sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
Tomorrow I'm heading up to spend the weekend with my niece (my brother having managed to plan a week in Wales at the same time so he and the dog won't be there), where we will be going to the Popup Wool Show. I did this last year and everything was fine; we had a great time, I spent far too much on yarn, and my neighbours checked in on the cats. This year Ross is doing the catsitting, which is even better as Lily loves Ross (she sits on his lap, which she won't even do for me), and even though Callie still mostly flees from the sight of him, she does that for everyone and last time she actually came out and sniffed him, and so everything should be fine.

So of course yesterday I had two massive panic attacks over leaving Lily which left me physically sick and nearly fainting, and all because Lily meowed at me once, which to my broken brain apparently translated into, "Lily is going to die this weekend". I'm at least calmer today because I've managed to cram some sense into myself, but I've still got a headache from making myself so worked up yesterday.

I hate the utter randomness that my panic attacks follow, because I can't do anything to counter or prepare for them. Ideas and intrusive thoughts just enter my head out of nowhere and make themselves at home, and the next thing I know I'm lying in bed thinking that the floor is going to collapse under me, or that someone is preparing to break into the house right this very moment - or that the cats will drop dead if I leave the house for more than an hour. And with the current state of my local authority's mental health services, the chances of me getting any sort of treatment (CBT or otherwise) before 2018 at the earliest are slim to none. So I mainly have to figure out coping methods on my own.

One method (technically two) is to distract myself with knitting or crochet. Right now I have a 10-stitch blanket on hand for random panic attacks (I'm making it with a ball of Sirdar Colorwheel because I think the long colour changes of the yarn will work well with the pattern, and it feels really soft), and last night I finally found with a pattern for a skein of yarn I got at last year's Popup Wool Show that's 55% Bluefaced Leicester Superwash and 45% silk - Persephone. I'm probably going to take this one with me this weekend as the pattern is incredibly easy to memorise (and the ball is smaller than the Colorwheel).

Mondays.

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:26 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
I'm starting to believe someone recently put a curse on me.

Lily had a vet appointment today. To catch up; Lily has been receiving treatment for a condition known as cholangiohepatitis since the beginning of the year. It's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and unfortunately in Lily's case it is chronic, which means it periodically flares up and can't be really cured, just managed. She's on a mix of antibiotics and steroids for this, and it's improved her condition tremendously - in January she was vomiting daily, severely jaundiced and had lost about 2kg in weight. Now she has periodic bouts of vomiting, but the jaundice is being kept to a minimum and she's put her lost weight back on and more, to the point where I'm having to put her on a diet. We're coping the best we can.

I was just starting to get things ready for the trip to the vets when there was a knock on the door. It turned out to be someone coming to read the gas and electric meters; something I was not expecting, plus I was in the middle of stuff and the front room is such a mess that it's not really possible to get to the gas meter right now anyway. I try to explain this to the meter reader but he just snarls at me, "You said this last time. You just don't want to have your meter read," and stalked off.

So that was asshole #1 to upset me.

So I chased Lily around the house for a bit, got her in the carrier and got the taxi to the vet. There she got checked over - jaundice levels the same as last time, no other problems - but then the vet (who was a locum I'd not seen at the place before) started talking about pancreatic cancer.

If Lily had pancreatic cancer I'm pretty sure we'd have noticed it by now, since she's been seen monthly and at one point fortnightly since January and ultrasounds have shown that the mass around her bile ducts in January reduced in size considerably after a month on the meds (we just can't take her off them because she starts being sick again). But thanks for worrying me unnecessarily there. Then, as I'm closing the carrier up and getting ready to leave, I mention that my goal is really just to get her to 19, as my readings had shown me a 5-year survival rate for cats with this condition, and while I know she's not going to live forever, if I can keep her strong for as long as possible I'll have done my job as cat owner. The vet responds, "Oh, I don't think that will happen."

...I guess I should just not bother then, should I?

Asshole #2 needs to work on his bedside manner.

Add to that the Spanish Plume that's headed our way this week (temperatures up to 28 degrees, then thunderstorms and heavy rain!) and the deaths of George A Romero and Martin Landau, and I'm feeling pretty beaten down today. I think I'm going to spend the evening eating ice cream and crafting. Maybe watching stuff to put my mind on autopilot. Tomorrow will be better.
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
With The Howling: Reborn I have finished the July Howling Franchise Marathon and can now go back to slacking off and watching films I actually want to watch (until November when Shark Week 2 comes around). To be fair, Reborn was a marked improvement over some of the previous sequels (admittedly that wasn't exactly hard) and it got me thinking about a werewolf apocalypse. World War Werewolves, if you will. Hmmm...

In other news, the text telling me my prescription was ready came through, so I took myself into town for that and my monthly crochet magazine. The whole trip wouldn't have been too bad despite the heat and the Saturday shopping crowds, but the pharmacist decided to spring one of those Medicine Checks" on me, which involves being locked in a small room with the pharmacist while she goes through all your meds and asks if you're okay on them and are they working, etc. I already had one of these two months ago so I wasn't too happy to begin with, but I did my best to put on my best smile and went along with it.

...until she asked me if I was "happy" now I was on the antidepressants. Now I've been on these drugs for well over a decade at this point; tried weaning off them with the doctor's permission several times, but each time I'd get to below 150mg and everything would go to hell. And since Nick died it's been more of a case of them just keeping me going from day-to-day, never mind making me "happy". I consider it a good day if I get myself out of bed sometimes. So I tell her that, and she immediately feels the need to inform me of all the extra ways I can work to "fix" my depression.

I know she meant well. I really do. But in the 18 years I've been diagnosed with depression, I've heard of, read up on and tried many things as well as the medication to try to help my condition. And I've come up with several things that I know help, through trial and error, and I do them whenever possible. I don't go out very often because the outside world scares me and makes me anxious enough to be physically sick sometimes, so going on a half-hour walk every day probably isn't going to help, and it's probably not the first time I've had this suggested to me either. The pharmacist then went on to tell me that she feels anxious too, as she's originally from Spain and she has to come to work every day in a strange country, so it's okay! Don't feel so anxious! And all I can think is, "Oh great. Now I feel bad that I have uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks because this woman's come to a whole other country with a whole other language to work and she worries about what other people think of her."

I told her she was really nice, caring about me like that and wanting to help me, and I'd definitely try to do what she suggested. Then I slunk away feeling like pond scum. But I really wish people wouldn't tell the mentally ill to exercise to"cure" them. We don't tell people with physical illnesses to "walk it off" (well, we do for some of them, but that's not the point here).

On the other hand, while walking to the bus stop to get into town I met this handsome fellow, who was sunning himself on the pavement when I saw him. He came running up to me meowing happily and gave me a good sniff, but then decided he didn't want a fuss and so just sat watching me and meowing. Maybe it was because I smelled of GIRLCAT. He was perfectly happy to have his picture taken though.


Ehhhhh...

Jul. 4th, 2017 08:12 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare - I have seen a lot of bad horror movies over the years, but this has to be in the bottom 10.

One of the reasons my depression is so strong right now, I think, is because I'm once again waiting for my social worker to contact me. The original plan was that she was on holiday for a week at the beginning on June, and then she'd call me when she got back. After I didn't get that call I rang the mental health centre asking about her... and found that she's on sick leave again. I've now called once a week for three weeks and she's still on sick leave (and was on sick leave for a couple of weeks before her holiday as well) so I'm now quite concerned about her. Is she in an iron lung? To have to take this much sick leave in such a short amount of time suggests something quite serious... but while I worry about her health, I'm also left with no-one to contact when things are bad for me.

There's an out-of-hours line that I've used a couple of times in emergencies, but there's only so much that can be done on that line, and at some point the conversation always rolls around to, "Well, you can sort things out when your social worker calls..." I've been waiting for referrals for several things since March or April now that my social worker was supposed to do, and which apparently no-one else can do in the meantime. One of these referrals is over whether or not my medication doses need to be adjusted because the anti-anxiety meds don't seem to be doing their work at the current dosage any more. Another is a check-up on my general mental condition, to make sure I'm not in need of any extra help. These and others are just left hanging in limbo right now, and it's all building to a point where my mind starts to tell me that they're just lying to me and don't want to help me any more; that if they really wanted to help me someone would have come out or phoned or written a letter by now explaining the situation.

I ended up spending the afternoon in bed today to avoid doing anything rash that would only make myself feel worse afterwards, and while the immediate urge has passed I'm still feeling pretty much abandoned and ignored by the service that's supposed to be helping me. Bleh.
sareini: "It's been lovely, but I have to scream now" (Scream)
Earlier today I was sitting at my computer in the front room, which is right in front of the window. Callie was in the windowsill, happily trying to catch moths and watching people pass by. I had the blind mostly drawn down, but there was still a good 10 inches to see out of the window.

Two people walked past, which I only half-saw from the other side of the monitor. I did see enough to see one of them stop and point at Callie, which is fine; people see cats in windows and tend to talk to them. I do so myself all the time.

Then I see one of the two bend down and press her face right into the window, looking not just at Callie but at my front room itself. Now bear in mind that I'm sitting no more than two feet from where she's looking in, and I know she can see me as easily as I can see her. She ignores me completely and continues to look into my house like she's window shopping or something, and startling poor Callie into the bargain as she clearly didn't like the extreme close-up either. After about 30 seconds, the woman walks away without a word.

Yesterday when I was in town I decided to treat myself to a lemonade at Costa Coffee. I got lucky, and they're now doing a raspberry lemonade as well, so I had one of those and an egg mayo sandwich. The only place to sit and eat was in the outdoor area, so I went and sat at a table in a corner. No more than two minutes later two teenage boys came over and sat down at the table next to mine... except one of them was not happy with the space he had and started trying to push my table further into the corner so he had more space. He never once looked in my direction even though it was pretty clear I was there.

Then a couple of his friends turned up and this guy stood up to talk to them. Except he didn't just stand up, he leant forward and into me, pushing me aside while he talked with his friends, without a single word. A couple of minutes later, some more friends turned up and he did it again. This time one of his friends noticed what he was doing and looked shocked, but never said anything (they did kind of mouth an apology as they left).

Did I miss the memo where it was decreed that people could disregard others' personal space at will now? This sort of thing freaks me out incredibly, for obvious reasons, and both times I ended up sick and panicking afterwards because of it. Maybe I should start carrying a long, sharp needle to jab at people who pull this crap in future...

*sigh*

May. 31st, 2017 03:58 pm
sareini: (hiding)
Anxiety levels are through the roof again today.

Lily has been sick twice (so far) today, out of nowhere. She did get into my dinner last night which was a Three Cheese Pasta Melt, so maybe the fatty greasy food upset her stomach a little. Or maybe the dosage of her meds needs adjusting. Either way I have to wait till tomorrow to see how she is before deciding whether to take her to the vets' again, so in the meantime my body works itself into a state of high anxiety. She's up on the desk with me right now and she was playing with Callie a little earlier, but I still can't stop myself from panicking. I thought we had finally gotten a hold on things (again) but it seems that every time I dare to think that things go wrong again instead.

Meanwhile, it took me all of two days to decide to reactivate my main character in EVE and apply to rejoin Karmafleet. Got back in with no problems, but due to my general streak of luck with regards to tech, I didn't get access to the forums and Mumble comms back till last night. So now I have Mumble on, and I'm sitting in the comms... but I can't bring myself to speak. I don't know anyone in comms, and so whenever I try to say something my voice just dries up with terror and I can't do it. And it doesn't help that my headset mic is several inches from my mouth and can't be moved because it's set in molded plastic, so I have to fiddle with volume settings to even try to be heard.

So yeah. Not enjoying today.

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").

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