Vindicated

I have been on Depakote, with very few small breaks, for 8 years. The day I was put on it it made me tired. And on the rare occasion I was off Depakote I was often on something else have at least moderately sedating. But Depakote was always the worst. I have been sleeping in till 10 or 11 almost constantly for years. I would miss half the weekend with my family and miss out on going to church because I could not wake up. I would set all kinds of alarms. I would ask my husband to help me whenever he could. Everyone kept telling me that I needed to change my body clock, that I needed to get up early whether I was ready or not, that it was lazy not to be awake by 8, that I needed to start going to bed earlier, and all sorts of other advice or criticisms. But the thing is I tried to change my body clock. I went to bed between 8 and 9. When my husband would force me to get up while I was still that tired (usually at my request the night before) I would end up too exhausted to move all day and I would have a mood swing. And no matter how many days I did that my body still wanted to sleep and sleep.

Past a certain point I privately began to wonder if people were right. Maybe I was just lazy. I didn’t know anybody who laid in bed as much as I did. Everyone else got up in the morning. Not at noon. Some people get up for their jobs, some people to do activities with their kids which I was missing out on, and even the people who periodically sleep in as late as I was sleeping in were capable of getting up earlier and being functional people, especially when they needed to do something. For me it didn’t matter what I needed to do it was a nightmare to get up in the morning. But I seriously wondered if maybe I was lazy. I wondered if it was a character flaw.

Over the past week I have been vindicated. The doctors pulled me off Depakote. Initially that wasn’t good because I went manic, but since then the other drugs they have put me on have kicked in and they are much less sedating while still keeping me stable. I’ve been getting up naturally between 4:50 and 7 every morning without setting any kind of alarm. I get up and I spend time with my family or I do work around the house or I get ready for church. I spend a full busy day doing stuff and enjoying my life. I am not laying around in bed, and I feel great. I really hope this continues and that these drugs work as long as possible. But even if these burn out, as almost everything I have ever taken has, I have learned that I will refuse to go on Depakote again. I will never ever take that drug again. It’s heavy stabilizer and it prevents Mania, but that’s not worth what it does to you. You miss half your life sleeping.

I am just enjoying being awake so much! And it feels so good to know that it really was the medication and not something morally wrong with me. I felt so bad. I think a lot of people don’t realize just how strong some of these medications are and how many different bad side effects they can have. And sleeping all day is not even the worst thing that can happen to you. But long-term it’s a pretty serious consequence of the medication because sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day is no way to live. I will never go back to that again.

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Depression and Anxiety

I had a hard weekend. Saturday it was difficult to get and stay out of bed. Sunday was slightly better, as I was able to go out to lunch with my husband and daughter, but I still struggled with depression and anxiety all day. I haven’t been doing well since I was in the hospital, but the situation became more acute this weekend.

Now I am taking double doses of Prozac and waiting for my new antidepressant to arrive. This past summer I was on Prozac but asked to switch to something else because I felt like it was burning out. I wanted to switch to trintellix but initially balked at the price because it’s not fully covered by insurance, so I went on Zoloft instead. For me taking Zoloft is a lot like eating Skittles.

So when I realized last week that the Zoloft just wasn’t going to kick in and do anything I called my doctor back and requested a prescription for the trintellix. But to save money I’m getting it through Express Scripts Pharmacy and they are taking forever to fill it. They got the order last Wednesday and it is now Monday and they still haven’t filled my order so nothing’s even in the mail yet. So I’m just hanging out with my old Prozac, since it’s better than Zoloft, and waiting.

Everything feels like it takes so much energy when I am like this. Getting out of bed, brushing my teeth and my hair, driving, housework… The list goes on.

Pharmacological Fog

Recapturing yourself will be easy.

White still in the bedroom,

structure from private, necessary snow.

dreaming of silence.

Your mind is a playground of artillery.

 

Capturing the sense of yourself will be hard,

Lost 2 feet tall in a field of chaff.

The women have needles and no yarn.

A man sits toward the curdling sun,

his face a mouth.

 

Sound your siren song

A gentle offering of wisteria wishes

and sulking letters.

Give her a sonorous rope to tie round her wrist

a little balloon bobbing desperately toward mass.

 

Mania

Lush lights linger lightly on my legs.

Excess ecstasy jerks in my finger tips.

I have too much of myself.

I am smoldering.

My old jeans make juice from jam.

I’m going to take my face off

and dance with the band.

Please understand.

I am on the Spectrum

I’ve never written about this before, but I am on the Spectrum – the autism spectrum. Autism often presents itself differently in females than in males, because women learn to mask it and copy social cues from other people better than most men do.

As a kid I would do what is called finger posturing, which is similar to hand flapping. Sometimes I would contort my hands in weird shapes for hours. As I got older I learned not to do it in front of other people, but the drive to stimulate or “stim” as autistic people call it, with my hands was still there.

I have other stims too. It is common for people on the spectrum to listen to the same song over and over again, or even the same 20 second section of a song, because it stimulates them. I’ve been doing this for years. I can play one song hundreds of times. My music library is small but well played.

Although I love feminine things like makeup, I have a hard time relating to other females and I always have. Autism is said to be an extreme male brain, and as a child I used to say I had a guy’s brain.

Special interests are important to most people on the spectrum, especially those on the high functioning end that until recently was called Asperger’s. I have always had special interests. In elementary and middle school I used to spend summer breaks researching history online all day long. As an adult, I still research certain parts of history meticulously, like art history and marriage. I’ve also always had collections. As an adult I collect Swarovski crystal figurines. As a child I collected toothpicks from Friendly’s. The staff actually knew me and would ask what color toothpicks I wanted when my family would come in.

I have a lot of anxiety and I get overstimulated, which is common in people on the spectrum. If I don’t get enough sensory input I get anxiety, but if I get too much I get overwhelmed and have an anxiety attack. The quiet dark is my friend.

Making friends has always been a struggle. I don’t relate to other people, particularly other females, that naturally. I’ve also been so obsessed by my special interests that it has sometimes been hard to connect with other people that aren’t interested in the same things. I’ve often preferred books to people.

I’m a poet, and that is actually commonly noted among high functioning females with autism. They like to write and they especially like poetry.

When I was a child, my mother suspected I was autistic and took me to the doctor. Many doctors were called in to look at me and it was obvious something was wrong given what I was doing with my hands, but in those days doctors were even worse at detecting autism in females than they are today, and no one knew what was wrong. So they sent my parents home with no help and no guidance, and throughout my childhood it damaged my relationship to my parents because they had normal child expectations of me but I was not normal. I used to get in trouble for being in the shower too long, but the problem was I’d get in the shower and start stiming and I’d forget where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. I was a hard child.

Now more information is coming out about autism in females and how overlooked it is and the info is right out there on the internet and it is pretty much certain that I’m autistic. This is a long, but only partial, list why. I’m approaching my doctor about it and she seems like she thinks I might be as well. In doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future. Maybe I can look at myself with more love. I’ve been wired differently since birth (I was stiming in my crib as a baby) and I’m just a little different. Finding out I’m autistic answers so many questions I’ve always had, helps me understand myself better, and can maybe help me be more okay being just myself.

Mood

Mood like a leaf,

a falling leaf beautiful and dead.

I appreciate normalcy because it’s gone.

Quickly my neurons shudder,

power plants going cold.

Please someone find a rake,

pull me together.

Light a candle so I can see my way out of this darkness.

Mania

Mania is sweeping

My front door step,

is dancing a jig on my lawn.

My blood is caffeine.

All my colors are hotter than yours.

They burn me,

and turn me on

like a sick freak lover with a cigarette

Perseverance and Suicide

Quarrelsome boas cannot decide who will

take my inner drive

and so it is passed back and forth like a dish rag.

 

I once did the dishes all the time but hid from the stove.

Now the stove, dusters, sewing needles all hide from me.

 

I remind my back to stop bleeding.

It is enough the knife slowly turns.

Don’t advertise it.

In that house we gave nothing of ourselves,

because we admitted to nothing.

I am a fish still alive in the pot.

 

Temperature rising.

Temperance gone.

I hope the hag cooks with good wine.

 

No.

I refuse to breathe the water,

absorb the wine

I am a woman for whom jetted tubs were made.

I step out of the vat

not even naked

with all the shame heaped on me,

and I strangle each snake for laughs.

 

Here is my drive

on the floor tired and pitiful.

But here is me.

Knives removed,

stripping naked,

drying off.

drying out,

deciding drive is not enough…

and I have more