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Mental Health Track 006

How’s today? Alright, I think. My eyes are kinda gritty, as if I’ve been waking up through the night – or worse – returning to an annoying habit of sleeping with my eyes open. It doesn’t just dry them out, it makes me actively terrifying to sleep with. Either way, wakefulness has dawned and with it a new day. I went to sleep last night to the happy news that I have a new second cousin, which is all very nice. And today I’m thinking about my doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I know, looking to the future! Speaking of, I’m not very good at making plans but we have a few weekends away in May, some more birthday parties to attend and a whole bunch of It’s A Trap! The Improvised Star Wars Show performances coming up which are all things to look forward to, and attempt to consciously look forward to. This is in place of dreading a change in routine, or in location or something that throws off the day to day equilibrium.

While I’m all up and chipper I should really try to make some more plans. Either they’ll be something to look forward to, or simply because they’re in the calendar, I’ll have to do them and either enjoy them or not at the time. I’ve long found that feeling like I have a responsibility to do something is both a burden and the very best way to make me do anything. I wonder if it’s over-wired in childhood, not that I saw much expression of it until I was an adult. I certainly didn’t feel much responsibility to do anything while I was at university. Since then it’s become a much more powerful theme, a big shape in my mental architecture. Even if I’m exhausted or crashing down deep, I’ll still turn up for work, still undertake those things for MissImp which have drifted between my hands. Maybe it’s less a sense of responsibility and more recognising that those routines and activities are in fact a lifeline for hauling myself up out of myself when I really need it. Doesn’t always stop them feeling like a burden other times. Similarly, agreeing to go and do a thing is like a cast iron promise in my head. This is also why I may find that I equivocate endlessly and put off agreeing to a thing, knowing I’ll be bound by it.

Improvised comedy training teaches us to say “yes” (in context, and when it’s the right thing for the character, situation etc), to embrace reality as it’s been offered to us and then build on it. In some respects that’s a decent metaphor for getting along with life: this is the situation, accept it and do something with it. But “yes” as a reflex to everything can leave me overloaded, with three or four evenings out in a row and I suspect that’s where I start to wind back down again. I like people, honest I do, they’re stimulating and interesting, but I weary of them after a few days… Getting ready for science fiction and boardgame conventions is potentially challenging, and worse in a lot of ways. Being ready for dozens, if not hundreds of superficial interactions is much harder than being ready for two or three deep intimate conversations. The latter I’ll be there for all day, but the former is like being slowly drained of blood by a weird hive-mind vampire.

Anyway, my ruminations on the oh-so-far-ahead future of tomorrow: I’m aiming to stop taking my antidepressants, which serve as my sleeping tablets, tripling up as anxiety control. I’ve tried this before, switching to another antidepressant which might help me sleep yet not flatten out all my emotional lability. It’s a bit risky, but I want to go clean! It’s not that I have any concern about taking drugs – I’ve been on asthma meds since I was four or five, and the daily cocktail will scarcely notice the amitriptyline’s absence. I expect to be tapering off for a few weeks, dropping down through the dosages. That’s going to be frustrating as I’m already on the lowest dose that gets me to sleep. But I have a good routine, for the most part. Phone’s dead, TV is off by ten at the latest, book time plus lovely white noise till bed at eleven (more white noise till after I’ve fallen asleep); alarm (more white noise) at seven-ten-ish, exercise, writing, work. Even if I’m not sleeping, if I can keep myself locked in that pattern, I think it will be OK. Plus the withdrawal side-effects, mood swings etcetera, etcetera. FUN.

Mental Health Track

A purposeful daily attempt to track how I feel and what I’m doing.

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