On getting out of bed and other stories
Tuesday was the first step on the Librium taper. To recap, 1 mgs of Xanax and Klonopin (and the bizarre schedule of half-doses I’d come up with) are out the window. I switched to 100 mg of Librium throughout the day. I did that for five days and Tuesday was the first day I went from four 25 mg pills to three. (300 mg Wellbutrin XL and 50 mg Zoloft along for the ride.) For readers in the future, it is now Thursday. Three days on 75 mg of Librium.
(I noticed that I have followers now. I wonder who you are. A couple of you seem like students and some look like doctors. I feel like a rat explaining in detail the maze that I will be going through.)
There is magic between 75 and 100 milligrams that makes it possible to get out of bed. I have no clear recollection of Tuesday. There is nothing of importance to relay there that comes to mind. It was a normal day. Yesterday though, day two of the taper, transitioning from being in bed watching Netflix to being on the couch watching Netflix was a Herculean task.
Through shear need I muscled up the power to shower and go to the grocery store. I timed it during the day so less people would be there and I used the self checkout lane so I was less likely to have to talk to someone. When I got home I saw that the person who lives across the hall was pulling up to the building as well, so I circled the block in a vain attempt to avoid them. They were taking a bunch of stuff out of their car though and it took them exactly as long to get it all together as it took me to circle block, park, grab my grocery bag and head for the door. I was going to have to talk and together we were going to go up those stairs to the third floor. I thought “Well ‘Clara,’ this is the next test in your life.” Yes, I did look at as an actual test.
I think I feigned normalcy to an acceptable degree given the situation. As we started ascending they let me know they’d just broken up with their partner after a four year relationship. I asked how they were doing. “I’m fine.” They took a long pause and stopped on the steps. “I’m not fine.” Three months ago my partner broke up with me and I’m still dealing with that. (The anxiety and withdrawal really like playing with that topic.) Selfishly, I consider encountering this trigger, the fact that I reduced my neighbor to a trigger at all and responding to them like a normal human is a win. I hate that I feel the need to count these things.
I slept. Going to the store and encountering the neighbor took at most ninety minutes of my day. The rest of the day was a perpetual twilight of sleep, waking up to figure out how many episodes of the TV show I was watching that I’d slept through, and then falling asleep again during that episode or the next.
I thought of the writing I wasn’t doing. The reading I wasn’t doing. The laundry I wasn’t doing. The trash and recycling I didn’t take out. The idea of every single one of them exhausted me. Was it the pills or did I just not have enough energy because I have no appetite and haven’t been eating?
Write yesterday off. September 13, 2017 didn’t happen. I finished watching every episode of one show and started watching every episode of another. I bought milk.
Thanks partly to the pills and partly to some bad news, I stayed in bed again today playing the “which episode?” sleeping game until I forced myself to get up. Don’t skip past that last part. Don’t let it pass you by in a casual read. I forced myself to get up. It took force. It was an act of will. Everything inside me wanted to stay in bed and slowly go insane watching TV series after TV series but I forced my body to get out of bed.
And I did stuff. I got the laundry together and descended to the basement to actually do it. I came back up to the apartment and got the recycling and trash and took them downstairs as well. I did dishes. I started writing this. While writing, I finished the laundry and put the clothes away, separating the ironing.
I cannot tell you exactly how much I hate that I am at a point in my life where doing those things is a major accomplishment. I deserve a gold star and a ribbon from the dollar store.
Have you read the change in my voice? I have. It worries me.
This morning I got the results of a creative writing competition I entered several months ago. All things told I did pretty well. But the story I wrote, the most difficult thing I’d ever written, the one I’ve honestly thought was strong enough to make a screenplay out of… that story placed pretty low. At least from my point of view. I was roughly in the top third.
Everything was crap though. I’d thought this story was fantastic. I thought I executed it well. I thought all the elements of a good story were there with enough ‘Clara’ flair to stand out. But to me I placed poorly and then questioned the idea of writing at all. I remembered the story site I’d started long ago that gained four readers (only one of which I didn’t know.) I remembered another writing competition where I did fairly well but still not quite well enough. I remembered other things I’d written to “okay” response. It all seemed futile. Chuck it all. I was and would forever be mediocre.
It has since been brought to my attention that I have done this sort of thing long before starting this medication switch and taper. If something small goes wrong, I question the validity of the whole thing. Luckily I have therapy tonight. Now we have something to talk about other than extreme fatigue from medication. (I have a therapist and I have a psychiatrist.)
I remember a similar situation many, many years ago when I first started seeing someone about my mental health. I latched onto the NBA Finals like it was the only thing keeping me from floating off the planet. This time it’s a collection of slogans. Lines from songs from Hamilton actually. They describe both how I feel and how I want to feel. The emptiness I have and the determination I desire.
But for some, determination is a learned trait. I’m privileged enough that it isn’t a survival skill. But I want it like I need it.
I wrote my way out
When the world turned its back on me
I was up against the wall
I had no foundation
No friends and no family to catch my fall
Running on empty, with nothing left in me but doubt
I picked up a pen
And wrote my way out (I wrote my way out)
My writing is “okay.” Do I take not making it in one contest as fuel to work harder? No. I literally laid down. I texted people and posted to Facebook about my disappointment. That’s not what I should be doing. I should be working harder. I should be working to show them. I should be writing myself out of this.
“Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…”
PS: I now have a Twitter account @chloradiaz