Anxiety, courage, Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love

Fix Me

January 27, 2016

By Timna Understein

This story is dedicated to Aidan, who thankfully has found the truth…that there is NO magic pill, and who has discovered his gift of writing, which is ultimately a way through. The song that should accompany this piece is entitled “Falls Asleep at the Wheel” by The Hissy Fits.

Once upon a time, there was a tired girl.  Well, really, it was beyond tired…she was exhausted at best…and pretty much all of the time.  After the first cup of coffee quickly exited her body (by 10:00 AM), the ability to function in a regular day, became a struggle, to say the least.  Example: Up at 6:45 AM, coffee, moderate exercise, shower…typical actions taken by many each and every morning, was followed up by the feelings of, “If I put on my make-up, I’m going to have to take a nap, or maybe I can do my make-up laying down on my bed…But if I do that, I’m not sure I’ll get up.”  She knew this could not possibly be normal, nor did she want to continue to feel this way…everyday!

Many attempts were made through out each day to not feel this way…to fix this..to change it.  These attempts could look anything like drinking 6 cups of coffee a day, to running to doctors to beg for blood work, to plead for information, to be heard.  But…to no avail.

There were times of acceptance about feeling this way, living this way.  No.  Actually, there were not.  Never acceptance, but rather a sense of defeat, of, “Yea, I guess this is how I will feel each day.”  But then, there were also times of hope.  Hope looked like this: a lab result of severe anemia, or a low, positive ANA with the possibility of an autoimmune disorder.  THAT’S hope?!?!  Jesus fuck!

Recently, the girl came to the conclusion (after 7 years of feeling like this, and having every test available in this country done) that this must “just be” fatigue.  Pure and not simple, fatigue.  Ok, fine.  Chronic fatigue.  Yay.  A name for it.  Good.  When there’s a label, then there’s the ability to research, seek solution, obsess.  And oh hell yes, that is exactly what occurred.

This process was swift, just the way a girl like this would prefer- the faster the better.  Urgent.  Make it go away fast.

One day, the girl asked her pharmacologically gifted son if he knew of a drug that helps with exhaustion, but is not a stimulant {insert fact that this girl is in recovery and can not touch a lot of drugs that others might consider}.  He mentions something the girl had never heard of.  Well, actually, she had seen a movie all about it, but didn’t know at the time of viewing, that this was the drug the movie was about (Limitless).

Provigil (Modafinil).  What’s THAT????  The girl dives into the endless praise for this drug, how it’s life-changing and amazing, with no side effects at all.  WAIT!  Life-changing?  That was all she needed to hear.  The quest was on.  Within 24 hours, the girl had a poster presentation showing her valid need for this drug, research to back her, and an appointment with her doctor…for the next day.  Whirlwind into Provigiland.

I guess it should be said what this drug is FDA approved for…the treatment of narcolepsy and shift work.  Did the girl have this sleep disorder?  Or work night shifts?  No.  But what the girl did have, was the resourcefulness to find that the off-label uses fit the bill precisely, two of which fell right onto her poster- chronic fatigue and depression.  Perfect!

She goes to her doctor, presents her case, is praised for the presentation, and is given the prescription for the drug thpillsat was going to change her (life).  She felt FULL of hope, as she sped to the nearest pharmacy to get these pills in hand.  The beginning of a new way!

Little, tiny, white, nicely coated pills.  Mmmmmmmmmm.  The girl thought the solution looked so exciting.  She couldn’t wait to go to sleep, to be able to wake up and float this miniature savior down her throat, ultimately to “be cured” of this melancholic state.

Almost as fast as the girl was about getting her newfound pills of hope in hand, was her fleeting relationship with them.

Here’s how this transitory storm went down…(the very brief version)

Day 1– All senses in overdrive. Examples: “The grass on the ground looked SO shiny and vibrant.”  “I can’t blast my music in the car; it’s too much for my ears.”  There was some clenching…of fists and jaw.  Thirsty.  A feeling of not loving it, but it was working in terms of not needing to lay down.  So that was good, or so she thought.  This is good.

Day 2– Same as Day 1.  The craving for coffee was gone, so much so that the girl had to force sips of caffeine through out the day to avoid a headache.  Not tired!

Day 3– The good components remained, and some of the weird side effects dissipated.  This is VERY good.

Day 4– This is good, but……yawning is coming back, afternoon sluggishness is trying to come back.  The girl starts to fear this bliss is not possibly dwindling and she misses the intensity of Day 1.

Day 5– Afternoon sluggishness turns to mid-day haze.  What is happening?

Day 6– Hmmmm.

Day 7– Despair sets in, and the girl thinks more is needed.  MORE.

Day 8– More is not good.  It causes much anxiety and angst.  “Am I going crazy a little?”

Day 9– Back to original dose.  She is just happy to not be feeling like Day 9.

jouthDay 10– It’s not working.  Despair morphs into depression.

Day 11– NOvigil.  But the idea that the sister drug to Provigil, known as Nuvigil, WILL work.  The makes a doctor appointment (of course).

Day 12 and 13– NOvigil (the weekend)…just dreaming of how much more magical Nuvigil will prove to be.  Keep hope alive.

Day 14– YAY!  Monday.  Dr. Day.  She gets the script (of course).

Day 15– She waits for the pharmacy to get the NU drug.

Day 16– NEW day.  NUvigil.  Oh fuck yes!  It’s a NU day!  It’s working.  The girl is on the go!  The yawning has disappeared again.  The quest was worth it.

Day 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21– Sensational has faded to moderate.  The girl liked that it was still doing something, but knew that this Nu drug was fading into the abyss just like the other.  Impending doom lurks about.

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Day 22– The only thing left coursing through the girl’s veins was wheat felt like an overabundance of epinephrine, with none of the “good stuff”.  Dizziness decides to join the symptom list.  Bad.

Day 23– Nothing but the debate in the girl’s mind of, “Pros and Cons”.  And dizzy. Her thoughts swirl, “I just want to not be tired, function, be productive…like I should be!”

Day 24– The debate continues.  With the Cons obviously winning.

Day 25– FUCK THIS!  Done.  Off.  No more.

Day 26, 27, 28– Dizzy.  Can only sleep.  No energy whatsoever.  She sleeps.  She is possibly sick with a virus as well, so things are hard to figure out.  She fears this is her new normal- dizzy, listless, and USELESS.

Day 29– The girl feels her return….from this grim version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  The ride ended.  The dizzy decided to go away.  Bits of her old self are coming back…of which she welcomes.

Day 30– There’s a gratitude surfacing, a feeling of, “Ok, maybe it wasn’t so bad just being me, tired.”  She feels cleared of the isomers that had resided within her for the past 30 days.

And Day 31 (TODAY!)– The girl feels this: “What a fucking roller coaster ride…a self-will run riot of sorts, but without bad motives…just wanting to feel “normal”.  What I have come to learn over the past 31 days is that, like my son reminded me the other day, “..there is no magic pill..”, which I knew, but my desperation and my hope blinded me from knowing that going into this incident.  I’ve returned to me, possibly a slightly better version, knowing that I am OK in my skin (a pun?  Maybe)…  That I feel better today than I have in a very long time.  That there is no quick fix for most things that are important.  That I am functioning.  That my brain without those little, white pills is much better than I ever knew.  That I feel more human off drugs.  That I’m grateful, more than I was before this insane experience.  That I’m glad I’m me.  And, that, I had to find this out the way I did, because as with my brain and the way it’s wired, I learn by experience…as painful as it may be.

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Timna Understein, founder of Respect the Rays, is a two-time melanoma warrior. After her second diagnosis, she decided to create something positive out of her experience. So rather than be imprisoned by fear, she focuses her energy on educating others about sun safety and melanoma. Respect the Rays is a multifaceted organization that serves grades K-12 via developmentally appropriate education programs, fund raising, advocacy, blogging, and writing for many organizations. Timna is an educator by trade, with a Master of Arts in Education, a mother of 3 children, a travel enthusiast, writer, yoga lover, and a postpartum doula.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

 

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough. Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.
Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

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