I’ve been faking it for so long; trying to hold on, trying to get by

Since the post about the Garth concert last year, I’ve been evaluating my life, and attempting to make changes. In early December, I had an appointment with my doctor and we decided to change the antidepressant I was taking. While it was helping to a degree, the medication I’d been on didn’t seem to have the same impact any more in fighting the depression. So far, the new medication does seem to be more effective – I am more upbeat than I had been, even when in pain.

I don’t make New Years Resolutions, but I did decide to set a bit of a goal for myself this year. Since I have the new meds, I wanted to challenge my depression and AvPD by attempting to be social at least once a week. Interaction with my mom or coworkers doesn’t count, since that was already part of my normal day-to-day before creating the goal. So far? I’d have to say I’m doing pretty well.

Thanks to Ingress, I have more opportunities to run into people outside of work. Some weeks, my goal has been met by bumping into another player while I’m out playing and chatting for a couple of minutes. Other times, I’ve worked up the courage to join my teammates when they are having a game night. When Emily came down to visit mid-January, we had an entire day that was full of social events. She had come down to see one of her favorite bands, Marianas Trench (she’d introduced me to their music before her trip, and I’m definitely a convert after seeing them perform!). In addition to the concert itself, we had VIP meet & greet passes; plus we won entry to a special private performance at a local radio station, which also had another meet and greet. That lead to an entire day of making small talk with strangers, and being out of my current comfort zone… and it was very much worth it! Having my best friend there with me made a difference, too. It’s a lot easier to be social when you have a highly familiar person there with you.

I am noticing what seems to be a correlation between the amount of socializing I do and how much my fibromyalgia pain flares ups. The larger the gathering, the more physical pain I am in the next day. I’m not about to let that stop my attempts being social, but I am going to keep tracking pain levels vs interactions. If there is a consistent pattern of increased pain after I’m social, I plan on talking about that with my rheumatologist in hopes that we can find a way to prevent that from happening, or at least lessen the impact. Because I want to be more social, dammit. I want to improve my health – both physical and mental health.

I want to have fun again, to bring more happiness into my life. I want to be able to visit Emily (it’s been too damn long since I’ve been up to Toronto), and I want to be able to go on vacation again. When I’m on vacation – I want to be able to do things again, instead of having to carefully plan around what places rent wheelchairs or motorized mobility scooters. At a gathering on Saturday night, I got to talking with people about Vancouver and I realised it’s been 5 years since Emily & I last visited there. While I was a lot more mobile back then, there were still things I didn’t get to do that I would have enjoyed. When we were in Ucluelet, Emily took a hike along the Wild Pacific Trail, and I drove to the Amphitrite Lighthouse to pick her up. I know I missed some amazingly beautiful scenery by not being able to make the hike with her. These days, there’s no way at all I could handle a hike along the trails, much less the stairs or boardwalk to our gorgeous cabins at Terrace Beach.

However, I’m getting off track now and it’s decidedly past my bed time. I’ll blame the pain killers for that last part. While most people get knocked out by painkillers, they wake me up/keep me alert. I had a high-level pain day today (well, yesterday now), that seemed to correlate to the gathering on Saturday evening. But, increased pain or not, I’m glad I went. There were times I had to fight the urge to bolt when I was overwhelmed by all the sensory input, but I think I did quite well by staying until things were just starting to break up. Considering most of the folks there were of the newer to my social circle variety as opposed to longer-term friends like my Bronzer buds, I’m very pleased with how well I did.

Eight weeks into the year, and I’ve managed to be social at least once a week. Not bad. Not bad at all. With any luck, I can make it another 8 weeks. Then another, and another. I don’t think this little experiment of mine will cure my AvPD, but maybe it can give me another tool to help fight back against it.

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