Thursday, 21 June 2007

brain fog alert

Good grief. Who knew it was so hard to keep up a blog? Those people who manage to write them every day have got to get jobs, or lives, or pets or something.

Since I last posted I've run an International Poetry Competition, organised an AGM (and got myself elected Chairman, so I can take over the world), managed several visits to help out my ageing father, published a couple of issues of a bimonthly magazine, organised the monthly programme for my Mensa group (three times) played mini-golf, came second at a couple of pub quizzes, run the home and farmyard alone while the husband went hunting (three times), read a dozen or so books (current reading: A Tale of Two Cities), and goodness knows what-all else. I haven't sent a personal email (ie one not related to work) for about 6 weeks, and my monthly poetry group looks like turning into a semi-annual event. This is what happens when you WORK, people!

So what have I got to post about now? Not a helluva lot, actually. I went to a poet's blog to see what she was doing, and she seems to be adding a poem a day. I'd be happy to write a poem a month, quite frankly.

Now I'm whingeing - didn't mean to do that. But at least I've thought of something to write about.

My youngest kid, the one still living at home, had a suicide attempt a couple of weeks ago. She took a whole sheet of the painkillers she has for painful periods, threw up, told me she had food poisoning, then slept for three days. Back to the GP for a change of anti-depressant, and referral to a mental health facility for young people. Depression is endemic in our family. I was dysthymic for twenty years, before I discovered, quite by accident, that a
small daily dose of a mild anti-depressant made me feel normal for the first time in decades. (I'll explain how I discovered that in a moment.) My mother and older sister have both made multiple suicide attempts, my younger sister has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and my brother and several of my paternal cousins are generally considered to be a little on the loony side. I personally prefer them that way, as they make for much more interesting family stories. They are still not as loony as my daughter-in-law's family, who beat them hands down, but that's another line of narrative. (My husband's family supplied the gay gene.)

The cure for dysthymia came about when I got shingles a month after my fiftieth birthday. The doctor prescribed the usual anti-viral stuff, and added a small dose of anti-depressant with the explanation that, as shingles is a nerve disorder, treating the nervous system with anti-depressants reduced the nerve pain. Made sense to me, anyway. So I took my pills, went off to Sydney for a funeral (well, I'd already booked the flights) and spent a week sitting on people's couches with hot wheat packs clutched to my middle. I was lucky - the shingles was gone within 3 weeks (and I went for acupuncture as well, so there'd be no long term nerve damage).

The upshot was that after 3 weeks of the a-d, I was happier than I could remember being for most of my adult life, and I've been on them ever since. I still get occasional blues and my energy levels are still a bit cyclic, but my thoughts don't get disordered, I don't get paranoid, and I can retain enough control to tell myself that the feeling will pass. On the occasions when the depression used to be bad enough for a higher-dose course of medication, I couldn't wait to get off them because of the numbing effect they had on me. On the mild dose, I get all the benefits without the side-effects, and I feel like the person I was in my twenties, before I had the first major attack of clinical depression. What really brought it home to me was a conversation I had last night when I was out at a Mensa dinner. The only person who turned up commented (in the course of general conversation) that he had only ever seen me lose my cool once, and that was just after my mother died (a year ago next Sunday). He's known me about 4 years, so that was encouraging feedback, considering the hair trigger I used to operate on when my mood was sub-optimum. It was a good moment.

So back to the daughter. She's doing well with the new prescription, we've had first contact with the mental health service, and she's getting on with her life while we wait to get to the top of the waiting list. When she's not depressed, she's a well-adjusted, achieving and friendly sixteen-year-old whom anyone would be proud to admit to living with. I got home late from visiting Dad today, and by the time I got here she'd got the washing in off the line and put it in our airing space to finish drying, and was in the process of cooking dinner. That's on top of cleaning out her rats' cage. I just feel sad that I couldn't protect her from the family curse - especially if she's inherited the suicidal form of it. Life without her is unthinkeable.

dying is kind of emo
- it's pass
é in too many ways -
please use another language
to tell me you're hurting
I promise I won't yell at you
I am so over losing my temper