An Infestation of Brain Weasels

So, hey there, internet… how have you been?

When was the last time we talked… in October, maybe? Early November? Well,
I’ve been away for a bit. There have been things going on here, that’s for sure, not least of which is Christmas.

But, more than that. In late November, I was diagnosed with depression. So, you know… that’s new.

November is, historically, a really hard month for me. November and February. I have always felt a bit of the seasonal affective disorder thing hit me in those two dark, overcast months. It’s usually pretty down for me, and I hit the vitamin D3 and start trying to get more fruit and sunshine… the usual stuff.

But this year, it was different.

This year, I was struggling with being really, really sad. Sitting for hours in my office chair or on the sofa, crying. Sobbing uncontrollably about… well, stupid stuff, really. Feeling defeated. Unable to concentrate. Tired. And in a lot of physical pain from arthritis, bursitis, and a bad back.

Normally, when I feel negative thoughts about myself starting to sneak in and rustle around in my consciousness — what we call the Brain Weasels — there’s always my rational voice there to snap me out of it, to flap my apron at the Brain Weasels like some 50’s housewife and shoo them out of my brainspace. And I get myself right again and get on with my day.

Not this time.

This time, the Brain Weasels were a lot more active. Really busy. Making a mess. And that practical 50’s housewife flapping her apron was nowhere to be seen.

I felt like I was struggling to get out from under an oppressive amount of… stuff. Like I was bogged down and couldn’t find light. I was hitting the D3 hard and it wasn’t making a difference.

I was losing.

So I called my doctor and made an appointment.

Now, here is where I tell you that I have THE BEST primary caregivers in the history of ever. My doctor, her nurse Andrea, and her receptionist Tori are ALWAYS there for me. But that day, when I called and reached out, Tori immediately knew something was not right. And this incredibly busy woman sat on the phone with me to ensure I’d be okay while I sobbed my way through my story, and offered to sit on the phone with me and just chat, whenever I needed her, until I could get in to see the doctor. THIS, my friends, is Health CARE.

When I went for my appointment, BDH came along, because he was concerned about me and wanted to be sure he gave his perspective about what he was seeing in me. And my doctor, my amazing GP, just sat there, gently asking questions, taking everything I was saying as 100% valid and important. I did not realize she was doing a mental health assessment with me, but she was.

She told me I was suffering from depression. Hardly a surprise. And she prescribed antidepressants.

But she also took my concerns about pain, weight gain, inability to get fit despite all my exercise, stress, emotional labour, seasonal affective symptoms and nutrition, all that stuff that was part and parcel of what was making me feel bad, seriously.

She ordered a whackload of blood work to look at my thyroid, iron levels, vitamin D, all that stuff, to see if there was anything amiss health-wise.

She ordered imaging on my knees to see if we could work on relieving the pain. She sent me back to physio to see what they could do for me. And once the imaging results came back she put me on anti-inflammatories to treat what has become moderate osteoarthritis from my years in sports.

She ordered me to take the month of December off. Like, COMPLETELY OFF. No more exercising. No doing anything more than was absolutely necessary around Xmas prep and all the festivities therein. Which means BDH and That Girl would have to shoulder a lot of the work — which they have, without complaint.

If I’m honest, that last recommendation was pretty much imperative. Because of the brain meds, I have been sleeping. A LOT. It was quite a lot, at first, plus naps throughout the day. Now, 5 weeks in, I can get through about half the days without a nap. It should get better, if I can get a good sleep at night — and that’s the big unknown because sometimes meds can mess with your sleep at night. So we’ll see how that goes.

But most important is that, for the most part, the meds have chased the Brain Weasels away. A few times I have felt myself spiralling and panicking, but they are easier to Name and Blame and I can shoo them away.

I feel sort of neutral, which is good. The sadness and panic has subsided.

But I also miss… feeling things. I find things funny, and I feel content about things. What I miss is Joy. I miss feeling Excited. I don’t miss the lows, but as a person who lives with a lot of enthusiasm and volume, I do miss the highs.

So, maybe this might not be the exact right medication for me. Time will tell.

But I am on my way.

And I wanted to mention it to you, interwebs friends, because it’s capital-I Important. Mental Health is Important, and when your mental health is not optimal, it’s not something you should screw around with. If the doctor says “oh, you have cancer” you don’t just smile and hope you feel better soon and feel ashamed of and don’t burden others with your problems, do you?

NO.

Well, we need to feel the same way about our mental health issues. We need to be able to talk about them, and address our mental health needs, and do what need to be done to improve our mental health. And not not be ashamed of asking for and requiring that help.

I’ve told you about the state of my vagina. You know my lungs are unholy pains in my arse. You know my ovaries are overpaid supermodel divas. You know how my right boob has been causing me to visit my local mammography machine more than I care to. Now you know about that time I had an infestation of Brain Weasels.

MY BODY IS A FUCKING WONDERLAND. And it’s important to take care of it. All of it.

Take care of yours, too, okay? Because you’re a wonderland, too.

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