Last Saturday afternoon, Mum and I visited Narre Gate Medical Center. Over the last few days, the symptoms and side effects of my medication transition has gotten progressively worse and I made the decision to take a couple of days off work as I didn’t feel fit enough to be there. My regular GP wasn’t working and so I had to take a chance and hope that Dr. Rina Dela Cruz Sangalang would take my mental health and medication issues seriously. http://www.narregatemedicalcentre.com.au/
It wasn’t surprising that we had to wait nearly an hour and a half to see her but the receptionist’s attitude towards this fact really wasn’t helping matters. Still I feel like it’s a waste of time and energy to complain. Instead I just caught up on reading my book and occasionally pulled my phone out to scroll through Facebook posts. Having my Mum there for support definitely helped as my brain was still pretty foggy and I have confidence issues when it comes to seeing a doctor that I’ve never met before. Thankfully, Dr. Rina was worth the wait. https://www.healthshare.com.au/profile/professional/178711-dr-rina-dela-cruz-sangalang/
After explaining my situation, she advised that I may have signs of Serotonin Syndrome (though in my opinion, I feel that’s highly unlikely) and recommended that I stop taking the Sertraline (Zoloft) tablets completely and continue taking the Escitalopram (Lexapro) at 5mg for the next few days. She took my blood pressure and the results were normal. She also wrote me up a referral to Casey Hospital should my symptoms get worse as well as a medical certificate for work. Whilst all that may sound pretty extreme, I do believe that she had good intentions behind it. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/serotonin-syndrome-causes-symptoms-treatments#1
I feel relieved that she at least took my concerns seriously and didn’t palm me off to my psychiatrist or worse not believe me. I’m hoping that this solution will work and eventually the side effects will gradually reduce in severity. Like anything, I just have to be patient and take things one day at a time. Withdrawals from a previous prescription medication are quite common and my body is still in the process of adjusting to the new one. https://www.healthline.com/health/mdd/switching-antidepressants
On Monday morning, I caught up with my mental health support worker Seb at Jamaica Blue Cranbourne. Three sessions in, I feel like it’s getting a lot easier to be comfortable and open with my support worker. I decided to try a different approach, asking Seb about how experiences with mental health issues to essentially form a foundation. He mentioned that he’s had depression and anxiety in the past as well as agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving your own house. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/agoraphobia
He also told me that his mother worked as a psychiatric nurse and many of his friends have engaged in counselling and mental health services. And from that information, I feel much more at ease and reassured knowing that he’s got a firm basis in mental health problems. Discussing my own personal issues from recent medication transition and side effects to anxiety triggers and work-related stress, environmental pressures and sleep problems. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServicesAndSupport/types-of-mental-health-issues-and-illnesses
In that regard, he is very supportive, understanding and sympathetic. It’s still socially awkward at times but it is getting easier and sitting next to the window inside the cafe provides a nice visual buffer. It’s also nice to talk about casual things like television shows, movies, shopping and the weather outside as well as having a laugh which is always important to do. https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/7-health-benefits-of-laughter
On Monday night, I attended a HIIT Power small group training session with Cinamon Guerin at CinFull Fitness. After spending the last couple of days in recovery mode, I was determined to get back into some physical exercise again as I haven’t been for a few weeks. Whilst the usual barriers were there (profuse sweating, fatigue, racing heartbeat, getting easily breathless), they didn’t stop me though I was also being mindful of my limitations. Of course I made a joke about how much I sweat and will most likely need a beach towel during summer when I’m working out.
It’s frustrating when you have so much potential but physiologically things stop you and force your body to rest. Still overall I did really well tonight. We were doing 5 rounds of one minute duration movements including: skipping, med ball slams, weighted squats, overhead press, plank holds, push ups, sit ups, alternating lunges, step jumps, alternating step lunges, kettle bell swings. Certainly a full range of movement right there and it was tough but I was determined not to give up. The Energizer Bunny is back!
On Tuesday morning, Mum and I attended the Morning Melodies social function at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. There was the usual attendance of regular seniors, aged care residents, people with disabilities and palliative care nurses as well as entertainer and singer Vicki Lee. The songs she chooses to cover never fail to fill me with joy and positivity such as Johnny O’ Keefe’s Sing Sing Sing, Roy Orbison’s Penny Arcade and Meatloaf’s Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.
But things took a turn for the worse when Mum took me out to McDonalds Clyde North as my depression seemed to cloud over. It was most likely a result of having poor quality of sleep, feeling fatigued and irritable, adjusting to my new medication and the humid windy weather outside. I’m learning to be kind and gentle toward myself during these rough mental states but it is so far from being easy to deal with.
At the time, I just wanted to cry and have a mental breakdown in front of Mum because it feels like everything is going out of control in my life. So many aspects of my life just feel like unknowns: my job, my friends, my mental health and physical fitness, my goals and my plans for the future. But it was more I was just having a shit day and I just needed to go home and rest up in bed. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/coping-with-depression.htm
On Tuesday night, I went to a Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. A weird thing seemed to come over me tonight in that I was fully engaged and even confident during tonight’s class. It’s weird because I haven’t been to a Combat class in weeks and yet all the movements and combos just flooded back into my body like a memory. https://www.siphilp.com/les-mills-bodycombat-77-music-track-listing.aspx
It’s one of the reasons why dragging myself to the gym is worth it because most of the time I walk away from the workout feeling lighter, more clear headed, more positive and very very sweaty! Considering how depressed and sleep deprived I’ve been feeling lately, these are the kinds of benefits that I need on a regular basis. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise
Of course there were still a couple of tracks where I found myself being rusty and uncoordinated, particularly the one involving Zumba-like dance movements and a long sequence of squat and lunge pulses which burned like hell. But I pulled through it and my “never say die” attitude remained in tact. https://www.lesmills.com.au/bodycombat
It was also really humbling to see a few past members in the class actually remember me and acknowledge me. I guess it’s one of those anxiety-driven worries that you assume you’ll be forgotten if you haven’t been to a group fitness class in weeks but the opposite is true and it’s always a big esteem booster for me. As always, Cinamon continues to make these Combat classes heaps of fun and not too serious whilst making sure everyone is putting in 110% effort.
On Thursday morning, I decided to do a workout at the YMCA Casey RACE Health Club gym. I was feeling tired, irritable, restless and unmotivated so it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that getting myself to Casey Race took a tremendous effort. On arrive, my body was desperately craving for a coffee. The cafe at the entrance was moderately packed with people but they didn’t look especially busy. My mistake!
When I walked up to the counter, I had to wait for a few minutes as there was a line of coffee orders to get done. That was perfectly fine by me and yet the wait felt excruciatingly uncomfortable for some reason. Still I tried hard to be my normal patient self. I ordered myself the usual regular latte with one sugar and full cream milk. No issues there. I decided to take a seat and wait to get called up.
The crowd began to thin and so I was about to keep an eye out for when my coffee would be ready. Fifteen minutes later, everyone else’s coffees were done and it clicked that they had forgotten my order. I really didn’t have the energy, assertiveness or desire to go back up to the counter again and so I left the cafe without my coffee. The good news is that at least I decided to still workout for a while, jumping on the upright bike and treadmill.
Whilst this reads like a “poor me” story, this was enough to trigger my depression and put me in a really bad mood. And the worse thing is that it’s so irrational to feel like this. Look back, I’m sure that they didn’t deliberately forget to make my coffee but unfortunately my brain was in such a fog and clouded with thoughts like “I guess it’s just not my day today”. I’m learning to not let one bad experience ruin my entire today but having mental illness, it’s like asking me to “just get over it”. It’s not that simple and never will be.
On Friday afternoon, I attended the The Melbourne Disability Expo held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Being my first at this convention, I really didn’t have any expectations at all and just gave it a casual approach. I brought my Mum along for support which meant that we were both clock-watching as she had to get back before 3pm for work. But that was fine. Honestly I get myself easily restless and drained at these types of events so I can only handle 1.5-2 hours at the most.
We listened to an NDIS National Disability Insurance Scheme presentation on the main stage which sadly wasn’t really relevant to my case but it was still very informative. Then I began targeting specific services that I thought would hopefully fit my needs and goals on the NDIS plan. My first stop was Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), which makes sense considering I have a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism. I am considering applying for the Aspect Employment mentoring program which could be a positive thing for me.
Next we looked into Everyday Independence who specialise in Speech Pathology, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. I was pretty hesitant approaching the two ladies at the booth but I decided to give them my contact details anyway. JobCo Employment Services & NDIS is an NDIS provider which specialises in mental health issues and can provide counselling services and employment opportunities. Finally, Afford are a disability services support agency which can offer me shared accommodation and independent living.
I think the most difficult part of attending any expo, convention or festival is that high anxiety factor from dealing with other people. I’m very much confronting that salesperson phobia head-on with many reps turning their attention towards me as I’m walking past their booths. It’s extremely nerve-wracking and intimidating for me especially when I don’t have the social confidence to know exactly what to say and what questions to ask these people.
And yet I still went ahead, got out of my comfort zone and did it. I’ve collected a whole bunch of information brochures, flyers, pens and business cards to look back on. Hopefully I’ll be able to use more of my NDIS funding and engage with these services over the next 8 months into 2019 and have a clearer understanding of exactly what I want out of my life. https://www.melbournedisabilityexpo.com.au/