Monday, December 12, 2011

Thirty-One Springs

Tomorrow is my birthday, and this blog is officially one year old! When I started writing here, exactly a year ago, I had many expectations, many dreams, and a bit of fear of the unknown future ahead of me. A year ago, I had just started reducing Effexor XR, so that I could try to get pregnant off medication. I was hoping things would go smooth. Well, as you all know very well, they didn't. I have walked a long path and have had a relapse. I changed medications. I did not get pregnant. Tomorrow, while I celebrate my 31st birthday, I want to focus on being healthy, taking good care of myself, enjoying my free time and enjoying the people I love. I want to keep feeling happynthenway I have felt since Cymbalta started working and cast away all the shadows. I still would love to become a mother, but I am not a slave of my obsession anymore. Happy Birthday to me:-)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giving up and letting go

It has definitely given me a sense of freedom. It seems I don't care anymore. It still hurts a bit when people ask if I have any news, but it's been better than before.

Yes, I gave up trying to get pregnant. I decided I am too tired to keep doing ovulation tests et all. The holidays and our trip to Brazil are approaching and I simply don't want to fuss about not being pregnant again.

My husband, on the other hand, seems to really want to keep trying. I know what some of you will say, yeah, of course he does, for he is a guy and he likes it, but I can assure you that that is not the case. Sometimes both of us are tired and hubby says we need to try because I won't just get pregnant if we don't "do the deed".

Well, honestly, after I learned about my friend's sister, who did exactly the opposite of what I'm doing (that is, she avoided having intercourse on the days she was most fertile) and got pregnant, I don't know anything anymore. Maybe if we avoid my fertile week, I'll get pregnant!!!

Anyways, I am super excited about our trip. We'll spend 2 weeks in my hometown, where I'll get to see my family, and friends I haven't seen in over 3 years, and then we'll go to the northeast of Brazil, to a coastal city called Salvador! The beaches there are awesome and it is going to be summer time! I can't wait!

My medication seems to be working well. Sometimes I forget to take it in the morning, and then I have a problem, because if I take it too late in the day, I can't sleep. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied with Cymbalta, especially knowing that it is much easier to stop it than it is to stop Effexor.

It does have side-effects, though, I keep having very vivid anxious dreams. I usually sweat a lot while I'm dreaming, which means I get very dehydrated. I'm still taking Kavinace, 2 pills a day, and I notice the difference in my anxiety if I don't take it. It definitely helps. I can certainly recommend Kavinace to anyone suffering from anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, stress...

I've also gained back some of the weight I had lost. I'm not totally thrilled about it, especially because people think it is okay for them to approach me to say "oh, you've gained some weight!" I think it is because I am not overweight, so they must think I won't care! No woman likes to hear she's gained weight. Besides, I do not think it is very polite to tell someone that he or she gained weight, even if it is true!

I would love to someday come here and let you all know I am pregnant, but unfortunately it hasn't happened. Perhaps it will happen during our vacation, when we'll be relaxing at the beach... I wish!!! Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's time to be thankful, but I'm not

I resent that I'm not pregnant. I envy every single woman I see with a child. I want a baby. It's been 7 months and 8 cycles, for goodness sake. How much longer is it going to take?

I'm on my period and it has been bitter. I have painful cramps when I'm off the pill. I had some spotting earlier last week and I actually thought I was pregnant. Spotting is a sign of pregnancy, plus the pain in my breasts seemed to be more intense this month. I did a pregnancy test yesterday and it was negative. Then, a couple hours later, my period came, accompanied by a lot of pain, physical and emotional, that is.

I should be thankful for all that I have, but I am greedy. I want it all- I want a baby; not just any baby, a healthy, perfect, wonderful baby. Conceived by my husband and I, naturally, lovingly...

Isn't it flawed enough that I need to be on antidepressants while trying to start a family? Do I also have to suffer to get there?

I know, I know I sound like a broken record; I'm fixated on this idea of getting pregnant. I
want it and I want it now. And it's not happening. Sometimes I'm walking down the street and I
daydream of my growing belly, of the pains and wonders of motherhood, of the delivery, then my
baby boy or girl, holding him/her, the photos, the clothes, the joy, ah! The joy.

Am I being ungrateful? Am I asking too much? Can't it just happen one of these following

I'm seeing my OBGYN in January. We'll run some tests, see what's going on. I will have had
other 3 cycles by the time she sees me. We're going to Brazil for the holidays. It will be a
lot of traveling. My husband says it is actually better that I'm not pregnant right now. I
don't know. I want it too much, perhaps. I dream of it too much. Even of the sickness, the
throwing up, the joy, the joy of motherhood.

But I need to be thankful. Thankful that my depression symptoms are under control; thankful that I am overall healthy; thankful that I have family and friends, and support.

All I want for Christmas is a baby growing in the oven. That's all. It seems that's too much to ask for.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have been away from here, perhaps because medication has been working well, so I don't feel the "need" to stop and reflect about my feelings. My therapist had asked me to try writing here and there, so I could channel my emotions into powerful statements of self-assurance...

I'm having some side effects I don't like. I dream vivid, anxious dreams all night long, it seems. My dreams tend to repeat themselves and mix what I like to call my "two realities", Brazil and California. I dream I'm there, but living this life, here, or sometimes it's a mix of my former life in Brazil but with elements of my current life here. I have constipation, which I've never had in my life. Still, the benefits of medication out weight the side effect.

Last month, when I had the confirmation that I was not pregnant, I cried. I cried in therapy later on, too, and it felt good. I hadn't cried for a while. I have my yearly OBGYN appointment scheduled for January, so until then I need to relax and let go. This month I had all the signs of ovulation, but the ovulation tests say otherwise. I did not get a positive result. I use the ClearBlue digital ovulation test, so there is no gray area. I'm either ovulating, or I'm not. I felt the urge to call my doctor and try to have an appointment just to address my possible infertility problems, but I've been able to contain myself. I can wait until January. It is not a big deal.

Life has been going on as busy as possible. I'm writing a paper for one of the classes I'm taking, it is almost all done. I'm on page 4 out of 5! wooo... I'm also enjoying my French classes and I plan to enroll on Beginning French II, which starts in January. It is finally cold in California, and I haven't been exercising much, but I'm giving myself a break from self-criticism. I'll exercise when I feel like it. Today I have mainly worked on my paper, which is due November 23. I have to mail it in to the professor, so it needs to be done by the 20, I say. I'll probably be done earlier, hopefully this Sunday, or Monday. I wished to be done today, but I don't think I have enough concentration left in me to do it.

I so wish I was pregnant by now. I really did. I dreamed of being 3 months pregnant, waiting for that ultrasound that reveals the baby's gender, waiting to be able to announce to the world that I have a baby coming! But it hasn't happened. I have to keep on living, and living as best as I can, because that is the only life I have.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Blessings of Depression

I wrote the following post last week, after watching Steve Jobs' commencement speech for the 2005 Stanford graduate students. My psychiatrist had already told me to watch it, and when I learned Jobs had passed away, I decided to finally watch it.

Can anything good come out of depression? Will I look back to this time of my life, in the future, and acknowledge there was a purpose for a relapse? Does depression make me wiser? As I reflected on my life, I've come to realize there were things I would have never done, and people I would have never met, if it weren't for my illness.

This is a very long and personal post, and I hope it helps anyone out there who's also trying to connect the dots.

"All I can say, when I look back at my life, is that suffering from depression and going to medication and therapy at the age of 23 was the best - and most important - thing that happened in my life. Because I was sick and suicidal, all my family, which was highly dysfunctional and complicated at the time, went to therapy with me. My relationship with my parents, especially with my mother, improved 1000%. Moreover, had I not gotten sick and gone to therapy and medication, I wouldn't have realized that I wasn't happy, and that I needed to change that. I was engaged to be married at the time with someone who was insecure, possessive, jealous, controlling, basically mentally sick himself. As I got better and improved, I started to realize that that was not the life I wanted for myself. I broke up the engagement and, later on, the relationship, and lived the best 5 months I had ever lived in the past 4 years.

I started saving money to study abroad. That was the beginning of 2005. I was going to Australia, and had already talked to an agency and set up a savings plan to have all the money by the end of the year, when I planned to spend my summer vacation there. It would be my graduation gift for myself. I was going to finish my degree in December, I planned, and everything was going according to my plan. Then, on February of 2005, as I was watching the principal of the school where I worked give a speech to the students, a commencement speech, as February was the beginning of the school year, I suddenly felt like running away. I felt this desperation inside of me. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to teach. I wanted to disappear. When I got home after work, I was sick of my stomach and couldn't eat. That was the beginning of my anxiety attacks. Back then, I didn't know, or I wasn't sure it was anxiety. So my mother took me to the doctor, he ordered a bunch of exams, including an abdominal ultrasound, and everything came back normal. We told the doctor I had depression the previous year, and he immediately stated that I should go see a psychiatrist.

My aunt, who is bipolar, told us about her doctor, so we went to see Dr. Athos, who became my psychiatrist and therapist for the following 2 years. My insurance didn't cover him, so all the money I was supposed to save for my trip went into paying my treatment. I saw the doctor weekly, and went back on medication, this time including Xanax. I had to postpone my graduation as well, because I didn't feel capable of doing all the courses and all the papers I needed to do in order to finish. It felt like a huge setback. I wasn't going to Australia. I wasn't going to finish college by the end of 2005. I kept my job as a high school English teacher, at least. Because I often couldn't sleep, I would stay up online on a chat program called ICQ. In that program, people could search for someone from a different country based on hobbies, interests, age, gender, etc. Someone from Canada added me. I saw it was a 30 year old guy named Patk (nickname). I almost didn't accept the friend request! But I did, and we started to chat. Soon he convinced me to chat on Microsoft Messenger, and to buy a webcam and microphone, so we could chat via skype as well. Our friendship wasn't romantic at all. I was interested in talking to someone whose native language was English, and he wanted to know about Brazil and Peru.

I told him about my getting sick and not being able to finish college and travel to Australia. He praised me because, from his point of view, I knew how to fail, which was important. The thing is, if I hadn't had a relapse and gotten sick again, I would probably have never met Patrick. He told me, later, that he added me on the chat program because he was searching for someone from Brazil to whom he could ask questions about the country, and someone who spoke English and who were online at the time he was searching. I would have never been online at that time of the night had I not been sick.

By the end of May 2005, Patrick and I had grown extremely close. We chatted on skype almost daily. He could see me on the webcam and vice-versa. He decided he was coming to Brazil in July, during my winter vacation, to visit me in person. He arrived on July 16 and spent 9 days in Brazil. I had a friend whose mother had a bed and breakfast in a nice tourist town close to my town, so it all worked out. He met my parents and, by the end of the 9 days, we acknowledged we were dating. He invited my friend and I to visit him in California for New Year's, and aided by my friend (who did all the work to get the visas done and the cheapest flight tickets), we made it to California in the end of December. I didn't go to Australia, but California was a much better destination. We spent 40 days here.

Patrick came to visit me on April of 2006, and I knew, by then, that something needed to happen. I didn't know what exactly. In the end of May, 2006, unhappy with my job, and almost done with university, I made a big decision. I called my parents into the kitchen in the evening and told them I had decided I was going to quit my job. They were surprised, but they supported me. I gave my notice at the school where I worked the following morning. Looking back, I know that was the right thing to do, but back then, when I didn't know what was going to happen, it was pretty scary, and I know I was being very brave. Patrick then told me I should come to America and spend the rest of the year there with him. I could become an au-pair and secure a year or 2 there, while we worked on our relationship. I knew we needed to live close to each other to see if our relationship was going somewhere. We had spent a year living 6 thousand miles apart. It was pretty crazy. By then I had been on medication for over a year and a half, and I told my doctor I wanted to stop. We compromised on a maintenance dosage and I traveled to America on August 2006. My father picked up my diploma for me in September. I didn't even go to my own graduation, but it didn't matter. I had finished my 8 years in college and I was done!

The rest of the story I might have mentioned already. We decided to get married. I went back to Brazil on December, 2006 to arrange the wedding; I was off medication for 2 months and all the agitation of getting married made me have a relapse. I was back on meds but I managed to continue on with our wedding plans. I traveled back to California in the beginning of February. We got legally married on February 15, 2007. I changed my visa status from tourist to Patrick's work-visa dependent, we went to Brazil in April and had our big wedding day with family and friends.

I've had amazing opportunities while living here since May 2007. My English has improved to the levels of high proficiency in all 4 skills; I've had the opportunity to take courses at Stanford; I lived for a year in lovely Los Gatos; I've realized I want to be a mother and for the first time felt prepared for it.

None of it would have happened had I not been sick. I wouldn't have realized that I wasn't happy. I wouldn't have searched for something else. I wouldn't have quit that previous relationship and I wouldn't have quit my job. I would have probably still been there today.

Right now I don't know exactly where the path is going to lead, but when I look back, I see it has all amazingly worked out okay. I had no idea, at the young age of 23, that I would be living in California, married to a Canadian computer systems engineer, and taking Classic courses and History courses at Stanford. If someone told me that, 7 years ago, I would have laughed. After all, I was engaged to someone else, I was a school teacher and made no way near enough money to travel abroad, and I had never heard of Stanford University.

So if I'm struggling with anxiety and depression now, there must be a purpose. I know I'll be able to connect the dots when I look back at this period of my life".

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New month, new hope

My period came 3 days late and I cried silently as I acknowledged it's been 6 cycles (or 5 months) that we're trying to conceive. Granted, there were 2 cycles in which we couldn't try, because I was sick right on the fertile week, so I know it is still too early to freak out.

I've been feeling quite anxious, including at night. It isn't enough to prevent me from eating, but it is enough to disturb my sleep. Last night I was able to sleep without medication, so it was a good night.

I think Cymbalta is working. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm eating well, at least, and being able to cope without the aid of Clonazepan. I still want very much to get pregnant, and I feel frustrated and disappointed that it hasn't happened yet. Hopefully it will happen this month! Next week is my fertile week, so wish me luck! I'll try and do the ovulation test, to better pin point my most fertile day. I'm counting on those pregnancy hormones to make my serotonin super high. I need to hope it will work out well!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Limbo #2

I'm very anxious right now. I feel like I did absolutely nothing the whole day.
My period is one day late, but I don't think I'm pregnant. It would be ironic if I actually were pregnant 3 weeks after going back on medication.

I'm trying not to take Clonazepan, even though I know it would help me feel better. The last time I took it was Monday morning. I want to drink coffee, but I know coffee will just make me more anxious. Even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it. I've already drunk one this morning.

My classes at the continuing studies program were great. I already read the 3 chapters I'm supposed to read for next Monday's class. The French course on Tuesday was great, too. Very fun. I still feel anxious. Not enough to be sick of my stomach. Just enough to make me uncomfortable.

I have therapy today at 5pm. It is very hot now in Northern California. Late summer, as usual. We're almost in October. I feel I'm in limbo again. Waiting. Waiting. I'm trying to breathe deeply. I made myself some smoked salmon pasta for lunch. It was yummy.

I can hear the crows chirp outside. It falls into place now. It used to sound so odd. There are no crows where I come from. Here they're everywhere. There's a truck backing up. I can hear the beep, beep, beep. It is bright and sunny out. Apparently, it is going to rain next week. I can hear an airplane go by. My orchids need water. I don't feel like watering them. My basil plant is dead. Well, almost. End of basil season.

I've already gone for a walk this morning. Maybe I'll just lie down and try to sleep. Really? at 3:30 in the afternoon? feeling anxious? I want my period to come so that I know I'm not pregnant after only 3 weeks on meds. I haven't been to yoga in 2 weeks. I haven't even exercised this week, besides this morning. I don't know what else to say.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to 'almost normal'

On doctor's orders, I went up to 60mg of Cymbalta this past Monday. Clonazepan doesn't make me feel slow anymore. Best of all, if I take 0.5mg in the morning, when the anxiety is the worst, it calms me down and its effect lasts the whole day. So much better than Xanax! Look at me, I sound like a hypochondriac, loving medication!

Sometimes I wake up with this desperation inside me. Three deep breaths, it's just thoughts. I was never afraid of dying. All of a sudden, I think of death. Not in a suicidal way. Just death. What if I die? What's gonna happen next? What if my husband dies? my mom? my dad? More three deep breaths. I am not in control of the world's population. All I have is 'now' and, for now, I'm alive.

I lost so much weight since April that people are noticing. It should be a good thing, huh? Well, I'm 5'9", and have been slim all my life. Sometimes too slim. Before April, I was normal. No need to lose weight really. So people ask questions. I'm not sure what to say to justify losing weight, so sometimes I say the truth. Sometimes I just acknowledge it and let it pass. I spent last week on fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt, and chicken soup. Today I craved junk food, so I had a Big Mac. With large fries. Oh! It feels so good to eat.

My two continued studies courses at Stanford University start next week. I've thought of canceling one of them. Then I thought of canceling both of them. I can't concentrate. I'm afraid I won't be able to make it. I have one more full week to decide if I want to continue with them or not (and get a full refund).

So far I haven't noticed any side effects of Cymbalta. I'm not skipping and scampering like a happy lil' bunny either. I know antidepressants take time to work. 2 to 6 weeks. I'm back to eating, sleeping, functioning. Back to almost normal. Those 4 and a half months without medication were hard ones. I was never well. I was never happy. I may as well have to rely on medication forever. It sure sounds like a long time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crazy Poem

Clonazepan pan pan pan pan
I feel so numb, numb numb numb numb
Look at the sun, sun sun sun sun
I want to run, run run run run
It would be fun, fun fun fun fun

I feel so slow, so slow so slow
I'd love to go, just go go go
Somewhere with no no no no no

Out of this body of mine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back on the chemical crutch

I started Cymbalta this last Monday. After having a crappy weekend filled with symptoms of excruciating anxiety, I decided it was enough.

Now, besides Cymbalta, I've needed some other help to get me by while thiS crisis last. I tried Xanax for the immediate anxiety, but Xanax wears off too fast, and then I need more. So doctor gave me Clonazepan. It knocked me down as soon as I took it lat night. I felt I was going to collapse. I took 1mg, plus 1/4 of a pill of Mirtazapine to help me sleep. It worked. I slept the whole night (i hadnt slept the previous night, even after taking xanax; I woke up at 3am and never went back to sleep).

This morning I was still feeling like a zombie, but the anxiety was creeping in and getting higher. I took 0.5mg of Clonazepan, which left me pretty sleepy and drowsy, but it wore off in a couple hours and anxiety hasn't come back full force yet.

I lost weight, as usual, but I've been trying to eat whenever my stomach lets me.

I've tried to find reasons for this current crisis, and the only thing that happened differently was my Kavinace (a supplement that supports GABA function) was over and I hadn't
ordered more on time so I ran out of it. I had noticed in the past that whenever I forgot to take Kavinace the night before, I would wake up more anxious, but I never thought it could cause that! And in fact, I've had crisis like that before even while taking Kavinace, so I'm
not sure.

All I know is that baby plans have come to a halt. Now I need to get better, take Cymbalta and make sure it is not aggravating my anxiety. And if I feel this horrible, horrible anxiety, I need to take Clonazepan and not be too afraid about it. I am afraid I'll get addicted and it
will be hard to stop and so forth. I took a high dosage of Xanax for 4 months once and it was
so hard to stop. It was horrible. Doctor says Clonazepan is better; less addictive, and its
calming effect lasts longer. Nevertheless, I felt like a zombie for most of the day today. I
felt I could barely function. Yesterday, without medication, I couldn't function either
because anxiety was just too overwhelming.

This has been a full blown anxiety attack as bad as the one I had in 2007.

So much for not wanting to take the drugs. Now I'm taking several. Hopefully just for the time being.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Next time

Period came today, and I am feeling okay with it. I had built up some anxiety about maybe being finally pregnant, but it seems that talking myself out of it by saying 'it is too early, it is nothing' worked out well. I am also glad I didn't go crazy buying pregnancy tests and testing away being only one day late. It would have been a waste of money.

Now I am going to have a sushi dinner, and be comforted by the thought that there is always a next time. Next month, or the following one, or the following and so forth.

I have an annual OBGYN appointment in October anyways, so I can talk about what to test/do from then on. Hubby will also have to go to his doctor and be checked.

Depression wise, I am still off medication, but I've been feeling all right. There are mornings in which I am very anxious. There are days in which I do not feel like doing anything. I know I need to relax, so let's see how I'll do these following months. Of course I feel sad that it's been 5 cycles already trying to conceive and nothing yet, but ... 5 cycles isn't very long. It may take 12 cycles, who knows? I have to live life in spite of that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I'm trying to live one day at a time and it has been really hard right now. According to my 'period tracker' application on my iTouch, my period was supposed to come today, but it didn't. It means nothing. It may as well come tomorrow, or on Monday. I keep telling myself it is too early to celebrate because I don't want to be let down. So as I wait for the period to come or not, I'm living in suspension, in hiatus, waiting for something to happen, instead of simply enjoying my day and letting life happen.

I try not to think about it. I try not to talk about it, but could this be the month? I started feeling this pain a couple days ago, not exactly like period cramps, but similar. I had had them before, but in the middle of my cycle, never in the end. I had read pregnant women have cramps when the fertilized egg is attaching to the uterus, so I am not sure what to think. I'm feeling the pain as I write; it started on Thursday and I thought: this doesn't feel like my regular cramps, but it may as well be that my period will come earlier. It didn't. Then as the pain came and went and came again, I thought, well, period will come on the scheduled day. It didn't. Now I'm thinking period will come tomorrow, one day later, or even on Monday, 2 days later, so it means I'm having a 26 day cycle instead of 24 (which has been my average lately).

Someone might ask, why don't I just buy a pregnancy test and get it over with? I don't want to have a positive result too early, because sometimes it may be a chemical pregnancy, when the egg is fertilized but it fails to attach to the uterus. A pregnancy test will turn out positive, but the period will come later. I think I prefer waiting until I know there is no way my period is that much late (like anything more than 27 days), and then do a pregnancy test.

Last night I could barely sleep. Today I watched for the blood to come (sorry for the TMI). I am waiting to be disappointed because I am afraid of feeling happy now and feeling extremely sad later. Does it make any sense? I am writing it all in here because I am not talking about it with anyone. I sense I probably sound very annoying, very paranoid.

There is nothing else I can do other than wait. If I am not pregnant, I've decided I'll go out and have sushi (which I've been avoiding since I started trying to conceive, unless I am having my period and I know I'm not pregnant). I thought about it last week. I like sushi and I know I won't be able to have it once I am pregnant, so rewarding myself with a sushi dinner may be a way to help deal with the sadness and disappointment of yet another 'failed month'.

I'll post again when I know better what is going on. Or if I can't take this hiatus anymore.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Life is beautiful

I am still here.
And life is beautiful.
Life is suffering
but with suffering there is growth.

I am still healing
still searching for a meaning
threading my steps carefully
gently caressing my heart;

I know I am delicate
and I need to be patient
with my emotional mind.

I know there is life
after darkness
and depression
and crisis
and loss.

There is life to be lived
and lived to the fullest
one day at a time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I talk to much. I reveal more than necessary. I feel this need to explain myself or even others' reasons not to do this or drink that. Then, when someone points it out to me, (because I do not realize what I'm doing) I feel really bad.

When people ask me when we're having a baby, I can't just answer 'oh, we're trying', and drop the topic. I keep on enumerating the many trials I've gone through and how it's been 5 months already. Maybe I am simply eager for conversation. Maybe it is because I am lonely and far away from my best friends and family. Maybe I've always been that way and it is really hard to change.

It doesn't really matter why; What I have right now is this guilt and the wish I had been quieter.

Guilt feeds depression, so this isn't good.

Concerning my week, I did okay. I saw doctor on Friday and as much as he is happy I'm coping without medication, he knows depression is there, lingering underneath. He's not sure it is worth suffering so that I can have an antidepressant free pregnancy. I am not sure either.

There is the concern of 'getting used to being depressed'. It isn't what I want, I know, but I may be doing exactly that: getting used to feeling down, unmotivated, low, as long as I'm not anxious and sick of my stomach.

I enrolled in two courses of the Stanford Continuing Studies program and I am excited. Not extremely excited, but excited. Classes start on September 26. I'll be reading the Aeneid for one class, and studying French in the other class. I've always wanted to learn French (after I mastered English, that is), so I hope I can learn a little bit. I know intellectual stimulation makes me happy. I need things that make me happy. Happy things, happy places, happy me :-) Hopefully.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What just happened?

Last Monday, exactly a week ago, I didn't sleep at night. I saw every hour go by while I tried in vain to keep my eyes shut to fall asleep. I had read a thriller book for nearly 6 hours, and the dialogues from the story kept repeating themselves in my mind. I couldn't stop it. Can a book do that? At 6am on Tuesday I felt like throwing up. All the usual stomach sickness took over and I could barely drink my fruit smoothie. The day went by and the restlessness and anxiety I was feeling didn't give me a single break. My doctor was away on vacation, to top things off. I had a brief phone conversation with him, in which he suggested that I take Xanax in case I couldn't fall asleep again. Tuesday evening came and I kept shaking and fidgeting, unable to relax. I needed 0.5mg of Xanax to finally succumb to slumber. Wednesday morning brought the same anxiety back. I was sick of my stomach and extremely restless for most of Wednesday and Thursday. The only good news is that I was able to fall asleep without Xanax.

We went on our camping trip on Thursday evening, and on Friday morning I was able to eat normally. The crisis was over! In my mind, I was decided to go back on medication today. I had made a deal with everybody saying that, if I had another crisis, I would go back on medication. My husband thinks I could stay a little longer without taking anything. I know these attacks don't last longer than 4 days, I know they're not life threatening, and I am learning how to cope with them. It sucks, though. It really sucks being sick like that. The shaking, the fidgeting, the racing thoughts, it is awful.

Why did I read a thriller book? I know this was my fault. My husband was reading this zombie series in his Kindle and I started reading it over his shoulder. Then I decided to read it too, so I transferred it to my e-reader and surprise, surprise! I read it from 6:30pm to 1:30am. No wonder I couldn't sleep afterwards. A zombie book. What is wrong with me? It wasn't even a good book. Catchy page-turner, but not good. I had never imagined I would get into this hyper-manic state and not be able to shut down my mind. I couldn't sleep the whole night, and it is no surprise I was so restless, anxious and sick of my stomach the following 3 days.

Also, Wednesday morning my period came. I was actually relieved I wasn't pregnant. I took Xanax the night before, and Xanax and pregnancy do not go together. I am going to see my doctor on Friday, and my therapist on Thursday, so maybe I can try to figure out what my next steps are going to be.

I am honestly thinking I am going to stop trying to get pregnant. Just stop. If it happens, it happens. It would be nice if it happened fast because I could use some pregnancy hormones to regulate my mood (according to doctor).

So last week was a blur. I kept asking myself what just happened. Did I really cause myself to have an anxiety attack by reading a zombie book? It seems so. No coffee and no zombie books for me. And no obsessively trying to get pregnant either.

Monday, August 8, 2011

One week at a time

Another week went by and Monday is here again. I'm still off medication, which is reason enough to celebrate. It was an okay week. Today it seems I've been dragging myself though. I didn't take Kavinace last night and I woke up with anxiety, as usual, but no nausea. This is going to be a short week because we're going camping on Thursday in South Lake Tahoe. My period is also supposed to come this Thursday, so there is always a bit of anxiety build-up because I tend to have a lil' bit of hope I may be pregnant. It is impossible not to have some expectation that this is 'the month', that it worked out this time. I know, however, how disappointed I get, so I am trying really hard not to have any hopes.

All I know is that if I'm not pregnant by September, we can go see a doctor and have tests done. I know that even if there isn't anything wrong with us, it may take other 6 months to conceive. I know lots of people who tried for a whole year before they finally conceived. I wish it were a bit faster. Who knows. I'm hanging in there. One week at a time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Renewed hopes

I made a deal with my psychiatrist and with my husband; I am not going to take antidepressants for the time being, but if I have another anxiety attack like I did last Tuesday, I will start Cymbalta right away. I feel good about this resolution. I think I can give myself a chance to try a little harder. I felt relieved to find out, as well, that Cymbalta is not like Prozac, but more like Effexor, which is what I used to take.

Also, I didn't like what I read about pregnancy and antidepressants on the internet last week. There are some scary reports linking antidepressants during pregnancy with autism and heart problems.I know several women have no choice but to take the drugs, but one cannot deny that there are risks. So if I can make it without taking anything, I'll definitely stick to the supplements that I've been taking already, which include Rhodiola Rosea and Kavinace.

I'm still not eating much in the morning, just the regular yogurt smoothie or some of the super food Odwalla smoothies. I tried having scrambled eggs yesterday morning, but I wasn't successful. As the day goes by, I am able to eat more solid foods. I hope at some point I'll be able to get up and feel like having a bagel with a cup of coffee!

Talking about coffee, I didn't have any for a week, until today when I gave in and had some decaf. Caffeine and anxiety don't go together, so I'll continue trying to have none or very little coffee/coke/chocolate/tea.

I'm also taking it easy, not getting caught up with a load of things to do. I intend to go back to school in September and take 2 evening courses to finally complete the credits I need for the Continuing Studies Certificate. It is not a big deal at all, it is just a certificate of completion, but it is from Stanford University, so it will definitely help me when we move to Brazil, in a couple years.

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I used to be a teacher back in my home country. I taught English as a foreign language to children and teenagers. I taught in schools, so I had over-crowded classes and a multitude of levels within the same class. I loved teaching, but it was a very stressful and demanding job. When we move back to my home country, I plan on teaching private students who really want to learn the language.

So here I lay some of my renewed hopes; hope of being off medication for longer than 3 months; hope of getting pregnant while I'm off medication; hope of taking 2 courses this Fall that will give me the 3 credits I need to complete 18 credits of Stanford continuing studies courses! Hope of soon be going back to my country of origin and closer to my family. It feels good to have hopes, especially after I spent days feeling despair and anxiety.

Friday, July 29, 2011

One more chance

I woke up feeling better, and I decided not to start Cymbalta just yet. This decision evolved into resolution by the end of the morning and I even took the medication back to the pharmacy, but it turns out I can't return it. Fine, I'll still not take it just yet.

I want another week; another cycle trying to get pregnant; another month. I want to break my own record of 5 months off medication for once. I don't know what it is like to spend a whole season without antidepressants since 2004.

I don't want to go back to having uncomfortable side effects such as trouble sleeping and night sweats. I don't want to find out if Cymbalta will make my anxiety worse, just like Paxil did in the past.

I want to fight back and take control of myself. I promise I'll take the meds if I have another crisis, but right now I need another chance being 'just myself', without the aid of a mood elevator.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tomorrow is another day

I had a good morning. No shaking, no throwing up. I was able to drink smoothies in the morning, and eat salad and soup for lunch. Yet, I feel this despair that has no explanation. All the stores and markets I went to with my parents remind me of them. I walked into Whole Foods at noon to grab some soup and felt an overwhelming sadness, because the last time I had been there, I had my parents here with me. Yesterday, when my husband and I went to Costco, it was the same thing. I walked in and remembered my parents, and felt sad, sad, sad. It is almost like I've lost them, even though they're safe and sound back home to their routine, their jobs, their house. It is like I'm going through the whole grief of moving away from them again.

I wish I had told them more how much they meant to me. Of course I can call them and let them know right now. So why am I so sad? Well, I think I'm depressed. There's no other explanation.

I talked to my doctor this afternoon and he recommends that I start the new antidepressant tomorrow morning. I still need to go pick it up at the pharmacy today.

I used to be able to write away all my sadness in poetry. I have written hundreds of poems in Portuguese, my mother tongue. I've written dozens in English too. Now I feel I'm at a loss. I don't have the motivation to write other than what I'm writing here. So that's all I'm doing now. Writing this blog, hoping tomorrow is a better day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Going back to meds

Today it's been 3 months I'm off antidepressants. Today I also had a miserable morning throwing up and shaking with uncontrollable anxiety. I had Odwalla smoothies all day long, because I couldn't eat anything solid. I had soup for dinner, finally. I also agreed with my doctor, whom I saw this afternoon, that I need to get back on meds.

I feel defeated. I feel a failure. My husband says I set my expectations too high. He may be right, but it still hurts to realize 3 months was all I could handle off meds.

I took my parents to the airport for their flight back home yesterday. We left at 7am. I stayed in the airport watching them go through security, holding back my tears, feeling guilty for not having enjoyed their presence more. I wish I had been more affectionate, more pleasing, more everything. So I got back home from the airport  near 9am and started feeling sick of my stomach. I threw up, went back to bed, and tried to rest. I got out of bed at around 11am and spent the day cleaning and crying. I mostly drank smoothies and yogurt, for I was already having the beginning of what was today a full blown anxiety attack.

I don't know the name of the medication I'll be taking but it won't be Effexor. It will be a sort of fast-acting antidepressant, easier to get off than Effexor. I'll pick it up at the pharmacy tomorrow. My doctor says I can still get pregnant, and as soon as I do, we'll take me out of the meds. I haven't really thought much about it. I still wish to start a family, but right now all I can think of is getting physically better. No shaking, no nausea, no vomiting. Those are my goals right now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's classic depression, with a huge amount of anxiety

Something snapped. Something, deep inside, stirred the waters and brought anxiety back. I didn't even ovulate this month. I kept taking the ovulation tests in the morning, waiting for the happy face in the digital screen to indicate the LH surge; I got nothing, day after day after day, and anxiety built up to the point I was throwing up.

I thought having my parents here would bring great happiness; it brought worries and absurd concerns to my mind instead. We left for a long road trip on July 8 and I was sick like a dog, not being able to eat and throwing up anything that I had in my stomach. I tried hiding it the days before, but there was no way to hide it anymore. I barely enjoyed our trip. We went to LA, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Yosemite National Park, all in 9 days and nights. I was sick for 4 days, which is the usual amount of time it takes for my body to slow down the tremendous amount of anxiety I feel.

Now it's almost time for my parents to go back home and I feel guilty I didn't enjoy their company enough. We're spending this weekend in town and then they're gone on Monday. Three weeks, all gone.

I talked to my therapist yesterday and she says my symptoms point to the classic case of depression, but with a huge amount of anxiety. I am not happy, that's no surprise. I feel resentful, ungrateful, negative, fearful; I feel I navigate through my days as a dead weight that just floats around doing things, but I am not engaged. My feelings are not there; my heart is not there. There is no hope, no goal, no direction; I have no pleasure in life, no satisfaction.

I had a long talk with my husband and questioned my being off medication. Is it worth it? All this pain, all this sickness? Should we really have a baby? It's been three months off meds - and three months trying to conceive. And what if I get really sick of mys stomach and anxious like I've got before while I'm pregnant? Isn't it going to be really bad for the baby? What are the pros and cons of all this?

I have no answers. I'm hanging in there, but my strength is failing me. I want that once-a-day pill that made it all easier; that tiny bundle of chemicals that makes my serotonin go where it is supposed to go; I want to stop over reacting, over worrying, over fearing. I want to be freed of my self destruction. I want so many things but I know I need to try to cope. Cope, cope, cope. Cope until I'm suicidal again? Until I've lost 10 pounds and people start asking me questions? When do I say it is enough?

My husband thinks I can try being off meds a little longer. I tend to agree. I can always be on meds again. It is painful, though. It is very painful. It is the hardest thing I've ever done, I guess. I'm depressed again and I'm trying to cope without meds. That's pretty freaking hard, and anyone who's suffered from depression knows it. To top it off, there is a lot of anxiety too. It seems I got 'lucky' with my gene pool, which brings me another question: do I want to pass those genes on to another generation? I don't know anymore.

Friday, June 24, 2011

All in its time

Baby magic hasn't happened yet. I woke up at 4:49am with cramps, went to the bathroom and learned that I am not pregnant.
I didn't feel sad at first. Perhaps disappointed. But the day went by and I am holding my tears. How can one not be sad? I know it is all too early. All I have done is try to get pregnant for 2 cycles. I should just relax and enjoy the journey. Well, that is the problem - I can't. I may be off antidepressants, but I continue to be this anxious overzealous perfectionist person who doesn't seem to be able to relax, and who is always finding reasons to worry too much.

And yet, I am aware everything (and everyone) has its time. All in its time, all in its right time. I believe in God, and I believe He wants what is best for me, which may or may not include a baby now. I am doing well without the antidepressants, so all I have to do is hang in there.

Some good news is that my parents will be here in 10 days, all the way from Brazil, which is super exciting. I haven't seen them for a year and a half, and I miss them a lot. We have also decided we're going to spend Christmas in Brazil, so I am going to see all of my family in 6 months! Meanwhile, I know I am able to cope with what I've got. Most of all, I am not afraid of getting depressed anymore.

Yesterday I woke up feeling anxious and sick of my stomach, which is never a good feeling, but I know it goes away, and it did. I was feeling much better afterwards. I know that, if I ever have a strong crisis again, I will be able to get over it. No need to fear depression creeping in. I can do this, that is what I tell myself everyday. I am capable and strong. Moreover, I am stronger than my mental illness.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Still hanging in

I've been off Venlafaxine for nearly 2 months. All I'm taking is Kavinace, a supplement that combines vitamin B6, taurine, and something called 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid. It supposedly helps with sleep and anxiety by supporting GABA function.

The anxiety attacks haven't returned, thankfully. What I have, sometimes, is this overwhelming sadness that comes all of a sudden. When it happens, I feel like doing nothing, I have no hope for the future, nor find joy in anything. It is very oppressing and scary, because I know it may be depression lingering in here, ready to attack.

My psychiatrist is very happy with the results of these past 2 months, of course, and he firmly believes I (and all the other patients) have to disassociate from the diagnosis. I had lost hope in being without meds, to be honest. I'm still not claiming victory over depression, for it is way too early. I've spent 5 months without medication before.

I may, or may not be pregnant, and I am honestly not getting all psycho about it this month. I will find out this Friday, or perhaps earlier, if my period decides to come 2 days before its due date again! I am only drinking decaf coffee, and not even every day. My husband really convinced me of stopping it. I know caffeine is not good for my anxiety, but I really like coffee :-)

Well, since there is nothing more I can do other than wait, wait I will. Until Friday.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anticipated Sadness

My period came yesterday afternoon, two days before the expected date. No matter how much I try to rationalize what just happened, I am still sad and disappointed.

We went camping this long weekend, and I enjoyed being far away from everything while going to new places in the north coast of California. It was a bit cold for sleeping in a tent, I admit it, but it was only for two nights. We went to Navarro River Redwoods State Park, a calm first-come first-serve secluded park in the middle of giant Redwoods. We hiked at Van Damme state park, visited Mendocino, a cute little town nearby, went to two different lighthouses, (one in Point Arena), and drove back home along the Shoreline Highway, or Highway 1. It took much longer, but it was so beautiful and peaceful.

When we finally got to Highway 101, we stopped at an In-n-Out burger, and when I went to the restroom, alas, there it was, plain and clear, the blood that I did not wish to see. I am sorry for the TMI. I'm sure not many people read this blog (for I haven't really advertised it or even told my friends and family about it). This blog is sort of my personal diary, a way to get some things off my chest.

So today I woke up feeling sick of my stomach and anxious. I managed to get on with my day, drinking lots of smoothies which are easy to swallow, and eventually was able to eat some solid food. I'm having some pretty heavy cramps right now, so this *IS* a period, no doubt about it and no reason to waste a pregnancy test this month.

I'm trying to think that this is for the best, there must be a reason why I couldn't get pregnant this month other than the catastrophic idea that either my husband or I have a problem and can't conceive. I am also trying to remember that it takes a healthy 25-year-old woman an average of 6 months to conceive. It takes longer for older women. I'm 30, and my husband is 37, so we're going to have to take it easy. Regardless, I am sad - two days early than expected.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just stop obsessing already!

I've been off medication for over 3 weeks now, which means we are trying to conceive (yay), WHICH means I am obsessing about it in a way I probably shouldn't. I still have to wait 12 days until I miss (or not) my period, but I am already starting to worry about what if I'm not pregnant. What could be wrong? My anxious mind is not letting me rest. I took ovulation tests, fertility tests, followed my cycle with a period tracker application on my iTouch, you name it. I stopped drinking coffee as well, for caffeine supposedly decreases fertility. My husband and I followed the advice of the 'every other day' routine, so now there is nothing else I can do other than wait. I don't like waiting :-(

I've been trying not to get too concerned about the what ifs, but the idea that we actually have to try to conceive for at least 6 months before I can go to my OBGYN and say we need to run some tests is nerve-racking. Mostly because we did everything sooo right that there has to be a problem if I don't get pregnant this cycle. Well, I should at least give my other ovary a chance next month, shouldn't I? I also know that some women who obsess too much about it end up not getting pregnant until they relax and let go. Why am I doing this to myself?

This week I told my therapist I feared I was obsessive-compulsive. She doesn't think I am, but she does understand I am getting obsessed about this whole pregnancy project. This is happening, I think, because I've been preparing for so long, stopping the antidepressants, getting sick, going back on the meds, starting the decrease again, and so forth. This has been going on for 8 months already. When I first talked to my former psychiatrist about getting off my meds, she told me it would take me less than 6 months. Well, yeah, it didn't. First she bailed on me, telling me she didn't feel comfortable helping me throughout my pregnancy, so I had to go look for a new doctor. Then I stopped Effexor at 12.5mg and my body did not like it. Then at 6.2mg I had an anxiety attack that left me sick of my stomach for 4 days. Not to mention the spit test results that revealed I was on the verge of adrenal fatigue.

I know things only get harder once I have a baby. I am at a higher risk of having post-partum depression than women who have never suffered from depression before. I'll have a defenceless human being constantly needing care and attention (besides my husband!!!). So sometimes I don't even know if I'm up for all of it. Well, it is about time that I learn to go with the flow and just let things happen as they're supposed to.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Anxious Little Girl

Anxious little girl
Here we go again
Here we go
Pieces of your soul drifting ashore
Little by little you're one no more
You're a puzzle of missing parts

Drizzling rain that becomes a storm
Acute pain that you can't endure
Like a lonely slender tree shaken by the wind
you're turned and tossed and turned once more
There is no end; there is no hope; there is only an empty space -  and an empty stomach.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We're not in control and it is okay

As I gaze upon the future ahead of me, there are so many things I cannot control. Details, big and small, among other variables.
What can we control? Last week I lost whatever control I had over some very basic body functions, like eating. I couldn't keep myself calm; I couldn't stop shaking; my thoughts raced through my mind with no logic or order. As I felt better physically this week, the emotional toll of last week's crisis started to show. During my therapy session this last Thursday, I found myself tearful just by remembering 'outloud' what had happened. My therapist is wonderful, and she's helped me understand there are things I cannot control, AND it is okay.
The pain is intense, but if I have to shake, I'll shake; if I have to throw up, I'll throw up. I know it will pass. I've been through this before, and it does not last forever. I'm more resilient than I give myself credit for.
So as I discuss my future outloud, and realize the plethora of possibilities and outcomes which I cannot completely control, I am reminded that it is okay. It all shall pass, even if not all of it works out the way I expect. Being okay with no control may be the ultimate challenge of the anxious person. It has been my challenge for years, and I suspect I am still far from the end of the way.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Down, down, and back to the surface

It all started last week after my husband said something that really upset me. He said I wanted my mother to go to therapy so that I could blame her for my issues.
My mother is not doing well. She has talked about dying. I had spoken to my sister on the phone and I was extremely concerned. I had lost the car keys the previous Friday, and on the Monday evening my husband said that, I went to sleep feeling extremely said and upset. Sure enough, I woke up nauseous the following morning. Couldn't eat, had diarrhea, restless anxiety, all the same ol' thing of always.

On Wednesday, though, things were 10 times worse. There was no way I could go out and about my day. I had to call my doctor and pledge for some anxiety medication. I was able to eat around 2pm, after spending the whole morning in bed sick like a dog. In the evening, I was able to eat some soup. Thursday morning, the same thing. I was miserable and did not eat again until noon. Soup, yogurt, all the things liquid. Diarrhea was still there and making me lose water and, consequently, weight. On Friday, I took Buspar, which my doctor had prescribed, but it didn't even tickle. Nothing, no effect on my ever restless anxiety. I had to go see my doctor in person. He gave me a supplement called Kavinace, which was recommended by the guys of NeuroScience laboratory, after my spit test showed very low levels of Cortisol and Gaba, plus elevated levels of Glutamate. Cortisol is a hormone that helps people deal with stress, whereas Gaba and Glutamate are neurotransmitters.
On Saturday, after 4 days of forced fasting, I was able to eat breakfast. The nightmare seemed to be over. I was awake, and eating again.

This Tuesday, April 26, after my doctor told me that I could do it, I stopped taking Venlafaxine. I was down to 6.25mg, so the withdrawal symptoms are supposed to be minor. I am feeling a little dizzy, which is typical, but nothing major. We got our new car keys back at the end of last week as well, so I'm back in my car and with the biggest key chain possible. I'll never lose those keys again. I haven't called my family back in my country in over 2 weeks, most likely because I don't want to tell them what happened, and I don't want to get upset again about my mother's own mental issues.

I'm finally off medication. I can't believe it. Now next month I may get pregnant. It is almost like I have no energy left to start such a big project like becoming a mother. On the other hand, being pregnant will cause a hormonal explosion in my body, which, according to my doctor, is just what I need.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sometimes it lasts in love, sometimes it hurts instead

I've been listening to Adele's latest album '21', and no, I am not romantically heart-broken. But things have been tough. I am down to 6.4mg of venlafaxine, more precisely 1/4 of a 25mg pill, which I have to cut in 4 tiny pieces and hope they're going to have more or less the same amount of medication.

I know it isn't a big deal, there are way more difficult things in life. I've also done the 'spit test' to measure my levels of cortisol and figure out if I need to take serotonin (yeah, in a pill) or not. Truth is life just happens, and the last couple of weeks have been 'happening' a lot. I had a minor car accident and, even though I do not agree I am 100% responsible, my insurance thinks we're going to have to accept liability for it. Nothing happened to my car (hey, that's good, I suppose) but the other party's car had some scratches and a small dent. Insurance will raise next year. Blergh.

My newest accomplishment was losing our car key, which will cost several hundred dollars to replace. No, we don't have a spare copy. The car will need to be towed to the dealership, a new key will have to come from Germany, a new code will have to be put in the key and reprogrammed. Yayyy! I did it. I had lost that key before, but we found it.

So now I'm locked out of my car, waiting for Monday to come so we can order a new key. Not all is bad, my friend lent me one of her cars (she's got 3) so that I can have a car while this whole headache is taken care of. I must confess I have forgotten already my main reason to stop the antidepressants I have been taking for the past 4 years. I don't even know if I want to get pregnant next month, because life happens, and will I be able to hold myself together being pregnant and off meds when life takes any turn that may upset me, like losing a damn car key? I'm not so sure anymore.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Why am I carrying
this heavy load that I loathe
this load of reproachfulness
that brings me down
further down
each step of the way?

Did I choose this path
This path of regretfulness
that hits me hard
that hurts me more
much more
than I could ever say?

If life were easier
and my path smoother
and my steps were softer
and my heart felt lighter
Would I still be the same?

If the wind blew slower
and the trees shook gentler
and the roads were calmer
and my mind felt steadier
would I still be the one to blame?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm better. Things are better. I'm eating well and haven't had nausea in two days. There's hope. There is always hope. I'm back on Venlafaxine, of course, and will have to be more careful when I stop. It has to be slower, much slower. I'm taking two herbs that help ease anxiety - Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha. They've done wonders.
Am I sad? Of course I am. I thought I would be trying to get pregnant by now. I had so many plans. The baby would be born in January. My mother, who will be here in July, would go to the 16 week ultrasound with me. We would find out the baby's gender, it would be beautiful. Instead, I am still taking a drug that can be harmful during pregnancy, therefore I am not getting pregnant. At least not for the time being.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


According to the 'Lululemon Athletica' manifesto, life is full of setbacks, and it is how we cope with them that decides our success in life. Shortly after I wrote the previous post, I started feeling very sick of my stomach. I also started feeling very anxious. I had been off the meds for 3 days.  Of course now I'm back on Venlafaxine, which seems to have helped the anxiety go down.

I somehow feared the possibility of having an anxiety crisis some time after stopping Venlafaxine, but I never imagined it would come so quick, only three days. I also realize I was having a horrible, horrible week, full of worries, some accidents, and even my computer stopped working. Almost like an astrological 'inferno'. It seems my stopping venlafaxine came at a very bad week.

Overall, all of this means I'm not going to be able to get pregnant for a while, at least until I am stable enough to try to reduce the meds again. Such a bummer :-(

Friday, March 11, 2011


Last night I dreamed I was somewhere near the beach. It was so warm and nice, and I could see the ocean waves breaking against the sand. Then everything around me changed, like it happens in dreams, and I'm inside a building. I get in the elevator to do downstairs. The metal doors close in front of me and the elevator walls shrink so much they can almost touch the sides of my body. The elevator starts moving down and stops shortly after. I know something is wrong. I haven't reached the first floor yet. I try to force the doors open using my fingers, but they don't open. I start to bang at the doors and shout for help. I search for the emergency button and press it several times. I feel trapped inside a metal box. I'm feeling claustrophobic and it is horrible, horrible, horrible. I step back the most I can (2, 3 steps?) and try to visualize I'm inside a supermarket with long high aisles, very high ceilings full of fluorescent lights. Somebody outside the elevator talks to me. They say they're working on fixing it so that I can get out. I tell them they better hurry, or I'll go crazy inside such a tiny room. I tell them I'm trying to calm myself by imagining the supermarket aisles.

They get me out (I don't remember exactly how) and one of the people outside tells me she thought it was funny how I used the image of supermarket aisles to try to trick my mind out of the claustrophobic situation I was in.

I'm not sure what to make of this dream. I was terrified of elevators when I was a child. Even if my parents were with me, I would not get in. We would have to climb the stairs. I grew out of it eventually, and nowadays I have no problems with elevators  - or so it seems.

Am I feeling trapped? Is my mind trying to find ways for my body to cope with the lack of medication? Am I scared? Well, it seems so, but I was able to avoid having a major breakdown inside the elevator. It was a horrible horrible time, though, and I was relieved it was just a dream. What could this all mean? Perhaps my question is, without medication, am I going to make it?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When pain does not go away

It still hurts
Even though time has passed
Wasn't time supposed to heal any pain?

But pain
does not always go away
In spite of time
Or wisdom acquired
or forgiveness granted
Sometimes pain
and decides to stay
for good.

Pain is not
always bad.
for it reminds us we're human
it connects us with our feelings
it softens our hearts
towards others
whose burden may be much heavier
much harder
to carry.

The Buddhists say
Life is suffering.
I'm no Buddhist
but I tend to agree.

And while I despise my suffering
I know this pain
has made me stronger
than my older self.
I know I broke down
but I have risen
and built a greater me
from the broken pieces.
I embrace you, Pain
you've strengthened me.
I embrace you, suffering.
you've made me wiser.
I embrace you, fear.
You've reminded me I can be vulnerable
and it is okay
not to be perfect
not to be always good
not to be what others want me
to be.

I embrace who I am - my whole self
all my flaws
all my shortcomings
all my insecurities
all that makes me this being
who knows pain
also means
I'm alive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We have it easy

I follow this blog about a young American volunteering in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Amy helps rape victims through a non-profit organization called COPERMA. Her most recent post is about a visit she did to an orphanage. Some of those children have been adopted by American families, and unfortunately all of them reported being sexually abused. Her description of what she saw there - the way the children were underweight, had  a zombie-like gaze and were like dolls with barely any sign of life - like bodies separated from their souls - made my stomach turn in disgust. I realized how I've had it 'easy' my whole life, in spite of my illness, in spite of my anxiety attacks, my difficult time getting off my medication, my 'demanding parents', my perfectionism... what is it all to compare to what those children have endured in their short existences?

It breaks my heart to think that little beings who are barely starting to become 'persons' have to suffer such violence against their bodies and their emotions. I know it is in Congo, but we know it happens everywhere. It happens here in California. It's happened with children who go to the government daycare units in Brazil. My mother, who has worked in public education in my home country for her whole life told us about it - about how the teachers find out the children are being sexually abused or exposed to inappropriate behavior by their parents/caregivers. Usually, some of the children will try to perform the same actions they've seen/suffered at home to the other children in the day care, mostly during nap time. Then the teachers inform social services, and the social workers have to visit those children's families to investigate what might be happening.

This world seems to be so full of wicked wicked men. How could they hurt a child? And sexually abuse a child? Why does pedophilia even exist? Who was the first human being who decided that engaging in sexual acts with a 3 year-old was something agreeable to start with?

I know I sound like one of those people who are in complete disagreement with the world. These are things I cannot control. They almost do not affect me. I have no children of my own; nobody in my extended family has been sexually abused; none of my friends' children has suffered either. Why do I care so much? Well, perhaps it is because such horrible horrible acts make my very own existence seem too easy. I've had it easy here... I wish I could say more, and yet, all I can do to help right now is to donate to Coperma so that Amy can try to reach out to those children.

Visit Amy's blog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Turning Point

I've been so busy I haven't taken the time to update this blog at all. Nevertheless, I've continued to decrease Venlafaxine and am now down to 75mg/day. I'll be stopping completely in about 20-25 days. Once I'm off the meds, my doctor told me to wait 2 weeks before I start trying to conceive. Venlafaxine has a half-life of about 7 days, so 2 weeks should be enough to guarantee I'll have no antidepressants in my system when the miracle of life begins inside me. I have to say, I CAN'T wait!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bad mood X Morning flow

Yesterday I actually thought I was having some kind of relapse. I felt so irritated, so annoyed, so out of myself. I went to bed at 7:30pm because I did not want to do anything or interact with anyone. So much for my 4 year anniversary! Well, my husband and I do not really celebrate our wedding anniversary on Feb. 15, the day we got legally married. We celebrate it on April 29, the day we had the religious ceremony and reception back in my country. Nevertheless, I did not intend to be so grumpy last evening. So this morning I woke up at 5am and decided I should send this bad mood away with some early morning yoga. The class was definitely intermediate, and since I'm a beginner, it pushed me a lot. I realized how out of shape I am! Anyways, it's a soggy rainy dark day outside, and I have 9 hours of activities ahead of me, but I feel great. A raspberry mocha with some cheese omelet definitely helped improve my mood as well :-) Good morning, good mood!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amidst flowers and happiness

I wake up feeling nauseous. I try to have some food, but my stomach complains. My heart beats faster. My thoughts race through my mind as I try to get calm enough to have some breakfast into my body. Something. Some food in. I need to make phone calls. Get budgets, schedule fitting appointments, call the florist. I'm getting married in 4 months and I still don't have a date set. My fiance is thousands of miles away, while I'm back home in my country of origin, at my parents', trying to plan the biggest party I've ever planned in my life. On the day before, I had an argument with my future husband. About lunch menus. I also got a prank call that made me believe, for a couple minutes, that my parents had got into a car accident. As lunch time approaches, the nausea hasn't gotten any better. I try having an apple. Lunch is at the table. We all sit in to eat, but I can't manage to touch the food. It's happening. Please God, no. Not again. Never again, please, never again.
The days that followed what seemed to be an uneventful January 4 or so were the worst days of my life as far as I can remember. I felt constantly nauseous. My anxiety levels escalated to the point I couldn't function. Nothing stopped in my stomach; I felt like crawling up the walls, but had no physical energy to do so. I lost 10 pounds in the first 2 days of what I call 'my worst nightmare', the second anxiety attack I had and the third depression episode. I had been off meds for exactly 2 months. JUST 2 months. Why? Why was this happening again? And I had to go pick flowers and try on wedding dresses. Set a wedding date; book a place for the ceremony and the reception; talk to musicians, to the sound system guy, to the wedding invitation printing place, to the restaurant that would do the catering... While I was throwing up everything I ate and could barely stand on my feet, let alone make decisions, or use my brain at all.
When  it happened the first time, in 2005, I swore I never ever wanted to go through that again. An anxiety attack like that is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Worse than wanting to die, worse than physical pain, worse than anything I've ever experienced. It was pure anguish.
I was immediately put back on antidepressants, but whoever's had them before knows they do not start really working before 4 to 6 weeks of treatment. My doctor put me on Xanax, as well as on a drug that slowed down my digestive system, so that food could actually stay in my stomach before the extreme levels of anxiety I was feeling made me throw up. I remember before this second attack, 0.5mg of Xanax (or Alprazolam) was more than enough to keep my anxiety down. Not this time. 1mg wasn't enough. 2mg weren't enough. 3mg held me together for a while, until Effexor XR started kicking in. I got better as the weeks passed. I saw my doctor twice a week. I thought that nightmare was over.
It wasn't. Four days before I was supposed to get on the plane to come see my fiance, get legally married in the U.S., and apply for the spouse visa, I start throwing up again. It happened when my mother and I were leaving the house to go pick up my wedding invitations that had just been printed. I needed to take them with me to mail them to our American and Canadian guests. More so, I needed to mail all of our guests as soon as possible. As I talked to my doctor on the phone, hearing him say he did not think I could actually catch a plane being in that state, tears rolled down my eyes. We were at the beach house and had no internet connection at home. I went to an internet cafe nearby to talk to my fiance, who did not receive my news very warmly. Not getting on that plane on February 7, 2007, meant I would lose my plain ticket, would have to wait until April in my country, would not get legally married in America, nor be able to get legally married in my country without my fiance being present one month before the wedding just to schedule the ceremony (Brazilian bureaucracy). I felt defeated. My emotions had taken over my mind and screwed up my body, and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
As I contemplated the sun set down over the hills, in a little tiny beach town in Southern Brazil, my mother looked at me from the hammock where she was sitting, and said the words that gave me the courage to take back control of my body and my mind. "Go", she said. "Get on that plane, go and be happy. It is what you want, so you can do it. Shake this illness off you, tell it to go away, tell your body to stop hurting and go. Go. Be brave, be strong. Go". So I did, and my then fiance and I got legally married on the morning of February 15, 2007, at the beautiful San Francisco City Hall, on a glorious sunny day, like most days in California.

I did not throw up on the plane, or in CA, even though I arrived there pretty sick of my stomach. I had to go to new doctors, different than the ones I had in my own country, but doctors nevertheless. I was put on 220mg of Effexor XR and taken off Xanax. I started having trouble sleeping and needed Trazodone to be able to fall asleep. I went to numerous therapy sessions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis... I was told I probably had strong genetic influence (given my family history) and would probably need medication forever. At that point, I did not care anymore. I simply did not want to go through that ever again. EVER again.

It's been 4 years now, and things have changed. After 4 full years in treatment, I'm down to 100mg, scheduled to stop my 'chemical crutches' completely by the end of March. Hopefully conceiving by April or May. Giving birth around this time of the year in 2012. Those are plans, all plans. Hypothetical, ideal situations. And as I enjoy my husbands' care and attention this Valentine's Day, amidst flower bouquets, chocolate-covered strawberries, and Thai food, I think to myself, 'never again'. I don't want another nightmare following a release from medication. I don't want to be hungry and not able to eat because my body is rejecting food. I don't want to stare at the floor with a lump in my throat and pressure on my chest, wondering why it won't go away, why won't it just go away. I feel confident it will be different this time, but the truth is I am afraid. Afraid of my own body's reactions. Afraid of not being in command of my emotions, my glands, my mind, my heart, my digestive system! I am terrified of going through something like that again. I want to be optimistic and believe I can beat this. The truth is 'this' has beaten me twice before, so the record isn't on my side; Statistics and research aren't on my side; all I have is my will of succeeding and my desire of being a mother - without the aid of antidepressants.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Doc, New Meds, New Hopes

I haven't really registered much of has been going on here anymore due to one simple reason: lack of time.
I have good news, though, and those are always great to share. My doctor decided she does not have the expertise to help me go through pregnancy, so she advised me to seek out Stanford Women's Clinic and also, if I wanted to, another doctor. I felt kind of 'pushed away' (she also mentioned she would be very very busy starting in February, and would not see any patients), but in the end, I found this very nice doctor who has already resumed reducing my medication and who sounds pretty confident I can go on without medication for a whole year - perhaps longer, why not?

Until recently, I had not questioned anymore the 'fact' that I would need medication for life. In the beginning, back in 2004, I struggled to accept I needed medication for an 'emotional' problem. It turns out, as we know, that depression/anxiety are diseases, just like any other diseases, which often require people to turn to palliatives in order to properly function. When I was released from medication, and had a relapse, and was released again from medication, and had a second relapse, I struggled even more to hear from doctors that there would be no happy life without my serotonin helper: venlafaxine extended release.

Hearing from this new doctor that I may be able to avoid medication even after giving birth sounds like a dream coming true. I am not pregnant yet, and won't be until I've completely stopped my antidepressant, but it sure felt good to hear such optimistic prospects from an expert. Talking about pregnancy, it seems everything is doing great with my cycle. I'll also take a fertility test (which btw is available at any Longs Drugs or Wall Greens, etc.) just to be 100% sure. I took an ovulation test this month to find out when I ovulate and it turns out it is on the 10th day of my cycle. I also got to try a sample of Pre Nexa prenatal vitamin supplements and I didn't feel nausea or any other side effects, so I'm getting the prescription filled tomorrow.

Everything is falling into place, which is awesome news. It seems I've caught a cold, not so good news for sure, but I haven't been sick for a long, long time, so I have to give myself a break. Other than that, I wish to go to Yoga more often, probably 4 to 5 days a week (ideally). Right now it has been from 2 to 3 times a week, mostly 2 times. Today, for example, I'm feeling sick and will not go. Hopefully tomorrow.
One of the things I told my new doctor today is that I want to keep and optimistic vibe throughout my journey into motherhood. I don't want to worry about what if I get depressed? what if I have anxiety? what if I feel sick and start throwing up again? No, I want to live in the moment, keep a positive attitude and deal with the problems as they rise. I want to take control of my life and keep my brain (and serotonin) in order!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cold Sunny Days

I haven't really 'advertised' this blog. Honestly, I haven't told anyone about it. I thought it would be good to just start posting and seeing what happens. Perhaps some people will find it online. Perhaps some of my friends will notice it while looking at my websites on my FB profile info. Perhaps.
I decided I would just throw my words into the world wide web and let them soak free and unnoticed for a while. Advertising depression isn't considered fashionable, trendy, or pretty.

Today while at a bookstore I saw a poem book about depression written by Susan Polis Schutz. I had always loved her poems and her greeting cards, and to find out that she had suffered from depression to the point of not being able to get up from bed for 3 months, and she even wrote a book with reflections and poems about it, man, she is my heroine now. Not because she suffered from depression - I admired her before that - but because even though she was deeply depressed she tried to do something with it, like poetry.

I've written poems throughout my life, since the age of 9. Most of them are in my native language, Brazilian Portuguese. I have written a dozen poems or so in English, as I became more fluent, probably in the past 10 years. I have a few poems published in Portuguese, and I had a poetry blog in Portuguese for 7 years. I haven't restarted my poetry blog, and I haven't really thought of publishing anything anytime soon, let alone in English! However, seeing Susan Polis Schutz' book about depression really encouraged me to keep posting my thoughts and my verses in this blog, even though I am still the only one visiting it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When I'm Gone

Which parts of me will stay when I'm gone
My words. My clothes. My many many shoes.

My blogs and books and Social Network accounts.
The memories I registered here.

Which parts of me will be lost
besides my corporeal self
The thoughts I did not dare to share
The words I never spoke
The tears I cried in silence
The love I felt but did not express.

A year is gone
What have we kept of it?
Photos. Feelings. Thoughts.
Three-hundred-sixty-five days
All gone, gone, gone...

I like the sunshine that peaks through my window
bringing warmth
and hope of new beginnings.
New years shall come
even after I'm gone.