I’m still alive

Is something wrong? she said
Of course there is
You’re still alive, she said
Oh, do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
[“Alive”, Pearl Jam]

Oh dear, it’s hard to get back in the groove after so long away. I’ve had a busy couple of months, but it’s been so long that nothing seems significant enough to talk about. I have lots of ideas of things to write about – or at least I thought I did, until confronted with a blank page. It feels like when you run into someone you haven’t seen for years and yet somehow you’re able to catch up in about 10 minutes. I must be forgetting something…

So, what have I been up to? Well, I went to Eroticon, and it was my second time attending. I’m definitely glad I went and I hope to attend next year too. Although this last year has been very quiet on the blog, it was good to hear interesting talks, visit with people I’ve met before (friends? is that the word?), and just be in a room with a bunch of people who are weird like me.

When I arrived at Heathrow on the Friday morning, Jaime was there to pick me up and escort me back to our room. We spent the next three weeks travelling together, mostly in southern England but we also spent the better part of a week in a Paris AirBnB. By the end of my trip, I was starting to get homesick and tired of the pace. I am, in many ways, a delicate flower.

Being away from Wolf is always strange, since we always spend so much time together. Well, we’re both introverts, so this often amounts to him at his desk and me at mine, but we’re doing our solo stuff together, if you see what I mean. I had good wifi connectivity throughout the trip so staying in touch wasn’t too hard, but this whole me having adventures while he’s at home thing is new so we don’t have a long-distance routine worked out as such.

While I was on this trip, I was tapering off my anti-depressant medication – citalopram, which is an SSRI. I had a bit of a bumpy ride but there were too many variables to know whether that was due to the meds or all of the other novelty that was going on around me. Prior to going off the meds, I had been feeling consistently good and the side effects were starting to bother me, so I think the timing was right. An issue that’s been plaguing me is the not really caring about doing things, or finishing things I start. This was a symptom of the depression but in a slightly different version it became, I think, one of the side effects.

I’ve had a series of mild but still significant health complaints in addition to the mental health stuff. The most recent in the litany is arthritis in my neck, the treatment for which has caused low-grade tension and chronic pain from the shoulders up, plus mild nausea. Add this to the irritable bowel syndrome, whose primary symptom for me is wicked bloating, and my ongoing hypoglycemia, and my stomach is very confused and unhappy.

My libido is still very low and the above seems to have killed it again. I have given Tabitha Rayne‘s #30DayOrgasmFun project a go, but my disinterest, it is high, and persisting would defeat the purpose of having fun with it. So.

Even though I haven’t been posting photos, I seem to have established a habit of taking mile-high selfies (and the occasional comparable ground-level ones) whenever the opportunity arises. It has arisen rather a lot in the last while, and I expect it to do so a couple more times before midsummer.

So that’s my life in a nutshell.

I don’t feel like it

There are lots of things I could be doing, but I don’t feel like it.

I’ve been writing this and that. I have lots of drafts, both older and current, and I still have ideas of things to write about. But I usually run out of enthusiasm well before they’re ready to publish.

Cuddling is great, but I don’t feel like kissing or having sex. I could get myself off but – shrug.

I could take some photos of myself. It’s been a while, and I’ve hardly used the tripod I bought. But I’d have to clear a space or at least tidy, and even if I didn’t, I just don’t feel like it.

I have a stack of nonfiction to read. This is usually a daytime endeavour because I prefer fiction before bed, but I have a book that’s an easy enough read that it doesn’t wind my brain up and ruin my sleep. I have another one on the go for daytime. I just don’t usually feel like reading them. I end up catching up on Twitter instead.

Tidy the basement and declutter? Do some baking? Sometimes I’m too tired or busy for this stuff, but when I’m not, I don’t feel like it.

Apathy and flattening of affect can result from depression, but I don’t feel depressed any more. Down moods are very infrequent and mild, and I feel content more often than I feel down. My usual mood is OK, probably about 6-7 out of 10.

I felt like doing things was nearly impossible before. Sometimes if I felt like my brain was on enough to try to work, I’d sit in front of my computer, keen to start but unable to do so. Things don’t feel all that difficult now, but I feel like I care less. I just can’t be bothered.

I stumbled upon an older article of JoEllen Notte’s (The time Celexa ate my brain), which led me to brush up on the side effects of citalopram, an SSRI that I’ve been taking for over a year now:

  • Loss of libido – check. I was warned about this, but it was still frustrating when it happened because it feels so much like pre-epiphany disinterest that it felt like retrograde motion. What if it never comes back? What if this is the real me?
  • Change to sleep and alertness, brain fog – check. I now sleep an extra hour at night, and often feel blah during the day. I also have this mystery fatigue that’s been a problem for the last number of years, and attributed my current fog to the continuing fatigue. But maybe it’s not 100% responsible after all.
  • Problems with memory and concentration – check. This was a problem with the depression so I didn’t think about it much. It feels better than it was, but I’m still not functioning well. I used to find it easy to learn things because I would just remember them, but with memory affected, I feel a bit dumb, which is a hit to the self-image.
  • Change in weight – actually, yeah. My weight has always been really stable but I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the last year, which is 5 pounds over my previous maximum weight. (My breasts are looking great, actually, but I prefer them smaller.)
  • Gastrointestinal effects – check. I get the occasional feeling of mild nausea out of the blue. And then there’s the near-constant bloating, though I seem to have developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome about a year prior to starting on these meds, but surely they’re not helping.
  • Dizziness, vertigo – check, I think. I have issues with dizziness related to blood sugar levels, but this feels different. I spoke to my doctor about it, and he figured it was Benign Positional Vertigo, caused by crystals forming in one of the semi-circular canals in the ear. They dissolve on their own and there isn’t anything you can do except not move your head quickly. But I’ve now had spontaneous dizziness of this sort a handful of times since starting the meds, and prior to that the last (and, as far as I recall, only) bout was over 20 years ago.

So, lots of things going on that might have other causes, but taken all together, I think a lot of this is likely caused by the citalopram.

I found an article positing SSRI-induced indifference as a way of understanding behavioural apathy and emotional blunting. “I don’t feel like it” sure seems to fit here.

The citalopram has definitely helped me. I’m glad I’ve had it and would take it again. But it seems to me that it’s time to be done with it now. I’ll be seeing the doctor in a couple of weeks and am hoping he OKs me to start coming off the stuff.