Therapy and Identity

Hi there, it’s been a while!

This is a pretty rambly blog entry where I recount my 11 days (so far) on meds and therapy and the internal struggle I have with myself right now.

First off, the new meds are… full of side effects.

I was like flipping a switch the first 3 days and woah, I was working like never before, cleaned my home, felt a lot of energy and there was absolutely nothing between my thoughts about doing something and actually doing it! It was great! And didn’t have any negative thoughts or anything! (in hindsight, that was probably mania… side effect #1)
The downside was a bit of insomnia… I’d wake up at night and fail to go back to sleep for a couple hours. No big deal, though. (side effect #2)
On the 4th day, I drank coffee with milk instead of tea for breakfast on a whim. I started shivering and was anxious and distracted all day, though I was still full of energy. I drank some more coffee and milk in the evening and ended up sleeping a total of 2 hours that night… or that morning, to be more precise: from 5 am to 7 am.  It was awful. (side effect #3 – this thing reacts badly with caffeine)
On the 5th day was useless because of lack of sleep; my body was tired but my brain just…. kept working non stop, so I couldn’t even nap. I didn’t manage to work at all, but did a lot of small house chores.
6th day was ‘my body is acting up’ day… My period was going to start and my body knew it. Discomfort all over that wouldn’t let me focus on anything, 7th day was the same plus being a weepy mess, and I finally got my period by the 8th day. Awful again. (side effect #4 maybe?)
I’m on day 11 now and by now the meds are mostly a bit of a kick of extra energy. And that’s it. I’m back to having a hard time doing things (not house chores, though, I somehow got used to getting them done while the meds were doing more). Anxiety is also back, particularly regarding things I *really* have to do, and its friend self-sabotage is also back. Weeping is not uncommon.
Husband thinks it may just be my period, but I never got this useless before for more than a couple of days… (oh, the meds just kicked in, I suddenly feel very awake xD)

Now, as for therapy itself… I went last week during my super productive couple of days (doc warned me about mania and anxiety, tho), and everything was awesome. She was concerned about my emotional lows and what exactly had been triggering them, and we dug up some old emotional highschool-age stuff that still bugs me to this day; we may fight those with EMDR.
But she said something that resonated a lot with me: I am in the middle of an identity crisis right now. (My shrink says I’m in the middle of a mega art slump too. I think both are true.)
And by middle I mean I’ve been in one for the past 2 years or so.

I am gonna be 35 in about a month.
I feel aimless.
I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.
I’m lost and I don’t know who I am or what to do.
(The one thing I have going for me is that I have a sweet home. I’m extremely grateful for that.)

You see, I’m the kind of person that is absolutely terrible at keeping friendships; I just… don’t keep in touch.
The people I socialize with are either because I unavoidably have to interact with them due to the places me and them share in common (like school, or a job, or family reunions) or because of my art.
Since I’m a work-from-home person, I barely interact with anybody besides my husband. To be honest, the person I most talk out loud to is myself :/
Most of my interactions are online… and they’re mostly because of my art (more on that later). But, again I suck at keeping friendships and I’m awkward, so I end up just creating bigger and bigger distances with everybody.

For a while I had places online I felt belonged to, people I talked to often in a particular long-lasting setting, and that was enough to sate my social needs even when I didn’t have a place in the ‘real’ world. (for a short while I had part-time jobs too, teaching or doing art assets at an office, those were nice days…) Now… I don’t really have either.

As for the second thing, art.
I am… tired of it. That’s it.
I’m burned out to the max and can barely stand even doodling.
I even lost the ability to look at art and think “Wow, I want to do that one day!”.
My driving force for drawing was always seeing things other people drew and be moved, be captivated, feel things! And wanting to replicate those. Can I make myself feel those things if I draw something? Can I make other feel those things with what I draw?
For a years it worked: I loved what I did, people I shared it with loved what I did.
Now I don’t love what I do enough (it’s never good enough) and somehow the love I get from other people is not enough to compensate ( I could also make an argument about social media and it’s nasty effect on artists focusing too much on numbers).
I lost my drive.
All I can think when it comes to art is… frustration. And pressure, so much pressure.
Frustration I never seemed to reach the places I wanted to reach (not that I tried too much, though).
Pressure to meet expectations, pressure to not disappoint, pressure to fulfill my role, pressure to make ends meet.
Apparently this is the bane of every single person that makes their creative work their day job…

The problem is, drawing is all I’ve ever done. All I’ve ever been.
The one thing I thought that gave me meaning and that I could define myself with: “Hi, I’m Deji and I draw.”. That was my opening line whenever, and when people ask me about what’s up with my life, I say “Same old, just drawing, nothing else” (which is pretty sad…).
I’ve never had hobbies besides drawing (“I draw for work and when I’m done with work, I draw for myself”), and if I ever picked up something else, it was short lived (like my on/off affair with coding).
I’m a person that draws and that is good at studying when on an academic setting, That’s all I am.
So… if I have no art… who am I? How do I define myself?
“I’m married and I have a dog. I spend my days holed up at home, struggling to draw, feeling guilty about it and wasting the rest of the time randomly.”
That’s all there is to it.
There’s nothing else.
I just… exist, aimlessly.

So yeah, I’m in the middle of a big identity crisis right now.
I want to scream every time time I use my tablet for more than 25 minutes and that’s why I haven’t opened commission and why I’m so damn slow at finishing my pendings (and why I’m so far in the red from failing to work enough each month).

And that’s why I’m in therapy and on meds, because I can’t get myself out of this gigantic slump that is my life right now.

I’ll go shower and try to get even if just a bit of work done now.

u_u

Plan

So.
I have failed to write daily once again, but I’m gonna try at least doing it weekly >_<

I went to see my shrink today, after 2 years, per recommendation of my therapist.
We talked a lot, and he believes I do not need medication for ADHD, but he’s concerned about my ups and downs, so he prescribed an antidepressant (not an SSRI! yay!)  that is also often used for supportive treatment of ADHD, and will mostly help me get that extra kick to move and get shit done. So… I’ll start on that tomorrow.

Another things he believes is important is to find a place to work outside my home, since I have repeatedly failed to separate my personal space/life and my working persona, which is probably why I fail so much at being focused on work and why I end up neglecting both work and household tasks and end up a guilty useless mess.

So… that’s gonna be my next step.
The plan is to keep the psychotherapy sessions to deal with some of my issues, while the shrink sessions will be monitoring the effects of the meds with a mix of occupational therapy, keeping up with how well I’m actually working and functioning, which is in my main reason for doing all this.
I have homework to make a list of work and project todo things I have to get done within a month, so my shrink can keep up with my task progress.

Money for all this will be a bit of an issue, but… Husband said he’ll help for the time being.

And that’s been life.

I was finally able to return to drawing and work this week. Slowly, but I’m catching up :)

Hopefully, I’ll have better things to report in time :’ )

 

Catching up

Hi, it’s been almost a month… “Orz

I fell behind. I got overwhelmed, tumbled under the wagon, got caught on the wheels and just… couldn’t get up when everything was finally over. Until now :’)
i apologize for the jumbled mess this post is probably going to be X_x;

A lot has happened!
I got married on June 2nd : ) 1Reason #1 of why I was overwhelmed af.
It was a lovely small ceremony with 30 people in my mom’s house, I ate a lot of delicious cake and finger food, my family and friends were there, me and my husband looked beautiful and were extremely giddy and I was the happiest person in the world <3

Then I took a week off bc honeymoon staycation xD 2Gods, we’re so lazy, lol. Also no honeymoon trip bc it was raining everywhere, lol. We also haven;t decided what to do with the wedding registry money x’D And the stars aligned and my old partner and friend started talking again after a year of not doing so and we went back to having happy conversations; it was like a huge, sad weight was lifted from me!

But, even though everything was great, somehow I got used to the state of uselessness and when I wanted to get up again… I couldn’t.

Self sabotage and avoidance became the weapon of choice and I just barely could get out of bed. Funny enough, it was not depression, I didn’t and don’t feel sad or have dark thoughts or anything3And I was/am very much enjoying my maladaptive avoidance coping drug of choice, so no anhedonia. Hi pretty idol bois mobage and japanese translating/studying! , just…. endless frustration at myself while my body physically fights me doing anything, even getting out of bed 4I very much want to run away from everything. Even as I’m typing this I have the urge to close my laptop and drag myself to bed to stay there being a useless lump all day. I’m actually shaking a bit and my brain is screaming “YOU DID ENOUGH FOR TODAY ALREADY!!! ;O;”. In the end, mental and emotional exhaustion from the constant ups and downs make it harder to get up every time I fall… meaning I stay down longer and longer…

So, tired of being tired, I gathered willpower to reach out to my old therapist as I had decided in my short-term plan5More about that below. First step is dealing with my mental heath properly again, tho., and got an appointment.
I went yesterday.6Man, I missed my old therapist, she’s so sweet and nice and I love her. It was like seeing an old friend!

While I had planned to just focus on therapy and not meds7I took meds for 5 years for social anxiety. I no longer have impairing social anxiety and can cope on my own : ) After 5 years, the meds stopped functioning anyway…, she strongly referred me back to my old shrink, since she believes I’m gonna need maintenance meds while building proper coping mechanisms and habits, especially because my lows tend to be too low and my lack of energy and focus is becoming too much of an issue there may be some biological component to that stuff that may need meds to deal with it in the short term. Which makes sense, really.
She suggested my shrink may want to give me some mood stabilizers and maybe some ADHD meds to treat my crappy focus and motivation for the time being; she will get in touch with him shortly to get him up caught up 8He was the one who referred me to her in the first place a couple years ago, so they know each other and sometimes work together. and figure out a treatment plan. I got an appointment for next Saturday, or earlier if any slots free up before that (yay for his practice being withing walking distance from my apartment!) and I will go from there, one step at a time.
I can do this! >_</

So… that’s what’s up.
As for my short-ish term life plan, I planned it while I was overwhelmed and tired and panicking the week before the wedding:

First step is mental health treatment, because I can’t do this on my own anymore.
I tried, and it worked sometimes, but I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to keep struggling by myself.
Like I said in another post, it’s okay to be weak!

Second step is proper habits and reduce things that overwhelm me.
Like hiring somebody to help me with house chores 9house chores are the first casualty when my mental health declines.,  and renting a cowork desk space out of home so I leave my apartment once a day routinely to return home for lunch and whatever I decide to do in the afternoon.10I love my studio room at home, even with the window that makes me really hot in summer and really cold in winter, but I seriously need to get out and stop being holed up in my apartment all day.

Third step, after the two steps above are dealt with, would be to devote time to guilt-free activities during my free time (that I should have after establishing decent routines!), that hopefully will help me socialize and relax, that are NOT work related in any way, and also hopefully will take me out of the house!

Now I’ll go on with my day and hopefully cross a few minor things off my to-do list, while resisting the urge to go crawl back to bed and avoid the day away :’ )

Featured art for today is a Tenn I drew last week for both practice and my friend Koko, who has been reading me scream about pretty idol bois for the past couple weeks while I avoided life under a rock, and has actually passively helped me cope more than she knows :’ )11Now let me use this space to be a gross fangirl and gush over my precious 12 idol sons that I never asked to have so many feels for.  *Inhales* SOGO AND GAKU AND RYUU AND RIKU AND MOMO AND MITSUKI AND TENN AND YUKI AND IORI AND TAMAKI AND YAMATO AND NAGI. And also Banri because BANRI. Okay, fangirling over. I’ll go listen to some TRIGGER now.