with her language, but she did tell whoever stole her bike that they could sit on a cactus. The first response she got was almost so predicable it was sad. Some no name telling her ‘ with all of the things happening in the world right now you shouldn’t care so much about your own life”. These types of responses are usually written by people with enough money that if something gets stolen they can just go and replace it. God knows life would be so much better if we were all that rich. We ignored the troll who responded like that and tried to put the bike in the back of our mind. That’s when my wife heard from a lady named Evelyn

Evelyn said she had seen a similar bike to my wife’s, a bit older but the same style, and she wanted to buy it for us. Neither of us could believe it and I confess at first I thought it was just a cruel hoax of some kind. I honestly didn’t pay the offer any mind until she showed up last night at our door with the bike in tow.

She had purchased this bike for us which the guy was selling for $100, she doesn’t know us from Adam but she said she could hear the anger and despair in my wife’s words on the craigslist ad and she felt like she needed to do something. Her and her daughter came over, they were both the nicest folks. I still cannot believe that someone would do something like this for us. Not only did they give us the bike but they also left us a gift card which I believe we will be using to get the kid we mentor a Christmas present.

Part of the autistic experience, at least for me is a challenged ability to see anything beyond what is happening to me in the present moment. If I am being harmed or wronged in some way it is hard to see what underlying good could be happening. This isn’t always true, there are days when I am more in touch with the Holy Spirit that I can literally feel his presence even when I am in the midst of a trial but the events of the week had left me gun shy and unable to discern  where God was. Well he showed up big time in the kind act of a stranger. I felt cared for of course but it also reminded me of my sin, of my failure to see that God was taking care of us. I let the anger inside take over and I was ready to watch the world burn. Hopefully next time I will remember that God has a handle on all things, no matter how badly the boat rocks in the storm.


I’ve got a list of demands (Why I’m quitting Facebook)

Back around 2009 I discovered Facebook. I had been a loyal MySpace and Livejournal user before than but I liked Facebook because it seemed to be more about really connecting with people. The whole purpose was to connect with people that you knew, I was able to get back in touch with folks I hadn’t heard from in years. As the Facebook mania grew I began to see how it could be used in other ways. I bolstered support for my music endeavors, I helped a family at my church raise serious money with their husband and father passed away. I even got support from family and friends when I began a long journey into weight loss which I am still on today. Facebook was the greatest in my opinion. I loved keeping up with everything that people were doing. But soon, as it does with so many things, Facebook began to lose it’s luster.

I think I noticed it first when people would respond to some things I’d post and not others. If I posted a news story that I read and share what I thought was a well thought out and fair opinion on the piece, and people would come out of the woodwork and fight with me about it. Then they would fight with each other about it. I could leave Facebook for an hour and come back and people would still be flaming each other, like if someone held a differing opinion than you it would be the end of the world. The next day I could post a bit of humor, or a piece of music that I’ve written and nothing. No one would respond, no ‘likes’ not a peep. Go away for an hour, still nothing.

I don’t know if Facebook’s algorithm is to blame or if social media has just conditioned us to be a more combative people but I began to fall victim to a mentality that demanded respect. I had a long list of demands and theyt were not being met. I also have a strong reaction against bullying and the more people would fight with me the more I felt like I was being attacked, bullied, my comments would reflect that.

This is why I’ve decided that the problem isn’t necessarily with Facebook or the people that use Facebook but with me. I use Facebook in unhealthy ways and because I take everything so personally it’s not a good place for me to hang out, at least not for now. So I am stepping away. I am going to deactivate my Facebook for an undetermined amount of time, it could be 6 months, it could be longer, it’s not going to be easy but I think it’s important. While I am away from there I will focus on what’s going on in front of me, be fully present in life as it happens instead of checking in an out just to see what people are doing online. I am also planning on using this blog a couple times a week to begin telling a story. A story about how I live life and also the story about how I’ve gotten here from where I’ve come from. Eventually I may turn it into a book but either way there is a story to share, one I’ve been wanting to write for some time now. I hope you’ll come along.