It only looks hopeless when you can’t see an alternative

No matter how hard you try

Even trying on a different perspective for size

Still the hopelessness persists

This is what scares me

I remember during the height of my worst moments with anxiety

Thinking to myself that the rest of my life would be filled with days of panic attacks and days where I waited for the panic to attack

It would never end

That thought still haunts me

Part of the crux of my anxiety is the feeling of being trapped

Not necessarily in the physical sense of the word

But even where situations feel like I cannot control the outcome

Where I cannot extricate myself

Like a panic attack itself

Or being drunk

Or high

Apparently my depression isn’t much different

The darkest cloud hovers when I cannot see a way out of an empty thought, moment or situation

What starts as a fleeting worry morphs

And I begin to think in terms of ‘always’ and ‘forever’

It’s frightening because it feels like even the sanest part of your brain cannot conjure up a tidbit of hope to tide you over

Not even a little breadcrumb for you to follow towards hope

Life is funny that way

It gives you this stadium of life

And throws these curveballs at you

But it doesn’t provide you with the bat, the helmet or protective gear

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder how some people win

I question the authenticity

Maybe they cheated

And everyone knows

That the games been rigged in their favour

And I’m just not in on the secret

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The Cowardly Lion’s Great Lie

The cowardly lion

Wanted nothing more than courage that he didn’t believe he possessed

He joined a rag tag group of travellers

Searching for a magical cure for his allusive cowardice

Together he and his fellow travellers

Fought through witches and flying monkeys and haunted forests

Hoping and fighting to find the one thing he wanted more than anything

In the end, the lion learns that he always had courage

He just needed to find it within himself

Like the scarecrow and his brain

The tin man and his heart

It was always right there within themselves

The story ends and they all happily walk down the yellow brick road of life

Each of them happy and content they’ve found the things they’ve so long desired

The audience smile and titter amongst one another

That this is a story from real life

One just needs to believe in themselves

But I wonder what would have happened

If the cowardly lion learned he would never find his courage?

This mysterious thing was never to be attained

The courage he yearned for would continue to evade him

Mocking him cruelly

The lion that should be so brave and strong

Is nothing but a great big disappointing coward

Just like when we disappointedly learn that the wizard is nothing more than a regular human pretending to be something he will never be

The lion will be forced to continue to wear his warrior costume

The whole world watching

All the while the lion knowing he is nothing but a fraud

The scared cowardly lion just waiting for the entire world to find out what he’s always known

That he can dress it up

And make it look real believable on the outside

But if there’s nothing inside him

The facade will all fall apart

And he’ll always be remembered as that scared cowardly lion

Who couldn’t, no matter how much he wanted, live up to what he was meant to be

To what he always wanted to be

The courageous lion that doesn’t exist

‘Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.’

All I can see is the empty space where my ‘motivational’ affirmations once hung

All the words I thought I’d need to get me through this dreaded Paxil withdrawal

Now discarded and out of my face so I don’t see the glaring reminder of another failed attempt

But it’s likely I didn’t stand a chance even before I started

I hadn’t had a full blown panic attack in a long time

Until today, that is

All week I felt it coming

Making me irritable and antsy

But I proceeded forward with my Project Paxil Taper

Each day I told myself I didn’t feel worse

I didn’t feel anxious

It was fine

I was fine

But I was lying to myself

I don’t know if it was the anticipatory anxiety that got me or the effects of decreasing Paxil

I don’t think I’ll ever know

I reached out to professionals

Asking for help and support in this withdrawal process

But again and again I was met with lack of resources and ambivalent sympathy

Today it was too much

I closed the blinds in the condo

Tried to distract myself with audiobooks and tv and music and extra long hot showers

And all the while I could feel it’s suffocating grip on me getting stronger and stronger

Making it harder to think and breathe

I laid in bed and tried to utilize the skills I’ve been taught

But none of them worked

My stomach hurt

I felt nauseous

I could feel the grip getting stronger as I grew weaker

Clammy and sweaty and cold

My headache hurt like it did all week long

And then when I couldn’t hold it off anymore

It overpowered me (like it had done so many goddamn times before)

And just like that

I felt helpless all over again

Like the fucking victim I never wanted to be

I took more Ativan to help it go away faster

Joey was home and tried to quell the rising panic

And the crying

All the fucking crying

But nothing works

My crying louder and harder to breathe

The only thought clear in my brain

Is how this is never going to stop

I will always be at war with myself

My natural instinct is fucked up and no matter how many times I’ve tried it just doesn’t change

It doesn’t matter how tired or how many good days, weeks or months I have

When I’m at my weakest

It rears it’s ugly head

And I’m powerless to defeat it

So all this bullshit warrior can do is cry

Not in sadness

But with pain that comes from deep within me

Because I know

That at the end of the day

Not even 4mg at a time

Not even with support

Not even with CBT and all the other therapies

That I still can’t beat this

It won’t matter if I cover my body in quotes and reminders

It won’t matter how much I want this change

How determined I am

All that matters is that I’m still so afraid of my own goddamn mind

I’m afraid of the panic it can conjure all by itself

The derealization, the depersonalization, the heart racing, nausea, can’t breathe feelings that come at me full force

And I just can’t see, no matter how hard I try (and trust me I so badly want to see it)

A time in which those feelings are not a part of the landscape of my life

And that is the most terrifyingly hopeless thought I have ever had

My doctor said to me on Monday he could see a happy ending after all of this is said and done

I won’t lie, I carried that home with me and placed it under my pillow and wished on it every night since

But not everyone gets the happy ending that they want

Maybe this really is as good as its ever gonna get…

The task is in deciding if that will ever be enough

Maybe, just maybe…

I’ve started Project Taper Paxil on Sunday

I worked myself into a frenzy anticipating what might happen

I took an extra Ativan to get some peace

I saw my doctor yesterday and he reminded me that I could have put off starting Project Taper Paxil for another week

But I didn’t

Evidence to support the theory that I’m stronger than I think

The doctor mused that it’s been a tough year for me

I guess it has, hasn’t it?

I can pretty much unequivocally say this is not where I thought I would be at this point of my life

At 36 years old

I had hoped for something very different

And that’s even with several revisions

But what do you do when that path leads you to a dead end?

If you’re like me,

You might spend too much time retracing your footsteps over and over again

Trying to figure out how you got it so damn wrong

Did you miss a turn?

Did something lead you astray?

Or were you just unlucky enough to end up on that path to nowhere?

If you’re like me,

You don’t have answers to any of those questions

But you just can’t fathom starting all over again

Finding a new path to walk

Wishing that this new path will be the right one

Hoping that it won’t become another dead end

But

Maybe this time you won’t care about the destination

But

Maybe this time you’ll be content with the journey

And

Maybe this time it will be exactly what you needed all along

And

Maybe, just maybe

You’ll be happy

At last

‘I’m afraid to be alone with my own mind’ -Sylvia Plath

Here goes…Everything

The compounding pharmacy has made the Paxil capsules for me

I picked them up yesterday

I will be decreasing by 4mg every two weeks

My dose was 40mg

Last night I felt really anxious

I keep thinking about how shitty I felt going on Paxil

I keep thinking about not being in control

I keep thinking about panic attacks

I’m trying to think about the benefits

Maybe I can lose the weight that Paxil helped me gain

Maybe I can stop sweating in the middle of an emergency cold alert day

And yet somehow

Those benefits just don’t stick in my brain

My brain that has been sponsored by Paxil for over 10 years

It’s not that I’m connected to Paxil

It’s not that I think Paxil has helped me

It’s solely the fear that is controlling me right now

The same fear that always controls me

That no amount of therapy or meds has ever really been able to free me from

I want to do things in life

That I do because I want to do them

And not because fear has made me choose them as safer options

And not because fear has made me avoid other things

Fear

In some ways I think this has always been my biggest challenge

Probably from a young age

Seeing my dad experience panic attacks

Seeing him not feel like he was in control

Therefore not feeling safe in someways

As I’ve gotten older

That control has gotten more important for me

And I need to hold it firmly in my hands

I need to hold it because if I don’t

The world will fall apart?

I need to hold t because if I don’t

I will fall apart?

I need to hold it because if I don’t

I won’t feel safe?

Sometimes I curse the level of self awareness I have

Sometimes it does nothing more than get me stuck in a thought

When instead I should be in motion

I know what is right for me

I know what I want to do

I just need whatever part of me that is holding onto that fear to catch the fuck up

But today

The warrior woke up first

And warriors aren’t afraid

I still don’t know what’s on the other side

But I took the leap

I’ve started the tapering

Let’s hope the scaredy cat version of me is not the one that wins

Let’s hope that this warrior side of me has grown strong enough to finally

Finally take back what is rightfully mine

My life

36 Years Old And Still Not Okay

Sick and tired

Running a low grade fever

Closer to treatment I get, the worse I feel

I feel like I’m nonstop fighting a flu

Tired of feeling this way

But honestly, I can’t even remember a time where I didn’t feel shitty

Where I didn’t feel sick

Or just generally unwell

Mentally or physically

Even pre MS diagnosis

Facebook reminds me of all the statuses I’ve posted over 10 plus years complaining over one sickness or another

Is it possible that I’ve never been really OK?

And I know what the optimists will say:

You gotta be positive

Things will get better

But I have no evidence to prove any of that as plausible

In fact all the evidence I’ve collected throughout my life points to the contrary

The evidence illustrates a life filled with sickness and struggle as a result

Try as hard as I might

And I cannot for the life of me

Think of a time when I felt…I don’t know even just OK

But that can’t be possible right?

No one can always have been and continue to feel like shit, right?

Is anyone’s luck that bad?

So is it my mood then?…

This is like a chicken and egg thing

And I can’t figure out what came first

Did my mental health change one day…

And then my physical body became sick?

And when did this all happen?

Because I’m looking back through the screen shots of my life and I can’t think of a time where I felt…I don’t know…good

But ‘good’ sounds so insignificant

I don’t understand it

And I don’t know how to fix something that I don’t understand

Then I worry that I’ll never understand

So where does that leave me?

Sick

And

Tired

At only 36 years old

And still just fucking lost

Road map

I was 18 years old

I had just gotten my very first tattoo

In Montreal with my good friend

I got a tiny little fist

It took maybe 15 mins

And then we walked to a park

And I had my very first panic attack

This picture was taken when I walked away not really explaining myself to my friend

I don’t remember ever experiencing a feeling quite like that

Yet I instinctively knew that it was a ‘panic attack’

I grew up seeing my father have them

Almost daily

The knowledge didn’t help not comfort me

Somehow I made it through that first episode

I can’t really say how

And all these years later

And that tattoo

Of that little fist clenched in a show of power

Is still bumpy to the touch

Like a warning of the struggle up ahead

But I’d rather think of it as a tangible road map of what I’ve been through

And survived