Drawing Up A Storm

I’m on new medication.  It is working.

How do I know?

Because I recently did this:

LastUnicorn

And this:

DoctorStitch

And I’m working on tons more!  The hits just keep on coming.  So blogging has taken a back seat to drawing, but if you are interested in finding me and my artwork, here are a couple links:

https://www.facebook.com/JKDoerffer – On facebook for updates and fun previews (also to buy any artwork)

http://jkdoerffer.deviantart.com/ – If you are on Deviant Art, here’s a great place to see my gallery.

There isn’t much…yet.  I’m hoping to build up a good stock and do some shows – and save up to buy one of these:

A Cintiq.  Oh, how many t-shirt designs could I make with that!  🙂  Karen Hallion – the artist at the link above, is such an inspiration to me.  I love her work but she represents someone I could be, should I apply myself.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of my work with you in the future!

Confession Of A Medicated Woman

I have a confession to make.  

I have asthma coupled with severe allergies.  I’ve battled this disease since I was a child with many doctors weighing in on how to best control the symptoms.  It was decided that early on I would have to be medicated in order to keep breathing.

There were so many different kinds of medications I’ve lost count.  Some worked ok.  Some made the symptoms worse.  And some…some I had horrible side effects with.  Like vomiting and nausea.  I was told by my Dr to just keep using them – the side effects would go away eventually.  Finally we settled on a combination that works for my specific type of asthma.  Ventolin inhalers as needed with Advair to back it up.

Sometimes I’m angry.  Angry that I can’t live without this medicine.  Angry that I can’t be just a NORMAL person who breathes without difficulty.  Who can play sports and cuddle with kittens without fear of hospitilization.

Mostly though I’m ashamed.  I’m afraid to talk about my health issues in public for fear of judgement.  So many times I see posts from people with similar problems asking for help and there is a resounding cry that they can just “work through it” and that medication isn’t really needed.  When I was in grade six I had a gym teacher who believed I could just “walk off” my asthma after gym class.  It took a severe attack for my parents to remove me from that class – an attack that I nearly died from.

According to statistics Canada 8.5 % of the population aged 12 and over have been diagnosed with asthma.  More common during childhood, asthma affects more than 13% of Canadian children.

So I’m not alone.  There are many others like me.  So why does society view having asthma as something I can just “get over”?  Why am I constantly asked how long I’m going to have to be medicated and whether or not I really need the inhalers?  Some even feel the drug companies are to blame and I’m not really sick.  They just want to have me on inhalers so I’m easier to control by the corporations/governments.

I see people telling pregnant or breastfeeding women to “go off their inhalers” due to misinformation about the danger to the baby – despite the fact the mother may be a danger to herself without them.

No wonder I, and many others, are ashamed of their asthma.  Why we hide it.

If I have an attack in public I just tell people that I’ve got a slight cold.  I turn away from people if I have to take my inhaler so they won’t know I’m sick.  I don’t talk about it much online so that I won’t incure the judgement of the internet.

Sometimes I’m afraid to get help for my asthma thinking I’ll be judged.  That my friends and family won’t understand or think I’m a burden and abandon me.  That the doctors won’t think I’m sick enough to warrant medical attention.  It can be so difficult to admit I need help no matter how hard it is for me to breathe.

I live in a society where there is a stigma against asthmatics – especially those who are on inhalers.  Where we are judged from all sides and shamed into silence.  Where we suffer and often times don’t find the help and support we need in time.

………….Wait a minute.  Asthma is a serious illness.  I shouldn’t be ashamed and this is just ridiculous.  Is it though?  Let’s re-write this post with what it’s actually about.

I have a confession to make.

I have an anxiety disorder coupled with depression.  I’ve battled this disease since I was a teenager with many doctors weighing in on how to best control the symptoms.  It was decided that I would have to be medicated in order to keep functioning.

There were so many different kinds of medications I’ve lost count.  Some worked ok.  Some made the symptoms worse.  And some…some I had horrible side effects with.  Like vomiting and nausea.  I was told by my Dr to just keep using them – the side effects would go away eventually.  Finally we settled on a combination that works for my specific type of anxiety.  Ciprolex with the occasional prescription of Prozac if my depression got too bad.

Sometimes I’m angry.  Angry that I can’t function without these pills.  Angry that I can’t be just a NORMAL person who controls their emotions without difficulty.  Who can deal with stress and major life events without fear of hospitalization.

Mostly though I’m ashamed.  I’m afraid to talk about my mental health issues in public for fear of judgement.  So many times I see posts from people with similar problems asking for help and there is a resounding cry that they can just “work through it” and that medication isn’t really needed.  When I was in my twenties I believed it and almost did something irreversible.  I could have died.

According to the World Health Organization depression effects 350 million people worldwide. CAMH says anxiety disorders effect one in ten people.

So I’m not alone.  There are many others like me.  So why does society view having depression and anxiety as something I can just “get over”?  Why am I constantly asked how long I’m going to have to be medicated and whether or not I really need the pills?  Some even feel the drug companies are to blame and I’m not really sick.  They just want to have me on the pills so I’m easier to control by the corporations/governments.

I see people telling pregnant or breastfeeding women to “go off their meds” due to misinformation about the danger to the baby – despite the fact the mother may be a danger to herself (or others) without them.  They quote sources that aren’t even close to being scientific.

No wonder I, and many others, are ashamed of their mental health issues.  Why we hide them.

If I have an attack in public I just tell people that I’m having an asthma attack or allergies.  I turn away from people if I have to cry or hyper ventilate so they won’t know I’m sick.  I don’t talk about it much online so that I won’t incur the judgement of the internet.

Sometimes I’m afraid to get help for my anxiety or depression thinking I’ll be judged.  That my friends and family won’t understand or think I’m a burden and abandon me.  That the doctors won’t think I’m sick enough to warrant seeing me.  It can be so difficult to admit I need help no matter how hard it is for me to function.

I live in a society where there is a stigma against mental health – especially those who are on pills.  Where we are judged from all sides and shamed into silence.  Where we suffer and often times don’t find the help and support we need in time.

……

Did your feelings change when you read the re-write?  Many people’s do.  The point is summed up in one simple sentence.

Everyone, PLEASE, stop shaming those on medication for their mental health issues.

If you wouldn’t tell an asthmatic to stop taking their inhalers, if  you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to stop their insulin, DON’T tell someone with depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue to stop their medication.

What people need is support and understanding.  Patience and empathy.  Help them know that they are not being judged and that they are still worthy of your time and love.

With better support at home and in their community things do get better.  I’m living proof.

Someday I’ll talk more about my mental health journey.  The self-medication, the hospitalization, the attempts at…well, we’ll get there.  I know that without that one little pill I take every night each day would be substantially harder.  I wouldn’t find joy in my precious baby and would spend my time agonizing over “what ifs” instead of focusing on “what is”.  That one pill helps me be better and manage my illness and really, is that such a bad thing?

inhalerpills

Anxious & Pregnant – That’s Me

This is not my first pregnancy.  This will not be the first time I go into labor.  But if all goes well this will be my first child brought to term and delivered healthy, happy and alive.  I have two months to go now and I am still hyper vigilant about everything.  Every bump and punch goes noticed and counted.  Every lack of movement is panic-inducing.  If there is a span of more than a couple hours where babybean is quiet I spend the day frantically feeling around and anxiously waiting until he kicks one…two…three…four… times “phew” and he’s moving normally.  I am anxious all the time about everything to do with pregnancy.  Weird pain?  I’ll spend hours researching the internet and finding out if the pain is normal or some horrible sign something has gone wrong.  I check constantly what is coming out of my vagina – is there blood?  Does that look like blood?  OMG what if it is?  What if something has gone wrong and I’m not noticing the signs like I screwed up last time and … *insert panic attack here*  This is not your normal pregnancy anxiety.

I haven’t been able to enjoy the pregnancy.  I like to say that the nursery isn’t done because there is a large dog living there, because we don’t have the money, because, because, because.  The truth of the matter is it isn’t done (and wouldn’t even be painted but for the kind interference of my sister in law) is because I’ve spent most of this pregnancy waiting for something to go wrong.  For the baby not to make it.  I don’t want a fully decorated nursery if there is no baby to go inside it.  I don’t take “belly pictures” and the thought of “belly casting” and 3D ultra sounds send me into an anxious fit.  I don’t read to my belly or talk to it very often – other than begging that he move so mom can stop panicking.  I am paranoid about anything touching my belly and I wake myself up constantly at night so afraid I will roll over onto my front and “squish” babybean or break my water (which is what happened last time).

On the surface I am doing what I should be doing.  I am starting to (reluctantly) buy clothes and baby items.  I might even enjoy it that day.  I blog about the weird and fun things I should be thinking of – like my belly and feet and other pregnancy things.  Usually when I do I’m having a good day and do feel what I write about.  Happy/excited etc.  I have chosen a name for babybean but still don’t use it very often.   On days like this though (which represent abot 90% of my days) I feel anxious and detached from the whole ordeal.  Sure my back hurts and I pee a lot and my feet are twice their size but I either ignore the whole “pregnant” thing completely to survive the day or it’s all I think about and send myself into an anxious tizzy worrying that I failed at being pregnant yet again.

The loss wasn’t that long ago.  Last May in fact.  It was sad and terrible and traumatic as well.  I’ve been told by professionals in the mental health field that I suffer from a form of PTSD due to the nature of the loss.  That I share symptoms with people who witness a terrible accident or suffer some other form of trauma.  I finally got into a program to help me through this, I see my lady today, and wonder if I should start on the pills they suggest.  Anti-depression/anxiety meds I’ve been on before.  I’m at an extremely high risk for PPD.  I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and mild depression a few years ago but it’s been awhile since I needed pills to function.  This whole loss and subsequent pregnancy has sent my mental faculties into chaos.

It would be better for babybean if I wasn’t so stressed and anxious all the time.  I discussed with my Ob/Gyn the need for pills and he feels it would be better for both me and baby.  He is also worried about the “crash” emotionally after baby.  So today I go into see my lady councillor and tell her that yes I think I will need some pills, thank you.  She’s been good to me and I am beginning to trust her as well.  She suggested I “journal” and share the loss someday when I am ready – to relieve the burden I carry.  Even Fatherbean doesn’t know the whole story (to spare him the extra pain of not being there for me – he was at work and tried so hard to get away).  Perhaps sometime in the future I will share.

I want to stop living with anxiety about everything.  I want to remain calm and positive 90% of the time instead of the other way around.  It’s time I worked on getting better so that when he gets here I can give babybean the life he deserves and the best and healthiest mommy I can.