Friday, January 19, 2018

My Quirky Brain

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are currently experiencing winter. And it's not been easy. This winter in particular has left me somewhat existentially worn down. Between almost a month straight of sub-zero temperatures I've been dealing with the stress of introducing a new dog to our household. On top of that the cold literally caused the building's boiler to break, our door locks to freeze and break, and the electrical system in the neighborhood to break, which resulted in brown-outs. It's been a rough time.

In fact it got so bad that I started taking the Zoloft that my doctor prescribed back in August. Yes, I have been struggling with mental health issues for much of life and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to discuss it. I feel like all of society could benefit if we were more open about our own mental illnesses. In my opinion they should be no different than a sprained ankle. It's just something that happens to you and not in any way a character defect.

Also I should note real quick, before we get started, that these pictures have nothing to do with this post. I mean, they were taken this winter, but they have nothing to do with my mental health. They've just been piling up on my phone and I thought that I should share them. This seemed as good a time as any.

Honestly I didn't know that was dealing with anxiety until I met with a therapist who diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Once I read more about it, my initial thought was "so everyone isn't like this all the time? Other people don't constantly worry about unlikely worst case scenarios?" Apparently not. Other people don't try to go to sleep at night while their mind ponders what to do if terrorists detonate a nuclear weapon nearby. Well, I do.

At no point in my life had I ever thought of myself as an anxious person. But once I started to do that a lot of my behaviors started to make sense. I had always worried about stuff. I was always overthinking everything. But I thought that was normal.

It was actually my partner Kath who really pushed me to try and get on some anti-anxiety medication. Go to your general practitioner at your next checkup, she'd say, and ask for anti-anxiety medication. Of course, I didn't want to do that. What if the doctor thought that I was a junkie making stuff up so I could score?

Also brain altering chemicals sort of frighten me. If a chemical can alter my personality, then who am I really? Of course, that's bunk because I've certainly been known to happily enjoy alcohol which is another mind altering chemical. Plus, I figured it was probably better to not take anti-anxiety meds because what if they made me too relaxed? What if there are things I should be worrying about? I don't know. I didn't like the idea of medication.

Eventually Kath was able to convince me to just ask. But it took like three visits before I was able to. I got some Zoloft and took it for three days. Then I stopped. The drug made me weirdly drowsy. And I say weirdly drowsy because I wasn't tired so much as I was just slow. So I stopped taking it.

With no medication or therapy my mental health obviously didn't improve. In fact, I had found myself drifting towards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Seriously. I have developed a few rituals. And the thing is, I know these rituals are crazy. For instance, I'll check something (for instance the stove burners), tapping each five or seven times to ensure that everything is okay. It is. And then I'll usually go back and check a couple more times, just to be sure. And I fully know this is crazy.

So after all the shit went down this winter, I found myself at the end of my tether. Kath saw me and told me that I didn't have to be this happy. Thus, I started to take to my Zoloft again, drowsiness be damned. It's only been about a week, but I am doing better. That may completely unrelated, but it's nice to be doing better. 

And I should say that in general my life is going rather well. Someone said that a way to tell if your life is good is to break it into categories and see how you're doing in each. So I did that. Here are my categories:
  • Professional Life: My job is stable, if a little boring. I don't fit in with my more conservative and "normal" coworkers. But the work isn't stressful and the hours and pay are fairly good. B-
  • Creative Life: My new book hasn't been picked up by publishers, but it's gotten great reviews from readers. My podcast is going pretty good. We just launched the Gender Rebels YouTube channel, and I'm a third of the way through my next novel. A
  • Romantic Life: I have a wonderful and amazing partner to share my life with. A+
  • Social Life: I have a good number of wonderful friends, and though the holidays and winter have slowed my social schedule, it'll gear back up. A+
  • Mental Health: Winter and life have gotten me depressed and stressed. Anxiety and OCD aren't helping. But I'm taking doctor-recommended medication that may help. C-
  • Physical Health: I'm healthy and have managed to cut back on my drinking. I could eat less and work out more. B+
That's a pretty good report card. And the nice thing is that will warm up. Eventually. 

There's still a few months of winter left, so wish me luck.


  1. You are an inspiration Faith Dabrooke. May I wish you well with every aspect of your life and hope winter will abate.

  2. Winter is a tough time for anyone, lack of sun or warmth... I can go into a sump... gained weight... Life has some ups and downs, Hang in there, great pictures, you look gorgeous...what type of dog....share some pics of the new family member...

    1. Thank you, Stephanie. We'll all keep hanging in there this winter. Except for our Australian friends who are enjoying summer right now. :)

      Also I'm sure I'll post some pet pictures soon.