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"Do it right, do it with style and never dream small!” - Author, Designer & Creator - Patreon/Ko-Fi

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Aug
22nd
2018

The Quiet War, Part 1: My Life Struggling With Mental Health · 3:26am Aug 22nd, 2018

WARNING: The following blog has very frank discussions about mental health, psychiatric medications, the side effects of psychiatric medications, suicide, suicidal ideation and similar topics.

If you are in an immediate crisis where are you struggling with any of the above, please contact a professional psychiatrist, go to your nearest Emergency Room or contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


As some of you know, for the last year and a half, I’ve been going through some very difficult times. I’ve had serious issues with my marriage, ongoing problems with my children, misunderstandings and miscommunications with friends and, probably worst of all, rapidly declining mental health.

In July 2018, all of this came to a head in an experience that--even two weeks later--still seems very surreal.

(Update: As you can see, we’re now almost done with August. This was originally to be posted at the beginning of August, when I was going into my new treatment program. Sadly, that did not happen and I was delayed by another week or so, because of issues with insurance and other matters. I’ll admit that things actually became far darker after I wrote this, but I’m going to go into that another time.)

I disappeared from the internet for almost a full week. Today, you get to find out what happened that week… but more importantly, you’ll find out about the events leading up to fateful week.

Now, I should mention that, even though I’ll be talking about some intensely personal and painful things in this blog, I still am a storyteller. So, you’ll have to excuse the occasional bout of drama. It’s all part of the package. I’ll also still be using pictures to help “pace out” this blog… because if I didn’t have a little bit of cute--even if it’s sad cute--I probably would never publish this.

In addition, I’m going to be covering basically the entire backstory of my struggle with mental health conditions here. A lot of people have been involved, including people here. You guys have helped pull off miracles and supported me in significant ways. I don’t want to discount that at all, but please know that my goal with this is to reveal the internal struggle.

I say this because I’ve written stuff like this before with the intentions of being honest and open, and I’ll either forget something or say something offhand that I don’t realize will offend/bother someone.

To put it another way, I’m completely opening myself up here, so be kind, please?

A Childhood with ADHD & ODD

When I was 5, I was diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) plus something called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). The term ADHD is thrown around a lot these days, and people are often unfamiliar with ODD (at least I was when my mother told me I had been diagnosed with it a few years ago), so let’s clarify some terms:


Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD):

A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

These days, ADHD is diagnosed through the observation, frequency and severity of a number of symptoms surrounding Inattention (Examples: “often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly,” “is often easily distracted” or often avoids, dislikes, or “is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time.”) and Hyperactivity (Examples: “often talks excessively,” “is often ‘on the go’ acting as if ‘driven by a motor,’” or “often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.”)

But a key element of a diagnosis is this:

- There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.

- The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

My personal symptoms were things like: the inability to focus on tasks I didn’t want to do, hyperfocusing to the point of the entire world dropping away, poor impulse control and other issues.

(TL;DR: This isn’t to help diagnose you. If you think you might have ADHD, only a licensed doctor, such as a psychiatrist, can make that determination. Do not try to self-diagnose through online tests or other such nonsense. See someone trained to help you.)

Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - CDC Website

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is defined by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version 5) as "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness" in children and adolescents.

In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning.

You can imagine how ODD would cause me serious problems with my parents and teachers.


As I was saying, I was diagnosed with both of these conditions (they’re not ‘illnesses’) at age 5. Now, I should note that I was diagnosed in 1987, before the “ADHD-Craze” of the mid-to-late 90s. From my memories of childhood and reports by my parents (my mom in particular fought tooth and nail to get me the support I needed), I have no doubt that I had these conditions.

I was eventually prescribed brand-name Ritalin and another medication called Clonidine. As a child, I was subjected to double-blind tests (definition: a test or trial, especially of a drug, in which any information that may influence the behavior of the tester or the subject is withheld until after the test) to verify I was not operating under a placebo effect or something similar.

In fact, this caused a rift in my family. My maternal grandparents stopped speaking to my parents for a few years because of these medications, as they believed their grandson “didn’t need any drugs.” They were wrong (and eventually admitted as much).

As a child, I had trouble understanding or connecting with other children. In elementary school, my best friends were the school librarian--a wonderful woman named Linda Spillers--and her assistant. I spent most of my recesses and lunches in the school library, as I would get into fights or constantly be bullied.

And to my recent shock and horror, my mother revealed to me a few weeks ago that I had actually been suicidal at the end of second grade (roughly age 7 or 8). I would come home and say I wish I was dead because I was so miserable.

Now, I’ll admit my memory of childhood is extremely spotty. I only have flashes, brief scenes, and other things. I can remember what my second grade teacher looked like and a general description of my classroom, but can remember next to nothing else about it.

Now that we have the backstory set up, let’s fast forward a little… though it’s about to get rather dark.

In 1998 or 1999, while I was a junior or senior in High School, a friend took his own life by taking a shotgun to his head. The news rocked the entire school… and it rocked me even deeper. I’ve always questioned if there was more I could have done… but frankly, I didn’t know anything was wrong. It’s been a long time since that moment, and there’s still a seed of guilt left inside of me, but I’ve mostly come to terms with the fact that there was little I could do.

There are only two published copies of my complete works of poetry in existence, both in three-ring binders I personally printed. My maternal grandmother has one. My friend’s mother has the other, as I did write a poem for him in memory that was published in the school newspaper. It’s not much of a consolidation… but I tried to do something. And that has to count somehow.

Finally, as a teenager (maybe 16-17), I had my first suicidal ideation: the idea of jumping out of a car as we were on an onramp onto a freeway. It’s crystal clear in my head, but I don’t remember why or really anything else about it.

But I do know that suicidal ideation would come to be my constant companion.

Suicidal Ideation & Intrusive Thoughts

Some of you may have experienced suicidal ideation at some point in your life. For me, this is different from suicidal planning, but both can be dangerous.

If you are having passing thoughts on suicide, it’s critical that you get the support you need. This can be done through a licensed therapist, a psychiatrist, the Emergency Room or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Even if you don’t have insurance or funds, there are multiple ways for you to get the support you need. Don’t let fear about money, pride, status or bigotry stop you from finding help.

There is nothing wrong with needing help. There is everything wrong with being too prideful or self-righteous to get it (like I had been).

The reason I put this here and I’m so emphatic is because I didn’t talk about my suicidal thoughts for years. I was afraid of being “committed” to some terrifying psychiatric hospital and put in a straightjacket (which, as I recently found out, are actually almost never used in psychiatric hospitals; some places have outrighted banned them or even made them illegal). I knew the regulations in the state of California, or at least I thought I did. I didn’t actually start talking about them until my mid-30s.

As someone who’s now undergone the process--voluntarily--I can tell you that while it is scary, it’s not nearly as terrifying as Hollywood makes it out to be. For the most part, the people who are part of the process are there because they want to be. They’re kind, compassionate people who really want to help you do better. It takes a special kind of soul to work with people struggling with these issues. They are doing it because they want to help. Please let them.

Intrusive thoughts--at least extreme ones--can be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or sometimes actually lead to developing OCD. To be perfectly honest, in my own research, I couldn’t find a simple or universal description of intrusive thoughts, so I’m just going to tell you mine:

Intrusive thoughts seemingly come out of nowhere. They just pop into my head without warning and often without explanation. They’re often disturbing, violent or even downright evil. Many of mine tend to be self-destructive, tearing apart my self-esteem, my self-worth, trying to convince me that everyone around me hated me, that I’d be better off dead and that ‘they’ll’ never forgive me.

They’re especially common when I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, afraid or guilty.

I have others as well, but these are the ones I want to talk about. They’re the ones who eventually put me in the hospital. And honestly… if I had come clean about them earlier… my life could have been a lot better.

However, I kept my secret. And I wouldn’t be the only one to pay a price for it.

Adulthood with ADHD

When I was 18, I was stupid and arrogant (you know, like most teenagers), and decided “I don’t need medication!” I went off my meds for five years. That was not a good time for me, as my inability to focus was wrecking my schoolwork and hyperfocusing ability kicked in at the wrong times (such as becoming obsessed with The Sims 1), ruining my chances to get a Bachelor of Arts. I started researching treatments, but before I could act on that in college, I ended up getting married to Painted Heart and starting in the workforce.

At age 23, as I was living in Reno with Painted, I went back on medication for ADHD. As far as I remember, I actually did it so I could write fiction again consistently, something I’d loved doing for years even then. After several experiments with a variety of medications (such as Strattera and others I can’t recall), I ended up on Adderall with Clonidine.

Things started to stabilize. However, I do not know if I was ever properly diagnosed with Adult ADHD. Honestly, I don’t remember the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time. That being said, it seemed to work, and since I’m usually a big fan of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” I just continued on with my medication and my life.

Complications

Eventually, I moved back down to Southern California, originally in a desperate attempt to help support my Mom through her intense depression caused by her recent divorce with my Dad. I should note that the divorce occurred while I was in Reno, so it actually didn’t impact me as much as it did for my brother, who was living down here at the time.

After a short time, I landed a job at Apple Retail, which was a dream come true for me--at the time. Painted joined me at the same Apple Store a little while later.

I soon found a new psychiatrist, who I’m going to call Dr. G. I remember describing exactly what I had been on up in Reno, what had been attempted in the past and what worked for my medication. When speaking to the receptionist and after listing off all the information I knew, there was a long pause and he said “So you just need someone to write the prescriptions for you.” I replied with a “Yup.” And that’s pretty much what happened.

What I didn’t realize is that this attitude toward my medication would end up nearly destroying me.

Sadly, Apple Retail slowly changed from somewhere unique to somewhere very much like most other retail environments. Despite that, both Painted and I continued to work there and in 2010, we had our first child, Primary Colour.

During my time with Apple, I had constant episodes of depression. I remember standing in the bathroom, staring at the mirror and thinking to myself (or having the thoughts come into my head) things like “I hate you,” “You’re worthless,” “You’re a joke,” “You don’t deserve anything you have” and similar things. I don’t remember the causes… but I do remember they happened often.

Around this time, Dr. G placed me on 200mg of Wellbutrin, an antidepressant. I frankly don’t remember if the above reason was why I was put on it, but it seemed to work--more or less--so I continued on the medication. Over the next few years, he would try to supplement the antidepressants with more antidepressants. Some of these would have terrible side effects and it got to the point where there were some medications I didn’t even bother trying.

This, of course, was incredibly stupid. I didn’t realize how stupid until later.

A Long History of Mental Health Conditions

I don’t remember exactly when, but my aunt on my mom’s side has twice tried to take her own life, but both times she was not in her right mind. Eventually diagnosed with massive depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, she ended up in an assisted living home for people unable to truly care for themselves. It’s not a terrible place… but I won’t lie… it’s depressing as hell.

On Thanksgiving 2011, we were forced to take my mother-in-law to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and 5150’d (The California term for a mandatory 72-hour hold on someone in a psychiatric facility). This ended up coloring my view of psychiatric care quite a bit, since--as she was from Nevada and didn’t have insurance--she was forced to go to a state run facility in a bad part of a city to the north of us. That place was more prison than hospital… and frankly, I get panic attacks just thinking about having to go in there. This eventually became one of the hurdles I had to overcome in seeking my own treatment.

But the family history isn’t all dark.

My mother has anxiety, depression and ADHD. All of these she has managed to fight with the help of therapy, medication, a close church group and a lot of really good friends. It’s not an easy fight, but she’s frankly a major inspiration. To see how far she’s come from the broken woman we moved in with in 2007 to the successful and cheerful person she is today, even after suffering tragic losses as a result of another’s suicide… it’s amazing.

Seizures & Panic Attacks

In roughly 2009, I started to have some slowly growing minor anxiety issues that seemed to be. I had assumed they were related to my ongoing stress at Apple (mainly conflicts with management about how we treated our customers and some of Apple’s policies). I didn’t think too much of them… but then my stress levels spiked.

The ongoing stress of work, Primary’s health and everything else resulted in my panic attacks, where my body would seize up, I’d be unable to breathe or I felt like I got hit with a bat. The worst ones were at home, where I’d actually collapse, spasm wildly and become catatonic--still completely aware of everything around me, but unable to interact with anyone until it passed.

These were often accompanied my massive guilt, self-loathing and suicidal ideation, thoughts of harming or outright killing myself. Mind you, they were never actual plans. But I would constantly get images of putting a gun to my head (even though I don’t have access to any firearms and maybe have handled an actual firearm three times in my life) or driving off a cliff.

When Primary was about 12 months old (2012ish), she started having what were eventually determined to be “febrile seizures:”

Febrile seizures are convulsions that can happen during a fever, affecting kids 3 months to 6 years old, and are most common in toddlers 12–18 months old. The seizures usually last for a few minutes and are accompanied by a fever above 100.4°F.

Of course, we didn’t know what they were at first and they were completely terrifying. Ironically, during this time, I was able to shove back all my emotions and deal with the issue, but I’d be a wreck afterwards. This “Crisis Response Mode” would turn into both a blessing and a curse.

Primary continued to have seizures off and on until she was roughly 2 or 2 and a half. Some of these were febrile seizures, some of them were “breath-holding spells:”

A breath holding spell may happen after a child has an upset or sudden startle, such as a minor bump or a fright. The child opens their mouth as if to cry but nothing comes out. They then can look very pale or go blue around the lips. They may become limp, fall to the ground and then have convulsive movements of their limbs. The child may recover quickly or be unresponsive for a short period.

As you can imagine, this was extremely stressful on both Painted and myself. It’s terrifying to feel so helpless when you’re child has blue lips and is spasming on the couch, completely unaware of their surroundings. There… really aren’t words.

The First Breaking Point

When Painted was pregnant with Sunny Stage, we were going to take Primary to see a doctor for some much-needed EEGs. Due to an error on my part, I ended up requesting the wrong day off and since Apple Retail has a “point” attendance policy that can result in termination, I was rather freaked. However, instead of showing any hint of compassion so I could be there for the EEG testing, my management required me to “get my shift covered.”

I spent the next six hours at work between helping customers getting every part of my shift covered so I wouldn’t take an attendance point (as a Mac Technician, I had multiple responsibilities). When the store manager came in, she asked for more “accommodations” to make sure the store worked properly without me.

I worked my ass off, but did get it covered, then when Painted came into work, I took Primary home and put her to bed. When Painted came home that night, she told me that another manager had said there was a special provision for parents to take care of their children that bypassed all other rules and regulations.

Meaning the management had made me go through all that for no bloody reason at all.

And that was one of worst panic attacks of my life. I ended up in full convulsions on our bed because of sheer rage, frustration and helplessness. It lasted nearly fifteen minutes and in my thrashing, I ended up ripping part of our bedsheets without even knowing it. Painted almost called an ambulance.

Shortly after that, I went into see Dr. G and asked about a short-term disability leave for panic attacks. I couldn’t go back there, as the panic attacks were now happening at work. I did fail to mention the suicidal ideation though… mostly because I was afraid of being forced into a psychiatric institute.

In addition to signing off on a leave for a couple months--that would go up against my pre-set leave for the birth of Sunny Stage--he prescribed me Klonopin and I went to see a therapist for six weeks.

I should have stayed with the therapy.

Psychiatric Summary, End of Year, 2013

At this point, I was now on four different psychiatric medications: Adderall and Clonidine for ADHD, Wellbutrin for depression and Klonopin for anxiety. All of them seemed moderately successful and I could tell when I had forgotten a dose.

However, I continued to have panic attacks. I continued to deal with massive depression, sometimes without reason, sometimes as a massive overreaction to an external problem. For example, the Wellbutrin couldn’t really help when I was turned down 13 times for a promotion to Mac Technician at Apple. The Klonopin seemed to make the low-level constant anxiety manageable, but I’d still end up in convulsions at home if I was overwhelmed from a fight with Painted or frustration with the children.

Escaping Apple and Panic

In January 2014, I returned to Apple, feeling like I could handle my job again. Two weeks later, I had another attack at work. It was at that point where I realized I had to get out of that store. Thankfully, divine intervention came to my rescue and I got a call back from a local video game studio I’d been applying to for years.

By the time June came around, I had finally left that Apple Store for the last time and started on my new job. For a while, things seemed to be looking up. I continued on my medication, but the symptoms seemed to be much less. I had hoped I would be out of the woods now that I was out of that evil place--though when they fired Painted for “attendance,” because they wouldn’t accept her new availability due to my schedule change for my new job, I found I wasn’t completely over things.

Still, I prospered at my new job and thoroughly enjoyed learning a whole new discipline.

The Concussion

Many of you already know this story, but it’s part of the ongoing narrative, so, I’ll quickly revisit it. On January 22, 2015, while working in our testing lab, a freak accident caused my to slam my left temple into the top of an aluminium iMac. The impact stunned me briefly, but then I shook it off and went back to work for an hour. While driving home, I had a little trouble driving. Then when I got home, I knelt down to give Primary a hug…

...and promptly fell over.

The next day, I went to urgent care to discover I had a significant concussion. After a month of trying to work through the blinding pain--since the concussion had given me severe light sensitivity and sound sensitivity (though the sound sensitivity would fade with time)--my friends, family and doctors convinced me to go on half-days at work. I would come in at 8AM, leave at 1PM and then sit in my darkened bedroom for most of the rest of the day, listening to audiobooks--because that’s what the doctor wanted me to do.

Eventually, this led to the creation of GoE after listening to Fallout: Equestria, and my discovery of just what the MLP FanFic community was capable of… and thankfully, my introduction to you all.

Still, I was on short-term disability and half days for nine months, during that time, I could barely interact with my wife or children because I was so easily overloaded into pain. This would end up causing significant problems. Depression hit me hard during this, as did anxiety, fear of money and similar things, but I soldiered on and even started writing on my own MLP fanfics, starting with, of course The Application of Unified Harmony Magics.

The Disaster

February of 2017, shortly after the launch of the Prologue of GoE, there was an incident that I believe could have resulted in an attempted suicide if I hadn’t been prevented from acting long before it reached that point. Those details are personal, and those who need to know already do know.

In March, things went straight to hell for me. I discovered how much my concussion--and subsequent obsession with GoE--had impacted Painted and the fillies.

Since I had always had extreme problems handling feelings of guilt, these quickly became spirals of hopelessness and self-destruction. I had had issues with massive depression caused by the cruel treatment “so-called” friends before (if you’re reading this… or even have access to this, you’re not one of them, so don’t worry). But this was something else entirely. I started going to counseling for things, because one of Painted’s biggest issues was that I wasn’t getting help… and in truth, I wasn’t getting better.

I had accepted a terrible status quo, having issues with anger, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more. Eventually, Dr. G. put me in something called TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation), which I frankly didn’t think was a real thing, but it did show a minor improvement of my depression (maybe 10%-15%).

However, during this time, another incident happened, which again, could have resulted in a suicide attempt if it hadn’t been stopped by a dear friend. A moment where I was alone… and stuck in a very dark place, feeling hopeless and lost… and seriously wondering if the world would be better off, if my family would be better off without me.

The incident passed and there was no attempt, but the thoughts remained, always hitting me when I was tired, distracted, depressed or weak.

Finding a Therapist

I had been seeing a pastor as a counselor for a good part of the year, but when the TMS therapy started, it was during the only time he was available, so that had to be put on hold. Painted eventually decided to go with a new therapist in our insurance program.

I don’t remember what pushed me to make that extra leap--though I do remember delaying on it for a while--but I finally did. Since she had good things to say about the group, I scanned through their various therapists until I found one that I thought suited me well.

...I also neglected to tell Painted the name of the therapist.

You probably are guessing where this is going, huh? Yup, you’re right.

I ended up with the same therapist as her. My first question was if that would be a problem for… let’s call her Kathy. Kathy said no, there wasn’t an issue, and after thinking about it for a while--and an incredible first session with her--I decided it was a great idea. After all, Painted and I did want to get into couples counseling, but at the moment, we needed to work on doing repairs to ourselves as individuals. But the best part is… when we eventually go to couple’s counseling… she’ll already have both sides of the picture!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The pastor who had been seeing me earlier gave out the suggestion that I may have Asperger's Syndrome (or some other form of high-functioning autism). I found out later that my mother had always suspected that as well. It would explain some of the issues I’ve had (and continue to have) with social interactions, social cues and other aspects. I’ve developed coping mechanisms to deal with it after thirty-odd years, but they’re far from perfect.

When I brought that up to Dr. G, he seemed to dismiss that out of hand, saying there’s no real way to test for it. I also asked about being fully tested for ADHD, as it was around this time I realized I don’t think I’d ever been tested before. Dr. G also waved this off, saying something similar, that there’s no accepted test.

At the time, I believed him. I was mistaken.

At the beginning of 2018, I wasn’t in the best of conditions. I was still struggling with just about everything, but I was now actively seeking help. I found a therapist that I trusted and I liked (in fact, I went from one therapist through work to another outside. They even overlapped for a couple weeks). A lot of this was caused by the sheer level of stress coming at me from all sides.

In fact, I think it was the car situation that finally pushed me to seek counseling at work (and she pushed me to make an appointment with someone beyond that). The very same car situation when resulted in us getting Rarity, the car you all bought for us (which I’m delighted to say, is now my car!). That was a horribly stressful time for everyone… and I wasn’t coping well.

Kathy, my new therapist, after a couple sessions, suggested that some of the symptoms I was showing might be signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Again, this is another condition that tends to be misunderstood, so I’m going back to the DSM-5, usually accepted as the best definition of different psychiatric conditions:

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (300.3)

A.    Presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both:

Obsessions are defined by (1) and (2):

1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or impulses that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.

2. The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

Compulsions are defined by (1) and (2):

1. Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.

2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive.

B. The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The obsessive-compulsive symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.

Another quote that I think wraps it up quite nicely:

Obsessions:

Intrusive, repetitive and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that cause distress

The thoughts do not just excessively focus on real problems in your life

You unsuccessfully try to suppress or ignore the disturbing thoughts, urges, or images

You may or may not know that your mind simply generates these thoughts and that they do not pose a true threat

...sound familiar?

Yeah. When I did some research on OCD and realized it’s not all about ritualistic handwashing or counting things (again a product of Hollywood), I realized… I fit a lot of these descriptors.

Kathy suggested I talk to Dr. G, my psychiatrist, about these problems.

And here’s the moment I’m pretty sure wrecked me:

When I told Dr. G about Kathy’s recommendation, he prescribed me a “low dose” of Prozac without much in the way of investigation (my appointments with him usually lasted 5-15 minutes). He didn’t dive deep to find out why I might be experiencing these symptoms, if there was anything else that might be causing it. Just, “here’s a Prozac, it’ll take maybe 3 months to kick in, now, on your way.”

And now I was on 5 different psychiatric medications.

Back when it was just Adderall and Clonidine, the fast sessions were a good thing. I’d often make my appointments so I could see him during my lunch break when I was with Apple. But now…

Yup. But wait. It gets better, because in reality… I wouldn’t start seeing the effects of this for a few months.

The ADHD Wars

For the longest time, I’ve been taking a specific manufacturer of Adderall that goes by the name of Sandoz. Some years ago, I remember trying another generic. It had horrible side effects, like extreme anxiety, paranoia and just this sense of “everything is wrong.”

In February or March, I couldn’t get my normal prescription and for a month went on a different formula. It was maybe 30% as effective as the Sandoz Adderall. The next month, I tried again… and to my delight, found it at a CVS across the street from my house.

In fact, for about a year and a half, I’d have increasing difficulty locating the Sandoz formula… until May, 2018, where I couldn’t find it anywhere. 

I called 20 pharmacies trying to locate it. This was made even harder by fact that it’s a stimulant and a “Schedule-II” medication, defined by the DEA as:

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.

(For the record, Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin and any methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs.)

In a panic, I contacted Dr. G and asked him what to do. He wasn’t sure, so I suggested the only thing I could think of: brand-name Ritalin, the same stuff that helped me function as a child.

It took quite a bit of work, but Painted and I did find a location that stocked brand-name Ritalin and--without any downtime--I switched from Adderall one day to Ritalin the next. It took me several days to adapt, but even then, the effect was night and day. Adderall helps calm the “storm” of chaotic energy in my mind. Ritalin helps me focus the storm, but it’s like trying to hold a fire hose all alone.

I should also mention… that’s the month of EFNW. I actually took Ritalin for a few days, then swapped back to Adderall for EFNW, because I couldn’t stand to be on an unknown medication while I was at my only Pony convention of the year. I didn’t want that to ruin everything. It was foolish, but I mostly made it through.

I didn’t realize later that I wasn’t nearly as stable as I thought I was. I don’t know if staying on Ritalin during EFNW would have prevented the fires I unintentionally started that weekend… and I can’t go back in time and figured it out. I loved EFNW, but there are some things I wish I could do over. Some mistakes I wish I could take back. Those mistakes may honestly have nothing to do with the medication, I frankly don’t know anymore.

More on this in a bit.

But, I ran out of Adderall shortly after… and it was time to go back on Ritalin.

A month went by like this. Mild paranoia, memory problems, extreme anxiety… I could barely work, I could barely think. Depression began to set in, worse than ever before and without me realizing it, the suicidal ideations were increasing.

The next month, Dr. G decided Ritalin wasn’t working, so he switched me to another ADHD medication (there’s four main groups of chemicals used to combat ADHD), called Focalin. Once again, I immediately swapped between the two (I was never told not to).

The effects weren’t as chaotic, but I couldn’t focus worth a damn and my memory was still a sieve. My work was severely suffering. I would get distracted by something on Discord and lose myself for three hours before I remember I had a report due by the end of the day. I would sometimes hyperfocus and forget about everything else. Also, every hour after taking Focalin, I’d have a minor panic attack, like clockwork.

I wasn’t sure about the dosage, so I tried doubling the dosage (as was suggested by Dr. G if it didn’t work). This occurred three times on a Saturday and I had such crippling panic attacks that I actually collapsed from anxiety, paranoia and pure fear.

At this point, I knew I needed a new psychiatrist. Both Kathy and I agreed that I needed a full psychological workup. My mom came up with the idea of doing it from the ground up, with no preconceptions. A lot of my diagnoses were “grandfathered” in, after all. To be totally honest, I don’t know what mental health condition I have anymore, because stuff like ADHD, OCD, Depression, Anxiety… they can all overlap, both for symptoms or for treatment. Stimulants like Adderall, Focalin and Ritalin have a history of increasing anxiety levels. Antidepressants can actually cause massive depression.

But we had one more surprise before the final bomb went off.

Slipping Sanity

Aside from the obvious problems that landed me in a psychiatric institute, the worst problem during all of these medication changes is not knowing who I was anymore. My mind, my body, my emotions all felt completely out of control. I was terrified to be in any social situation, let alone things that could affect my career. I’d make jokes at terrible times or insult someone without knowing it.

The problem with psychiatric medications is that most of the time, it’s very difficult to tell when they’re active and when they're not. Because I’ve been on them so long, I’ve learned to recognize my own tells and occasionally asked for friends to help me with this. I’ve eventually learned a lot of the tells, but not all of them.

When it’s just me playing a game or something, it’s not a big deal. But when I’m with friends or family or just at work… it’s a massive problem.

Depression started to truly sink in as I questioned if I would ever get to feel “normal” again (or at least my version of normal). I very quickly began to lose any hope. I went on like that for weeks. There were so many times I wanted to curl up under my desk at work and just cry myself to sleep. I was mentally exhausted from all the medications, plus the constant emotional battering of life itself, everything from car repairs to broken air conditioners to stubborn children.

And then… to my utter shock and joy, we found the Sandoz Adderall!

But there was a catch.

...I didn’t go back to normal. Things continued to get worse.

Bombardment

Soon, my mind started to go to dark places, even after the week or so it took for my body to adapt to being on Adderall yet again (and note, Focalin, Ritalin and Adderall are all different chemical formulas, so my brain chemistry was probably all kinds of screwed up).

I remember sitting at an intersection and analyzing the traffic patterns, trying to figure out how to do the most damage to me and the least amount to someone else. Would T-boning another car be better, or would me getting sideswiped be better? That line of thought occurred while I was driving to Kathy.

I constantly had imagery of putting a gun to my head or under my chin. While I was driving, I had this ongoing image of putting a sword through my chest.

I drove by one of those large freeway signposts, stared at the concrete base and thought about driving into it. Or into the unused toll booths near my house.

I even had a thought process of “if you die, maybe you’ll come back as a person you don’t want to be. Oh wait, I don’t believe in reincarnation. Well, heaven’s still got to be better than this.”

Once I realized ideation was now staying around long enough to go into rationalization… that’s when I got really worried.

If I was alone, I eventually started to get hit with ideas like this between 1-3 times every 5 minutes. I couldn’t even get up from my desk and use the bathroom without getting hit multiple times.

I’d pick up a pair of scissors to put back in the kitchen and feel it start before I told it to shut up.

There were literally times when I yelled out loud “Shut the fuck up!” or “Leave me alone!” Sometimes, I’d just scream. Sometimes I’d just whimper and beg for them to stop.

They never did.

For the record, I usually call these thoughts “voices,” but I never hear actually auditory voices. They’re always intrusive thoughts.

Now, I usually just push these sorts of thoughts away, but the thing about constantly pushing things away… eventually, you get tired.

Kathy’s Concerns

For a few sessions, Kathy had asked if I would consider checking into the ER. I expressed my concern with saying “I don’t think the ER can help me.” In fact, many of these medications needed to be worked out my system over the course of weeks… a hospital isn’t set up for that kind of long-term care.

Part of this was my own ignorance and what I thought I knew about hospitals and ERs from shows like Scrubs or that psychiatric hospital episode for Psych. I was a bloody idiot.

By the time July started, I started to feel like I was under the effect of some horrific psychological torture. Kathy started having me do things just to keep me out of my own head, because when I locked onto a movie, a TV show, some roleplaying games, a game… I would lose myself and not have to suffer through it. We were trying to get me to hold out until I could see the new psychiatrist at the beginning of August.

We tried… but things weren’t getting better. Every new problem was a disaster. Every tiny thing was a catastrophe. I was in the middle of a war for my own mind and I was losing.

And yes, if you’re wondering, the Prozac had taken effect by now. However, Kathy is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. She cannot professionally recommend I take/stop taking medication. The other concern was… what if the Prozac is actually helping? What if me going off of it would take me to an even worse spot?

...I wasn’t willing to make any further changes to my meds without a psychiatric consult, and frankly, I never want to see Dr. G ever again. He’d bounced me to medication to medication with little regard for slowing me down or weaning me off. He didn’t seem slightly interested in actually digging deep to find out what the hell was going on.

So I tried to stick it out.

I failed.

Tipping Point

I had an appointment with Kathy at 4PM on Monday, July 16, 2018. I left work a little early that day--after more than a few meltdowns and panic attacks that a few friends helped me tank a little, including one massive one I hadn’t been prepared for.

This is after the weekend where Painted had accidentally sliced her hand open cooking, so bad that she required two stitches to fix the damage. Two weekends before that, my AC died during a record-breaking heat wave of over 110 (it was 92 degrees at 11:30 PM at night in the house). I was forced to do a lot of work in finding us someone, but thankfully a good friend saved me and my family from being forced to endure a mall or something insane like that by inviting us into his home.

And as I left work on got on the freeway… my check engine light went on in Rarity, the car we’d gotten only a few months ago. I remember my reaction was actually subdued, more like a “what next?”

When I went in to talk to her, I was pretty much a zombie. Kathy looked scared. I had a fatalistic attitude, and though I can’t remember my words, I remember feeling utterly hopeless and utterly helpless.

I begged her to tell me what to do.

And we talked about the fear of both the suicidal ideation and the depression hitting at the same time… and that would potentially cause a mistake I couldn’t come back from.

There was only one thing left.

It was time to check myself into the Emergency Room.

I’m Still Here

The story doesn’t end here. What follows next in a hellish month actually experiencing how treatment for severe (or at least dangerous) mental health issues goes. What’s worse, I’ll be jerked around to a total of four different facilities before my insurance finally decides to play ball.

At one point, a nurse told me that “I just need to know how to play the game when it comes to insurance companies.”

One catch: in this “game,” the stakes were my life.

Sadly, things only get worse, including my worst panic attack to date and the closest I’ve ever come to doing something permanent.

Despite all that, I’m still here. And even yesterday I got another bombshell dropped on my head. I’m still here.

There are times I don’t want to be here, but I am.

What Comes Next

Writing this blog was exhausting, emotionally, spiritually, mentally… but I did it for a few reasons.

I need to make one thing clear: I didn’t write this for fame or attention.

I am currently under psychiatric care at a professionally licensed facility, seeing a psychiatrist three times a week, going to group sessions about everything from support structures to coping skills. I’ve built a support structure of people I trust to help me stay safe. I’m still fighting these demons. I’m fighting them every hour of every day. This war isn’t even close to being over.

This is not something I’m proud of.

Let me tell you why I’m posting this (and why I’ll be posting the rest of this as well):

1. To be transparent about my struggles with mental health: I’m sick to death of the stigma around mental health. If you went into the hospital for a liver transplant, you could post about it on Facebook. But if you got to a psychiatric facility? You need to keep that quiet. Bullshit. Part of the reason so many suffer in silence is because they think they have to. This is only a taboo topic because we let it be a taboo topic. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

2. To show you some of the solutions: You’ve now seen part of my path (and it is far from over). Therapists, psychiatrists, counselors… they’re out there. There are facilities that will help you for free (though you may need to hunt for them). Many employers offer a free six-week period with a therapist through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you need help, get help.

3. To show you the price of staying silent/ignorant/prideful: I’m thirty-six. If I had gotten the treatment I needed at an earlier age, I can’t imagine what my life would be like. You may be younger than me or older than me. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t get help, you’re going to pay for it. Maybe even pay the ultimate price. You don’t have to.

4. To show you that you aren’t alone: If you deal with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or any number of other mental health issues, there are millions like you out there. I’m one of them. You probably work with a bunch of people with these issues, or maybe go to school with them. Some people are better at hiding it than others. But you never really know… unless someone does something like this. You are not alone.

There are many other reasons, ones I’m not articulate enough to talk about right now. This is a message that needs to be heard. Mental health is not something to be ashamed of. Maybe this post will bite me in the ass somehow someday. I don’t care. If it helps a single person get the help they need, then it’s worth it. But even more importantly, it’s part of my journey to try and get better.

And don’t let yourself be fooled: it is a journey. It’s a brutal, agonizing, painful journey that will break you down into tiny pieces and force you to come face-to-face with the worst parts of yourself.

It’ll also show you the good in you, too. And guess what? There’s usually a lot more good inside of us than we give ourselves credit for.

I’m not sure when the next part of this will come out. I’m still in the war and I may be in it for months. But I’ll do my best to stay in contact.

I’m still here. And I’m still fighting.

-Novel Idea.


The Quiet War Blog Series:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4


If you are in an immediate crisis where are you struggling with any of the problems in this blog, please contact a professional psychiatrist, go to your nearest Emergency Room or contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Comments ( 67 )

*internet hug*
I'm so sorry you've had to go through so much. As always, let us know if we can help in any way :heart:

Love ya, Novs, and take care :heart:

*eHug*

::huge, huge hugs::

There is something that sticks out hugely in your history, because sounds very very similar to something I have. Have you ever talked to a psychiatrist or neurologist about conversion disorder/psychogenic seizure disorder? It's a combination psychiatric/physical disorder where the brain reinterprets emotional or stress signals into physical signals and causes physical symptoms, in your and my case seizure fits. I'm currently having trouble with treating it because mine is caused by noise hyperstimulation, but since most people who have it have your type, i.e. visual/emotional triggers, perhaps you'd have better luck getting it treated?

Three years and one month ago I lost my twin sister to suicide.

She had a multitude of problems with her mental health, many of which I recognize from above, and fell into legal trouble, which eventually led to her incarceration in a federal institution.

I remember speaking to her that day. She seemed totally normal—we talked, we laughed, she urged me to ask out someone I was interested in… and then a few hours later I got the news that she was gone.

I’ve gone over that conversation hundreds of times since that day. Little things I said, wondering if there was something, anything I could have done.

We later learned it was not her first attempt.

Ever since I’ve dont everything in my power to avoid even the thought of suicide. I’d never really understood the idea of a “trigger” before, but now I find myself switching off media that depicts it. Hell, even the suicide tag here in FIMfiction gives me a sick feeling in my stomach when I see it. The tag! And don’t get me started on “Lullaby for a Princess.”

My sister lied constantly, stole both my property and my identity, and many other things. There were times where I was so frustrated with her that I didn’t even want to live in the same house as her. I say that because I had every reason to be angry or frustrated or hopeless in regard to her, but that doesn’t stop me from missing her so damn much.

I would give anything to have her back—lying, stealing, everything. The world is a darker place without her, because despite all the trouble she got herself into she was still an amazing person who saw the best in people and brought so much joy and happiness into my life that I didn’t appreciate until it was too late.

I guess where I’m coming from with this is that please, from someone who has lost a family member to suicidal depression, PLEASE seek help if you’re having any of these thoughts. No matter how messed up things seem, or how little you think you’ll be missed, or even how much better you think everyone will be without you, you’re wrong. You’re so, so wrong. We love you more than you could possibly know, and not a day goes by that we will not miss you.

Novel, I am so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this, and thank you for being open with your struggle so others can see it. Society needs to open its eyes to suicide, because if we continue to live in the dark then we will continue to lose incredible, amazing people, and the world will be poorer for it.

And to everyone else, again, don’t be afraid to seek help. There is no shame in it. You do not have fight this battle alone.

*hugs* I wish I could do more for you.

Good luck.

I'm very glad you're still fighting. And it does help other people. I've had mental health issues before, and even though I'm doing much better now it helps to be reminded of things. Stuff like that this is real, this is serious, that other people have been through this particular hell before, and even just to be reminded both of the progress you've made and that progress is possible.

Thank you very much for sharing this, I can't imagine how much courage it takes to bare your soul on the internet of all places. I notice how everyone who talks about this feels like they have to clarify they're not doing this for fame or attention. It should be blindingly obvious it's not to anyone who is really really hearing you or who has been through it themselves, not to mention anyone who knows how crowds can be. So yeah, thanks for your courage. We're all fighting our way up the mountain, and this kind of thing gives us a bit more ammunition.

Blogs like this always make me pause before I begin to type, because I never know what to say. I'll start by simply explaining my feelings on what you have shared, and if this can help you I am very grateful for that.

I understand a least a small part of how you feel, as I am going through something similar now. Continued frustrations at work over alleged behavioral problems and my stress over them have led me to seek medical aid for my ADHD. I have to be officially rediagnosed since it's been over ten years since I received any treatment for my condition; I haven't been on Ritalin since high school, and I'm now thirty years old. I'm on Adderall for now and it has helped me immensely, but my psychiatrist (who I met for the first time last month, as my former psychiatrist had passed away without me even knowing it, I saw him so rarely after high school) suspects there's "more to it" than just ADHD and he wants to see me again. What he means by that and what the future holds for me, I have no idea.

I do not think I am depressed, but I'm not even sure I would be able to recognize if I was. I at least know I have struggled with self-esteem issues for years due to social isolation and a string of abusive teachers who would insult me to my face. I have graduated college, with honors, and am very proud of that, but career prospects in my chosen career field are slim due to its simple nature, and if not for my volunteering at a local cable station, I would have no exposure to my chosen field at all. I have often contemplated giving up on my career, settling in at McDonald's or some other menial job, and resigning myself to a stable life of mediocrity. It is in contrasting the joy and contentment of my volunteering against my distaste and tolerance of my job that I find the strength to snap myself out of those thoughts - I know where I'd want to be five days a week if I could, and it ain't Mickey D's. I want a job that means more to me than a paycheck, even if that takes time.

I wish there is something I could say that could help you and make you feel better, but I don't know what that may be - I have never been through the hell you describe nor have I posted a blog pouring my heart out like this and received comments on it. Aside from sharing my own struggles in relation to yours, what I can offer is the sincere statement that you have personally improved my life since we met.

I have been honored to be a part of the Sunset Sliders projects and had great fun in writing them. The knowledge that you, Alby, and Oroboro would all attend Everfree Northwest motivated me to attend, and there I experienced one of the greatest joys of my life as I listened to someone read something I wrote out loud to an applauding audience. When I bumbled my way to trying and failing to do so myself, you guided me by hand to the Nook, where I have made many wonderful friends and shared more works of writing with them, proud to show off my own and delighted to partake in theirs. Now more than ever, I feel accepted by this fandom and am happy to be part of it.

I had messaged you on Discord earlier in the month, simply thank you for inviting me to the Nook, that I can partake of these things. I had no awareness of the extent of your ordeals and nothing in particular caused me to do this, I simply had a moment to reflect and realize how grateful I was that I was no here. Please allow me to reiterate that sentiment now - thank you for being my friend, for bringing me closer to the MLP and fanfiction community, both directly and indirectly, and for being such a great part of that community that you have enabled all of us to become closer through your projects and through the Nook.

I offer you my support, my friendship, and my sincerest hopes that you will slay these demons that so plague you and be able to return to your life to rebuild what has been damaged. Should there ever be anything I could do to help, please simply say the word and if I am able to aid, I will.

Thank you. Thank you deeply for sharing this with us. :fluttershysad: I weep that you've gone through so much pain and anguish for so long, but I laud the herculean effort you and Painted have made through it all. I hope and pray that things will improve for you in this fight.

Thank you, Novel, for sharing this with us.

I'm going to share this with a good friend, and adoptive sister, because a lot of what you detailed in the mental stuff rings true with things she's told me and others.....

And keep fighting, Novel! This is a war you can win, I just know it!

I have no words.

I am here if you want to talk.

Jesus, dude.
My one consolation from an eerily similar backstory is this;
All that fighting? It's served the purpose of shaping you into one bad motherfucker.

Even though we've never met, and frankly have only spoken a handful of times, I believe in you. So when you can't believe in yourself, believe in us who believe in you.

The words.... I have only once ever seriously considered killing myself. I was in the car and it would have been so so easy to take my seat belt off, hit the gas, and end the pain.

The thoughts of how much pain it would cause my wife, then my girlfriend, is the only reasons I’m alive today.

All I can realy say is that I care that your in pain and wish you weren’t.

That I am happy your alive and here with us.

Hey.

Hey you.

We all love you, ok? :heart:

My prayers will be with you, bro. Keep going.

I can relate at least to the part about having a kid with a seizure. It was a little over a year ago now when our youngest had a really bad one while we were on vacation. I didn't know at the time, but found out later that he actually died for a little while as the EMTs and stuff were working on him. My wife didn't tell me because it was gutting enough for her to face alone; actually opening up to someone else seemed inconceivable. And it gutted me right along with her once I found out.

I don't really know what to say except that we all feel the pain of mortality play out in different ways, but I'm glad you're still around feeling it with us. And I hope you're able to find a combo of stuff that helps you pull out of it, to at least some extent.

It's always when people open themselves up the most, that I have the least amount of things to say. Maybe it's just because I don't know what to say. Maybe it's because I'm looking for the magical word that'll make everything better.

I don't have it. I wish I did. I wish I was better at comforting people and knowing what to say at times like this. All I can say is keep fighting, Novel.

I've been here six years now, and you're one of the best friends I've made in this fandom. You and Mono were the first friends from here I dared to meet in person, and I wouldn't trade that day for anything. Your dedication to writing, your empathy, and clearly, your resolve are all inspiring. Yes, you have some serious resolve. Just hearing what you've gone through makes me wilt and whimper. You've gone through all nine rings of hell, but you keep walking.

You're strong. Incredibly so.

So keep fighting, Novel. Keep walking forward. Just remember, we're right behind you.

I’ve been on every single medication you listed except Prozac. I’m currently on Wellbutrin and another medication I’m forgetting the name of right this second. I miss my ADHD meds though. Sure, they made me masturbate too much and wrecked my sleep hygiene but they helped me write music and horse words.

I need to talk to my brother. May I link this to him? He's forward with what he's facing as well, but I think he could benefit from reading this, with your permission.

As to you... you are loved, and you are appreciated, and valued, by so many more than you may ever realize. Thank you for sharing this... and take care of yourself. We're here for you, any way we can be.

Hey Novel.

That was a lot of personal story to take in, and a lot of stuff I wouldn't wish on anyone. The sense I get from this, and from most everyone I've spoken to who deals with anything in this general sphere, is that of a struggle against yourself. It's also not always a struggle that there's enough help with, either; the state of mental health care, as you note here, is... variable, at best, and sometimes dismal.

I particularly hate the stigma, because it feels like such a burning injustice that the people inflicted with some of the most insidious and crippling problems should have to endure the extra kick when they're down of being blamed for being unwell – as if it was a choice to be in that condition.

But happily, it's not all bad. There is help out there, and some of it is pretty good. I hear a lot of horror stories, but also a lot of success stories. It sounds like you're getting there, so never stop working to find what's right for you. You're worth it. Absolutely. Don't you ever doubt that, because I look forward to reading your success story. So, I'm sure, does everyone who struggles with these problems who can be helped and inspired to retake control of their lives by knowing that there is hope, and that it's not out of reach. Heck, just that you're still here and still fighting is an inspiration in its own right.

And that capacity for inspiration is maybe the most important reason to hang in there and keep going for the win, because... okay, this is gonna sound cheesy, but I'm serious here: the service we can do for others by the example we create in ourselves is part of the magic of friendship. That's something that being part of the MLP community taught me. There's an incredible power in just showing people that it really can be done. Helping yourself to overcome challenges also helps in its own way to pull for everyone else who also faces those challenges. We're all each other's teachers, and we're all each other's students.

It was great to meet you at EFNW 2018.
And I hope you can be there with us at EFNW 2019.

If you want or need someone to talk to, about whatever, feel free to message me anytime. Don't know how much grand advice (or even regular advice) I can hand out about every issue, but I do know I can listen, and sometimes that's something.

Most of all, take care of yourself.

*hugs*

*hugs*

You’re one of the people I respect the most in the fandom. We all love, keep on fighting.

I have trouble understanding some of that, only because of who I am. See I suffer the other side of things, to my determent in a lot of cases. I am, well lets just say stubborn to a level that is unhealthy and has caused many a issue with friends, family, and my own life. Don't really want to get into it here but if you want, next con we hang out at, we can go talk if you wish to know. Hell I owe you a beer/soda anyways for being willing to hang out and talk with this dumb ol stallion.

All that said, it ain't much to offer, and I know we have met only at conventions. However, if you ever need someone you just ask, ... to quote a very good country song can sum up how I feel about folks I know far better than I am capable of expressing in person.

You find out who your friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get their fast
Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.'
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who you're friends are - Tracy Lawrence 'find out who your friends are'

:fluttershysad:

I have a suicide attempt in my past. Over the past four years medication stopped working for me so I've tried everything. All the meds, ECT, TMS, ketamine. I'm probably going to try another ketamine series soon.

Depression is terrible and people who don't have it don't usually understand what it's like. I'm not "sad", I never cry really, I'm just empty inside much of the time.

Take care of yourself and lean on your friends. There's always hope that things will get better because depression is a treatable condition. :heart:

*Non-creepy hug*

Truly brave of you to share so deeply. I have had problems with anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts in the past, but I do not have the courage to dig those thoughts and feelings up and share them so openly. It must have been difficult recalling all those memories, and I hope that this didn't cause you too much pain to share. Keep on keepin' on, my friend.

What can I say that hasn't already been said?

I understand far more of this than I should, and far less than I might. Thank you for opening up. I have done my best to hear you.

Sending hugs your way.

I can't imagine that anything I have to say could help, but at least know that I'm hoping for the best for you.

Wanderer D
Moderator

I started reading this last night and just finished now. Dude, whatever (ignorant) people might say, it takes a LOT of courage to face things head on, and be able to share them. I'm glad you did, and I respect you so much more so for being capable of this.

I spent 30 minutes trying to think of what to write here and I still cannot think of how to express what I want to say (Even this final message took an extra 10 minutes!). Whenever I read something like this, or talk to my friends and brother who suffer from many of these issues, I'm always sacred of saying the wrong thing. Scared of pushing for too much information. So thank you for writing this. It's helped me get one of my friends to open up about their own problems and consider more help.

And while I know we haven't spoken much, please know that I am wishing you and your family all the best and I will continue to offer you support in anyway I can.

I truly hope things can turn out happy for you. Sometimes life may tear you down but there's always a reason to fight back and come out stronger. It may not feel like things will ever get better but they can and they will if you hold on and search for the key. It may take time, but in the end, if you're happy again; then all the time spent reaching it, is worth it.

Best wishes. :heart:

As someone who has suffered from mental health problems my entire life, I can definitely sympathize. I've been suicidal since I was seven or eight, and have made one attempt; and every day is a battle to function. Fortunately for me, I've had good people around me (aside from my family, who have been considerably less than helpful), and few responsibilities aside from work to add pressure to an already overloaded brain.

You've certainly overcome quite a few roadblocks in the process. Having such a useless doctor as your psychiatrist certainly did not help.

I hope that you can get the help you need to become stable and happy, and stay that way. I know it's hard, and requires a lot of outside help at times; and there is always the stigma, and the feeling that "I can do this on my own" or "It's all in my head, I just need to be stronger".

I haven't been to EFNW yet (which is annoying, since I live in the area), but am planning to attend next year, and I really hope I get to meet you in person, just to say "Hi" and that I'm a fan of your writing here.

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And that's what so many people who have never experienced it always get wrong. Clinical depression is not about feeling "sad" or "blue" or "depressed" in the conventional sense. It's about feeling little more than bleak, gray, emptiness; mind full of flat, leaden fog that makes it hard to feel much of anything beyond a sort of abstract despair.

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Thank you all for your messages of solidarity and comfort. Every little comment shows that you were willing to put in the time to leave something, and that's yet another weapon that helps fight against that evil little voice that says "no one cares."

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I don't have true seizures, I have convulsions (at least that's what the doctors have said). However, one of the goals with this part of my therapy is getting a complete psychiatric workup from the ground up, so I'll be exploring every option and choice. I'll ask my psychiatrist next time I see him.

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First and foremost, I'm so sorry that your sister lost that battle. It's an insidious thing... and sadly, if a person doesn't find a way to open up, it can be hidden. My friend in high school hid it from me (at least as far as I can remember). We both know that words are insufficient to the task of comforting someone like this, but I hope you'll take what you can from these.

I guess where I’m coming from with this is that please, from someone who has lost a family member to suicidal depression, PLEASE seek help if you’re having any of these thoughts. No matter how messed up things seem, or how little you think you’ll be missed, or even how much better you think everyone will be without you, you’re wrong. You’re so, so wrong. We love you more than you could possibly know, and not a day goes by that we will not miss you.

I'm just going to requote that so people will see it easier.

Novel, I am so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this, and thank you for being open with your struggle so others can see it. Society needs to open its eyes to suicide, because if we continue to live in the dark then we will continue to lose incredible, amazing people, and the world will be poorer for it.

That's one of my goals, something that both Monochromatic and Heartshine have both done major work on: revealing the truth behind mental health conditions. This stigma needs to be destroyed, because it's preventing good people from getting the help they need.

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It is encouraging, as right now, the road to recovery is lost in some distant mountain lost in the fog.

Thank you very much for sharing this, I can't imagine how much courage it takes to bare your soul on the internet of all places.

Well, in FimFic's defense, it isn't just the internet. Posting this kind of thing on 4Chan would be insanity. :rainbowderp:

I notice how everyone who talks about this feels like they have to clarify they're not doing this for fame or attention. It should be blindingly obvious it's not to anyone who is really really hearing you or who has been through it themselves, not to mention anyone who knows how crowds can be.

There are people who post stuff about suicide and mental health conditions, those who use it as an excuse for poor behavior and sometimes--yes--just to get attention, to get validation that they exist by people reacting to that. They may be looking for someone who cares (though I doubt they're thinking of it that clearly).

I guess the big difference is that I'm saying the ones I've hurt without realizing... this isn't an excuse, but it is something I'm working VERY HARD on, and a bit of a plea not to give up on me yet.

So yeah, thanks for your courage. We're all fighting our way up the mountain, and this kind of thing gives us a bit more ammunition.

Bloody high mountain, let me tell you...

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My psychiatrist ... suspects there's "more to it" than just ADHD and he wants to see me again. What he means by that and what the future holds for me, I have no idea.

I get the long journey part. I know it all too well. As for him wanting to see you again, the fact is that the symptoms of ADHD overlap with other conditions, including OCD and even bipolar disorder (often Type II). He probably is trying to be thorough, and that's actually a really good sign. Dr. G was never that thorough. Anyone who's invested enough to even put that much effort into it, that's worth keeping!

I do not think I am depressed, but I'm not even sure I would be able to recognize if I was. I at least know I have struggled with self-esteem issues for years due to social isolation and a string of abusive teachers who would insult me to my face

The biggest thing I needed out of all of this was an outside perspective. My best advice would be to hold nothing back when you're talking with your psychiatrist, and don't forget to get a therapist in addition to the psychiatrist. Medication won't help you develop the coping skills you need to manage whatever is going on. Therapy is what does that. Medication just makes it a little easier to handle.

Aside from sharing my own struggles in relation to yours, what I can offer is the sincere statement that you have personally improved my life since we met.

I have been honored to be a part of the Sunset Sliders projects and had great fun in writing them. The knowledge that you, Alby, and Oroboro would all attend Everfree Northwest motivated me to attend, and there I experienced one of the greatest joys of my life as I listened to someone read something I wrote out loud to an applauding audience. When I bumbled my way to trying and failing to do so myself, you guided me by hand to the Nook, where I have made many wonderful friends and shared more works of writing with them, proud to show off my own and delighted to partake in theirs. Now more than ever, I feel accepted by this fandom and am happy to be part of it.

This... actually, this is a big freaking deal. It's another weapon to use against the voice that tells me that nothing I do makes a difference and that no one really cares about my passions or the work I do striving to create great stories and even cool communities. So thank you so much for this. It helps. It really does.

Please allow me to reiterate that sentiment now - thank you for being my friend, for bringing me closer to the MLP and fanfiction community, both directly and indirectly, and for being such a great part of that community that you have enabled all of us to become closer through your projects and through the Nook.

You are very welcome, but also, thank you for telling me this. :)

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Thank you. Getting it out wasn't a fun experience, but it was a necessary one, a healing one. And the solidarity I'm seeing from so many different people is incredibly uplifting.

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If this helps a single soul, then I'm thrilled beyond measure. Thank you for thinking of sharing it.

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I know you're there. A day doesn't go by when I don't think about it. And when the time is right, I very much plan to take you up on that offer, Ebon.

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My one consolation from an eerily similar backstory is this;
All that fighting? It's served the purpose of shaping you into one bad motherfucker.

I'll admit, this is a statement that has never been attributed to me before. I think I like it. Thank you so much.

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I may not have a lot to say but your stories have brightened my days at times.

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Glad to have been of help. :twilightsmile:

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When the person I shared it with reads it, I am sure it'll help.

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I've always found it to be a good weapon against that cunty voice.
Because no matter how many times you've been on the ropes, how many times you've staggered, you keep getting back up and asking for another.
It's kinda cheesy, but shit like the Rocky monologue really kinda help me a lot; "It's not about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can get hit.

This is my mentality
When I see people my age and older struggling with this shit, I salute. Normative people don't know what it's like for us. They don't know what it's like to be as tough as us. I can only hope I'm giving you a good enough stick here, but I don't pity you in the slightest, or feel like this is whingey.
It's no different than listening to the guy at the Legion talk about 'Nam. Nut farms are no different than the patch-up hospitals we had in WWII where they'd sew you up, put your rifle back in your hands, and push you back out.

My whole life I've been by myself, and only had to worry about my own health, mental and physical. To live with the shit we do, and adding a family to that? And still not dropping?
You're a bad motherfucker, Novel, and I hope to shake your hand someday.

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The thoughts of how much pain it would cause my wife, then my girlfriend, is the only reasons I’m alive today.

I was writing in my journal during a darker part, and these thoughts are what stopped me from doing something to make things very permanent. Guilt's not a good motivation in the long run, but it's great short-term.

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My wife didn't tell me because it was gutting enough for her to face alone; actually opening up to someone else seemed inconceivable. And it gutted me right along with her once I found out.

She is a wise woman. I would have shattered under the weight of that information.

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