Thursday, July 13, 2017

PSA: I'm Out of Order

Lately my blog has turned into a play by play of my mental health struggles. If this bothers you, I apologize, but we all need outlets in this is mine. Many people vent to their friends and family. I prefer to blog.

Tuesday I went to my clinician appointment so that I could get back on my medication. Because I had gotten the appointment through a crisis program, I was asked how I had received the appointment on such short notice. So again I had to recount my panic attacks so bad I felt like I was no longer in control of my body. The 14 hours a day I would spend sleeping, the extreme nightmares, the hysteria, the fact that on any given day I could lose three to four hours of time that I could not recount. I was asked about my childhood trauma, I was asked about all my relationships, I was asked if I still wanted to die (the answer is no, don't worry), and it was all very, very taxing. Laying yourself bare in that way is hard. Especially when you know that its not going to be the last time you have to tell your story this month.

I came out armed with some new diagnoses, PTSD being the one I was most surprised with, and a prescription for an upped dosage of the medication I had been on before. So now I'm in the adjustment phase. And the adjustment phase is HARD.

I have slept from 11 pm to 3-4 pm the next day both days that I have taken my citalopram, and I have still been tired. I've eaten once since starting meds on Tuesday night after dinner, and am not hungry. Also, I feel like withdrawing in a large way.

So here's my announcement to the masses. For the foreseeable future do not expect a call from me. Do not expect me to text you first, or interact in any meaningful way. I probably won't answer the phone, or even most texts. Please don't ask me to commit to plans, and don't be upset when I can't or won't come to things you'd like me to. I can't do it right now. I love each and every one of my friends and family with my whole heart, but currently, I am out of order and needing to focus on myself first. If you message me and I see it but don't reply, know that it is not because I don't care, but because I don't have the energy to handle that right now. I am not looking for outpourings of support, or platitudes, or attention, I am here telling you that right now all that I can handle is staying in my lane and sharing memes on Facebook.

Once I'm well adjusted and leveled out again (thanks meds), I'll be back. But right now I need to focus on myself.

With love.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something hot mess trying to figure out the key to successful city living. For sporadic updates on her life, check back occasionally. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Healthy Anger

It's not RBF if you're actually mad.
For a long time I have repressed all the anger I hold inside my body. Things make me so angry I see red, I stuff them deep down under my abandonment issues, I cry a little, and I move on, never thinking about it again. Or at least that's what I'd like to think - but a day, week, month, later it comes back to haunt me. This anger seeping through every piece of me, eating me alive.

Sure, I show irritation. Yes, I get mad. At little things. I raise my voice, I do the arguing thing, about little stuff. The big stuff that I should process and be angry about in a totally healthy manner? Forget about it. I refuse to acknowledge that stuff. Because usually dealing with larger issues that make me angry results in me having to cut someone out, to tell someone I used to care about I can't spend time caring about them anymore, to stand up for myself and potentially be told that who I am makes them hate me. I am honestly scared of dealing with "the big stuff".

This anger eats at me. It turns into cynicism, into randomly blowing up at friends and family, large increases in depressive and anxious episodes. I have so many unresolved issues that their books could write books (or maybe infrequent blogs where they would rant about Romeo and Juliet being a tragedy and not a romance).

Tonight I got so angry I felt sick. I started to do the thing where I refuse to recognize my anger, and just push it down and don't worry about it. But I decided I was going to fix it. I am angry. I am so angry I'm shaking, and I'm angry about so many things I could just sit here and spout them off for like, a week. I talk about my depression and anxiety on this blog fairly often. You all know most of my journey and what I deal with. But I refrain from going overboard with the "poor me, poor me" posts because I don't want anyone to think I'm seeking out pity, or sympathy. I'm not. I'm just creating a dialogue about completely normal disorders.

Well being angry is also normal. And today I'm angry for a reason I've recognized and vented about but also so many more reasons. I'm angry I can't see my brothers before they move to a different state, I'm angry because there's a disturbed individual on this planet who sexually assaulted me, I'm angry because I'm broke, and I need money, and I need a place to live, and while two of those problems will be resolved soon, finding a place to live is proving to be discouraging. I'm angry because I'm going to have to go back on meds and the adjustment process and the trial period for depression and anxiety meds is a bitch. I'm angry because lately I feel weak. Everyone tells me that I'm strong, that I'm an inspiration for dealing with what I deal with, but I don't feel that. I feel fucking tired, guys. I feel weak. I feel like I can't handle all the weight anymore. I'm angry that I can't buy new clothes for myself and that all my pants are too big now, and I feel angry because some people called me too big before, and now others are calling me too small. I'm angry because I have two good days followed by three bad weeks. I am just fucking ANGRY.

I am refusing to hide this anger anymore. I'm refusing to swallow my anger and pretend it doesn't exist anymore. I am angry, I'm allowed to be angry, and being angry is a healthy response to shit that reasonably pisses you off. So here's to being angry. May we recognize it, may we love it, may we learn from it and be able to move forward, healthier and happier than before.

Alexis Olmstead is a 23 year old diva living and working in Seattle, Washington. Currently she's spending her days looking for housemates, obsessing over Dirty Heads and "Hamiltion",  and watching way too much Netflix. For more rants, introspections, and an inside look at a hot-mess of a 20something, check back sporadically. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Beautiful Struggle.

I have depression. Some people will tell you that depression is a beautiful struggle to have. Depression is often romanticized by society, something pretty girls with dark pasts have, a disease full of tragic slides down the wall, ending in pretty cry face, musical sobs, a song so sad you'd cry too if you heard it.

Fuck. That. Shit. Because of this "beautiful struggle" view of depression, it's not taken as seriously as it should be. Suddenly depression is trendy, anyone having a bad day is "depressed", those who actually suffer from a serious illness written off easily as another Millennial desperate for attention. Do you know how hard it is to find qualified mental health care in this country? It's really freaking hard.

Depression, and mental health issues in general, are anything but beautiful. I can tell you from experience that out of all the things that depression is not, beautiful would be top of the list. I know beautiful people who depression, but that does not make it beautiful in any means. This disease is hideous. It's disgusting. At my best I've not showered for at least a day, at my worst I haven't showered, brushed my hair, or changed my clothes in a week or more.

Lack of motivation reaches to more than just not wanting to get out of bed and being "Sleeping Beauty" all day. It reaches down into your soul, convincing you to quit your job so you can stay in bed longer, to quit doing things you love so you don't have to leave the house, to give up regular hygiene so you can stay in bed, and as an added bonus, don't have to leave the house, because you're disgusting now. Who wants to be around a nappy haired filth person with bad breath? No one. So you stay at home, in bed, running out of money, running out of patience with yourself, with the world. Why do you matter? Why does the world matter? None of it does and that thought goes around and around in your head. Your stomach will growl, but you'll ignore it, because who wants to get out of bed to make themselves food? There's half a granola bar on the bedstand table. You'll eat it around 9 tonight. That's not beautiful. That's part of depression and it is horrid.

When people tell me what a "beautiful struggle" depression is, I think of what I must have looked like the first time I tried to commit suicide, tube down my throat, IV in my arm, my stomach contents being pumped into a bag, vomit coming out of my mouth, mascara running down my face. I was pale and gaunt, a familiar look when I'm at my most depressed. I had been rushed out of the house by my boyfriend so none of my clothes matched, my shoes were half tied, my hair in a bun that was falling out. The second time I was wearing a Christmas sweater in January, paired with some too big sweatpants, mismatched striped socks, and a pair of chic booties. I spent a large part of the night vomiting into little blue bags in the ER, curled up in a hospital bed, hugging myself until my Aunt arrived. My face, doing that pale and gaunt thing again, was thankfully free of makeup, and I didn't have to get the stomach pump, but I was constantly retching from the pills I had taken. This is not beautiful. This is a horrible sight to see. I could feel what I looked like each time, and it wasn't good.

My depression was written off for a long while as a cry for attention. That if I was given more love by those around me, I would get better, my abandonment issues would go away, I would quit laying in bed wishing I could just waste away, knowing that there is no meaning to any of this, we are all going to die and then nothing will come of us after that, and there's no point believing otherwise. At one doctor appointment I briefly mentioned that during my periods my mood swings got exceptionally bad, bordering on full on depression, leading me to take time off work while I was on my period. My doctor told me that was common and that it wasn't serious. I actually had a few doctors tell me that my worries that I was depressed or anxious weren't serious. It wasn't until I had my stomach pumped that I was finally diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Nothing about it was beautiful. Nothing about this was pretty. It was agonizing. I was hopeless. I'm still hopeless most of the time.

My point here, while all jumbled and messy, is that nothing about this debilitating disease is beautiful. That nothing about any mental health issue is beautiful. I wish it was. I wish I could openly tell people when I first met them that I had depression and know they would just think I was a more beautiful soul. But that's just not so. I used to hide my depression as long as possible because I was afraid of losing friends, of being someone who guys wouldn't want to date, of being abandoned. Honestly, these are still things I fear. Because depression has never been and will never be a romantic disease to have.

This thing is ugly, and evil, and ruins lives. Don't believe anything else.

Alexis Olmstead is just your average 20something living and working out of Seattle, Washington. When she's not spending ungodly amounts of time sleeping, Alexis enjoys exploring her new neighborhood, taking photos, and daydreaming of being a Broadway superstar. For more sporadic updates about life, love, and some other stuff, check back occasionally. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

An Update.

Photo from an
upcoming series
by Alexis O
Since moving to Seattle I have been on a mental health roller coaster. I have spent a lot of time sleeping on the couch, and barely any time living. This transition has been hard. I left Omak and my medication behind, the medication being forgotten not because I'm delusional enough to think I don't need it, but because I didn't get a refill and then couldn't find an immediate way to get it over here in Seattle. I've been anxious and depressed, suicidal (no, I don't want to die, this a constant in my life), and exhausted.

As a result, my anxiety attacks have been through the roof. From melting down because I didn't know what type of ice cream sandwich to buy for my cousin to being convinced I had skin cancer (there was a pimple on my arm, I rarely get pimples, have never had one on my arm) and dissociating because of it, I spent three hours paralyzed with fear. According to the intake professional at Sound Mental Health, along with "flight or fight" reactions, there is also "freeze" and what I do is freeze.

Last Monday night I was in the ER being seen for emergency anxiety meds and some other troubling symptoms I'm sure is related to my anxiety, such as the aforementioned dissociation. After speaking with a social worker, I was set up with an appointment at Sound Mental Health within the next two days to get in for a prescription for my depression and anxiety, and to speak with them about the time-lapses and the (I suspect) intense PTSD that I have been repressing until recently, when being sexually assaulted and then upending my life to move across the state caused a lot of anxiety. It was there that I learned that it is very valid to say I have a personality disorder, along with my anxiety and depression. While the professional I spoke to wouldn't diagnose the exact personality disorder due it to just being an intake appointment, and I have some suspicions about what it will be, I will be going back to see another doctor to get more specific answers.

I have decided to start counseling and go on heavier medications to combat the anxiety and depression, because I'm ready to go back to living my life. Even having this idea that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that I'm moving towards a more stable reality, has given me so much more energy than I had before. I've gone out and met people. I've made plans. I have medication from the ER to tide me over until I get in with a clinician next week, but mostly I have hope.

Having hope while having depression is something that rarely happens. I mean, I barely have the energy to brush my teeth, how am I supposed to muster up the energy to hope for things? Not only can I hope now, but today I did something I haven't done since moving to Seattle. I took a self portrait. I pulled out my camera and I just experienced the joy that photography used to give me. For the first time in months, I got that thrill again. Making art is so soothing. I'm so close to returning to the girl that I recognize as myself. I don't cry myself to sleep anymore, the isolation I first felt when I moved here is quickly disappearing, and I have more and more reasons to smile.

Taking the step to go to the doctor was hard and scary. Medical buildings of any kind tend to send me into panic mode. The feeling of unwellness that surrounds these places weighs on me and makes me feel unwell. I admittedly tried to turn around once I saw the ER doors. I have a great friend in this universe who has given me several pep talks outside hospitals and mental health buildings, I owe a lot of this greatness I feel to him.

I am feeling more broken than I have ever felt before, with more questions than ever, but I am hopeful and excited for the future. A better, stronger version of Alexis is on her way. Watch out.

Alexis Olmstead is a part time barista, full time diva living and working out of Seattle, Washington. She's currently on the search for answers about life, love, the meaning of the universe, and hopefully an affordable apartment. In her spare time she likes to change the lyrics to Earth, Wind, and Fire songs to be about her life. For more spontaneous updates on life with mental health issues, and random thoughts in general, check back often.

If you or someone you know is in danger of committing suicide, there is help, and you are loved. Please call the number below or go to their website for assistance. And as always, I am here for you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-(800)-273-8255 (online chat available)