Migraine Destruction and Searching For Calm

A brutal migraine began last night, ripping through my skull like a freight train, as I frantically searched for an envelope of documents I have to fill out, not knowing when they are due back. I tore apart all the normal places I keep my documents which require immediate or semi-immediate attention, versus the one’s I file away after they’ve been submitted. It could be anything from health insurance stuff to a letter I wrote to a judge on someone’s behalf. It’s not linear. Because I’ve been a writer for so long, one can only describe my system as, “organized chaos”. I will try getting my shit together this year in terms of paper organization and clothing organization. I made this promise to myself about six months ago and I feel like I’m doing my best. Nothing is perfect, of course. Least of all, me.

Last summer, I focused on the small stuff, which began with makeup organization. I am slowly distancing myself from brand consulting and the beauty industry on a whole. It’s embarrassing, but much like paperwork, it was all accumulating in an insane manner, and the best thing to do was break it all down so I could see precisely what I own. Now I get to short through what can be donated or gifted. I still have a few months to deal with that craziness.

To calm myself down today, despite having to cancel my Telehealth appointment at the last minute because this migraine is unmanageable (Two doses of Ubrelvy and I am still not okay. I didn’t want to be disrespectful of his time via video when I know I’d be doing it in sunglasses, trying not to expel food onto my laptop.), I decided to call the person who needs the documents I can’t find (They didn’t grow legs, but if they’re needed before I locate them, that’s going to be a big issue.). I asked her to send them ASAP. She and I will speak at our appointed time, and hopefully she’ll have gotten my message and sent the forms back out so I can tackle them immediately. Normally, they would not be necessary, but she’s merely an intermediary on this level, so I aim to be respectful and do my due diligence.

There will always be migraines I can function through and others I genuinely can’t. Unfortunately, this makes people assume that chronic migraine isn’t a serious condition. It is. This pain is coming and going, currently taking up residence in my neck. This is the result of too much stress. I am burnt out beyond words and I still have so much I need to do. There’s no want involved in tackling things I have to do; it’s the result of having responsibilities. They must be dealt with. They won’t take a vacation, so I’m stuck doing it all until I can make time to be away.

I mentioned responsibilities for a reason. I had money set aside for a trip to Israel. I was thrilled to plan it after Covid was over. I’m not sitting on a plane for all those hours in a mask. I think I’d drop dead halfway through. No, I’m not being dramatic. Anxiety is very real and lately, I have had struggles at times with keeping myself calm. I am only allowed to wear cloth masks and they don’t always feel safe, plus, they do impede my breathing. Then I took Cat and Kitten to the vet for a checkup and their vaccinations. Cat requires non-emergency surgery. The vet told me how much it would be, and my vacation money was automatically swallowed up. That’s okay; because she needs the medical care and I’d never deny that to her. I’m not a horrible person who would abandon her because she needs a procedure. That’s like abandoning your child because they aren’t perfect. I’ll work twice as hard and when I do get to plan the trip, it’ll be an even better one. Maybe because I’ll be feeling better (G-d, do you listen to me?), or because I will feel less stressed. I might even have more energy to do the things we’d originally planned; much of which involves a ton of walking and climbing. I used to walk like the world was my playground, and now I have to pace myself for every mile I tack on. I thought about asking someone to go with me, but I am SO excited to see my best friend/sister, and feel I should go solo because I don’t want anyone to cut into my time with her, especially since she and I are a tiny team with our own language and just how we treat one another. According to my horoscope and tarot readings, it will be my last solo trip, which is empowering in so many ways because I was encouraged at a very young age not to be afraid to do things by myself. I’ve been flying all my life. Despite the extra security protocols, being searched like I was a terrorist at DFW International, and slightly at Philadelphia International, I am pretty good the second I am packed and mentally in vacation mode. It’s harder to leave my vacations than it is to pack up and go. Countries search you less when you’re leaving, but when you arrive? Be prepared for a potential hold-up. Especially if, like me, you take one suitcase that is predominantly empty, except for an extra pair or two of shoes (I always pack two pairs of sneakers and something fancier. Sometimes I will travel with the nicest pair on, to make room in that second suitcase. I’ll throw in socks and toiletries to make my intentions clear.). I do that to have room for anything I purchase while I’m away. My carryon is generally overloaded, just like my purse. It’s worth it, even though it leaves my shoulders with bruises for two weeks.

As is typical when I’m dehydrated and trying to focus on getting rid of this migraine, and a potential blizzard approaching this weekend, I am going to do my best. I can’t do more than that. I have various pieces in the works and have taken a break from the manuscripts because of how sick I’ve been. Hopefully it’ll pass soon and I will be able to return to that which is best for me.

I cannot express enough how important it is to take care of yourself, even if it means saying no, cancelling plans, etc. I honestly felt awful and apologized to my doctor profusely, but I also know he understands that if I cancel, it’s bad. His office did get back to me to say he had no openings, but that I have appointments booked for next month. Yes, I was well aware of that, and will reach out to him if there’s an issue between now and then.

I swear, January has felt like the past year. I hate it beyond words, and might touch on that in the future, but for now, I’m taking my own advice. Water. Rest. More rest. Then I am going to try tackling my mother’s vegetable soup recipe. I know it by heart, but sometimes I’m obsessed with making it perfect. However, it is healthy, comforting, nourishing, and that’s really what I need in my life right now. If I can’t get support from people who are in my life (and some who are about to get nosebleed seats), then I can at least have a huge pot of soup to sustain me. Also, does anyone else need ice cream during a blizzard? Just me? C’est la vie. We’ve all got our priorities and weird cravings.

For everyone in the path of these storms, please stay safe and be well. For those not about to endure it, count your blessings and be well and safe. None of you are alone.

Much love,

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from author material also requires consent.

Crickets, Dark Depression, Change, & Investment Power

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,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses, and all involved logos, are registered trademarks ®™ owned by the author. Information about the designer is available via written request.

The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain

https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

Recently, a friend reminded me how much stress is affecting me. For the umpteenth time, I will have to talk to my doctor about a full neurological workup because I am not myself at all. Dizzy, anxious, burnt out, exhausted to the point where I can barely keep my eyes open, yet I am not getting the right amount of sleep. Last night, I broke down and took the prescription I had previously mentioned. I slept under seven hours, but was mentally awake for most of that time (which means I was not hitting a real REM cycle); I just couldn’t move, and when I did, I would drink some iced hibiscus tea, which I keep in a big Starbucks cold cup, and go right back into finding a comfortable spot, especially since I woke up a little before midnight with a cat firmly attached to my feet. She doesn’t usually spend her nights with me, so I knew she was worried about me. That’s when she becomes maternal. I then woke up from a headache and an anxiety attack which piggy-banked into a full blown panic attack. At 1:30 in the morning. For no obvious reason, and by then, she had wandered off.

Stress can break you down. I should be calm and a little more laid back as certain things in my life are going really well, but for some reason, my mind is not on board. I hope there’s a way to find out what’s wrong and get the help I need before I am hospitalized and having to relearn how to do things. It is scary, but this has happened in my family, so I am well within my rights to be concerned.

I am trying to take it easy, limit stress, and hopefully I can manage this without lashing out at my doctor later this month. I feel he has been hesitant and irresponsible when I’ve presented all the lead up symptoms to what I m currently experiencing. If he blows me off again, I will schedule an appointment with someone new, and fire him by year’s end. Unfortunately, I feel this is is something I need to do if he refuses to take it seriously. I can’t exactly go to Urgent Care with something I’m deeply unsure of. Yet, I know my body and I know something is wrong. I’m praying it is something that lifestyle adjustments will fix, but part of me feels it’s worse.

Praying for less stress and better days.

Forks In The Road

Welcome to all the new readers, and those who’ve been with me for years or months. 🙂 I’m happy to greet you all.

I’ve been working on a piece about racism and my personal experiences with different forms of it, but mostly, I have started to notice just how worn out I am, which lends to me feeling completely useless. I am not sleeping well; and I am trying not to rely on prescription sleep medication because it either doesn’t work or it leaves me with sleep paralysis. I am burnt out, stressed about life and the future, thinking about all of my relationships, etc. I’ve been trying to allow myself the honesty of all of my feelings privately, which hasn’t been helpful, though perhaps I am too close to say if it’s helping or not. I do know there are abysmal highs and lows these days.

I will be taking some brief breaks for the next month or so. I don’t know if they will be obvious or not, but I think it’s necessary and needed. I think it’s time to get my head into some sense of normalcy and keep pushing for betterment. I hope you will all understand the reasoning. I will still be present, but there will be days when I’m not. I hope it’ll be fine, no matter what.

For the month of March, I will be focusing on a few charities in support of Colorectal Cancer and Women’s History Month. I also have my Goddaughter’s tenth birthday approaching. People always say, “You’re way too young to be a Godmother.” I don’t think they understand what an honor it is to be asked to be a part of a child’s life in such a deeply personal way. There is no age requirement or limit involved. It’s an honor and a privilege, and yes, it is also a responsibility. It says something about me, as a person, that people fully trust me with their child.

I will do my best not to be too “out of it” here, but will also do my best to rally. For now, though, this picture near a local trail says it all. I’m walking towards the color, because everything else feels too harming and bleak.

Wishing you all a peaceful week. Bright Blessings.

The Most Important Reason

“The most important reason for your “no” is that you need your downtime so you won’t behave like a jerk because you’re depleted. And you don’t want to battle an appetite spiked by the stress of over-commitment. But that’s your secret; others don’t need that information. So just smile, say no, thank you, and keep moving.”
―Holly Mosier

Stressors and Triggers

I intended to write something specific today, but my mood is bringing me deep down. That’s when I know I need a break, a distraction, and perhaps a six month long vacation away from daily stressors and triggers. Alas, I settled for a stack of good books.

When you’re writing about certain topics, it is often good to stay away from reading books on said topics. Instead, I find stepping back, and reading the topic for a while, is far more encouraging regarding how you will finish it, and what the quality of the writing will be.

So, I guess I’m on a bit of a self-imposed break this week. Here’s hoping I’m inspired to do things on my own terms, because forcing it means you’re writing crap. At least from my perspective.

Have a good week.