So, things were going well & then halfway through last week the withdrawl symptoms kicked in. Sheesh, major waves of dizziness and nausea, despite having carefully cut down on my dose before stopping the pills.

I felt reassured that it was withdrawal symptoms, rather than some fun, new ME symptoms, due to the previous comments on here. Plus, some googling revealed hundreds of posts on message boards from people complaining about dizziness & nausea when coming off citalopram.

Ended up having a couple of days off work, as I couldn’t cope with the dizziness on top of my ME, but I’m pleased to say that everything is abating now. Back at work and minimal dizziness.

I have been waking up at about 3am every morning this week, which I suspect is another symptom of my body adjusting to coming off the pills, but I’ll re-instate my sleep hypnotherapy CD tonight and see if that helps.

Overall, I’m pleased to be off the pills after three years, despite the small hiccups.


A Plea For Help

Thanks everyone for your support on my “coming out” post. I’ve been overwhelmed by the niceness. You guys rock!
Like I said, I am going back to the UK. Yay for me! I’m leaving my parents house (hopefully forever) to become an independent, grown up woman and to make a life for myself! Isn’t it exciting? What an adventure! I’m fricking terrified to death!!!

When one moves somewhere, it’s generally useful to have somewhere to move to. So here it is.

I need help in finding somewhere to live.

I thought I had nothing to lose by asking you, kind readers, for some help. This is not something easy for me to do. It’s one of the reasons why this post has taken so long. The last time I was in a similar situation and asked for help from people whom I thought cared about me, I found indifference. In the end, I discovered that help can come from the people you least expect. Which is why I’m giving this a try.

I was thinking on moving around London, but it’s not written in stone. On the plus side, I will have a higher chance of finding a job, I’ll be closer to the airport (kind of important if something happens and I need to run away; also convenient for visiting parents), and I’ll be where everything seems to happen. On the other side… well…, London is, after all, a city, and I’m a creature of the wild. If it were up to me, I would live in a little cabin in the middle of the woods. (Though with internet connection).

I can only afford a room in some flatshare / houseshare. Ideally, I would be sharing the place with a bunch of feminists working to bring the Feminist Revolution. The second best scenario would be sharing the flat / house with nice people, but living somewhere close to a bunch of feminists working to bring the Feminist Revolution.

I’m already trying the “traditional” intertube approach of placing an ad in Spareroom (and others) and contacting people that way. But it’s particularly difficult when you are living abroad. And besides, I would much rather share a place with people I have something in common with.
I have some savings but I’m not rich, so rent price has to be, ehm, moderate.
I’m not picky. Really I’m not. I know things are gonna be tough for me when I arrive, that’s OK.


If you know of someone around London with a room to rent out…
If you know of someone somewhere else in the UK with a room AND a job…
I you’ve heard something from someone…
If you have any advice for me…
If you have any words of support…

Please contact me, either through comment or mail at:
beyondfeminism at gmail dot com (without spaces)

(I know these are difficult times; that we are in a recession and all. But I am not happy where I am right now, and I really need to leave, like, a year ago. If I could wait until things got better, I would. At worst, I can always come back.)

(Cross-posted on my blog)

Coming off the pills…

Photo by Mr La Rue

Photo by Mr La Rue

So, after nearly three years I am currently coming off my anti-depressants. I was on 20mg a day of Citalopram and lucky that I had no noticeable side effects.

Using anti-depressants is a very personal choice and it turned out to be the right one for me. However, it wasn’t an easy to start using them as it meant finally admitting that I was depressed and that I couldn’t cope.  I went through a phase of bursting into tears several times a day, including at work and this is why I chose pills. I needed to stabilise myself so that I could start dealing with my depression and work out what other help I needed.

I been to three different counsellors alongside using the anti-depressants, the most successful counselling treatment being the cognitive behavioural therapy I received in early 2008. The general advice from GPs about coming off anti-depressants seems to be that you should only come off them once you’ve felt okay for 6 months and then to cut down to a pill every other day, then one every two days etc.

I had 3 weeks off work before Xmas with my ME/CFS and IBS which was frustrating, but didn’t put me into a bad place mentally so I decided I was ready to start cutting down the pills. I’ve been cutting them down for the last month or so and I’m currently taking one pill every three days, so another couple of weeks and I’ll stop altogether.

The hardest part of coming off the anti-depressants is trying to decide what is “normal” for me. Before my depression I would very rarely get upset or cry because I tended to push all my feelings deep down inside. Now I’m double-guessing myself and thinking “am I upset because I’m coming off the pills?” The answer seems to be no, mainly when I’ve got upset the last few months it’s been about things that most people would find upsetting, and I generally deal with them sensibly and quickly. So, I still need to work on accepting and recognising my feelings and then working through them but overall I’m very happy with my progress and that I’m doing the right thing for me.

A Very Telling Dream

Last night I had a dream where I was cutting my own hair, with bathroom scissors. I cut off one side, then grabbed a handful of the other and cut below my closed fist, but the scissors cut my wrist too. I was worried in my dream, panicked about what I had accidentally done. But I couldn’t feel any pain. The wound knit up almost immediately, but it niggled in the back of my dream-mind until I woke up.

It took me until after midday to work out what the dream meant. It was obvious really – whenever I’m desperate, anxious and possibly despairing in a quiet sort of way, I think about cutting my hair. On impulse, cutting it short, fist length from my scalp, just to see what it would look like (though I don’t actually have more than a short bob now anyway).
I don’t know why this should be my reaction to feeling my anxious brain is spinning out of control. But I have always suspected – and this dream confirmed my suspicions – that it’s sort of an impulse to self harm. To do something damaging to myself.
I’ve never done it. But I do pick at any raised bumps or follicles on my arms, and I do pull out my hair (fancy name: trichotillomania).

I was kind of impressed that my subconscious could make that connection so clear for me.

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know very little about me. I have been keeping a low profile, which is strange for me since I’m usually an “over shearer”. I think hiding in the intertube’s shadows has been a reflection of my emotional state. Unable to accept my life; or to accept that I am alive. Afraid of being rejected if anyone found out who I am. (It’s not that I’m particularly “bad” or anything, it’s just that I’ve been rejected many times in the past). It’s been rather important for me to not be rejected in the intertubes, since the people in it are practically the only ones I interact with. It’s also the case that in the intertubes I’ve found the closest thing to a place I feel I belong to.

I have recently made a commitment to stay on this planet. In short: to live. This means accepting my life and moving to change it; being open and honest. And learning to accept rejection. In order to do this, I am going to reveal who I am. I hope it helps me.

[Don’t worry if you don’t understand any of this. Read if you are interested in my humble story.]

My real name is Maria. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the 25th of May, 1983. This means that, much to my dislike, I’m currently 25 years old. I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember. It seems like I am slightly better now, but it could be a false alarm; there have been some in the past.
When I was 20 I moved with my family to Barcelona, Spain. After 6 months I moved to St Albans, England, UK to study Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire. Four years later, I (somehow) graduated. Because I had run out of money, I had to come back to my parents’ in Barcelona. I descended (further) into a depressive black hole out of which I am barely coming out today.
My nationality is both Argentinean and Spanish. I am a “Latina” for the USatians and a “Spaniard” for the UKazians. So I would define myself as “white”, but not “white enough”. (In case anyone wonders, I was conceived after the Malvinas/Focklands war ended).
I want to be a writer/(f)artist one day. (Oh noes, not yet another young feminist who wants to be a writer!). I know it will be particularly difficult for me since I write in English, which is not my first language. But I don’t care.
Part of the reason why I fell into depression for so long was because I had spent 4 years studying a course that will not lead me nicely to a stable job. I cannot work as an “astrophysicist” unless I spend another 10 years studying and get a PhD and two post docs all before retiring. I feel like I’m back to square one; only with considerably less money and more years on my back.
I don’t have much idea of what I’m going to do with my life, whether I’ll be able to survive as a writer or even as a feminist. But I’ve made a commitment to stay on this planet, and I’m planning to stick to it.
Some months ago I (somehow) found a job. It turned out to be Hell on a stick but it has allowed me to save money to return to the UK. And that’s going to be my next move.

(more to come)

I Choose To Live


Someone once told me Frida Kahlo’s story. Of how, after she suffered a terrible accident and was lying in hospital, she had two choices: to live or to die. And she chose to live.

For too long I’ve been running away from my life, walking on that edge of living but not really living. Simply not knowing if I should live or die. Well, I’ve made my decision today. I don’t know if I “should” live, I don’t know if I “want” to live. I don’t know what life is. But I’m living, and I’m going to continue living. Which is not to say that I won’t feel like dying anymore. Or that my depression is going to disappear overnight. I’m sure I’ll still feel like shite a good portion of the time. But that’s OK. I’m used to it, I can deal with it. And so far, I’ve survived. And I’ll continue to live. For life’s sake.

I’m posting it here to strengthen my feeling of “commitment”.

Adventures in Procrastinating

As you are undoubtedly perceptive enough to realise from the title, I’ve been wasting time. Not doing what I should be doing. Both here on the group blog (sorry, group blog) and in real life, where I live in my carbon/ water body.

Fellow students will know that it’s been deadline and exam time at universities. Actually, my university fulfills its manifesto of ineptness by having deadlines at unpredictable times from november to late jan, and has 3 full weeks of exam time this month. As a devoted procrastinator I’m not complaining about the lack of teaching, but it’s still somewhat lacklustre.

So, I’ve had some deadlines to meet, and an exam. Two of the deadlines out of 3 I met, leaving them perilously close to the last minute (yesterday I managed to write slightly over 3000 words from 2-10pm). This is a dreadful habit, and I wish dearly that I could find some way of motivating myself so that I would faithfully and steadily work on assignments, little bits at a time, until I reach the deadlines without feeling like my heads about to explode.

Here’s my pattern:
I leave reading and research work during the semester ever so slightly late, though I have the best of intentions to catch up with it soon, honest!
I don’t, preferring to read feminist blogs online, watch Dexter and reassure myself that whatever catching up I need to do is still achievable.
I make a comprehensive timetable detailing deadlines and assigning subjects to days.
I fail to follow said timetable.
Time rolls round to about a month before the deadline (often less), and by this time I am too anxious to even *look* at my task description. Every time I sign into the student portal online, I feel physically sick. I rarely have enough nerve to press the link that will show me my task specifications.
I tell my psychologist that I can’t cope. He tells me to use TIC/TOC methods as we discussed (task interfering cognitions versus task oriented cognitions).
I further reassure myself that I have time, really I do, and perhaps I can just start really early tomorrow and work rilly rilly hard every day till the deadline and I’ll be fine.
I avoid going anywhere near anything that reminds me of my work for the next week.
Finally, FINALLY, a day or two, maybe even a week, before the deadline, I manage to sit through the itchy, nervous, sick-with-fear, mind freeze task of looking at my coursework documentation. Sometimes I can’t read it all in one go. Sometimes I have to print it out without looking at it because I’m so afraid to look at the actual words.
I lose myself in spiralling panic – there’s so much to do! I’ll never get it done in time, why WHY do I keep doing this to myself? Occasionally, this is as far as I’ll get – my fear gets the better of me and I hate the thought of all the mental effort and anguish it’s going to take to produce a piece of work that’s not completely awful this close to the deadline. I take the cowards way out and decide to resubmit when the time comes.
When I’m feeling braver, though, I push through the anxiety and start to try to get anything done that will somewhat meet the brief and get me a passing grade. Pushing through the anxiety is incredibly hard; every minute or so at first, I’ll get the powerful, nagging urge to get up and do *anything* other than what I’m doing. I’ll feel too sick to continue, or wander around aimlessly, or lie with the dog. If it gets really bad, I’ll start to feel as if I’m going to faint imminently; my neck feels tight and horrible, like blood isn’t getting to my brain, my skin feels tingly and every time I sit down and assume the position for keyboard work it gets lots worse.

So, in retrospect I’m proud of myself for getting 2 assignments out of 3 in. The third, I admit, overwhelmed me. My psychologist is helping me get mitigating circumstances for it.

Anyone got any tips for studying well for the new term?