HealthDay

I am currently sitting in bed, computer in my lap, surrounded by crackers and ginger ale and Pepto Bismol and a Booster Juice. Yep. That’s right. I’m home sick. But I’m not calling it a “sick day”. This, my friends, is a HealthDay.

I recently switched antidepressant medications, and the initial side effects are kicking my butt. I could probably handle a slow-paced day at work (with all these stomach-supports in tow), but I’m also feeling just…wrong in the head. If you’ve been through the delights* of getting-used-to-a-new-brain-medication, you may know what I’m talking about. There’s no good way to describe it—at least not that I’ve found anyhow. I just feel wrong.

The important thing is that all this current discomfort is in support of future, better health. There’s no guarantee the new drug will be effective. I’ve bounced between *many* over the last couple years, trying to find something that will work for me, and so far I’ve had little luck. But that’s not a surprise. Brains are complicated, and there’s a lot we don’t yet understand about the chemistry happening between our ears. I knew when I started this process that it could be long and would likely involve a lot of trial and error. (Boy howdy has it!)

Anyway, I post this random update in part to remind myself that it’s okay to take a HealthDay when I need it. (I still can’t shake a profound feeling of GUILT any time I miss a day of work.) I also hope that if you’re struggling with your own mental health that you remember you’re not alone. And even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, stick it out. Take a HealthDay if you’re able to. We can do this. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll get there.

 

*Not at all delightful.

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Talking About Mental Health

I’ve talked about mental health on this blog quite a lot over the years. I haven’t done it as much over the last couple years, but then again, I haven’t talked about *much* on this blog over that time. The reason for that is, ironically, mental health. (Or the lack thereof, honestly.)

Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat it’s #BellLetsTalk day. I’ve mentioned this before because it’s important to me. I chose to move to Canada almost five years ago, and finding there’s a very public day devoted to mental health awareness surprised and pleased me. (Every tweet/RT/post/etc. including “#BellLetsTalk” means another 5 cents donated to mental health initiatives in Canada.)

I will give my usual caveat that EVERY DAY should be a day for talking about mental health. Ending the stigma around mental illness is a job for more than one day, but the more money we can tweet into this effort, the more resources organizations will have to put toward this all year round, so I hope you’ll all get out there and use the hashtag–you don’t even have to be in Canada! (I think there’s a way to participate via text messages and calling too.)

So once again, I’m here to do my little part and tell my own story. I hope hearing me talk about my own struggle will help others know they’re not alone. Because you’re not. I suffer from mental illness, and I am not ashamed. (Or at least I try really hard not to be. It’s still difficult to get past the stigma sometimes, but I think I’ve come a long way.) So on with the show…


A couple years ago I realized I really needed some help. It had been many years since I’d been on medication, but I was struggling mightily—missing work, lacking joy in even the things I love the most (podcasting, of course), so I did what I always tell other people to do—talk to someone. For me, that someone was my doctor. (I am so lucky and pleased to have a doctor I like and trust and who trusts *me* to know my own mind and body and make decisions for myself.) We tried a variety of different medications to help address my depression and anxiety. I think over the course of one year I tried five or six different meds. Some of them didn’t work. Some of them worked but had debilitating side effects. I got discouraged and kinda gave up.

So for a while I stepped away from regular medication, in part to let my body and brain re-set after all that bouncing around from med to med. (Though I still had [and have] some as-needed meds for anxiety.) I managed to get by for about a year this way, but it was really just “getting by”. And then eventually that “getting by” started to slip to not-quite-getting-by.

I went back to my doctor.

Now I’m on some new meds that seem to be working (and without super-awful side effects! yay!). It’s early yet, but I’m hopeful.

[Note: The writing of this blog post was literally just interrupted by my reminder to take my Cipralex. LOL at timing!]

Anyway, my mental health is the number one factor in determining when I have the energy to write outside of my day job. I would love to promise more regular content here, but I don’t know how my mental health will hold up. But as I said, I’m hopeful, and I have a few things I wrote for podcasts that I might be able to re-purpose for blog posts, just to keep things moving while I work up to fulfilling the last of my Patreon reward posts.

So once again, I’ll just say to anyone out there that’s struggling: you are not alone. I hope you’ll reach out and find some help.

And to everyone, whether you’re struggling or not, please take a moment today to use the #BellLetsTalk hashtag. Each time I see it come through my feed, my heart lifts a little bit. I have to imagine it’s doing the same for others. Seems like a pretty easy way to spread joy while raising money for a worthy cause.

Finally, mega-thanks to my spouse Steven and all my friends, family, and internet pals who have stuck with me through all this and provided constant understanding and support. I love you all so very very much.

Just Work Through It

Okay, so that’s not always good advice. It’s often impossible to just work through it—whatever “it” may be. But occasionally, for me, it not only keeps life on track—it actually helps.

These last *mumble mumble* months (years?) have been pretty rough in the brain chemistry department. And as I work with doctors and lifestyle changes to try to sort things out, it can be quite a roller-coaster of non-productivity and keeping-afloat and oh-my-god-I-let-everything-slide-now-I’m-screwed.

I’m trying to get better at remembering that there’s a weird limbo-area where I am most certainly not feeling well, but I can still Get Things Done. And when I lean into that (instead of leaning into the couch, as is my wont), my mental health actually improves. (Marginally, but I’ll take any little bit of improvement.)

It’s not easy to remember that, so this is a very public reminder to myself. At the risk of going all corporate:

Just do it.

Gallifrey One and Balancing Priorities

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Much as I’d love to write a whole, long, in-depth post about what a wonderful, life-affirming time I had at this year’s Gallifrey One convention, I simply don’t have it in me. And that fact is what I’m here to write about.

I knew, going into the month before the convention, that I wasn’t going to be able to throw myself in as wholly as I have done many years. When possible, I like to speak on panels, attend meetups, and even do the occasional on-stage interview with a guest. This year it was not possible.

As I’ve alluded to recently, I’ve been working on getting my mental health under control. I haven’t reached a real crisis point, and I’m determined to do everything I can to make certain that I do not. Late last year I started on anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication for the first time in over a decade. If you’ve gone through this process, you know it’s not usually an easy thing. Finding the right medication is difficult and can require some trial and error. Finding the right dosage of the correct medication(s) is yet another wrinkle. It can be a long and drawn-out process, but if you need the chemical assistance to keep you going, it is well worth the time and effort. I know it has been for me.

Anyway, having just switched to a different med several weeks before Gally, I decided I’d kinda take a back-seat convention-wise, and that was absolutely the right thing to do. I was already committed to doing a Verity! meetup (it would have taken something truly serious to get me to back out on that!) and the live Verity! In Defense Of panel (something that requires very little effort on my part). So no problems there.

The one other item I decided was worth doing was being a guest on a live one-off episode of Paul Cornell’s Cornell Collective podcast. It was late on Friday night, and there was a moderate amount of booze involved (enough to have fun, not enough to adversely react with my meds). It went spendidly! This one was fairly easy to say yes to because there were few logistics involved–all I had to do was show up and answer questions into a microphone. I did those things and had a wonderful time doing them! (That podcast should drop in the Cornell Collective feed soon (if it’s not there already)!

And, of course, I spent lots and lots of time hanging out with friends and fans and catching up with many many people I care about and many people I now care about after meeting them last weekend. I love how my Gally family grows a bit each year.

I feel like this Gally was a huge success. Maybe not in the same flashy-in-the-spotlight way some previous ones have, but in a really fundamental, mental-health-supporting, I-had-a-great-time way.

I hope to take this lesson and build on it in real life. I have a tendency to say yes to everything and over-schedule myself. I’m going to work to do that less, and to be sure that the things I do schedule for myself are the things that will take less prep-work and will leave me feeling good about the time spent doing them. (And with enough mental “gas” in the tank so that I can devote myself to my day job–which I am genuinely passionate about.)

This might mean fewer podcast appearances talking about things that are new-to-me (or that require rewatching/re-reading), but for now, I think that’s for the best. This also might mean more hanging-out-in-person with friends to simply sit and absorb something fun. My friend Annette has taken me under her wing and is teaching me about the joys of regency romance and the world of televised/movieised Jane Austen. (She also has four cats, which provide a lovely stress-relief service when it comes to cuddling and petting.) Oh, and Steven is showing both Annette and me the British classic(?) show Robin of Sherwood. So yeah there are plenty of things I can do to keep myself on an even keel without expending too much effort.

So I apologize for a lack of my usual in-depth convention travelogue, but this is me setting priorities too. It was more important for me to share a bit about where I’m at than to crow about where I was last weekend. But just to give you a bit of a taste of my Gally afterglow, here are a few post-con tweets. (And don’t forget to check out the #gally1 hashtag for more of the shenanigans that happened all weekend long!)

 

Happy Birthday to Steven!

Steven interviewing Billie Piper

I was prepping a post about D&D for today, when I realized I had something much more important* to talk about. You see, today is a very special day. It’s the anniversary of the birth of the most important non-me person in my life. That’s right, it’s Steven Schapansky’s birthday today. As you may know, Steven is my spouse, and as of a week from Saturday, we’ll have been married for two years. As of March 2nd, we’ll have lived together for one. Yes, international romances play havoc with anniversaries.**

Anyway, I thank my lucky stars every day that somehow, out of the millions of people on the internet, I managed to electronically bump into him. I most definitely have Doctor Who fandom to thank for that, but I’m not going to go into that here.*** Maybe I’ll do a how-we-met post someday, but for right now, I just want to reflect on how insanely lucky I am to have the life that I do—specifically, the life with Steven. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

logo_letstalk_en

There are lots of reasons I was happy to move to Canada–a loving husband and universal health care are only two out of a whole passel. And since I’ve moved, I’ve found lots more reasons to be happy here. One of them is Bell Let’s Talk. Bell is a Canadian telecom company, and say what you will about the vertical integration/monopolization of that industry here, Bell’s annual Let’s Talk day is something that makes me proud to live in Canada.

Every year on #BellLetsTalk day, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives for each text message, mobile and long distance call, Twitter hashtag mention, and Facebook share including the image.* As of this morning, there are over 44 million interactions already!

I love that it’s “Let’s Talk” day. Because that’s exactly what we need to do: Continue reading