I haven’t written anything here in a while, and I have my reasons. No, I wasn’t too busy. I was stuck in my own head, with my own thoughts, and then I had work in front of me which I was so determined to get done. Most of it went great, but now I’ve got some things I hadn’t anticipated sitting on me. I am handling it. Begrudgingly. The more prevalent issue which has kept me quiet is the fact that my depression has been so bad, I haven’t been myself for a really long time. Most people didn’t pick up on this, though I am certain I’ve mentioned it before.
Despite being under the care of a physician, I’ve had to fight for almost two years to be prescribed new medication. I pick it up this weekend, and there simply aren’t any guarantees it will make me feel more like myself. Honestly, I have no expectations. I’ve been on this hamster wheel a long time and I no longer place any hope on what medication will or will not do for me.
I’ve never taken this medication before, which is surprising because I’ve been on over thirty-five different drugs in various medication classes. It can take up to four weeks for this one to work, and I am starting out on a really low dose because I am chemically sensitive to anything which messes with my brain chemistry.
The benefit of knowing my body really well is that any time a drug starts to screw with me, I mentally shut down the ability for it to change me. I don’t want to be a mindless zombie, nor do I want to take something which shuts off the intelligent creativity I feel is a gift.
For example, I was put on a new (to me) drug a little over three years ago. One of my first reactions to it was, “Okay, I see why this is a controlled substance. If I had an addictive personality, I’d be in trouble.” Early on in my journey with this medication, I was out in public one day and had to take a mid-day dose. I felt it immediately try to give me what I refer to as a, “head high”. It shuts off your thoughts and then you’re basically left thinking, “Oh, this is what normal people’s brains are probably like. I could hang curtains in here. But wait… It’s not normal to have nothing going on inside your mind.” I fought against it. It would shut up my thoughts, but it would also distract me until it wore off. There were times when I didn’t mind the quiet, except that I needed to still be a high performance kind of writer.
My doctor was shocked and impressed that I had the ability to say, “Yeah, you’re medication, but you’re not going to screw with me or turn me into someone who is obsessively dependent on a tiny pill 2-3 times a day, every single day, for the rest of my life.” In all his years as a physician, no one had ever said to him, “I can see why this is addictive, but I’m NOT letting it reach me in that way. I’m only going to take it as needed.” Most people would never have caught the tiny change to their brain, which I did, and that’s because I am realistic about how science works within the body. I could physically feel it try to tickle my brain, and I rejected it. Bear in mind, this drug was one of the most successful I’ve ever been on and I still take it on occasion. It does help, but it’s brief and because I am careful with it, I don’t worry about taking it. I know that taking it every single day is unrealistic for me from a health and mental health perspective. The less synthetic crap in my system, the better off I am.
My doctor and I later talked about the mind and will power it takes to fight off the addictive qualities of something that is supposed to help you feel better. To this day, that drug still makes me feel better temporarily. I can focus in a sharper way and get more done in a day, because it often provides me with a false sense of energy. I’d recommend it to anyone with my ability to fight off addictive qualities, but because it is so often abused, I never talked about it publicly. In fact, the reason I didn’t speak about it is because I had a former friend tell me it was poison when I was suicidal (Which, to this day, still pisses me off. That is medication shaming, and I’m not here for it.), and another friend recently told me, “You don’t need it.” I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much. She did not present her medical license after the fact, so I set her straight very quickly. Here’s a little known fact I want to be clear about; when I talk about a prescription and you feel the need to be a disrespectful twat, I will NEVER confide in you again. I have boundaries and if you cross them, I am okay with you no longer having access to me.
When someone says, “I take this so I don’t hurt myself.”, please respect that. Do a little research before you say something hurtful, cruel, asinine, or go straight to, D) all of the above. You don’t know what others might be fighting when all you see is a smile or someone who is put together, or all you know is the person who always has your back, so please judge less and educate yourself more.
I remember when someone told me they’d been diagnosed with a specific disease. I didn’t know much about it at the time. In order to not offend or say the wrong thing, and to be supportive, I researched it. It takes five to ten minutes of reading about something so you don’t come off like an asshole. Never once did I want to make this person feel bad about themselves, about medication, doctor’s appointments, etc. I came from a judgment-free place because it could easily be diagnosed for someone closer to me tomorrow. Those are simple enough facts to put me into research mode, as opposed to, “Let me hurt this person’s feelings.” and show how ignorant I am. Yup, I just rolled my eyes. Basically, no matter what you suffer from, I probably understand far more than you realize and I’m NOT going to judge you. Especially if it’s something someone is confiding in me. My brother always says, “My sister is like a Mossad agent on steroids. She will never tell you a fucking thing. She magically knows things before you even say a word. It’s fucking creepy.” Yet, when I do speak about something or someone, I don’t name names. I’ll discuss a situation, but I keep names out of it.
A few days ago, someone I’ve known for about six years took offense to something I said about a newer migraine medication. Her comment was directed at both myself and a close friend. I replied by saying it ISN’T recommended for chronic migraine. It isn’t, and anyone who suffers and does their homework knows this. It’s on the damn packaging and they make it clear in all of their commercials, as well. She said she suffered from chronic migraine and hadn’t had one in about six months. Okay, that’s great, but be honest about how often you get migraines and how it is prescribed. The new injectable CGRP drugs are not for people who have over thirteen migraine days a month. That’s not considered chronic migraine, either. I’ve had migraines which have lasted for months on end, so I am coming from a place of knowledge and experience. I keep track of every new drug being researched or tested within the pipeline, and everything that’s in the final approval stages. I do this on a global scale for everything involving mental health care, migraines, chronic pain, etc. I can’t afford to be a stupid patient. Nothing I said in response was even remotely offensive, so when she decided it bothered her, I almost laughed. Mostly because she said nothing, but acted like a child. I will never force someone to remain friends with me, but I also know I didn’t come from a cruel place or say anything insulting. That’s not who I am. Her being offended is not going to magically change anything about me. In fact, I am good with being unfriended, especially when I didn’t do or say anything wrong. People who are uncomfortable or who somehow feel inferior with me being myself aren’t my real friends, and I know this. I’m not taking it personally because I do find it amusing when a person can’t admit that another person makes them uncomfortable. Those aren’t my issues to carry, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good. I also know I didn’t offend the person I am actually closer to, and that’s more important to me. I don’t go out of my way to offend people.
This year I have felt especially protective of my real friends, and far less protective of anyone who merely wants a surface level relationship with me. I am not the kind of person who will do surface level bullshit with you. I realized this about myself during lockdown. There was a serious shift in priorities. There still is, because we’re not out of the woods yet.
For starters, I stopped wearing makeup entirely. That sounds vain, but for me, it took away the creativity I channel when I do put makeup on (Eye makeup is my art project. It still is.), and pared me down to the most basic of self. My skin was probably thrilled for the break, even though I never wore heavy foundation or anything like that because I didn’t need it. I still don’t. The downside was that I developed a lifelong skin issue because of a chemical used on all of the paper based masks we were all wearing. Even after switching to cloth, my skin still hates being confined. My doctor said I’m allergic, so I have to be careful with everything more than I used to be. The bonus was (finally!) meeting with my dermatologist who said, “Whatever you’ve been doing, just keep doing it. You don’t have a single sign of aging, you have zero sun damage, and it’s obvious you’ve always taken really good care of your skin. Trust me, this doesn’t happen every day. Most people are coming in with things they want lasered off because they have never worn sunscreen in their lives, and you wear SPF 100 anytime you’re going to be in the sun for more than five minutes.” At my most recent appointment, we talked about the treatment regimen I use to help the skin issue I developed. The treatment I am using is both life-changing and skin-changing, and I’ve recommended it to so many people who’ve talked to me about being embarrassed that they don’t have flawless skin. Neither do I, but on a good day, and skin deep, I appear to. I remember sending a new photo to a family member and the first thing she said was, “What foundation are you wearing? Your skin is flawless.” The truth was, I only had concealer on in that photo and a very basic neutral eye look, which I’d matched with a lip gloss I’ve had for way too long (Seriously, I should replace it immediately. I’m not even sure the company is still in business!).
People actually thought my wearing makeup was a mask, and it never was. Now, people are seeing my skin and asking me more about skincare. There’s a reason I still consult with brands on their skincare lines. When they send me boxes of products to try and give an honest opinion on, I am working with a blank canvas. As a result, I no longer feel the need to do a full face of makeup. Unfortunately, I should at least use the eyeshadow because a company sent me five palettes recently and I just had to turn down nine more. Five years ago I would have been ecstatic over this opportunity. Now, I am trying to be more minimalist than ever before. You’ll hear me say, “I don’t have to put makeup on. No one is looking at me.” I have days when I do grab a palette and do something a bit dramatic with my eyes, but I also wear sunglasses wherever I go, even in the dark, so sometimes that defeats the purpose.
I chose not to be a freelance makeup artist, and decided to invest in something more valuable; myself. I pared down the one slightly dramatic thing about me, and now, people listen more. I noticed pretty quickly that people were more inspired by what I have to say. That’s fantastic, and a lovely compliment, but I’m not going to stop washing my face. 😉
I appear to have been quiet for many months, but the truth is, I’ve been working and working through shit. Writing has been good to me this year. I will have success, and potentially the occasional failure, like any other human-being, and I know there’s nothing wrong with not being “normal”. There’s nothing wrong with being transparent about the imperfections of life, health, etc., and still managing to remain authentic.
I don’t buy followers or readers. I will never do that on social media or on my website, because I’m not desperate for attention. The right attention finds you when you’re putting out the right vibe and the right material. Period. This is nonnegotiable, and I hope people realize I practice what I preach.
Back to work I go, at 5:30 a.m., on a Saturday. What will I do next? You’ll have to keep an eye out for all of it. I am already incredibly proud of the work, and hopefully you will like it, as well. 🙂
Wishing you all a healing, restful weekend,
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