A few weeks ago I decided wanted to turn this blog into something along the lines of :
Tessa Reads Books
Tessa Goes to Therapy
Tessa Talks About Mental Health
Tessa Talks About Mental Health
and Going to Therapy Represented in Books
Other random crap like watching
Loki and getting excited about
a new houseplant
But I couldn’t think of a funny way to segue into that.
So instead of a cute and graceful segue, I present you with this (accurate in spirit but not so much in words) conversation I had with one of my employees:
Employee: But I don’t want to be like that one coworker who takes medication for his mental illness!
Tessa: There’s nothing wrong with medication. I take it.
Employee: (Awkward facial expression) Really? For what?
Tessa: ADHD and anxiety.
Employee: I never would have guessed.
Tessa: Well. Right. Because I’m medicated.
..::Blessed page for employee assistance ends conversation::..
And that is why, Internet, I am gifting you with snippets from my travels through the world of mental illness and health and diagnoses and stuff. There are already a lot of excellent people doing this excellently- but I think the more the merrier. My personal echo chamber is full of people who are open and honest about their experiences, so sometimes it’s really surprising to me that the stigma is still so large, even within my own family. And they’ve been dealing with me for thirty-five freaking years!
Plus, I just really love to talk about this stuff, and I nerd out on it constantly. I’m pretty sure if my therapist thought he could get away with rolling his eyes at me every time I started a session with, “So I was reading this book and……..” he would do it constantly.
I mean, he can if he wants to. I’m not going to explicitly give him that permission, but I’ve definitely deserved it on at least one or two occasions.
So, to all 2-3 people who read this blog, feel free to geek out on some brain science with me! The mind can really do some fucked up stuff!
In the spirit of total honesty and normalizing this type of chatter, here is a brief summary of what’s going on with my brain:
- ADHD- inattentive type. I was diagnosed in college (female children are woefully under-diagnosed) but never got the meds right, so I stopped taking them. Got a second diagnosis about a year ago, and finally got the meds right! (Jornay PM, which you would think is marketed towards adult women who shop at Tar-jay, but if you go to the website- you will clearly see it is actually meant for teenage boys. Someone in their marketing department is very confused.) My biggest complaint was constant fatigue, and second to that would be my inability to focus on a single thing I didn’t give a shit about. Good books? Easy. Almost anything else? I was not listening. Sorry.
- Anxiety- this has reared its ugly head in many ways. Binge-eating. Picking at my cuticles and lips until they bled. Staying awake until 2 or 3 in the morning to pick. Over-sleeping (just add that to the ADHD fatigue). Avoiding society in general. Repeatedly tapping my fingertips with my thumbs. This hasn’t all gone away, but it’s better. Clomipramine has helped a ton. And regular manicures. That’s a good spot for an eye roll.
- Zaps- No, I don’t have a better word for it. I don’t have a diagnosis for them yet. They might be psychosomatic. We just don’t know yet. This is my current journey. For at least five years, maybe longer, I have little zaps in my jaw when I’m speaking. They’re worse when I’m tired or stressed or just really animated about something. They’re not painful, but they’re annoying and can be quite disruptive to my speech. They aren’t audible, but can present as “skips” or pauses when I’m speaking. One kind friend said she thought I was just taking a break to think about what I was saying next. I assure you all, I am not that thoughtful. The best description I am able to give is that I feel like a robot and some small animal has been gnawing on a wire in my jaw and that wire now gently electrocutes me throughout the day. I had an MRI (with those sexy sexy boots below) that was normal, and I had an EEG today. There is also a doc out there thinking about my facial nerves. I have so much more to say about this. Later.
So there’s the Cliff’s notes. Some of that felt really cringe-worthy to share, but that’s my internal shame talking and the whole reason I’m doing this- to hopefully help someone feel less shame about what they’re going through because brains are brains and they like to engage in fuckery- but that fuckery is NOT OUR FAULT. It is also not at all reflective of our worth as human beings.
Shame around mental illness is just…… so counterproductive in a million ways. The one foremost in my brain right now is that my shame has prevented me from asking for the testing and help that I’ve wanted (and deserved) for too long. Even during my EEG today, I debated with myself on whether or not to ask the tech to try to induce my symptoms in a way I thought would be effective. Why should that even be a question in my mind??? (I did ask her, and we gave it a shot.)
I was going to include some book recs here, but I think we’re done for the day. Feel free to shoot me thoughts, stories, suggestions, YOUR book recs- whatever!