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.

Telehealth and A Scheduled Appointment

After a failed attempt last month to have a discussion with my headache specialist regarding my migraines getting worse, today was my first successful Telehealth discussion, and it felt good. Really good.

If you have a doctor who actually cares, regardless of their field, this is not a difficult process. However, it has lead me to realize that my headache specialist has no patience and is a difficult person. I respect her, but I can’t work with someone who has no respect for me as a patient. I’m just a medical record number to her. There are many appointments where she spends a good five minutes reciting names, and the entire time, I know she’s looking for me, but since she doesn’t look at anyone, it’s good to wait until you hear some version of your name. She usually starts with Erica, and unless I see Erica there, because I’ve learned who is scheduled at the same time as me, then I immediately know she will eventually have a practice assistant approach her to read the proper name off the paper in her hand. She never seems to recall even the most basic info about me, so I wait until she logs into her computer. When a physician has said to you, on four separate occasions, “Is this your first visit?”, it’s startling that faces are blending into the woodwork for them.

Moreover, there is never a valid reason for a doctor to raise their voice and/or yell at you, but she felt perfectly comfortable doing so over the phone. If you’re going to yell at me and talk to me like I’m a moron, it will never get you the desired response. Not ever. I’m not an idiot and I am not new to any of what I am experiencing. Doctors who talk down to you aren’t doctors you need in your life. I feel the same way about regular people, too.

If you suffer from chronic migraines, you probably already know that enormous doses of vitamin B2 and magnesium aren’t going to fix anything. I can only take the magnesium once every few days. and B2 doesn’t seem to make any kind of difference. This is not my first migraine rodeo. She shouldn’t tell me it’s “perfectly safe” when she didn’t bother to see if I am vitamin deficient before demanding I increase my supplements. Instead, she placed blame on a myriad of other issues, and then tried passing the buck to another doctor. That’s not going to work with me because I’m an educated patient and her screaming at me did not garner a positive reaction.

What galls me even more is that she actually billed for a conversation that didn’t even last ten minutes. I contemplated a phone call to my insurance company about this, since their requirements state it must be at least fifteen to twenty minutes via phone in order for any of my healthcare providers to bill for Telehealth, but since they already paid, I’m not going to argue the point. Yes, we all deserve to be compensated for our time, but rules ARE rules and she dismissed me, as opposed to having an intelligent discussion. I am going to ask for a secondary neurologist (as an alternative opinion) as soon as things are safe to proceed medically because she doesn’t want to order tests or talk over treatment plans with me. She is the first neurologist who refuses to put an emergency plan in place into my chart. Every other neurologist handed me a note for any potential trips to the emergency room because every emergency room or Urgent Care finds it so much easier to treat you if they have instructions on how to do it. We are all different and what works for Patient A and Patient B probably doesn’t work for me. I refuse to set foot in an emergency room ever again, but even my last Urgent Care experience was poor care, and it didn’t even involve migraines. Poor care seems to be the status quo, but I am fighting to change that because I’m not the only person who has had enough of the bullshit.

This incident made me even more grateful to have a tuned in discussion with someone today, and to have the take away be that I am doing my best and that the things that are creeping up out of the woodwork are things we will address and gain control of over time. A collaborative relationship is so much easier, and calmer, than a relationship where a physician thinks they can dictate your treatment to you. I hope she doesn’t have children, grandchildren, pets, or even a plant, because I’ve found, over time, that the way the majority of medical professionals behave at work is also how they behave in their daily lives. Others are clearly living a duplicitous existence because they’re only nice to their family or their patients, not both. Yes, I speak from personal experience.

Today, I was notified that my headache specialist will be honoring my treatment for this coming Wednesday. Do I think it’s an essential appointment? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m sick and that I would likely get worse without it. Thanks to a cancellation, my appointment was moved up, so that helps a bit, but having to wear a mask and gloves into a medical building is anxiety waiting to happen. The mask makes me terribly claustrophobic. I’m agitated just thinking about it. A lot has changed since my last treatment in February. I am hoping this one works well and that I am not in the building any longer than necessary. If I didn’t feel the treatment was working, I would reschedule, but I’m going. The mask and gloves redefine “Mugger Chic”. 😉

I am not feeling anxious or stressed over Covid 19. I’m just more self-aware and mindful regarding everything, and I am sure many of us feel the same way.

I’ll be fine and I have another Telehealth conversation scheduled for next Friday, so if I’m not fine, there’s someone on the other end who gives a shit, and that is comforting to know.

© 2020 by Lisa Marino and Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Tuesday Thoughts

Hello one and all. I hope you’re having a great start to the week.

My procedure yesterday afternoon went okay. I think I’ve just gotten used to it, though my anxiety was still pretty awful. Usually there’s an epic migraine and so much physical pain after this treatment that I come back, feed my cats, and drag myself straight to bed. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as horrible as I normally do. Completely different side effects this time around. I wasn’t quite prepared to be slammed with nausea late last night into the early morning hours, but that’s what Promethazine is for. It helped quite a bit, and I did sleep, but today, I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally numb and exhausted as hell. I’m supposed to rest, not push myself too hard physically, etc. I felt overwhelmingly exhausted by 1:00 PM, and spiked a fever around two. 😔 Hopefully it’ll be gone soon, otherwise I’ll call tomorrow since this has NEVER happened before. Is it a potential side effect? Yes. I’ve just never experienced it before. A few other rare side effects have popped up, too. I’m erring on the side of caution.

Traffic was mostly avoided yesterday, which was awesome. 🎉 Boston’s tunnels make me feel like I’m in a James Bond movie and about to be shot at. Plus, they definitely mess with my head in the “sensory deprivation” sense. I was able to avoid returning with a migraine. My headache specialist is REALLY pleased with my progress. It’s helping my cervical spine tremendously, and since I was the first person to report remarkable results, she said, “Isn’t it amazing how, we don’t always know if something new will work, but we try it and we end up feeling so much better?” It nearly eliminated my daily neck pain and helped me reduce how many muscle relaxers I take. It has reduced my migraines by about 30-40%. I still get migraines, and there’s still pain to contend with, but they don’t attach themselves to my skull for 3+ weeks anymore. Going 21 days without a major migraine was shocking. Sadly, it takes a while to realize you’re not in agony every single day. Bear in mind, I still have Fibromyalgia to contend with, but help is help, and I feel relieved that this is something I might be able to stick with. 🤞

I chose, from day one, not to disclose the treatment method because I was already being judged by friends and a handful of family members, and because, from a public standpoint, I wanted to see how I’d do before talking about it. No one wants to discuss another failed effort. The fact that it’s successful doesn’t mean it will remain so. My doctor has a backup plan should this fail at any time, and I am confident in both options. Until I’m ready to discuss it, I think it’s perfectly okay to keep it private. Thus far, I highly doubt I’ve run into a subscriber in the building, but you never know. 🤷

I definitely feel blue today. I feel isolated, unsupported, stressed, and exhausted, but I’m trying to look forward towards better days. I KNOW they’re on their way.

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