Monday, January 31, 2011

Alphabet Soup - J is for JOY

Alphabet Soup Sunday is growing and evolving. I think they would be more aptly named Alphabet Soup of the Soul now, as they share a little insight into me, are often somewhat cathartic, and tend to appear a lot closer to Monday than Sunday ;)

I woke up this morning happy, no, excited. I woke up excited this morning. Kind of like this:

I woke to the birds and the best of intentions.
I will try every way I know to express them.

Adapted from Breakthrough
by Isaac Dust

What a fabulous way to start a day!

For starters, today is the last day for submissions to the JOY photo challenge. I will be posting them up for you to indulge in first thing in the morning. That means you still have one more day to grab your cameras, or dig through your photo boxes and media files!

There will be a week of voting to decide the winner, and then? Following that, there will be a week of voting on my potential B.F.A. application/portfolio submissions. I need your help! (insight, feedback, gentle critiques). So exciting!

Ok, so let's talk about Joy! Here's the plan. I'm going to pour my heart out a little, and share with you what's been going on the past week and a half. Then I'm going to have a bit of a creative projects show and tell. Then I'm going to give it up to you to share some Joy, since it's my favourite topic!

Here's a little something to listen to while you're reading this :) One of my faves, from back in the days...

If you've been reading along with me lately you will know that I've been having a grand ol' time! Conferences and day trips, gaining and gifting blog awards, two excellent days at my dreamy new part-time job, my very first ever guest post and a super fab and swanky date with my sweetie. And, on several occasions I was told that I had made someone's day! All of that crammed into the past 9 days.

It was probably one of the most rewarding weeks I've had. It was also one of the most challenging. That's the beauty of Joy. It carried me through, and I was still able to share it with you.

What you probably didn't see through all this triumph, was me in some wicked Serotonin Withdrawal. If you, or someone you know, is taking, or considering taking, an SSRI (anti-depressant and/or anti-anxiety), please listen up, then go online and do as much research as you possibly can. I thought that I had done well, and was reducing mine carefully. I could have done more to avoid this incredibly intense roller coaster I've been riding for 2-3 weeks.

The first couple of days were great. Then I turned into the Hulk with PMS and a constant low-grade migraine. It started out as a tight head and dizziness, and a slight edge of nausea. Then we threw in some sucky-ness, whiny-ness and the easily weepies. Which could quickly turn to irritability, rage, and explosiveness. Oh, and the self-doubt, unforgivingness and extreme sensitivity to even a whiff of perceived control. (Those last three were a lovely combination with my excellent timing of trying to implement more structure and scheduling into my life!)

Thursday was the worst of it. That moment on the roller coaster when you're slowly click, click, clicking to the top of the biggest hill, and you look down and think, how am I ever going to survive this? Thursday I had an I'm not leaving the house day, well, more like an I'm not leaving my bed day. I couldn't even tolerate light. These are the types of days I had plenty of when I first fell to the mercy of this breakdown. I hadn't had a full cocoon day like this in months. (The quiet also helped me realize that I was also experiencing brain-zaps (paresthesia) which can be best described as a pulse-like shock or shiver).

This is the point when many people coming off of anti-depressants/anti-anxieties give up. They think that maybe they weren't ready. Also, one of the things you might read in the online forums, is people in the middle of withdrawal, swearing that they never would have gone on them in the first place if they knew what it would be like to get off of them. I want to add a little balance to that perspective.

Disclaimer - I am not a doctor, I don't play one on tv, and I'm not sleeping with a drug rep.
  • Choosing to go on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to deal with the Post-Traumatic breakdown was a tough decision. I used to work in mental health services, and I knew logically that they could help get me to a place where I could benefit more from other treatment options, like counselling, art therapy and group work. I am grateful that I was able to see the potential of this first line of defense for myself.
  • If you or your doctor feel like you may need to stay on your SSRIs for life because you're "addicted" get a new doctor, asap. Seriously. I have heard this and I have read this. This was never where I was at and I am so grateful. The doctor handling my medication assured me that we would work together to get on them, and off them when the time came.
  • Feeling like you haven't made progress, when you're in the middle of a withdrawal, is common. The symptoms are similar. Work with your doctor (one who knows they're stuff thoroughly) and stick through it. If the timing is right, you will get to the other side!
  • Eat well. This can be tough if you would rather eat nothing at all, or if all you want is carbs and sugars. Three meals, and snacks in between, that are high in protein and complex carbs and low in fat and simple sugars. This will help keep you balanced as your body is flushing the stores. Acupuncture can help with this too.
  • If you can, get your prescriptions filled at a smaller pharmacy where you can build a relationship with the pharmacist. It helped me a lot to know that I could talk to mine whenever I had questions.
  • Even if you have reduced to the lowest dosage available of your medication, you can still go lower! It is often suggested to reduce to every second day, and then every third. Have patience. Take your time. Going slowly means a happy transition. Otherwise, the alternative is putting a huge strain on your loved ones, and having to buy new shirts when you tear them apart to flex your big green muscles!
At the end of it all, the good news is that I'm medication free. If taken back in time, would I go through it again knowing that the first med would wire me up like a kid on Coke and candy? That I would get incredibly lethargic and irritable whenever I was in the midst of a dosage transition? That not working through the withdrawal as carefully as I could would make we want to hide like a werewolf on the edge of a full moon? Absolutely!

So let's keep riding this Joy train! Next stop - The Happy Monday Photo Challenge

This is my first week participating and I was really excited about the theme. Sunrise/Sunset. Unfortunately, and understandably, I was melting down a little after a day of errands and country roads yesterday, and needed to be home, instead of out playing with sunsets as I had planned :( Boo. However, keeping on the theme of this post, I am excited to share with you a picture I took in the summer that was an absolute moment of Found Joy.

It was early in the morning, my sweetie was out of town, and I had just woken up from a particularly unsettling nightmare. I got out of bed, restless. I happened to look out the window and was greeted by this wonderful sunrise.

Waking dream
It made my day okay :)

Here's something a little more recent. I started this on Friday and promised myself I would work on it for 3 days.

The first stage was the most fun! Ribbon, cotton batting, white paint smeared on with a kitchen spatula. Green paint layered on with a fork, yep, a fork, then detailed with rosemary. Yep. Rosemary.

Added some water colour tints. I thought I was done at this point. Until I came out of my poorly lit art space and realized I wasn't :)

Ta da! The finished product. It took guts to go bold with the next layer!

Three pictures, three stages, three days. I'm grateful that I stayed committed to it. I'm gaining a lot more depth through layering, and patience :) All it needs is the dates written into it, and a title. Perhaps, JOY 2011? :)

Okay, now it's your turn! Please share with me in the comments a quick snippet of something that brings/has brought you Joy! It doesn't have to recent, or it could be something that happened today :)

This video brings me Joy. Ari Hest is my new favourite voice, and watching/listening to him sign with his mom is like being hugged.


Stacy Uncorked said...

I really enjoyed that Ari Hest song - thanks for sharing! :)

MMMM: Eclectic Mix

Allie said...

Love your sunset shot! Thanks for linking up to Happy Monday! :)

Yvonne said...

I was given an antidepressant that had me worse than when I wasn't taking anything. The doctors finally found one (Thank God) that my mind and my body accepted and that saved my life, literally. But I feel and understand your angsts of last week. It's a horrible and debilatating feeling isn't it? I wish happy days for you from now on!

Anonymous said...

hmmm I get migranes, they suck- but you are drug free and doing good! Keep looking for the natural up in life! Thanks for joing the party!

Xmas Dolly said...

Thanks for playing along with us this week, and sharing these new songs with us. Hope to see you next week too! Have a good one, and as always following you!

Lucy Ladham-Dyment said...

Love, just love the 3 pictures, 3 days, 3 Stages. Just love how it turned out.l

Lorie Shewbridge said...

I also enjoyed the Ari Hest song really beautiful.
Thank you for sharing what must have been a difficult story to tell. I have been on SSRIs for years for depression and PTSD and do know the side effects when you don't take them because of running out when I had no insurance or cash. I also suffer from horrible migraines, so I know exactly how you were feeling. I am so glad that you are now med free and feeling well.
Love your painting, you have a wonderful gift. Looking forward to more of your creative outlets in your artistry and music.

Cowgirl Red said...

It is like being hugged. I love that you introduce me to wonderful new music. Joy was last Sat. It got up in the seventies. I loped circles on my horse, Pardner, in a tank top! It's zero here today. Thanks for sharing your journey with the SSRIs. I went back on them a year ago. They brought me back to functioning so I could cope and heal. They do have a purpose. I understand. Xoxo Terah

Creatively Sensitive said...

Glad everyone enjoyed the music!
And thank you so much for sharing your stories with me. It is so comforting to know that we are in this together.


Creatively Sensitive said...

Terah! You and I hit publish comment at the same time! Thank you for sharing your Joy moment with me! And as always, thank you for sharing your story. Crossing my fingers that I can stay off them. Another benefit of being so hyper-sensitive is that I could tell whenever my body was ready for a lowered dosage.

More hugs!

p.s. I love that your horse's name is Pardner! Must get on one again soon!