Oooookay. This is a difficult post to write for a lot of reasons. First and foremost among them being the fact that not only don’t I tend to share too heavily when it comes to deeply personal issues… but I hold myself to a high standard, and acknowledging that I’ve failed to reach that standard is difficult. Sure, inside my head my self loathing knows no bounds, but I’ve typically been good at keeping that stuff… you know… inside my head. In any case, this is not going to be a pretty post, so abandon ship if you’ve concerns reading a lot of unpleasant self reflection and revelations of incompetence.
Let’s start this off by getting into “Dark Days”. I have talked in past about starting to seek help for my depression. There was a period of time a few years ago where I started on some medication, but the sexual side effects were enough to ward me away, so I went back to just “Dealing with It”. Towards the end of last year “Dealing with It” was becoming increasingly more difficult, and I realized that something had to change before I caused irreparable harm to my life. So I found myself a doctor, and after discussing my concerns from the last time I went on medication, we decided to try a stronger medication that was much less likely to have sexual side effects than what I was on before… though it was known to potentially increase suicidal tendencies in those who had them. As that was not one of the things I was dealing with specifically, we agreed that it was worth a shot and I started the medication.
Initially it seemed to be working out okay. I had a taste of anxiety (Something I’ve never had in any real sense before, so that was an interesting experience), and a light case of dry mouth, with a lessened appetite and a small hit to my sleep schedule. Nothing too worrisome, and all of it manageable. That all said, it wasn’t really doing anything to help with the reasons I started taking it. So after being at that dosage a bit, we decided that it would be a good idea to increase the dosage and see if that made a difference. Now, in hindsight, and being off the medication, it’s obvious that this is where things started to go downhill.
I don’t have a way to properly articulate what it’s like to be incapable of trusting oneself. But over the course of last month, I learned what it feels like. Initially, after the higher dosage started taking hold, I noted an increased dry mouth, a slightly more erratic appetite, and an even worse sleep schedule. Sure that this was all well manageable, I thought nothing of else of the medicines impact on my life. Unaccounted for during that period, I was suddenly having a hard time getting myself to leave the house, and that’s about where any self reflection on the medication stopped.
As it was the holiday season, a lot of projects were piling up at work, but nothing unmanageable. The bulk of what I was working on was digital by nature, so I started working more from the house, and thought nothing of it. Over time, I stopped going in altogether, and still I was ignorant as to how odd that was for me. My partner did manage to drag me out of the house twice, to kind of prove to me and the world that I was still alive, and that I could get myself to leave the house, but unfortunately that only ended up doing more harm than good in the long run. Both times I avoided interacting with people as much as possible, and was evasive when asked about how I was doing. Rationalizing to myself (As best as I can recall) that I knew I was on medication to improve things, so things would only improve soon enough.
The month wore on and I slowly stopped eating, drinking, and sleeping. All things that though I’ve never been particularly good at before, are generally considered relatively important. The only reason I ever did occasionally eat, was because I was supposed to take my medication with food, and once I remembered to take my medication (Or more often, once my partner reminded me to do so), I realized that I’d not consumed anything, and would put something into my system to go down with the medication. Sleep happened when I passed out, and would last anywhere from 2 to 20 hours… and getting out of bed, regardless of what time I’d slept, became more and more of an ordeal. And still no warning bells were going off in my head. I can not even begin to account for why now. Even writing it out it’s patently ridiculous to think that I was so incapable of recognizing how poor a turn things had taken. But c’est la vie.
Over time, several folks from work, and a few from my personal life, tried reaching out to see what was wrong. I went from getting more and more evasive, to eventually non-responsive. Completely shutting myself off from all forms of external communication. It was bad enough that even when my medication ran out, and it was time to refill it, I could not even get myself to do that. It turns out that this was a small unremarkable blessing in disguise. Shortly after that, it “suddenly” occurred to me that perhaps there was something up with my medication? So I scheduled an emergency appointment with the clinic, and went in to see a new doctor.
In a plot twist fit to rival the best that Bollywood has to offer, the doc determined that hey… maybe the medicine was having an adverse affect on me. So we discussed options, and decided to transition to another drug, that while likely would have the sexual side effects I was trying to avoid in the first place, would just as likely restore my ability to interact with the world at large. Beyond that, these kinds of drugs have lead in and lead out times to prevent causing serious issues during adoption and such, so the process would need to be gradual, but at this point it was far beyond time to do something about what was going on, so we went for it.
Fast forward (Not too far, this wasn’t that long ago) a bit, and yeah, turns out the doctor was right. I wasn’t suddenly perfect, but there was a notable restoration of normality in my world. So I finally started trying to reconnect with work, and the folks that were worried about me in my life. Now, I may have told you that last plot twist was good, but just wait. As it turns out, not going in to work and falling off the face of the earth when folks are trying to make sure you’re okay doesn’t really endear you to your employer. So surprising nobody at all, by not being competent enough to realize I was taking a nice long grind with a nail file to the proverbial foot, sans toe nails, it took me one holiday season to completely destroy a working relationship stretching back many years. There were many factors at play, but the coffin’s nail was my absolute lack of response to the multiple attempts to reach out to me. And to make it even better, due to the cross pollination between work and the other activities of my life, not only had I destroyed that relationship, but I’d probably taken out what was probably the highlight of my year as a consolation prize. Working PAX.
Now, sans not only my job, but the very limited number of friends that I have (Even before this occurred I didn’t really have a lot of in person relationships. Almost the entirety of my social network was my work network), things were certainly looking up. But hey, it was no more than I deserved for my complete lack of functionality. They did let me go with a severance, and an extra month of insurance. After all, it really wasn’t anything personal. Just a logical business decision. At this point, I was definitely at my lowest. Not as incapable of interacting as the prior month (I don’t ever want to be that disrupted again), but I was beyond hurt by my stupidity. What to do? I guess this is where the “Brighter Future” kicks in? I mean they say when you reach the bottom, all that’s left is up right?
Sardony aside, having just pulled myself out of that mess, I wasn’t about to let even this series of blows take me back anywhere like it again. For one thing, I’m going to make a significant effort to return to a more social place. This will mean more getting out of the house for things other than work, and a greater level of activity in my online social networks. And contributing to that takes me to my next point…
My partner and I sat down and talked about the future. We’d been beating around an idea for a home based business for a while now. Strictly for fun, and as a hobby, something that would maybe bring in just enough money to let her slow down (And eventually maybe stop) working after we get married later this year, but there just wasn’t time to worry about it right now. Well… funny thing about getting fired is that you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. While the timing is certainly ridiculous (We’ve got 6 Months to the day till the wedding. Invites are going out soon ya’ll!), I figured why not go full boar into this and spend a little bit of time building the business up before finding another job. As the co-owner of a shiny new business license, “Mel-T Rivers” (It’s unique, rolls off the tongue nicely, and there’s even a whole cute little significance to the name) is gearing up for an interesting year. My expectations are firmly rooted in reality, and I’ve got a good working relationship with a local temp agency to keep my bills covered for the interim. So let’s ride these rapids shall we.