Monday, May 5, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Balance


Today as I read Rick's post on balance, it really made me think about this topic. So I'm going to blog about the same topic for this (past) Sacred Sunday. I really like Rick's comparing finding our balance with aspects of riding a unicycle. It also made me think about the Libby Sauter video I posted on Friday. Balance. Making small and large adjustments as we go, always trying to "stay up" and "not fall". And then, when we do fall, getting up and starting all over again.

I have been trying to find my balance lately, and recently had a great fall this past Thursday, kind of like Libby (and of course, Humpty Dumpty). I'd thought I was doing all right, because I was moving forward, but in reality, I was wobbling a lot and didn't realize it until I fell. I always try to be positive and keep moving ahead, but in the end, I think this fall was good for me.

Nothing too awfully terrible happened, as it did to Humpty Dumpty. I put myself back together again pretty well. But I'd ended up having what was diagnosed as an episode of "intense depression and anxiety". Kind of like a ginormous panic attack coupled with a strong physiological depression---the kind where you can't stop crying or get out of bed. The person who did my assessment at the hospital said that I was only about ten weeks out from anti-depressant withdrawal and that my brain has still not yet recovered. So that when I do experience severe stress, my brain is not capable of responding normally...yet.

So she wanted me to return to the antidepressants. The ones that gave me my "40 pound in only 4 months" weight gain this past winter. The ones that took me through several clothing wardrobes from size 12 all the way up to 20W. The ones that changed my life marginally for the better, but ended up taking from me far more than they gave, apparently.

I never had anything like this happen before the antidepressants, not even close. And I never had a true depressive episode back then.

I spent most of Thursday in the local hospital's "elopement risk" ward, the first time I've ever gone through anything even remotely like this. I guess they thought I might run away or try to "escape". I had no idea what was happening to me and was eager for the help, so I wasn't interested in "eloping". I spent eight hours in a room with no door handles, no light switches, no furniture except a bed and a chair and very smooth (but not padded) walls---just being present, breathing, and being with what I was feeling. This was an excellent opportunity for this exercise. It was something that I could do. Patients came and went, most in restraints, caterwauling, cursing, singing, grunting, etc. I was pretty calm (all cried out) after the first four or five hours or so so I guess I was last priority. Which was fine.

I left without any medications or instructions except to take those damn antidepressants. So I did. I have. Until I see a psychiatrist this week and he can prescribe me one that doesn't cause weight gain. I hate taking them, and feel in some ways like I've failed. But in other ways I feel so blessed, because of all of the patients who passed by me in the psych ward. "There but for the grace of God go I. "---this was what I realized.

I am hoping this psychiatrist will be open to working with me with my alternative methods of mood elevation/stabilization/balance. I know that I will find a way through this.

This past weekend LoveHubbie and I blew everything off (the best thing we could have done) and just hung out in Seattle. Saturday we went shopping at Uwajimaya and bought lots of seaweed salad (reminding us of Hawaii) and kimchee and exotic mushrooms and broccolini. We walked around in the rain. Sunday we drove up again and went to the Washington Park Arboretum . We walked around in the sun. I think that this park is one of the most peaceful I've ever been in on the mainland. Last night we ate a calamari salad at Piatti near the University of Washington. We just had fun and forgot about everything for a while, which was really good for both of us.

I am truly grateful for my energy every day, and for my blessings.

So...I could have gotten by without telling you...and I considered not mentioning this because not everyone who reads this blog is someone I'm close to...but I wanted to tell you just the same. I admire each of you who have shown me your soul and your courage, and as a writer, I want to learn to be as authentic and transparent as you are.

I am learning to find my balance.

32 comments:

thailandchani said...

Sounds dreadful! I do hope you are able to find some medication that won't cause the weight gain. Sometimes our brains just aren't wired quite correctly and it takes time to learn which methods will keep us balanced. Remember the concept of "collapse of yang"?

I also hope you will give up the concept of "failure". It serves no one ~ and I know you know better. :)

Rick Hamrick said...

Olivia, I'm happy to hear that you have come out of this episode with such equanimity. The weekend in Seattle sounds like a perfect way to way to yourself, "look, I love you even when you go all depressed on me! Another bite of calamari salad, my sweet?"

Truly, there is no more-effective palliative than nurturing yourself.

Antidepressants are not yet a very well understood area of the prescribing arts. It seems like it can take a dozen tries to find what can sometimes be a combination of several different drugs.

Your patience will serve you well in this regard, O, just as it did as you sat and breathed your way through hours in the ward awaiting your turn to be told, "Go home and take your pills!"

Lots of love headed your way, my friend. Look to the east in the morning, and it will come over the horizon straight from Denver, disguised as a beautiful sunrise.

Olivia said...

Yes, Chani, absolutely right. I think I just had the bajeebers scared out of me in the looney bin's all :) xxoo, O

Olivia said...

Thank you, Rick. As always. I love the word "equanimity"...
xxoo, O

Patti said...

Those brain chemicals going haywire can be so frightening - similar to a diabetic going all hypoglycaemic. Zero control. You just went hypo that's all. At least being in the hospital and seeing others in a worse condition helped give you some perspective.

Your reaction was perfect - do something you enjoy, with someone you love, nice and gently.

Maybe a lower dose combined with alternative stress reduction methods will be better for you than a higher dose and the weight gain worries (?) (Dr's love using a sledge hammer when a tack hammer will do!)I hope you find a good psychiatrist and a solution.

Thank you for sharing O, I DO understand what you're going through and send you hugs and support :)

Olivia said...

Thank you, Patti. I am hoping for a low dose or even alternating days..something on a temporary basis too. Thank you for your support Patti. I appreciate it and you so, O

Kate I said...

Olivia, what a wonderful way to nuture yourself back to balence. I love days like that...no pressure, no expectations...just letting it unfold in a gentle way.

I can understand your dissapointment about going back on antidepressents but with a doctor who's open to listening to your concerns, the two of you can chart a course to recovery in a way that you're comfortable with. Rick's right, try not to rush yourself, be patient and take as many gentle days as you need.

Kikipotamus said...

Olivia, I so hope you can find the right combination to help your brain chemistry get in balance without weight gain. Effexor worked wonders for me with zero side effects, but one person I know got horrendous headaches from the same drug. Everyone is different. I also really hope you find someone willing to think holistically with you and include some non-pharmaceutical helpers, too. I just read that the people who did so well on Omega 3 fish oil in the studies were taking 1000 mg. I was only taking 500. So I started taking 1000 and poof! The last of my PMS symptoms went away.

You're so brave. Keep doing what is best for you. I find that is often the hardest and scariest challenge in life.

Olivia said...

Thanks, Kate. I appreciate your message of gentleness. That's definitely something I need to heed. Much love, O

Olivia said...

Thank you, Kelly. I agree with you, that---at least for me---continuing to do what is best for me (after I figure it out) is probably the hardest and scariest challenge, bigger than other things that "look" bigger.

I'm inspired by your fish oil story as well. I am erratic with all of the different things I do. I try to do everything all the time, but I'm doing so many things that sometimes some things get skipped. So...back on track with all of my remedies...

Thank you, Kelly. So much,

O

xxoo

Angela said...

Olivia,

I'm sorry to hear of this unpleasant event, but am so very impressed with how you handled it. Practicing meditation while in the hospital - that's just rich. I hope you will 86 that "failure" thought. It might be that you really need the anti-depressants at this time and it's just a matter of finding the right one, which could take some experimentation. Also, I highly recommend getting on the fish oil at 1000 mg and staying on it for awhile - I really think it could make a difference for you. It did for me.

Jane said...

Olivia,

My gentle, healing thoughts and energy are with you. I've experienced hard depression once or twice and it is no fun at all. Celexa in a very small dose worked very well for me. No weight gain or anything. My brief experience with Effexor was that it was a complete nightmare. It initially worked wonders but trying to get off of it was worse than how I felt when I needed to be on it. Of course, everyone's body and chemistry is completely unique. I hope you find what works best for you.

Lots of love and light,

Jane

Olivia said...

Angela,

Thanks, yes, I'll up my fish oil. Thank you for the words of encouragement. I'm trying to inspire myself and I appreciate the support! Love, O xxoo

Olivia said...

Thank you Jane, for sharing your experience and for your support. I appreciate it. I am very impressed that you made it through all of what you've had to deal with...and that you continue to with such a positive attitude. Thank you for your inspiration and support, Love, O xxoo

Journey Through Life said...

Oh Olivia, I wish I had read this before I sent you my email. I am just so out of touch with blogging lately. Email was my first thought for getting back in touch with you. I tried cutting back on my anti-depressants this last week. The result is my mood today and yesterday and the day before. Needless to say, I went back to normal dosage today. I hope things shift back soon - for both of us.
Thinking of you,
Annie

Journey Through Life said...

xxx

Kate said...

What a journey you are on, I hope you find some balance in it all soon. I have an issue with balance but in a different way. i get consumed by ideas and desires and everything else goes to pot. When I come out of it there is always a big mess to clean up. Someday I will be able to balance creative pursuits with a normal life. But then what is normal, right!
Kate

Olivia said...

Thanks, Annie. It's good to hear from you. It's been a challenging week! Love, O xxoo

Olivia said...

Yes, Kate, but it's great having creative energy, isn't it? Once you have balance...Blessings and love, O

Yolanda said...

I so know how you feel as I ma struggling in much the same way right.Thanks so much for shraring this.

Olivia said...

Yolanda, Peace be with you today and tonight. I wish you well, Olivia

Bobbi said...

Olivia,
You have such courage to share your story. When we hear each others storys we all get to learn from them. Bless you Olivia. My prayers are with you, and I know you will find the right combination. You take writing and honesty to a whole new level. If youd like tea...wine...a friend, call me. Love to you,
Bobbi

Olivia said...

Thank you so very much, Bobbi. I appreciate your prayers and your friendship. Love, Olivia

mermaid musings said...

hugs lovely you!

GreenishLady said...

I am deeply touched by what you share here, Olivia. I am one of those people to whom you probably feel you are not particularly close, but I am someone who wishes you well from a deep place, and who admires you greatly for your will to live authentically and in balance. Blessings to you.

Olivia said...

Dear Carmen, Hugs Back :), Blessings and love, O xxoo

Olivia said...

Dear Imelda, thank you so very much for your kind words. I know we are not close, but see...your words have the ability to touch me deeply as well and I know that you are there. We are all one, Love, O xxoo

laundrygirl said...

My heart goes out to you. Depression runs in my family so I am very familiar with the environment you spoke of. I hope you will let go of the idea of medication as failure with regard to depression.It is not simply a matter of "sucking it up" and "being happy" but rather a real medical condition. I'm sure you already know this...
My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Be brave.

laundrygirl said...

My heart goes out to you. Depression runs in my family so I am very familiar with the environment you spoke of. I hope you will let go of the idea of medication as failure with regard to depression.It is not simply a matter of "sucking it up" and "being happy" but rather a real medical condition. I'm sure you already know this...
My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Be brave.

Olivia said...

Thank you, Kristine. Yes, and this is such a real opportunity to Be Brave, thank you for reminding me of it. Love, O

Jessie said...

oh my dear, olivia. when i sent my last email i had not realized that this had happened to you. i am glad you chose to write about it though because, to keep it inside, would be to give the negative side of things more power. i'm glad you've chosen to express this because, the truth is, this is something that many, many, many people struggle with. you are not alone and in writing this you have been a spark. you have been your very own version of libby sauter.

i think the world of you, olivia. you spark, your energy, your determination...even when you get knocked down, i am endlessly and deeply inspired by your willingness to get up and start all over again.

you are one of the best friends and teachers i have ever had and every day i am thankful that you have come into my life. you always make me pay attention and push myself further than i would otherwise.

i'm sending you big love and hoping that balance returns to your life very, very soon.

love you,
j.

Olivia said...

Thank you, dear Jessie for this powerful piece of encouragement in the form of a comment. It touches my soul. We'll keep on Being Brave. Big Love Back, O xxoo