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Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

I went to the Thin City Hospital yesterday for further check ups on my lungs.

It didn’t go well. The doctor rather intimidated me (his staff too from the hushed and reverential tones in which the nurse referred to him) and I’m still stuck with the idea that everyone believes that I have TB and that’s what they’re going to treat. More worryingly, they’re not treating my current shortness of breath while they decide what’s wrong with me. I feel stuck.

In my new resolution to take actions rather than just worry, I have written to the doctor this letter:

Dear Dr Intimidating,

I attended your TB clinic yesterday and thought I would write as I am not sure I was able to fully explain my symptoms yesterday. I do apologise for this but my anxiety and depression mean that I do not always communicate verbally very effectively, particularly in stressful situations.

It may have appeared that I was rather resistant to the idea that there is anything wrong with me. This is not the case. I am short of breath and I’m aware of this getting worse. I also have occasional pain in my right lung on inhalation. I also feel more fatigued than I should be. (This is particularly worrying and frustrating as when I managed to give up alcohol previously I was absolutely suffused with extra energy). I’m also aware that I am now on a whole panoply of new drugs – accamprosate, naltrexone, antabuse – which may account for this, as well as already prescribed medication – mirtazapine and citalopram – which will have had a different effect whilst I was drinking.

I work freelance and because of my drinking came close to losing my only current assignment, I’m extremely keen to hang on to this and I’m terrified that the situation with my lungs will just get slowly worse until I end up in hospital again, which is likely to cost me this job.

I have drunk through all the antibiotic treatments I have had, which includes both the course I was given on leaving Gloucester Royal Hospital and the most recent course from my GP. I know that this will have reduced their effectiveness, although all of them have worked to some extent and given some improvement in my breathing.

I’m not sure if I should present to my GP if – as I expect – my shortness of breath continues to worsen and ask if he will prescribe something to help?

Again, I apologise for what is I’m sure not great patient/doctor etiquette; however, it’s just a measure of my concern and my desperate wish to get properly better.

Thank you very much for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Thin City Citizen

 

Let’s see where that gets me.

I’m off to see Desmond now. He’s going to set up a website for me.

Let’s see where that gets me.

Thanks for listening.

Leave a message.

TCC x

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I’m neither particularly down now up at the moment.

In fact, since I stopped drinking my mood has been all over the shop, like a toddler allowed to drive the IKEA trolley.

This is helping. I’ve not written enough lately – neither for fun, nor for pleasure, nor for profit.

I have my excuses. I always have my excuses. Some are better than others. Once, in an even Thinner City faraway, a wise young alcohol worker told me: “Once you stop drinking the reasons why you drank will still be there.”

He was right then and – if he’s still saying it to his clients – he’s still right.

So, the life I want to lead – productive, healthy, honest, independent, hell maybe even succesful in some small way – is now one step closer. That step is the sober step. The others do not necessarily fall after it automatically.

I’m writing more today because Mag is away. I’ve had previous blogs and one of the reasons I stopped them was because Mag read it and got upset – not only about what I wrote about her (and, as I noted with my post on the Spread, I’m not overly keen on anonymously splattering other people’s lives around the web), but with what I revealed about myself.

But this is good for me.

One of the downers that has stopped me experiencing the euphoria I associate with stopping drinking is that I’m still quite ill. Since I suffered pneumonia back in the spring my chest hasn’t been right and last week when I went to the doctor to report I was still short of breath a hurried conflab led to me being sent for a TB test.

That has now been taken and I am almost certainly – as I almost certainly knew – not suffering from TB. But it’s an excuse I can use to not make the other changes – too numerous to list here and now – that I need to make in my life. I’m seeing a specialist at the Thin City TB Clinic next week and hopefully that will put an end to things in that department.

But it hasn’t made me any busier workwise. It hasn’t made me address the large pile of papers hiding under this very desk. It hasn’t made me take steps towards financial independence. It hasn’t made me attend the tai chi classes I’ve enquired about.

It hasn’t even helped with my depression or anxiety. In fact, I’ve suffered some really quite dispiriting lows in the last week or so. It could be mourning for my lost love. It could be the reality of my life.

Because of my illness I haven’t been to counselling for a while. And on my ever-growing to do list is my homework. I’m to look at a situation where I started to think in an anxious way and record either how I observed those thoughts or didn’t give in to them.

To be honest, all I’ve managed in the last week or so (and Mag was away last week) is to attend my appointments, do the work I’m already committed to and… and… that’s that.

Drop us a line if you feel like it.

TCC.

 

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I thought I’d do a quick run through of my daily – and now entirely legal – drug intake.

So, here we go.

I now take:

One 20mg Citalopram, which is supposed to stop me being so anxious.

Three, vitamin B compound strong tablets. These are standard issue in alcohol treatment and it’s supposed to help you recover. I may start to take more – my similarly recovering friend, Desmond, is taking six.

One 100mg Thiamine (B1) tablet. This is similar in aim and effect to the vitamin B.

One 50mg Nalorex tablet which is supposed to help with cravings.

Six 333mg Campral tablets which ought to do the same thing as Nalorex.

One 200mg Antabuse tablet. I actually take these under supervision at the Addiction Unit, two on Monday and Wednesday and three on Friday. I’m breathalysed before I take it. This is the big one I suppose. The deterrent drug that reacts very, very badly with alcohol and makes you very, very ill if you drink whilest on the drug.

Finally, each evening I take one 30mg Mirtazapine tablet.

I won’t list all the side effects here. They’re all in those Wikipedia articles should you be interested and they’ll scare me.

Do they work?

I don’t know. Well, I do know that Antabuse works. It’s stopping me drinking and I’m not sure how far I trust myself if I stop taking it. (This is partly because of the intensity of the cravings I’m experiencing this time round and the fact that I’m yet to experience the huge positive surge of energy and vitality I associate with going sober.)

Now, Desmond has stopped drinking and also stopped taking Antabuse, Campral and Nalorex. There’s a difference in our experience though. Desmond really did reach rock bottom with drinking, he was hugely underweight and very ill indeed. I stubbornly believe that I never have. I must admit that it’s partly wishful thinking – I’ve got three suicide attempts under my belt which were all drink-related.

So, as I say I’m not sure how effective they are. How much worse might my cravings be without the Nalorex and Campral? The vitamins must be doing some good surely. If there’s one pill I rely on though it’s Mirtazapine and I rely on it too much. Whether it improves my mood is moot at the moment (I’m aware that it has in the past), that it is literally narcotic is not at issue. The side effects (which I said I wouldn’t mention) leaflet warns “May cause drowsiness” this, in my case, is a huge understatement. Mirtazapine knocks me out with a delicious drowsiness that I find incredibly attractive – the drugs to which I’ve been most attracted and of which I’m consequently most afraid are hynotic drugs.

And, that, for the moment is that.

Thanks for dropping in, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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I work on Tuesdays. Proper work. Paid work. I drive out of Thin City and into the Former Industrial Area (FIA) to an office and write. It’s not great stuff. It’s for some free local magazines. The people are nice and it’s good to get out of the house.

I remember reading a couple of accounts of heroin use which chimed very much with me. (I can’t for the life of me remember who wrote these accounts, but I’m pretty sure they were musicians). The gist of it both of these stories was that heroin use is a full-time job – you get up and spend all your day trying to get your hands on heroin (or, if you’re not a rock star the money to buy heroin) then you take it, the next day you do the same – and repeat.

I like routine. And alcohol helps me have a routine. It’s not a good or healthy routine (it’s got a hell of a lot better since Sunday) but it’s a routine.

I’ve gone over what the bad routine was and it’s very similar to the heroin routine – sleep, drink, smoke, sleep.

Yesterday as I drove towards the FIA, I followed – of course – my usual routine. Out of Electric Street, down White Street and onto Mud City Road and then call it at the nearest petrol station to buy fuel if necessary and cigarettes. As I pulled into the forecourt yesterday I had a shock. The pumps were all behind wire and the place was being dug up.

The shock to the system was quite severe. I cling to routines and habits desperately and any change causes real unease. I drive the wrong way to the FIA; Exact has been telling me for months that there’s a much quicker, easier way to get there, but I can’t quite manage the change in routine that would cause – where would I stop to buy cigarettes? What if I get lost? What if the traffic’s bad going that way? What if aliens land in Dodge (aigthoo) and set up some sort of checkpoint. What if… What if…

Mag rang me at work yesterday. The Shinei are moving. They will be gone in two to three weeks. The landlady is selling the house. This should – this is – unalloyed good news.

But.

What if lunatics move in next door? What if the Ku Klux Klan set up a training camp next door? What if squatters get in in the meantime and start to stage Thin City’s biggest free raves? What if it’s bought by a charity for rehousing owners of dangerously loud birds of prey?

Change ahoy. Danger ahoy.

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Last night I tried to go without alcohol. I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t by the way, this wasn’t a case of weakness or lack of willpower, but having to drink to ease physical withdrawal symptoms.

It’s no surprise and I’m – as the title of this post suggests – not that bothered by it. My drinking diary this morning shows that last night I consumed 4.7 units of alcohol and started to drink at 9pm – I’m a unit down on the night before and an hour later starting.

The withdrawals – as anyone who has experienced them will know – are extremely unpleasant. I tried to stave them off with food, I poked at them with fizzy water and fruit juice, I ran away from them with a long walk. They got me in the end.

Still. Things remain positive. I started drinking at 9pm and the first one – a can of Carslberg (reassuringly weak) – didn’t touch the sides.

The only slight downer is that I took a third drink when I didn’t need to.

The antidepressants I take are called Mirtazapine (I also take Citalopram, which is supposed to be an anti-anxiety medication). On the patient leaflet – along with the cheery suicidal thoughts warning you’ll find on all antidepressants – is a ‘may cause drowsiness’ warning. As understatements go, this is up there with ‘Stalin had some anger issues’. Mirtazapine is my nighttime friend. In fact, I’ve used it in the past to manage a couple of days of abstinence or cutting down here and there; upping my dose by half a tablet has a real knockout effect.

I took my tablet fairly early – around 6pm I think – last night and by the time it came to opening that third beer, I was well on the way to the Land of Nod.

That third beer I drank to get drunk.

A slight disappointment then, but as I’ve made getting out of my head in various ways the main purpose of my life since I was 16, I shouldn’t be too surprised.  For the last five months I’ve been drinking at least 100 units a week without fail, sometimes much more than that. I’ve only been cutting down since last Sunday.

So, at Brighteye I’ll have to report my ‘failure’ and start again on the seven day challenge. It really is a wonderfully forgiving and supportive place though.

If I’m being realistic, I think my aim is to have one or two days alcohol free this week, before Mag goes away on Friday.

That will be the challenge. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Not so much the pull of alcohol per se but the pull of my lovely long days in the Spread, my haven from shrieking children, shitting dogs and screaming parents.

In all honesty, I’m already looking forward to it.

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