Med Changes

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

I saw my psychiatrist yesterday. He raised my lithium because according to the blood test Behavioral Hospital did a couple of weeks ago, my lithium isn’t at a therapeutic level. Which probably explains why I’m still feeling somewhat depressed.

He also told me that a psychiatrist at PHP 4 will be treating me for the duration of my stay in the program, and to tell him/her that my being on lithium is inchoate, that is, I just switched to it from Tegretol so it’s a new-to-me medication. This is in case the temporary psychiatrist doesn’t think the lithium is working, and decides to put me on a different mood stabilizer.

The plan is to slowly wean me off some of my other meds, and personally, I can’t wait to get off the Prozac. It worked great when my psychiatrist prescribed it in October 2017, but when it began to wane and he raised the dosage to 40mg from 20mg, I began getting tremors. I’m only taking 10mg now, but the shakes are even worse. I can barely write straight, and sometimes my mouth twitches. He said that the lithium could cause this also, so he prescribed an extended-release version instead of the immediate-release lithium I’d been taking. I hope it works.

Also, I’m buying new jeans today, because the ones I bought last summer, after having lost a good amount of weight, no longer fit me! I’m unhappy about this, as you can imagine. So I did a little research and it turns out that Prozac can cause weight gain. I gained 10 lbs. since October, when I first started taking it. I’m sure the holidays didn’t help. And I know that lithium also causes weight gain.


If you’ve been on Prozac or lithium, have you experienced tremors or weight gain?

Daily Prompt: Inchoate

What Makes My Stomach Churn

Photo credit: mirsasha on / CC BY-NC-ND

When I was at Behavioral Hospital, there was a group therapy in which the therapist gave us a list of negative names we have been called, and then a positive way of reframing it. We had to read the ones we circled out loud. For example: I’ve been called finicky, but really I’m a gourmet and have discerning tastes.

Sure, there were names on that list that I’ve been called, but the 2 names I’ve been called most, by my mother, weren’t on there. They were ugly, and an embarrassment. The therapist wanted me to reframe them myself, which was difficult. I came up with: I’ve been called an embarrassment, but really I know how to live my own life. And: I’ve been called ugly, but really I’m beautiful.

I found the latter hard to believe. My mom criticized my appearance so much, that when people tell me I’m beautiful, or cute, or whatever, I feel so uncomfortable. I don’t want to contradict them, but the compliments make my stomach churn.

One day I’ll get over this, I hope, and be able to accept compliments graciously.

What makes your stomach churn?

Daily Prompt: Churn

Molded By My Mother

This is the second of what may be a series of posts about the complicated relationship between my mother and me, to explore how it affected my self-image and possibly, my anxiety. As I said in my last relevant post, I’m not out to “trash” the dead, and I’m not writing this out of self-pity.

The notion of maternal love is largely positive in our society, and speaking against it seems taboo. Unfortunately, not all of us experienced the mother love that I believe is important to one’s development. Blogging about this subject is a way for me to heal, and ultimately, to forgive my mother.

Photo on VisualHunt

I discovered the book, Daughter Detox: Recovering from An Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life by Peg Streep, on E’s blog, A Brave Mess. I bought a copy, and am now working through the exercises at the end of each chapter with my therapist. (The book suggests that if you’re seeing a therapist, to work on the exercises with him/her.)

Streep describes 8 different types of maternal patterns (my mom fit 6 of the 8), and one of them is controlling. When I think of the word “control,” I’m immediately reminded of Janet Jackson’s song by the same name — especially the line, “let my mother mold me.” Despite having memory problems because of ECT (and age!), Daughter Detox has served as a mnemonic to jog certain memories from my childhood:

  • As a little girl, I was a tomboy. My mom wanted a girly-girl. I hated dresses and playing with dolls, but I’m sure you can guess what my mother tried to do: make me wear dresses as much as she could, and buy me dolls. I preferred my Legos, Tinkertoys, train set, and electric race cars, the latter 2 of which I played with my dad.
  • When I was 9, some deliverymen showed up one weekend, and brought a piano. My mother wanted me to take piano lessons, which we never discussed. I had no desire to learn, but I had no choice. My mom’s mind was made up. As for the music I played? My MOM chose what songs she wanted me to learn — songs that SHE liked, not what I wanted to play.
  • I’m not going through the whole laundry list of my life she tried to control, but I’ll share this: it’s no surprise that I rebelled as a teenager, which caused many fights. But I finally got to play the instrument of my choice: the drums. During my senior year of high school, I wanted to be a music major in college. When it was time to enroll, without consulting me, my MOM chose not only what classes I’d take, but my MAJOR: music business. I wanted to be a performance major. When I realized I was signed up for an accounting class (my mom happened to be an accountant), I dropped out. I felt tricked, and even worse, I fell for it.

My mom had a vision of the type of daughter she wanted, and did everything she could to mold me into that ideal. It didn’t stop when I grew up. I could never meet my mom’s expectations of what a daughter “should be.” I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but I do now, and it’s had negative consequences: being a perfectionist; my lack of self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-confidence; the irrationally high expectations I continue to place on myself; and my deep-seated need to make her proud, even though she’s been dead for 2 years. These are qualities I’m now trying to reverse.

Did your mom try to control aspects of your life? If so, how did it make you feel?

via Daily Prompt: Mnemonic

The Two Faces of My Mother

Photo provided by author; photographers unknown

My mother and I had a complicated relationship that I’ve wanted to write about for some time, but not only did I not know where to begin, I also don’t want to “trash” the dead. Further, the notion of maternal love is largely positive in our society, and anything that goes against it seems taboo.

I’m going to state the facts, and I most certainly am not doing this for self-pity. I think our relationship has a lot to do with my self-image, and possibly my anxiety.

I didn’t have the kind of mother I wished I had, the type some of my friends had or have become — involved in their children’s lives within healthy boundaries, showing affection, approachable, and a whole host of other traits I can’t even think of at the moment.

It’s my guess that this won’t be the only post I write about my mom — in fact, I recently wrote about how she always saw me as an embarrassment. But today I want to talk about her public and private personas — she was a creature of 2 faces.

As you can see on the left side of the photo, taken maybe a few years before her death, my mom is dressed in a traditional Filipino butterfly dress, no doubt for one of the many events she attended and/or planned. She has a bright smile on her face, and looks radiant.

On the picture’s right side, taken on my 2nd birthday, I’m blowing the candles, and she’s holding me back to keep me from falling into the cake. Most parents, I’m guessing, would be happy at their kids’ birthday parties. Instead, she looks way more reserved than she does in the other picture — she’s barely smiling. I didn’t see the birthday pic until I was gown up, and I always wondered why she looked so put-upon.

As an adult, I learned that she had one face that she showed to extended family; her immediately family; friends; and co-workers; and a different one at home. People loved my mom.  She was active in a lot of organizations like church choir, Jazzercise, professional organizations, you name it. And yet she didn’t have time (nor desire?) to visit with my sister and me (our brother lived out-of-state). She only called or texted when she wanted something. She was too busy with her life, which didn’t include her kids.

When we were growing up, it was the same thing. She was absolutely charming outside the house, and people loved her. At home, however, she was always yelling at my dad, siblings, and me for one reason or another. I can’t speak for my brother and sister because I don’t know the exact nature of their relationships with our mom, though I know it was rocky between her and my sister. But that isn’t my story to tell.

As I read through the entries in her online memorial book, I had no idea who her friends and co-workers were describing, because it sure didn’t sound like my mom. They said she was welcoming, and “fun to sit and talk with.”

In my experience, my mom was dismissive. In the post, Life Scripts, Bipolar & Childfree, I described how, when my husband and I were considering adoption, I was hoping to have a heart-to-heart talk with my mother. What transpired was me telling her, “We’re thinking of adoption. What do you think?” I was so hoping for my mom’s opinions and advice. Instead, she said, “If you want to adopt, then adopt,” and literally walked away. I was looking for a serious conversation, but she certainly didn’t “talk with” me.

Another friend described my mother’s “thoughtful, affectionate ways.” I don’t remember ever cuddling with my mom. With my dad, yes; but not with her. Also, they never hugged me. And it wasn’t after they divorced when my siblings and I were adults, did she and my dad tell me, “I love you,” at the end of conversations. I never heard this growing up. I always, and still think, that’s weird. And somehow, not normal. But I also thought that’s just how it is in Filipino families. Maybe I’m wrong.

When you were a child, and now, as an adult, do your parents say, “I love you”?

via Daily Prompt: Creature

Sugar Addict

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I am one. I have a huge sweet tooth. But it goes beyond that. Awhile ago, I wrote a post about weird cravings that I get, usually for one specific, sweet, thing. Last summer, it was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream from Baskin Robbins.

I had a scoop every day for the entire summer and put on about 5 lbs,, which I usually lose once the craving ends. Except I didn’t lose them. Then came the holidays and I gained about another 5 lbs. In my mind, I gained 100 lbs. altogether.

After almost every meal, I need something sweet to cleanse my palate. At least that’s what my brain tells me. Sometimes I eat sweets even when I don’t want to, like if I’m bored. And if I have the entire package in front of me, I usually finish it off.

Most of my weight gain comes from eating sugar. My regular meals are mostly unprocessed, and I’m a vegetarian. By cutting out soda, sweets, and meat, I lost 50 lbs. that I needed to lose in real life, not just in my head. That was about a year ago. Oh, and from using the treadmill. (See above-linked post for a Before and After picture.) So if I was able to cut sweets from my diet then, I should be able to do it now, right?

Apparently, it’s not that easy. I’ve read articles recently, that say sugar is a hard habit to kick, almost as hard as kicking heroin. I wouldn’t know about that, because heroin is one drug I stayed away from during my partying days.

The articles also say that, like cocaine, sugar stimulates the reward center in our brains. I often reward myself with something sweet if I feel stressed, miserable, or great. Candy and desserts are my prizes! I deserve them no matter how I feel! Can anyone sympathize with this?

Two years ago, I was 70 lbs. overweight according to some medical measurement that dictates how much you should weigh based on your height — at 5’1″, I’m supposed to weigh 110 lbs. I was between 140 – 150 lbs. when I put on the extra weight, which happened after my gall bladder was removed in an emergency situation.

My primary care physician later told me that the gall bladder is what processes the fat you consume. Wonderful. It would have been nice to know that like, right after the surgery, so I could have watched what I ate.

Walking around with those extra pounds made me feel really bad about myself. It lit the fire under my a$$ to lose weight. Now I’m back up to 140 lbs. Okay, 138 lbs., but still.

Photo provided by author

Other articles I’ve read state that quitting sugar causes withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue, and that the cravings last about a week afterward. Well, I’m already depressed and fatigued right now, so I figure it’s a good time to cut sweets from my diet. As soon as I finish this bag of incredibly yummy, handcrafted, Cabernet Dark Chocolate caramels!

Do you eat sweets to make yourself feel better?

Post inspired by Daily Prompt: Sympathize