When Life Hands You Lemons... Cut Them.

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Hello! It's Monday! Hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend! I was super HASHTAG BLESSED to not only have a lovely Seder on Saturday, I had a wonderful Easter Sunday capped off with late night well wishes from my ex-husband...

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There's a lot to unpack in this email, but mostly I find it hilarious. Like, um, I don't clamor for Holidays with the kids because he's a wingnut who over values calendar days. They got Easter goodies from me, and IDGAF what day we celebrate. Calendar days are meaningless to me, and I don't have any family I'd want to expose my children to, so have at it, bucko. I'm happy they have so many cousins and an extended family to spend time with on his side of the family. 

I'd like to talk about this more, but then we have to bring his bragging about an 8lb roast into this, and how I'm supposed to be totally jealous that I'm missing out on such deliciousness because I can't stop sucking a rich man's dick, and now I can't stop laughing. LOL, WUT?! He literally sent me an unsolicited email late Easter Sunday to shame me for not wanting his meat. 

Sorry, I'm cry-laughing again. Good grief. This is actually my life and not a sitcom. 

ANYWAY, seder with the family Saturday night was beautiful, and not just because scripture says you have to chug four glasses of wine to celebrate Exodus. I'm getting used to being around happy normal families, and have stopped asking when the family is going to break up over fried chicken, and who's throwing the first glass...

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I was almost afraid to go Christian again on Easter Sunday after the disaster that was Good Friday. Long story short, my Good Friday began with me falling over a baby gate and laundry basket at 5:30am, dealing with complete shit-heads day job and writing job wise, and finally coming home before we headed to Mass and having Kaya completely go bonkers and bite me out of nowhere. I wound up going to Mass with a bloody hand and freaking everyone out Agnes of God stigmata style. But! Sunday was a new day; we headed out for sunrise Mass, and then I was like, "Time to run 7 miles, babe!" and all I heard were tires screeching as he fled for his life. I'm kidding, he's still moving out of his old place and wanted to take advantage of the quiet weekend to get some things done, so I kept myself busy with running and working out. Later, we grilled out some steaks, and had a quiet night in. I mean it was no 8lb roast and rich man's cock, but it was nice. 

 Downtown Marietta does know how to bring a beautiful Easter.

Downtown Marietta does know how to bring a beautiful Easter.

Switching gears a bit, I wanted to update you guys on my doctor's appointment Thursday, As I've written in the past couple of months, I felt that the stress I'm going to be going through over the next few months, along with the late night love letters I get from my ex, meant it was time for me to have some extra intervention to keep my mental health as good as it can be. I increased my therapy sessions to 90 minutes a week, and made an appointment to see a psychiatrist to see if there were other medical interventions that would help. 

Before I get into all of that, I learned something in my appointment I want to say before I start talking about myself. As many of you who follow me on Instagram know, I am a huge fan girl of Jen Gotch, the creator of Ban.do. She's very open about her mental health struggles and triumphs, and I identified so much with her experiences, I felt I was just like her. Practically twins, so self-diagnosed myself alongside her. Twinsies, right? 

Wrong. I am totally different, and thankfully my doctor explained why. I'm saying this before I talk about my experience, because while you might identify with what I'm going through and think we're twinsies, you're totally different and unique, and need your own workup done by a professional. It doesn't mean we can't relate, but be sure you get an individual diagnosis to get what works for you dialed in. 

The doctor I met with is a woman my own age, and I just leveled with her about the last three years, the six months ahead, and why I was there. I wasn't in crisis, but some things concerned me, I know myself, and I wanted to be proactive rather than get myself into a crisis and have to be reactive before the proverbial dam burst. 

She was very understanding, kind, and empathetic taking my whole person into account, not just my brain and behavior. Without me saying anything, she took into account that I'm a creative, and need to operate on a different emotional level than say... a chemist or something. She also took into account my family history of addiction, and my fear of going down that path myself since I do tend to self medicate in times of stress. 

My diagnosis of PTSD was reconfirmed, and she added a diagnosis of panic disorder. This is why I said what I did at the beginning of telling you this. I thought I had generalized depression and anxiety. I do not. The doctor explained exactly why my brain does what it does and while it can present very similarly to anxiety/depression, the treatment chemically is very different. 

The treatment plan for me is to continue my cognitive behavioral therapy weekly, begin an SSRI, and have medication on standby should I begin to panic under stress. The medicine chosen for me was Viibryd, and for sleep issues/anxiety I was prescribed the antihistamine Vistaril. 

Viibryd was chosen because it tackles the PTSD specific anxiety/depression I experience as well as the panic issues I have. It's spendy, so she gave me a month's worth of samples and a discount card, but I was like, "Honey, I got that union insurance, it's fine. We can even get acupuncture twice a month!" but I appreciated the samples.

You begin at a low dosage for the first 7 days, and increase as needed until you're at a therapeutic level. It's also fast-acting, and you don't have to wait as long to feel relief. 

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I read up on it after the fact, and there are some side effects that alarmed me, but everyone is different. Mentally, I feel balanced. Not happy or sad, balanced. I am more calm and tolerant to external stimuli. It's like I have space and time to think and rationalize without overwhelming feelings taking over. I can have a glass of wine and not have crushing feelings rush in that make me want to have another. Five days in, it's basically a feeling of equilibrium and homeostasis. 

Physically, it's a bit tougher. The medication gives me pretty terrible intestinal cramping and the stuff that goes with it. I've also noticed dull headaches and increased appetite late in the day. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I am very active, and have lost a considerable amount of weight in the last year, so eating more will help. I can see how it is a problem for some and can cause rapid weight gain. I have never eaten two full plates at family dinner and I did Saturday, along with demolishing desert. I'm not worried about it too much. My relationship with food is directly tied to my mood, so I'm content to let it normalize a bit. 

The Vistaril is ok. It's a bit different that Benadryl in that it doesn't knock you on your ass, you just get the one glass of wine warm fuzzies. Given the ticking time bomb of my genetics, it's really the only thing available to me right now that isn't habit forming. I got a little perturbed at the pharmacist when she was like, "This is off label, and you need to figure out something better with your doctor after a couple of months." 

Both my parents had fatal addictions. Please shut up forever, pharmacist. I am a nursing school dropout and know I can't take benzos or opiates long term. But thanks for your input, I guess. 

I was challenged a bit on Friday and Saturday, so I know I'm seeing results this soon. Friday, someone I work with on the writing front was being a heeeeeyyyyyuuuuugggggeeee dickhead and made me their whipping boy of the afternoon, and I handled it with more control and grace than I normally would have. I of course mouthed off, because I'm still me, but I didn't lash out and burn him to the ground or have to go home and drown my sorrows. I handled it. Then Saturday night, I got a late night, terse email, from a guy who wanted to hire me to build a website for his company. I got upset by it, because it was just rude and authoritarian, but I popped a Vistaril, didn't fire back with, "Fuck you and fuck off!" and gave myself a day to think about how to respond. I wound up declining the job. Money is nice, but it isn't worth my sanity. The financial security panic was totally gone. This morning, I politely suggested he take his business elsewhere, we won't be a good fit. 

So that's where I'm at, for what it's worth. Even last night when that email from my ex came over, I was able to brush it off and sleep. A week ago it would have kept me up all night and I would have needed a drink just to calm down and think. I was able to slow myself down enough to use my therapeutic tools and straight up common sense and logic to put that email in the space it belonged... the trash. The kids got Easter cards and gifts, and I even sent that dipshit a birthday present from the kids because I'm not a bitter, spiteful, hateful wretch. I'm actually a pretty decent human with a lot of patience, and I do my best. That's all I can do. 

Well, that's all I have to say for tonight. This week has me going far, far away to sit in on a table read for a major series before they start filming in a couple of weeks. I'm not working on this show in any way, shape, or form, I'm simply observing to get more experience. It's going to be a week of 300 mile days, workouts when I'm done, writing a bit, and collapsing into a heap as soon as the sun goes down. I'm starting to adjust to this life, and it's getting easier. 

I'll pop in and update when I can. Have a lovely week, everyone. 

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen