Most of my medical stuff is 100% unlikeable, but there are some symptoms that really make me wish I could just die already. For real.
- Suicidal thoughts. Off and on since high school. It’s never constant. It tends to happen more often in line with PMS, as do most my other symptoms, but I’m also still adjusting chemically after having stopped three separate high-dose “painkillers” my doctors prescribed to their patient with “psychosomatic” issues: Amitriptyline, Lyrica, and Cymbalta. Cymbalta is what caused the seizures I had for a while, and having not tapered off of it properly because I was instructed incorrectly, it threw my entire emotional and cognitive processing into … a fucking shit show, on occasion. (There’s much more to be said about these medications, but I’ll save that for a different post.) I’ve started back on birth control to see if it helps (this and possible endometriosis).
- Adrenaline surges. I could be in any place, any position, doing any activity, and no matter how calm and centered I am, BAM! *adrenaline surge* And, I’m instantly on high alert. They come in waves, too, like aftershocks from an earthquake, except each wave is about the same intensity. This is what makes me seem antsy or anxious when I’m not actually feeling that way. It’s how I survived on my own for so long – I didn’t realize I was living on adrenaline because my body just wasn’t absorbing nutrients, and it was trying to cope with all the pain I was ignoring. Now, because of all the damage over the years, I have bouts of spontaneous HulkJen that actually takes form linguistically for me. I have said some horrible things during a surge, to family, friends, strangers and myself. Most the time, these surges happen when I’m trying to sleep, manifesting as a carnival of thoughts and a nice jolt through the body every few minutes.
- Loss of impulse control. I’m a violent joker, teasing that I’ll punch you in the face for something asinine. It’s just how I talk. I have no censor, and this is the language my life has given me, so it’s what I use. It was normal for me until I realized it wasn’t actually normal, and I spent quite some time being the nice girl before I started barking at bullies again, and now if the thought happens, I can’t always keep from saying or typing it. I made a soul decision when I crossed over and returned last year that I would no longer bite my tongue when something is bothering me. The manifestation of that has been positive overall, but I would love to be able to regain some control. (To be clear, I do not hit. I am not actually physically violent. I just joke like I am. It’s funny because I weigh 110 pounds and move like I’m geriatric.)
- Rage. When you combine loss of impulse control, tricky adrenaline trigger, stress and pain and all the little frustrations of life, it can easily become rage. I don’t necessarily mean a violent rage or even one that was triggered by anger. I mean being so overwhelmed that all you want to do is stomp and scream and beat the shit out of something, except you don’t. Because you can’t. Because you’ll hurt yourself. So it becomes a screaming sob, and it might have started with something as simple as dropping a dish.
- Vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. Yup, I can’t really have enjoyable sex, and it’s a trifecta: friction at times, irritation of painful internal organs, and joint instability. One wrong move, and I wind up with a pinched nerve somewhere from a bone in the wrong place. (I actually paralyzed myself from the waist down for about thirty seconds once, having really hot hotel bathroom sex. That was before the hip surgery that started the snowball, and thank goodness I had the self awareness to realign myself without help.) These days, there’s just too much interference, and when we try, I just can’t overcome the pain enough to enjoy it.
- Loss of language processing abilities. I’m a linguist. I’m a writer. I’m a well-educated, highly intelligent person who used to excel at work because of my communication skills. I’ve always had language processing issues, but they’re not something I was fully aware of until I was in my twenties (when I took an Audiology and Speech Sciences class, actually). It’s why I never actually read any of the books we were assigned, and it’s why I’m quiet a lot in person. It takes me longer to process what I read or hear, and it’s harder for me to find the write words to put together in response. It’s one part of why I’ve suspected myself of being on the Autism spectrum for over ten years now. It’s clearly been manageable most of my life, but I’m now having regular episodes where I have to ask people to repeat themselves because even though I was paying attention and heard the words, they made absolutely no sense.
- Confusion. I’ll have days where a ten minute task will take me an hour because I keep getting lost and have to figure out what the fuck I’m doing several times before I figure out how to get it done. It’ll happen off and on all day. I got lost in the grocery store a few months ago. I walked away from my husband to go get some coffee, and a few minutes later, I sort of ‘wake up’ with no idea why I’m standing in front of the coffee or where the hell my husband is. It always comes back to me, and the confusion usually clears well enough in just a few minutes, but it’s happening more frequently and lasting longer.
It all waxes and wanes, and it mostly all flares up at the same time. Since flares happen with PMS a lot, I have almost no period, and I’ve been having hot flashes and night sweats for years, my gyno was pretty convinced I was in early menopause. Hormones are all in normal range, though, so the root cause is more structural than chemical. Of course, any time my spine shifts inappropriately, it triggers a pretty big flare of everything that lasts at least a couple days. The more time I put between myself and the Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Amitriptyline, the better the rage, impulse control, and suicidal thoughts get, but they still flare with everything else.
I’ll ask you not to worry, and I’ll remind you that I’m a fucking badass. I’ll also ask you to forgive me if an outburst happens or if the day comes where my coping strategies fail me. I promise I am working on all this stuff, and I think I have a pretty good handle on things, but it is from damage that will not repair itself. It might not improve much. I’m trying to maintain hope that we’ll get closer to a useful answer soon, and I am grateful for the support and compassion I’ve been given. Keep it coming, please.