Detox

You know those articles that espouse all the wonderful benefits of detox – the kind with annoyingly perfect pictures of smiley, glowy models doing yoga in the sunrise or eating fruit on a pristine white couch? Raw foods, juices, cleanses, whatever?

w_1 *rolling my eyes*

But yeah they’re actually starting to seem kind of appealing right now.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I just stuffed my face with crispy spicy salmon rolls, or the fact that I’ve skipped out on my exercise routine for about um, two months (ugh), or maybe the fact that I’m boxing up my life and moving on the weekend and realizing I have way too much random STUFF – but I feel so in need of a giant detox.

So many of us – especially those of us on potentially weird medications that do potentially weird things to your brain and body – have a general feeling of blehhhh. We focus so much on our mental and emotional well-being but the truth is that physical well-being is kind of paramount, and stress and unhappiness manifest themselves in all kinds of long-lasting ways throughout the body: fatigue, muscle pains and aches, digestive difficulties, headaches, the list just goes on and on.

So: I’ve decided to try to make my body a happy body, and see if that helps in my quest for overall improved happiness.

The first step I took was to start weaning myself off drugs. No, I do not necessarily recommend this, and yes, I did it with my doctor’s approval. My borderline symptoms/tendencies have drastically reduced over the past months due to a combination of therapy, medication, hard work, and probably a bit of sheer luck too. For this reason, tapering off of one of my two medications was recommended – I just don’t need it like I did before. I’ll still stay on my anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, but it will not longer be augmented by the Abilify.

The doctor recommended I start taking the Abilify every other day rather than every day. He said going faster would bring on “unpleasant side-effects.” He wasn’t kidding. I feel so nauseous the majority of the day. Anyone else experienced this? I even wake up throughout night wanting to throw up. Before I looked up “Abilify withdrawal symptoms” I was terrified that I was pregnant or something. Who would have thought that this seemingly innocuous drug would bring on such strong withdrawal symptoms? Bleh.

Another side effect has been some mild insomnia. Not terrible, but definitely making me stay up a couple hours past my usual bedtime. Though surprisingly I don’t feel that tired because – hooray – saying goodbye to Abilify means saying goodbye to a rather sedated, tranquillized feeling I’ve been experiencing throughout using the drug. I’ve also lost a couple pounds, thus confirming my suspicion that Abilify has been making me gain weight.

As for the rest of it – I don’t want to go overboard (carrot sticks and running every day simply remind me of my stupid ED days), but I do want to make November a much more fruit-and-veg-heavy month than its predecessors, and I hope to get out for some walks and ballet exercises at least four days a week.

So that’s my plan. Amidst all the chaos of moving, I’m not entirely optimistic about the chances of it succeeding perfectly, but hey, who needs perfection?

Cat xxxx

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How to be happy (without dying of boredom)

Greetings and apologies for the rather long absence!

I’d like to say I’ve been living life in the fast lane or something but in reality, it’s just been a bit of a lull that’s kept me from blogging. I’ve said it before, but the problem with feeling “better” (overall) is that you really do lose a little bit of your creative edge (or is that just my long-term love affair with misery talking?).

Anyhoo, life’s been good. OK. Fine. Swell. And this brings me to one of the hardest parts of recovering from mental illness that I’ve discovered, one which many of you may already be well aware of.

Being healthy is really, really boring sometimes.

Does that sound unbelievably warped or ungrateful? I don’t mean it to. But it’s the truth. After riding the towering rollercoaster of emotional and mental instability, guess how it feels to take a safe, wholesome ride in the spinny teacups?

Sighhhhhhhhhh.

I am grateful that I feel as good as I do. I realize several dozen times a day how lucky I am to still be here, to be doing okay when so many don’t make it. But I just can’t shake the fact that part of me does have a need for speed, for drama, for unpredictability, for risk. Combined with poor mental health, that need turned into a million dysfunctional behaviours and patterns. In fact, without poor mental health, I don’t even know what that need looks like. Is it okay? Can I get rid of it? What the hell do I do with it?

This is what Karen and I talked about in our most recent therapy session.

When my terrible relationship (2008-2010, RIP) ended, the greatest loss I felt had very little to do with the other person involved. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. I was convinced that this person was my soul mate, and without him I was incomplete, and it was meant to be or I just wouldn’t feel this way, etc. etc.

In reality, what I feared and cried for the most was the conviction that nothing was ever going to feel exciting again. I wasn’t grieving someone, I was grieving an emotion – I was grieving being in love.

Karen told me all kinds of fascinating information about the brain on love. For example, being in love literally hits our system like a drug. And pursuing that high can turn just as dark and twisted as any other addiction. When I thought to myself that nothing would ever feel that good again, I was right in a way. I’ve often heard that heroin addicts are perpetually seeking the experience that their first high gave them – I knew I’d never recreate my first high. I thought, with terror and dread, of a whole impending lifetime lived without that feeling. Kill me now (literally), was my reaction.

The hopeful part: I’m very much in love now – with a wonderful, thoughtful, incredibly well adjusted and amazing guy. But I won’t deny that it isn’t the same. It’s a love that is mellowed (which is a good thing) by maturity, experience, wisdom. It’s rewarding in ways that my abusive relationship never would have been (obviously). Am I ready to accept that those things are worth infinitely more than the first-love euphoria? Yes. But I see now why I wasn’t ready to accept it before.

Whether it’s being smacked by your boyfriend, getting in raging verbal fights with people, cutting yourself, or shoplifting, most unhealthy behaviours are MASSIVE adrenaline highs – particularly against the backdrop of dissociation or numbness that characterizes most depression. They make you feel alive.

I’m actually shocked that this topic isn’t better addressed in any of the mental health literature or self-help stuff I’ve come across. It suddenly became so obvious to me: you can’t just take those highs away and expect to feel fully charged with life.

So now my therapy goal for the month is finding ways to inject some risk and adrenaline into my otherwise happy, healthy *cough* dull *cough* existence.

I’m thinking adventure-planning (for my next trip) and maybe a jaunt to the casino in the interim (IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: I have never and would never spend more than $10 at the casino, nor do I recommend it in general. Know your limit, play within it.). Any suggestions?

Sky-dive-freefall_curvature

Cat xxxxx