In which I require psychiatric help

I am going to be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future. New Covid cases in Indiana and in my county have skyrocketed since our school board made the decision to return to school, (scroll down and select the state) and I don’t actually expect the kids to be back for very long, but I am going to keep teaching from my house, and I’m currently working out exactly how that’s going to work with my various and sundry co-workers who are affected by this decision.

Now, this is not the reason that I’m working from home, but as this whole thing drags on it’s becoming more and more of a problem: masks give me panic attacks, and nothing I’ve been able to do has been able to fix that. Furthermore, none of the masks I’ve found have really made much of a difference, although some are better in some ways than others. Now, to be completely clear: this absolutely does not affect whether I wear a mask in public! I’m just fucking freaking out while I’m doing it. If I’m outside my house and not in the car, I’m wearing a mask, and I’ve noticed that if I’m talking to people it’s generally not bad, so it might be that an eight-hour day where I’m constantly talking to students might not be as bad as I think it is. But I had to go into my building twice today (don’t ask) and I discovered a new wrinkle to this whole thing: even the mildest physical activity makes it a lot worse. Like, say, climbing stairs to get to my classroom. Both times I went upstairs today– a single flight, mind you– I was damn near ready to claw my face off by the time I got to my classroom. I start focusing on my breathing, which leads to heavier breathing, which quickly turns into a really nasty spiral that I don’t like at all.

This is not a call for excuses to avoid wearing masks (and, for the record, my issues with them date to well before Covid-19 was an issue,) it’s a call for strategies for dealing with panic attacks. I’m already on Effexor for anxiety issues, which I continue to think is a lifesaver, but I’m not going to up my dose just because of mask issues, and I’m not convinced that would help anyway. I need, like, concrete strategies for how to trick my brain out of falling into a panic spiral every time I start thinking about my breathing. Because one way or another this is going to keep being a thing for a while, and I need a way to deal with it. Anybody have any suggestions?

In which I’m not here right now

This song has nothing to do with the post.

I slept last night, at least in the technical sense, and I vaguely remember even being pretty comfortable, so it wasn’t a tossy-turny sort of night, but hell if I didn’t spend the entire night having constant, vivid anxiety dreams of the sort of “I’m late for work/unprepared for class/can’t find my clothes/everything is going wrong” sort of genre, along with a handful of actual nightmares that I don’t remember as specifically. I still owe you guys a post about the training last week and I want to review a game called Salt and Sanctuary that ate a large chunk of my free time last week (and is about to eat an hour of tonight) but I’m going to bed early tonight and I’m going to hope I’m more of a human being at work tomorrow than I was today.

That said, briefly: I’ve had a couple of days recently where I know good and goddamned well that I’d have come home from work and immediately spent the entire evening stressing out and looking at want ads, and since I’ve been on the Effexor … well, the job and the kids aren’t better, but my reactions to them have been a hell of a lot healthier. Like, I can have a bad day at work now and come home and just lay the shit aside and have a nice night with my family. This shit is a miracle drug, which is not something I’d ever have said about Lexapro. I could be writing more fiction, but … well, that’s never not true, so meh.

I’ll try and be more productive tomorrow.

Mental health check

We’re at … three weeks? A month? Let’s say three weeks– on the Effexor, and other than the nightmare week of constant sleep and side effects, I gotta say I’m feeling like I’m for it, all told. My wife remarked yesterday that she felt like I’ve been in a much better mood lately, and while I’m not going to pretend that the occasional urge to quit my job and go live in the woods doesn’t continue to strike me, I think that the fact that I teach middle school means that it’s perfectly reasonable that the occasional urge to quit my job and go live in the woods strikes me.

A couple of things that may or may not be side effects: I feel like my appetite has been suppressed a bit, although given my weight problem that’s not something I’m complaining about, and I think I’ve dropped some pounds since I started the drug but I’m not about to ruin it by weighing myself to check. I’m also sleeping better, which is good and bad, because getting up in the morning has been more difficult lately– and while that’s also a typical reaction to cooler weather setting in, the drive to work has been brutal, and I’ve needed caffeine to reach basic humanity more in the last few weeks than I ever have before. In other words, it being harder to get up isn’t atypical for fall, but this is worse than it usually is, which may or may not be the drug. I’m convinced about the appetite suppression. I’m less so about the sleepiness.

But one way or another, I feel like I’m experiencing more or less normal moods given my lifestyle and circumstances– I don’t feel like the drug has me in a haze or locked in a box, and I’m also not having to keep close tabs on my mood to note when it just might be anxiety and depression fucking me up worse than normal. Things have been better for the last couple of weeks, which is what this shit is supposed to be for. And I’m pretty sure it’s not fully kicked in yet, so hopefully I’m leading to more improvement and not overmedication. We’ll see, I guess? Sure.

I’m (still) alive

And I went to work today! And I haven’t had a nap, and my wife said I was being normal! Hooray!

Seriously though everybody who told me that there weren’t going to be bad side effects from Effexor? I’m gonna need y’all to get in a line and then I’m going to get into a whole bunch of fights, because that was every bit as bad as getting used to Lexapro. The good news is that I appear to be over the hump, and while I’m not certain that the drug is making me better yet it certainly seems to be done making things worse.

But hey. Whatever. I survived. I’ll take it.

Also, there’s an update on Patreon, if you’re into that.

I’m alive

I have reached the stage of adapting to brain meds where I have been asleep for maybe 38 of the 48 hours since Monday night. I haven’t been to work in two days; I’m going to burn half of my sick days for the year in September and that’s if I manage to make it in tomorrow. I love being completely unreliable, I really do.

When I’ve been awake I’ve mostly been staring at my phone in abject, slack-jawed horror at the news. I feel like it should be elation, as it really does feel like the walls are finally starting to close in on this evil cancer-beast currently shitting up my White House, but it’s not. It’s definitely horror.

Part of me would not be surprised if the motherfucker was out of office by this time next week, honestly. It’s not a big part but it’s there.

Off to bed, then. I have to be up in twelve hours if I want to make it to work and I’m going to need at least that much sleep to be ready for it.