I’m Almost Better Now

September 25, 2008

This week is my third week back to normal.  Unfortunately, dating tends to throw me off my routine.  I’m almost back, but not quite back to 100% yet. 

I’ve learned how to objectively measure my well-being over the years.  It’s like a personal depression thermometer.  In addition to counting how many days I rode my bike to work, I think about how many showers I have taken (seriously!), how many days I have worn decent clothes (something beyond a “nice” tshirt, like a knit or something that requires ironing), how many days I have worn makeup, how many hours I have watched tv, and how many hours I have slept.

On a good week, I ride my bike to work 4 or 5 days, take about 7 showers, wear decent clothes once or twice, and wear (very little, but its there) makeup at least 5 days, sleep 8 hours a night, and watch little tv. 

My bike stats are good for the last three weeks, but the rest aren’t quite up to par.  My sleep is okay and I haven’t watched tv in weeks, but I’ve been feeling more stressed and tired than usual.  I’ve come to work unshowered 2 or 3 times in the last two weeks and haven’t worn an ounce of makeup in the recent past…until today, that is.  I’m starting to feel better, now that I am slowly reversing some of my medication changes. 

The lexapro doesn’t seem to work for me.  I just have to count the number of times I’ve cared enough to take a shower, put on decent clothes, and a little bit of makeup on my face before I come to work over the last few weeks to see that I’m starting to slide downhill.  The extended release adderal causes intense anxiety, but I took it for 4 or 5 days in a row because I was feeling too lethargic to make it to the pharmacy to get the short-release kind.  Classic.

Dear Coworkers: Had you been wondering why I’ve looked more disheveled recently?  Or did you not even notice?

Meanwhile, I’ve been updating my relationship non-negotiables list (my last 2 posts).  It’s evolving, with support from CremelloQuarterPony, Little Miss Obsessive, and Wonferdul, I have started my “Cindy’s Perfect Guy” list.  I will use this as a template to write my next personal ad!  By the time I finish, I just may have the energy and optimism to go on another date…

Regaining my Balance After the Most Recent Ride on the Dating Roller Coaster

September 16, 2008

Yesterday I was feeling pretty crappy.  I rode my bike home from work, which takes almost an hour.  I still felt down during the whole bike ride, but decided to embrace it and allow myself to feel it without giving into anxiety and worrying if this would turn into my worst fear…being depressed.

Although I didn’t feel even the remotest enthusiasm for life on my way home, by the time I went to bed last night I realized I was feeling good…really good.  What a relief.  I am sure getting exercise helps.  I fell off the exercise wagon for the most part when I was seeing Dave.  I think that’s why we sometimes take “breakups” hard, even if we’ve only been dating the person for a brief time.

In addition to whatever hormonal (adrenaline, sexual attraction) roller coaster you’ve just gotten off of, you return to a neglected state of being.  It’s a double whammy.  You’re feeling bummed and sorry for yourself or whatever and you find that your house is messier and you’re more out of shape than when you got on the roller coaster.

After three consecutive weeks of being lazy, I rode my bike to work 4 days last week.  Today is Tuesday and I’m on day 2 of biking to work this week.  While I’m focusing on settling back into a healthy routine, I plan to post a series of posts about my ex-husband, Mark.  He is also the father of my son.

Dating, Libido, and Antidepressants

September 8, 2008

As I casually mentioned in a previous post, antidepressants sometimes have what they call “sexual side effects,” which may include some or all of the following: trouble getting in the mood, staying in the mood, and/or reaching orgasm.  This is fine and dandy if you’re not doing a combination of the following: taking antidepressants, dating, and/or interested in having sex.

Dave and I are both very intelligent, but both come from significantly dysfunctional families.  I’ll save the discussion of how intelligence and dysfunction might relate for another time.  The point is, we’re both smart, successful (he’s a tenured college professor), reasonably happy, mildly neurotic, and fun to be around…but only if we take our medication(s).  Between the two of us, we have tried every antidepressant and ADD medication under the sun, including those that were developed to treat other disorders but have shown promise for “off label use” for the treatment of depression, anxiety, or inattention…or any other symptom or side effect of other drugs.  Once you start taking one medication or a combination of medications, sometimes you end up with undesirable side effects and need to tweak your drug cocktail.

In case you wonder, why take the medications at all?  It’s called “quality of life,” people.  I’ve been taking antidepressants on and off for about 18 years.  Trust me, this has given me ample time to weigh the pros and cons of taking various medications.  When I am “in treatment,” I am less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and engage in impulsive and reckless behavior.  And I’m happier.  And I attract healthier people into my life.  Use your imagination to figure out what I’m like when I’m not “in treatment.”

Back to the present, Dave and I are experiencing sexual side effects from the medications we are taking.  It doesn’t mean we haven’t had fun together, but there have been a few, uh, anticlimactic moments.  We’ve both been down this road before and have consulted our shrinks and have begun tweaking our meds.  We’re both confident that we will make up for lost time soon enough, but meanwhile, we are both moody as our brains and bodies adjust.

Is the Honeymoon Already Over?!!

September 2, 2008

I’ve lost track of how many dates I’ve had with Dave over the past few weeks.  They aren’t really “dates” anymore.  We’ve started doing mundane things together since things like running errands are more fun with company.  At the same time, I’m not used to doing mundane things with other people.  I am kind of “old” and “set in my ways” when it comes to certain things.  These are really just OCD tendencies. 

I don’t have the greatest social skills, especially when it comes to relationships.  I’ve been single for most of my adult life.  This is partly because I historically have terrible taste in men.  It’s also partly because I don’t know how to “do” relationships.  I had your typical dysfunctional family upbringing.  I’m still trying to figure out how healthy and normal people do things.  I’ve figured out a lot of it, but the whole relationship domain is new territory for me.

In the past, I haven’t done it (relationships) much and I certainly haven’t done it well.  In the past, conflicts were either buried or turned into arguments.  Conflicts either smoldered over time or ended in break-ups…or some combination of the two.  Now what I am struggling with is how to handle conflict in my current relationship.  I use the term relationship loosely because we haven’t defined it in the formal sense.  I use the term because we have a human relationship that the word friendship doesn’t accurately describe.

There are moments when I feel uncomfortable emotions welling up inside me and I feel panicked.  I know I can’t ignore them, because they will come to the surface no matter what.  It’s best to consciously and carefully bring them to the surface verbally, or they will come out in my behavior.  As I bring up different concerns with Dave, I feel a tremendous amount of anxiety, like whatever silly (or serious) thing is on my mind is going to trigger the end of our relationship.

I partly have my last “boyfriend” to thank for that acute association.  This was a few years ago.  He was literally, the sociopath next door.  He was such an @$$hole that every time I brought up a concern about our relationship, he would respond with something like “well, then let’s break up.”  He refused to participate in any kind of conversation that was the slightest bit uncomfortable.  He only wanted to be in a relationship with me if things were fun and light.  Otherwise, he was more than happy to give (or threaten) a cold shoulder.

In addition to my experiences with the sociopath, I didn’t exactly grow up with any appropriate modelling for how to deal with conflict.  It was just avoided at all costs.  I internalized all of that conflict over the years until it came pouring out of me in the form of depression in my teen and young adult years.  I was the youngest in the family, and all the $hit got passed down to me.

So, now here I am, at the age of 36, trying to figure out how to deal with the smallest amount of (potential) conflict in a romantic relationship.  Fortunately, Dave is very kind and stable and is more than ready to talk about any concern I may have.