Grounded

I’ve been meaning to write for nearly 4 months, but life got the best of me. So much has happened since I last wrote, that I don’t even know where to start.

Should I fill you in on the grueling 3 months I spent on Zoloft- only to find the depression replaced with a never ending brain fog that made writing nearly impossible and caused me to shit myself silly every morning for three months? Or how depression and stress forced me to end my journey a month sooner than I planned, leaving me with no cash on hand and less than a month to find housing before my Belize trip? No, I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that.

Maybe I could write about the transition from carliving to mainstream society and how I quickly went into debt to pay for 1st month, last month’s rent and all the things it takes to live in a house- towels, linens, pots, pans, spices, light bulbs, hangers, utensils, a mop, a bucket, a broom, a comforter, Tupperware…you get the idea.

Perhaps I could share with you the magic of Guatemala- the beauty of the Tikal and Yaxha ruins- the excitement of kayaking Lake Peten, with howler monkeys swinging above me in the jungle trees? I suppose that would be a great place to start, only then we’d have to talk about how that was crushed under the disappointment of Belize, where I was stupid exhausted and anxious from starting Zoloft and lost my footage of snorkeling with sea turtles and all my pictures of Guatemala. How I spent the entire last day of my vacation crying and obsessing in my hotel room. No, perhaps I will save that for another post, when the memories aren’t so fresh.

I suppose I could just fast forward to the bitter sweetness of the present-  I could write about how I spend $1,300 a month for a quaint, fully furnished English basement that I rarely enjoy because I work two jobs. How rent has made paying for doctors appointments out of pocket and paying off my remaining student loan debt nearly impossible. How I just returned from yet another trip to Belize for my 30th birthday, that ended in moments of bliss mixed with quiet disappointment and the heaviness of a failed attempt at redemption. Or how the random bouts of anaphylaxis and night sweats I had before heading to Belize may be indicative of a chronic, life long autoimmune disorder that is also the cause of my OCD and depression? But I’m also not quite ready to write about that either.

Or what about your boy Trump and the assault on the Earth, communities of color and the possibility of loosing protection for pre-existing medical conditions? Certainly not, as I’m sure you need a break from that train wreck anyways.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s not all doom and gloom. There are pockets of wonder and adventure and joy from delving into my spirituality more deeply and peace from a renewed sense of self, which I promise I’ll get to. It’s just my heart is heavy about this past year and I don’t feel compelled to narrate my story in sequence. Plus I’ve been questioning my motive for blogging. Is this another delusion of ego, or is this meaningful and cathartic? And if it is the latter, why not just journal and get it all out? Why do I feel the need to be heard, witnessed, understood? Why do I feel like this is part of something bigger? A book maybe?  And if that’s the case, do my words speak to you? Do they move you and stir something profound in you or just capture your attention for a fleeting minute?

I guess what I am trying to say is, I am still here. Still struggling, still questioning, still trying to reach out to humanity across the great digital divide and hopefully find some clarity in the process. Still craving financial freedom to explore and experience my own spirituality.  Still yearning for the part of my story when the Earth and Stars and Universe align and I find my way out of mainstream society to some small plot of land where I can commune wholly with the universe and ask big questions with no plan or agenda or distractions.

For now, I am grounded-learning to be grateful, trying to be strong and ready to share again. Tell me, are you still there?

 

 

 

 

A Few of My un Favorite Things…

I’m tired. It’s been 6 months of car camping and I am utterly exhausted. And it’s not so much from physical exhaustion as it is from mental labor. I never thought about the psychological effects always planning my meals, bathroom breaks, shower, laundry, etc. would have on me. I spend most of my time operating in tunnel vision to maximize efficiency. As a result, my mind is never at rest.  I am constantly strategizing, searching for a way to save time or money or trying to mitigate the loss of either.

For example, when I do laundry it is essential I re-organize my belongings in separate bags, less I want to lose 20 minutes searching for a matching pear of work socks and the correct color undershirt before work.  So I plan outfits the night before and try to place them in my daypack bag. I wear undershirts that allow me to change without exposing the ladies in public. Those undershirts will then transition to night wear when I sleep in my car, and will serve as a shirt when I work out the next morning and use the bathroom at my gym. See how I just saved myself from three awkward clothe changings in a cramped Hyundai Elantra? And that’s just the beginning. We haven’t even talked about what I do to keep my technology charged, what it takes to pack everything I sleep with, along with everything I own in my trunk every morning  so it doesn’t look like I am living in my car, where I pee when I’m managing Zoloft withdrawal induced incontinence late at night or how I kill time when I am exhausted but it’s 10 pm and still 80 degrees at night, too hot to sleep in my car. |

These are a few of my UNfavorite things.

a fewofmy UNFavortie things
This should be two thumbs way down, but I needed a hand to take the selfie

It’s a lot for anyone and it takes lots of big adjustments. Even with the budget I realize I go through certain things a lot faster or need a lot more than I anticipate. I feel like I am always buying bottles of water, overusing my data charges, charging my laptop, filling up my car tank or trying to figure out when I should buy new clothes or shoes or stretch things out a little further so I can continue paying 2,000 a month on my student loans. I totally forgot to calculate interest charges on my loans which will add another month onto my journey no matter what. There’s also the extra parking tickets, damages from general wear and tear and toll fees and notices for days. There’s also so many other things that have drastically reduced my quality of life. I don’t eat nearly as much fresh fruit and vegetables as I would like and I’m sure sleeping in semi-comfortable positions is going to wear on my body. I also miss just lounging around, cold water, buying in bulk instead of day to day, and having my own place to entertain company, cook and properly waste time. All of this has added up emotionally and financially. I’m 2 months behind on my journey and I crave simple comforts so much that I have not been adhering to my budget or personal exemptions and rules (more on this later).

And all this on top of everything else. For those of you who have been following along since the Mexico Prelude, you know that this has been and extraordinary year for me. Apart from overcoming unimaginable suffering from a bout of obsessive compulsive disorder triggered by prolonged ssri discontinuation syndrome, I am officially 7 weeks Zoloft free.  Despite my slow self-taper over the last 6 months I don’t think I have escaped scratch free from the throws of my brain attempting to re-calibrate serotonin levels with the aid of medicine. The past few days I have been having radiating pains in my right arm and last night I experienced  joint pain in my fingers. Today I was MUCH more emotional and agitated than usual. To seal the deal I went from hot, to cold, to hot for 3 hours straight. These are all classic ssri withdrawal symptoms. Thank God they aren’t anywhere near what I experienced from cold turkeying before. Nonetheless, its daunting knowing that you could experience a huge mood swing without any preceding event and that the very thing you prize the most, your intelligence and insight, can turn on you in any moment.

I didn’t get a chance to write about it on account of me having limited access to a power source and spending critical time and power blogging about Mexico and applying for second job so I could meet my original timeline, but I reached out to a psychiatrist in attempts of having someone monitor my taper. And so following the recommendation of my AMAZING behavioral therapist, I made an apt with a Doctor who specializes in anxiety disorders and women’s health- the perfect combo to objectively evaluate the depression, anxiety and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder(PMDD) while I tried, yet again, to wean myself off the Zoloft.

We spoke over the phone and I explained to her my history of long term ssri use from the age of 14, to the taper and misdiagnosis of Bi-polar II disorder and discovery of PMDD. I explained my stance on not treating the imbalance, but getting to root of the problem by changing my brain anatomy with behavioral therapy, which has become my entire life with me living in my car and all. She agreed to see me and for a minute I thought my prayers would be answered.

I was wrong. After 45 minutes of re-explaining my history, she agreed that the dose of Zoloft I had been on for 3 months was too low to treat either the depression or OCD  and that the behavioural therapy was making the difference.  But she still recommended I stay on medicine my entire life to reduce the risk of a relapse. I asked her if it was kind of like when you get an infection in your tooth and they pull it immediately instead of treating it with antibiotics, keeping it clean and just monitoring it, so that you can keep your original tooth. She nodded her head and I wanted to scream at her. Did I mention I once had an abscess in my front tooth and a doctor recommended I pull both of my front teeth because they already had crowns from major trauma years before and she thought they were bound to fail at some point? Well I got a second opinion and the other doctor said we should just monitor my teeth because there is nothing as good as the original tooth!

Well I still have my front teeth and haven’t had any issues since. I am vigilant about flossing now, but what if I die with these teeth as the second doctor mentioned was possible? What if I could live a normal life without antidepressants and learn to manage the PMDD with diet, exercise and behavior changes? Don’t I owe it to myself and to my amazing body to try?

These are the things I thought while tears rolled down my cheeks when the psychiatrist said that she would not be able to supervise my taper because I would be going against her medical recommendation and she refused my pleas for just one follow appointment. I even told her I would get back on medicine if the depression or OCD comes back with a vengeance, but she refused and then proceeded to take$500 cash from me. Did I mention behavioral therapists and psychiatrist for OCD in DC don’t take insurance? Essentially I paid $500 for a good cry and a nocebo. That whole experience speaks monuments to the “care” a handful of doctors gave me from the age of 14 when I was misdiagnosed with bi-polar II disorder and begged to not be medicated anymore when I realized a cocktail of powerful medicine was only making me sicker.

But that was 7 weeks ago and now I am writing this to you in my car, utterly exhausted and already scheming how I can sneak into Planet Fitness unnoticed to pee before bed. The gym I usually go to is closed for repairs so I will be in the yeah- I-just-came-in-a-second- ago-and-now-I’m-leaving awkward phase with the new staff for the next week. Maybe I will try to charm them. Highly unlikely though, they will probably just ask me if I have seen the new X-Men movie after I tell them I live in my car. I will probably just walk right in and walk right out and let them sit with their own awkwardness because I’m tired, I’ve been at this for 6 months, and the time for formalities has long since passed.