Bunny sick, humans crazy exhausted

Sammy, our bunny, has been very sick. For two weeks, more or less, he hasn't really been eating. They've done loads of tests and can find nothing physically wrong with him. He's just not eating, and he's quite lethargic too. It's not the teeth. His bloodwork came back clear.

For the past week we've been force-feeding him every three hours (four hours during the night). Finn has done most of the work since she had Friday off and didn't just start a new job like I did.

That job isn't helping either by the way. The boss is the type that wants people not to have a personal life. He's also constantly implying people – i.e. me, among others – are "unstable". He has no respect for personal space. It's not a great place to work. I knew this in my gut when I accepted the job but we really need the money so I did anyway. Especially with the vet costs now.

Today at the vet's Sammy got some cortisol, and it tentatively looks like it might be doing some good. He accepted some parsley and a salad leaf, and I saw him munching on about five strands of hay. It's not enough. It's a pleasant surprise since I expected us to come home from the vet sans bunny today, but it's not enough. Nowhere near out of the woods.

Keep your fingers crossed, please, we can use some luck here.
And some energy because we are so so exhausted.

Listen to the voices - Eleanor Longden TED Talk & Mental Health

I haven't been talking about mental health in a while. mostly because I haven't had any problems with that lately – or at least not the obvious ones but more about that further down. I understand now that my ADHD is not a mental health issue but a learning disability so that is why I can actually confidently say I haven't had any mental health problems lately. However, as some of my readers might remember, I did have my brush with depression and burn-out most probably caused by undiagnosed ADHD and years of overworking myself and not taking care of my needs.

I'm bringing the topic up again because I just watched this mindblowing TED Talk by Eleanor Longden, proving to me, once again, that it is imperative we talk about mental health. We need to destigmatise.
At one point she says that hearing voices is very much a 'sane reaction to insane circumstances', and I'm thinking that might be true for many mental health 'issues'; simply our bodies being smart enough to say, 'Hold on a second, we need to deal with this'.

I've begun to understand that my body has ways of communicating too. For instance, when I'm not happy about something I have physical reactions to those feelings. It's taken me a bit to figure out that this is the case, and I'm still learning the correspondences, but there are a couple of things I now have a better grasp of:

There's an obvious one. When I get really nervous about something (i.e. a job interview) I get the shits. Well sorry, that's just how it is. I've heard that a lot of people have that. You're nervous about an exam, a job interview or a performance, you end up spending some time on the loo, but as soon as you're on your way to The Scary Thing your body calms down.

But then there are the more finicky signs, the one's we don't learn about like we do about stage fright or 'nerves'.

Sometimes I get a lump in my throat, this intense feeling that I can't swallow. I used to think it was related to gastritis because that was when it first showed up. But now I know that it's simply a sign that an uncertain situation is stressing me out.
Like, knowing my financial situation is approaching panic mode. I got it when I was fired 4 weeks ago and it went away when I got hired last week. Uncertainty is a big trigger: The lump in my throat resurfaced for a day last week when it suddenly became uncertain what exactly my field of work would be at the new place. It was a highly chaotic situation and it was stressing me out. Sometimes it can be something as simple as not knowing what I have planned for the day that sets it off but most of the time I'm sweating the big stuff.

It was 2011, and I was 'NOT OK'
Sometimes this is what our bodies are trying to tell us, only less strikingly.
(c) 2011

When my stomach begins to burn it means I am stressing out about something that is not external but internal. A job situation I want to get out of because it is not right for me anymore. My own work load and/or the pressure I put on myself. An emotional situation that I haven't yet figured out how to solve.

I rarely get headaches so I haven't figured those out yet. But when my ear starts to ring or gets plugged it means I need to find some peace and quiet. To meditate. Breathe. To be by myself, to not do anything.

I have learned to read these signs and feelings. And, usually, by acknowledging them, by hearing what they are trying to communicate – a bit like Longden's voices –, by promising that I will deal with the root of the problem, these pains and aches go away. Unless I postpone treating the problem indefinitely. But they absolutely have a right to show up again because, apparently, I didn't get the message the first time.

I guess it's time to say, 'Thank you, body. You're a good one. You tell me what I need to hear, and I promise to listen.'


I need to take a page out of the vulnerability/shame book and say something I'm dreading to admit. But maybe admitting it, being this vulnerable, will change things.

I don't know when it happened but I've turned into an arrogant person. I've been looking down on people and it's been ruining a lot of things for me.

It's why I didn't make any friends in film school.
It's why I haven't made any friends where I work at the moment.
And it's probably why I have been hemorrhaging people over the past handful of years.

I realise most of my arrogance comes from a place of extreme self-doubt but that's no excuse.

If I've been an arrogant bastard to you, please, accept my absolutely heartfelt apology.
Maybe you can find it in you to give me another shot; to find out I'm really not that high-and-mighty person I've been coming across as.

And, please, know that I will be working on bettering my behaviour.
Thank you.

now the drugs don't work / they just make you worse (or do they?)

Be warned, this is a long post and it get's a bit complicated about ADHD treatments and medications. I try to explain as best as I can and simply share my experience with the drugs.

Oh man, these past few weeks have put me through the wringer!
It's been 1.5 years since my ADHD diagnosis, a little less since I started medication.
Remember Charlie? You know, my elephant? He went away, thank fuck. But then the Strattera made me motion sick, like, all the time and I threw up into a public trashcan two days before Christmas. Goodbye Strattera, back to Ritalin - long acting this time, called Concerta. I take the tab in the morning and it releases amounts of MPH into my bloodstream throughout the day. Peachy.

Basically, since the beginning of 2012 my life has mostly been awesome thanks to Concerta. I thought I had it all figured out by now, would simply pop 18mg of Concerta every morning and go about my life.  Until it started to be less effective. I didn't notice it at first but in retrospect it started to wane when I started working and leading a more active life, having longer days, in August/September 2012. Then the anxiety started. Then I noticed. Oh boy, did I notice, about 1-2 months ago.

I can't really tell because it snuck up. At first I thought: "Oh I'm just having some rebound issues in the evening" and I'd pop a booster Ritalin and be fine. Then it turned into a sort of constant reboundish feeling, then into a tenseness that I can only describe as ongoing anxiety. MPH can exacerbate anxiety but you see, I never had anxiety. Yes, I'm a worry wart but that's not anxiety - I don't usually grit my teeth, clench my jaw and contract what feels like ALL THE MUSCLES in my body ALL THE TIME.

This is how I feel inside recently. W00t! Anxiety!
This is how it makes me look on the outside.
When my full blown ADHD symptoms came back it became obvious that something wasn't working. I saw my doctor and tried a couple of things. Still am trying, in fact.

The major problem with ADHD is that it's such a volatile thing because they still haven't figured out the exact brain science behind it. There is no physical sign in the human brain for it but it's not just a psychological thing either because it has to do with dopamine levels. And dopamine is tricky. One medication will help one person but not another. Sometimes it stops working. Sometimes the body adjust and the dosage needs to be raised. Sometimes the body adjusts so much that the medication loses effect completely.

For some people stimulants (Amphetamine, Methylphenidate) work. Others can use non-stimulant medication (i.e. Strattera). Not all drugs are licensed in all countries. Canadians and Americans have more options. For instance in Europe Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) still isn't available.

Exercise and diet have some form of impact on ADHD (medication) as well but it's an ongoing debate as to how much exactly. Some claim supplements can help - omega fatty acids, glutamine, vitamins (I've been taking high amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 for a while now). ADHD is generally poorly researched in adults because for a long time it was believed to cease in adulthood.

With all this going on it is no small wonder a lot of ADHDers opt to ditch the meds and to continue muddling through.

Experiment 1: The Med Holiday
I didn't take my meds for four days to reboot my system, basically. It went somewhat like this:

Andie is sitting in a comfy chair, laptop open. Her friends has just left.

I want to get some work done like I usually do. Oh hai, looksie, there are people talking. What are they talking about? It sounds interesting. I'll just listen a bit. Oh wait, I wanted to work.

Andie opens her browser, mail client, twitter.

Oh look! Someone posted a video to twitter. Funny! Oh hai YouTube, you have more videos for me? Awesome! Oh people! Talking! Listen. Do I know her? She seems familiar. I could ask her if she's that girl I think she is. But what if that's weird? Also: I have work to do. She sounds like her too. I'll just ask her. Oh crap that was awkward. But at least now I know that I know her. Why does it help me to know that I know her? I think my pulse is really high. Is my pulse really high? I should get out of here, like, stat. Get home, calm down. Maybe going cold turkey is a bit crap.

After four days off of medication Andie has calmed down. All her ADHD symptoms are back but the anxiety is gone. She's also super sluggish and depressed and feels like she's not getting anything done. A lot of WoW is played during those days. All the food is eaten. Sleep is apparently overrated.

Experiment 2: Going Back on the Old Dosage - Monday 
After successfully having rebooted my system I started back on the 18 mg of Concerta. This proves a useful method for most people so it was worth a try.
Monday and Tuesday went pretty well. Uneventful.
On Wednesday I had some rebound and took a Ritalin booster in the evening.
Thursday I was PMS-ing like hell which always means less effect of medication.
Friday my period came in the morning and major anxiety struck in the afternoon, I supplemented with a booster and calmed down somewhat. It had become obvious that 18mg wasn't going to do it. Which led to...

Experiment 3: Double the Dosage
(No, I didn't do this without my doctor's consent.)
On Saturday I took two Concerta tablets in the morning putting me on a 36 mg dose. Around mid morning all hell broke loose. If you follow me on twitter, you'll have noticed some of the shit that went down during that time. I was home alone and I had to talk to someone, no matter what came back because I was having all the fucking issues!

I was hyper alert but in a useless, tunnel kind of way. I felt like I was coddled in cotton balls and locked behind a big ass sheet of security glass. I was crying uncontrollably. My skin was crawling, my hands were sweaty, my muscles tense. It was horrific. It finally started wearing off around mid afternoon so I forced myself to go and meet my friends at the cinema in the evening like we had planned. And even though it scared me I took 5 mg of Ritalin to prevent a rebound effect coming off that massive dose of Concerta. It helped with the ADHD symptoms but my body was tense and hurting from the day's ordeal and still chock full of anxiety. I went to bed at 9 pm. Slept like a baby because I was so exhausted.

Experiment 4: New Order - Sunday
I took 5mg of Ritalin booster in the morning followed by 18mg of Concerta. Better than the fucking disaster the day before but not controlling my ADHD at all. The night brought on Insomnia like back in the day. I capitalise Insomnia because that's how it makes me feel. I'm on a first name basis with it so I think it's fitting. Unsurprisingly, I hadn't really missed my old fiend much in the past year but Insomnia doesn't care whether I want it. There it was, putting me smack in the middle of tired-but-not-being-able-to-fall-asleep territory, right next to waking-up-every-couple-of-hours-to-pee and gritting-my-teeth. When my alarm went off at 5:45 I got up in a daze and got ready for work, even hurrying to fix breakfast - only to discover that the idea of eating made me nauseous.

Experiment 5: Titrating
Even knackered as I was that Monday morning (= yesterday) I worked out that going from 18mg to 36mg, doctor-approved or not, was a seriously dumb move and that I'd need to titrate just like I did when I first started taking MPH. Enter my good old Ritalin:
6 a.m. - 3/4 of a tab in the morning putting me at about 7-8mg instead of the usual 5mg
8:39 a.m. - fearing rebound effect I took another 3/4 tab at work. As it turns out that was a bit too early (3-4 hours would've been preferable in retrospect). Within 20 minutes I felt like I assume people on Valium feel. I was so fucking slow it was comical! Sometimes people were already halfway past me when I finally managed a "Good Morning." Sometimes I couldn't manage to utter the words that I wanted to say. I stayed calm (haha!), figure it would wear off - and it did.
1:30 p.m. (I think) - I waited until I was certain the double effect had worn off until taking the next 3/4 tab and it worked fine. I went to see my doctor after work and worked out some plans with him (Yay! New Experiments! Sigh.)
6 p.m. - another 3/4 tab. slight comedown around 10 pm but compared to the past weeks it was NBD. As in actually warranting the acronym instead of spelling it out - that's how No Big Deal it was, surprisingly. And Insomnia didn't even show up at night. Aw bless, a good night's sleep! 

Experiment 6: Mix and Match
Since apparently the higher dosage was working well for me - if titrated - we decided to put me on a combination of my 18mg Concerta and my Ritalin so I could raise the dosage carefully. Doc also prescribed me a different product, called Medikinet Retard, which releases MPH during the day like Concerta does but instead of a steady stream it releases in two doses set a couple of hours apart. The idea is that I try a couple of combinations
  • Concerta + Ritalin throughout the day
  • Concerta twice a day
  • Concerta in the morning / Medikinet Retard mid-day OR the other way around
  • Medikinet Retard twice daily / possibly double dosage or supplemented with Ritalin
Complicated much? Ya think? ;)

I tried the Concerta + Ritalin thing today and while I was on the same amount of MPH as I was with just the Ritalin yesterday I'm A BALL OF ANXIETY today. It's no fun. And it's not fucking relenting. So by now I assume that somehow, for some weird fucking inexplicable reason, it's the Concerta I'm not handling well anymore. It worked fine until a couple of months ago. Now not so much. It makes no sense. Not to me, not to science. But it seems to me that I'm just going to have to accept the illogical and go with it. I've decided to stay away from Concerta for now. I haven't bought the product again although I do have a prescription.

I did get the Medikinet Retard and I've ordered the same brand's equivalent to Ritalin, because the Ritalin has wheat and the Medikinet doesn't (and in my case that's what stands between me and a morning spent on the loo, having the shits). So tomorrow I'll give the Medikinet a try and pray to the whatever higher power there is that it fucking works and that it isn't going to give me anxiety.

For tonight there's not much that I can do except wait for my body to unclench and distract myself, like I did with this blog post, and hope for a halfway decent night of sleep. If you made it this far (THANK YOU FOR READING!) I think you deserve a good night's sleep as well. Or at least some music:

* For clarification:
Ritalin releases MPH (methylphenidate) instantly
Medikinet release MPH instantly like Ritalin (but it's wheat-free)
Concerta releases MPH over time
Medikinet Retard releases MPH over time though not in a constant stream like Concerta but in two major releases 

the only not-gay-not-straight in the village

"How to let guys know you're not a lesbian"

"Bisexual flirting with guys"
No, I wasn't looking for the gay guy's guide to flirting with bisexual men.

The truth is I'm dumbing it down for Google because what I really mean to say is a tad complicated:
"How do I, as an unlabeled queer who for the sake of theory could be most accurately labeled as pansexual, let a man know that I am not in fact the lesbian he believes me to be?"
The problem is bisexual/pansexual invisibility. If you're not doing the binary thing people are still going to assume you are. 

See, I've been flirting with my Starbucks barista.
Yeah, I know. Roll your eyes at me.
Do it now. Just get it out of the way.
You done? Okay then.
Let's establish that it's not just for-tips-flirting because:
a) tipping is still not common in Austrian Starbucks' (we're a stingy people, it seems) and
b) damn, other people have noticed what's going on. That's how obvious it is.

So anyway, heavy flirting, for a couple of weeks. Once I realise that I'm not just seeing things and that he's actually flirting I'm enjoying the heck out of it. Because it's been ages since men have flirted with me since I tend to fly both under the radar and under the gaydar. And I've gained a serious amount of confidence lately and it's working like a magic sexy-potion.

But one day during the winter holidays I come in with Finn who usually only frequents that store in the mornings and not during the day like me. During our usual chit-chat Flirty Barista tells me he didn't know that Finn and I knew each other and without thinking I answer with my usual "Oh, we're married." Cue his face falling. Oh crap, the poor guy seems to have been actually quite into me and I immediately wish I'd bitten my tongue.

I wasn't thinking, okay! Because we are married so why would I say anything else!? And because I don't see my marriage as something that should or could keep me from flirting. But from that moment on he treated me - and Finn - differently. Wouldn't even look at me or her. Extremely awkward, super awkward.

First we thought he'd gotten shy because, well, he had been flirting with someone else's wife! But then, about a week later - in a weirdly late and ill-timed epiphany at the bus stop - I more of less exclaimed for the whole street to hear: "Oh my god! He thinks I'm GAY!"
You could call us a bit thick but to our defense this is simply a reality that we both have been living with for quite a while: One of us is most definitely not a lesbian. To us this is "normal". And although I continuously have to come out as not-straight-but-not-gay I tend to forget about how people see me with my wife and immediately assume things about my sexuality. So I can't really blame Flirty Barista for assuming so as well. He probably feels really dumb about flirting with that lesbian who probably wasn't even flirting back at him.

But I can blame society, sort of. Like I said, I come out to most people twice. The innocuous "my wife...." is easy. I have that casual conversational mention down pat. Or mostly. But then people assume. Just yesterday one of my coworkers asked me "So how long have you been a lesbian" and was stumped into silence by my unfiltered response of "I'm not". But people don't usually ask these questions thus providing me with an opportunity to explain. And I still have no fucking clue how to go about those cases. (Not coming out at all is no option for me because I believe that if I want society to see me and others like me I'm going to have to be visible.)

How do you let someone know that just because you're not straight it doesn't mean you're a lesbian either? I mean, I honestly doubt it would lead to more because I haven't had dude-sex in a decade and dunno yet how I feel about getting back on that proverbial horse. Proverbial! I said proverbial, so get your mind out of the gutter!

But I do want Flirty Barista to continue being flirty because it's lovely and I enjoy it and we're obviously a bit into each other. So why not?  Now how on earth do you let someone know that it's okay a) because I am not actually a lesbian so he didn't get that wrong and b) that Finn won't rip is head off for flirting with her wife?

I can't be the only pansexual woman with that problem, right?
Please, say it ain't so.