Monthly Archives: April 2014

If there is no agitation, there is no writing. The man who is in balance with the world around him has no need to analyze it, to him it is sufficient to simple live in it. Agitation I’d say, or even discontent makes us search for the causes and dream of things beyond reality…

Aleksandar Tišma, Serbian novelist

I do believe that a perfectly balanced life is something only rare people are blessed with. It must be wonderful to be in perfect harmony with yourself, utterly happy because at some given point everything has fallen into its place. Then you simply live, inhale life to the fullest, run around without much thinking. I still have some distant glimpses of such brief moments in my life and I cherish them as my very precious memories. Later on the other hand, many things went wrong, and that was when I really started searching for causes and answers I needed so badly. I still search for many of them, even though I’m aware that they probably don’t even exist. It is only now that my inner dialogues truly seek some form of expression, only now I have some real need for a creative outlet thanks to this never ending agitation. I don’t know where this can bring me, but it feels good to be on this path, together with all of you who liked what I wrote so far. Thank you so much for being there for me, and I’ll give my best to be there for you, too!

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Un senso – Vasco Rossi

There is a song in Italian, a song about life sense, a song that spreads positive attitude by telling us that if that sense is missing today, tomorrow it will arrive for sure. 🙂 The translation of the words goes more or less like this:

A sense (by Vasco Rossi)

I want to find a sense of this evening
Even though this evening has no sense

I want to find a sense of this life
Even though this life has no sense

I want to find a sense of this story
Even though this story has no sense

I want to find a sense of this desire
Even though this desire has no sense

You know what I think
If it has no sense
it will be there tomorrow
it will be there tomorrow all the same
feel how beautiful this wind is
there is never enough time
tomorrow a new day will be there

I want to find a sense of this situation
Even though this situation has no sense

I want to find a sense of this condition
even though this condition has no sense

You know what I think
If it has no sense
it will be there tomorrow
it will be there tomorrow anyway
feel how beautiful this wind is
there is never enough time
tomorrow a new day will be there
tomorrow is a new day – it’s already here!

I want to find a sense of many things
Even though many things have no sense

Lalalalalala…

Tomorrow it will be there
Tomorrow it will be there anyway
feel how beautiful this wind is
there is never enough time
tomorrow a new day will be there
tomorrow a new day will be there
tomorrow is a new day

The Sense

Roseman

I wrote this post a couple of nights ago, but when I hit publish, it published only a blank page with this very same title, “The Sense”. I rushed to find my text, hoping to discover it at least under “Revisions”, but there was nothing there. I was a bit angry, a bit sad, a bit disappointed, a bit desperate because it does take a lot of effort for someone like me to perform even a simple every day task, let alone write a long post in a language that is foreign to me, a post which eventually vanishes into thin air. Later I asked myself if it was fate, maybe I shouldn’t have published that unhappy post at all in the first place. I realized how much my mood varies and how much it improved by the following morning. Right now I contemplate on how symbolic it was of the WordPress to publish just a blank page entitled “The Sense” instead of my text, it was actually a much simpler way to perfectly convey the feelings of the sense missing from my life than shaping those feelings into some long post. 🙂 I wanted to drop it completely, but as this was meant to be a diary of my thoughts on various feelings, things that I read or heard somewhere, things that happen or don’t happen, I’ll try to reconstruct it the best I can. It was written on the day after Easter, in a pretty gloomy state of mind:

This is the period of Easter holidays, time when most people who celebrate it share joy, happiness, warm wishes and enjoy colorful and cheerful family reunions. I used to be among such people. At present, holidays usually serve as a reminder that many of my seemingly healed wounds are still open and that pain burst and flows out of them like some giant waterfall. During one episode of Dr. House I got familiar with the Kubler-Ross model that represents five emotional stages humans experience while dealing with a loss of some kind. At first there is denial, followed by anger which is then replaced by bargaining, which ends in depression that eventually leads us towards acceptance of what happened. However, this is not a one-way process – once you reach acceptance, sometimes it happens that you can regress to any of the previous stages, or even all the way back to denial and start the battle all over again. I thought I accepted my losses, at least some of them… but that same, familiar, stinging pain never fails to remind me that I’m still miles away from the real acceptance. Tonight I’m stuck with depression, and a bit of that eternal anger at my invisible enemy, panic disorder.

I watched TV. It was pure automatism, I didn’t seek fun, consolation or oblivion, I was just sitting there with the TV switched on when the movie started. It was “Bridges of Madison County”, movie that I had already watched 3 or 4 times before, always in different periods of my life. The diversity of these occasions always shed some new, previously undiscovered light on the same content, and tonight was not different in that matter at all. This time I focused on the scene when Francesca (Meryl Streep) recalls a hot afternoon in her native town of Bari in Italy, when she sat in a cafe across the railway station after shopping, with many bags around her feet, young, happy and full of dreams.
I had an almost instant flashback of one of my special afternoons in Rome – it was a hot and wonderful summer day and I was standing with hands full of colorful shopping bags somewhere halfway down Via del Corso, waiting for my ex boyfriend to come and pick me up. Among those bags there was one very special to me, a Disney store bag with a Stitch toy inside. I always loved cartoons and I grew fond of this little devilish alien and the famous phrase which he gave his best to remember by heart: “Ohana means family, and family means that no one gets left behind.” I remember waving to my ex with Stitch in my hands, with a smile shining from my face. We laughed and hugged each other, radiating happiness miles around us.

Francesca’s dreams never came true, just like mine. I was left behind, and even though Stitch is still with me, he lies forgotten in a corner of my small Serbian living room, covered with dust. Dust covers pretty much everything in my life, everything that I ever was or planned to become. Ironically enough, I wasn’t left behind because of my panic disorder as I was in a complete remission at the time, I was simply not wanted any more. That is one of a very few things I can’t blame anxiety for, but I’m not sure if that should give me any sort of relief. Everything else was pretty much eaten up and erased by panic. I dreamt to live in Italy, to have some nice small job there, to have a partner beside me and children of my own. Children to whom I could tell so many things about me, children who would remember me, how I lived and what I liked, children to whom I could some day leave my very own special box with some meaningful memories that marked my life. Francesca’s initial dreams didn’t come true, but she accomplished something else in her life. My dreams on the contrary vanished leaving me with nothing in my bare hands.

I lost Italy, which is for me much more than just a dream of some fancy, better life. I graduated in Italian language and literature and Italy was my profession and something even more than that, which is hard to explain with words – it was a sense of identity, inspiration, source of inner joy, even though I’m not Italian. Agoraphobia destroyed my profession and my identity and deprived me of any further trips to this special country. Today, I virtually have no job and no real income of my own, I’m single and childless. Speaking of acceptance, I accepted some of the things that happened to me. I can accept that was rejected and left behind by someone who was my own “once in a lifetime bond”. I could probably even accept the fact that I have no job and that I fully depend on my parents’ income, maybe I could even go that far to somehow accept my loneliness, ONLY IF IT WEREN’T FOR PANIC DISORDER. Yes. I would feel much better if it all were somehow my own personal fault, because that way I would have some chance to change it and hopefully reverse some damage. This way, I don’t stand a chance. If I were like most people, I could go out of my house without problems every single day and find probably even a pretty decent job, I could go out regularly and meet someone else, fall in love, maybe even have a child. Maybe I would have to give up on Italy and accept a smaller and more modest version of my dreams, but I would have… a life. What I have now instead is life reduced to its very basics, covered with layers of mental fog, total lack of energy and motivation, pain, fear and dread. I’m still too young to live only of my memories because I didn’t have enough time to make enough of them. I’m still too young to live only through words and images of others, in what I see on my screen or from the windows of my apartment. Yet I fell more than 1,000 years old. I would accept to be left with nothing till the end of my days, if I could trade it for moving freely along this planet, enjoying sunshine and long walks I used to love so much. It’s so damn hard to live in fear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s really hard to survive holidays, because they remind me of how much tradition I could pass on to somebody who would stay here after me, things that I learnt from my family which are seemingly bound to die with me one day.

I struggle a lot every single moment, in spite of everything. I struggle, but holidays make me question the sense of this struggle. Everybody needs sense in this life in order to go on. A reason to wake up every morning. Perhaps that reason is to see and spend time with your loved ones, to work, study, to help somebody, enjoy something, reach your goals, fulfill your dreams. I have no more goals or dreams. The majority of things that come into my mind has to be crossed out and dismissed as unfit for prison-like life circumstances. I can only pray that my parents and my two little dogs that are still with me live as long as possible, because they are the only sense of my life and my only tangible support.

Antibiotics and Panic Disorder

When I decided to start blogging a little while ago, my initial intention wasn’t to focus primarily on my condition, because every person is of course much more than some illness that affects us at any given point in life, but I do feel that it can be good to share my experiences with people who can recognize themselves in my words and with whom I can exchange some words of support. I might create a new category related entirely to PD and my constant work in progress to “get back to life”, but let’s decide that a bit further down the road.

Speaking of antibiotics… 2014 has been a very unusual year for me so far, I purposefully say unusual and not bad although some pretty bad things happened in these last 3 months, but that can be a good topic for another blog. For now, I’ll limit myself to say that this seems to be a year that completely reverses many of the things I’ve been really used to lately, a year of strange and unexpected changes ( those of you who share my condition know how much we dislike them) and events that take unusual turns.

At the end of January I got sick with flu. Nothing strange in my case, I usually catch some respiratory illness at least once a year. I usually get very bad nasal inflammation due to my constant allergy problems, sore throat, high fever… and I also usually get rid of all this in some painful but predictable 7-10 days. Well… this time it was Murphy’s law at work, you know how it goes – “Anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong”. 🙂 And it did.

At the beginning, it didn’t seem serious at all. Slightly high fever, some throat pain, nose quite unusually clear… until I started coughing.  At first a little, then more and more, till it got to the point where it seemed that I would cough out an entire lung in the process or die due to choking and pretty bad stabbing pains in my chest. That was somewhere by the end of the week 2 of the ordeal, and it didn’t seem so funny any more. It was clear that I should go onto antibiotics because after all a pneumonia is a pneumonia, and even though it can also be viral, it’s not something you should take lightly. By then I was already working myself up at the mere idea of swallowing even just a single antibiotic because during my last PD relapse I developed such a low tolerance to these drugs, which is pretty funny when it comes from somebody like me who was once as a child literally stuffed with these pills by doctors and never had a single problem with any particular type or dosage. In this period of my life, on the contrary, apart from all sorts of intestinal problems and almost immediate worsening of my IBS, they literally affect my nervous system as well. Anxiety shoots up, muscles tighten, heart pulse doesn’t go under 100-110 even when I’m peacefully lying down, I get massive night sweating, my thoughts race even more quickly than usual and I can’t sleep… to name just a few things!!! 🙂 This sets me then into some temporary OCD counting mess – I feel sick, so I constantly count the number of pills and hours left till I can happily ditch the wretched medication and go on with my usual good old “tolerable” nervousness. 🙂

In spite of all this mental rebellion, I ended up with azithromycin, prescribed as supposedly the best choice for my pneumonia. However, it only exacerbated all my justified and unjustified concerns after watching an episode of one of those popular medical series, Emily Owens M.D., in which an intern literally killed an elderly lady with this medication because of not being aware of her heart condition, incompatible with azithromycin intake. So, like every good PD sufferer I started the famous WHAT IF rant in no time: WHAT IF my heart fails? WHAT IF I also have this chronic heart condition (Long QT syndrome, for those of you who know what I’m talking about… and no, I’m not a medical doctor, just a very well educated hypochondriac :)) ) and WHAT IF this is the real reason why I have all those frequent palpitations… so really, hey, WHAT IF I now develop a fatal arrhythmiaaaaa…. At this point I usually yell at myself: WHAT IF – SO WHAT??! IF YOU DEVELOP IT, YOU’LL DIE. END OF STORY. SHUT UP, OK?? Well, it’s not ok, but I’ll try to shut up, thank you very much… 😀

As you can clearly see, even though I diligently swallowed all my prescribed pills I’m still here, but I was definitely on the right way to check myself into a mental hospital all right. 🙂

However… 🙂 IF ONLY THAT WERE THE END OF THE STORY! Coughing improved for a couple of days, I started moving around a bit more… and unexpectedly enough, everything returned to square one. Lungs wanted to pop out again, fever got a bit higher once again and coughing worsened so much that I started chasing away people who were convinced that I was some sort of walking lethal biological weapon. After two more ups and downs and far into week 6 of this agony, it was decided that should be put onto an antibiotic again.  Again? DEAR LORD… anyway, trading potential permanent lung damage, chest pains and total lack of strength for some amount of utter dread and unreal mental mess seemed like a fair deal and I accepted it.

It was amoxicillin now, one pill every 8 hours, medication that I took many times up to now without any serious side effects. It took it just 3 initial days to quite miraculously and completely erase all my chest symptoms, and barely one single day to make me seriously question if I would get a grip on my sanity ever again. That very evening several hours after taking the first pill I couldn’t think straight at all, my nerves were so tight and I was irritable beyond belief. Now I am somebody who suffers from anxiety all right, but irritability at every little thing is not in my nature at all. This was followed by daily waves of inexplicable depression – it’s not that I have many things to be happy about right now, but it’s certainly not that bad to cause utterly profound sadness and tears that were constantly pouring down my cheeks especially in the evenings. I’m not bipolar, so something was massively wrong, that much I could tell. I took out the paper with side effects to check if it was all once again “just in my head”, but there it was, under “rare but possible side effects” – irritability and depression! This could all be linked also to candidiasis developing in response to penicillin intake, but whatever the reason was, it was simply terribly overwhelming for somebody with already bad chronic condition like mine.

It’s been a bit more than an entire day since I swallowed the last hideous pill and I can already tell the difference. Placebo effect? Maybe, but in my opinion only to a certain point, because all intestinal disturbances, mouth inflammation, thin white layers on my teeth that couldn’t be washed away by any means – it’s just all getting better and vanishing.

I’m definitely much better now, but I do feel as though a train has run over me, once again. It seems that every time I make a step forward, there are always two steps backward as well. I fall time after time in many possible ways and I force myself to get up again. It’s very hard and extremely tiresome, but there is no other way. Antibiotic intake is a must when really needed, but in my case this help comes at a pretty high price because I become non-functional for days in a row. I just have to pray not to catch any other bacterial infection any time soon because I’ll go mad for sure and possibly start writing here about some totally incomprehensible things… 🙂

What’s your experience with antibiotics, PD or not? Hope much better than mine! 🙂