Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – update 30/7/21

So here I am at the end of my second week(I think) of once-per-week treatment. Maybe my scalp loses its tolerance for the woodpeckering, but I came out with a headache, along with the usual neck ache. Honestly, TMS Australia, buy Glen Waverley the same neck bolster that Narre Warren have. I’m having to get weekly head, neck, and shoulders massage with my massage therapist to deal with the tension.

I have sent TMS Australia a request for the brilliant neck bolster, but so far, no action. The last purchase they made for Glen Waverley was a plain white waist-high cabinet to store the pillow covers in. By the way the doors don’t come together that well, I daresay it wasn’t an Ikea buy, but the Reject Shop.

Aaaaannyway, me. I am still holding steady with the depression, or the non-depression, or whatever this state is. I’ve said previously that I thought it would be ‘more’. I’m mostly in a non-sad state, just cruising along. No big swings either way. It’s still hard for me to identify emotions, and I think it always has been. It’s hard for me to recall how I felt about events in the moment. Autism? Inherited mild depression? Just born that way? Can I blame my astrological chart, with lots of Capricorn?

Whatever the case, I’m in neutral most of the time, so writing emotional poetry is hard for me. I….know how I felt about someone, how angry I’ve been. But happiness, joy? Slippery at best. Perhaps this leisurely life I lead, full of writing, reading, walks, fitness attempts, currently painting bits of the house, watching nature – maybe that’s contentedness.

A large gang of cockatoos are flying past my house. I thought post-TMS acute treatments would be me being as loud and as excitable as a cockatoo. Or as chatty and cheerful as a rainbow lorikeet. Mostly, it’s me, quiet, pottering, and not having suicidal ideation. It’s me not thinking everything too hard, and that the only way out is death. That death would be a nice rest.

The anxiety – well, sigh, it’s there. Yesterday was a busy day, and I ended up fried at the end of it. Brain and body are slow today, and the only reason there’s not generalised anxiety chatter going on, a whole row boat of ‘shoulds’, is that I’m simply too bloody tired, and have given myself permission to do not a lot today.

TMS works for me, and I’m holding steady at one treatment per week. I think the eventual plan is to go to one treatment every two weeks, but I have once a week booked in until mid-September. In half an hour, I’ll be taking a phone call from one of the in-house psychiatrists for a review.

Next week, I start art therapy, and I’m looking forward to that. There’s a whole lot of stuff inside that all the talk therapies in the world aren’t shifting, and I’m fed up with lugging all this junk around. Let’s see if art therapy can get at the places talking can’t.

Until next week, TMS-curious folx.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – ongoing story

It’s been 8 days since my last treatment. I was supposed to have my once-a-week session yesterday, but the clinician phoned in sick, so I’m now having treatment on Friday(today’s Wednesday). Honestly, today, I’m tired. I’ve been awake since 3.30am. Combination of having to get up to wee, feeling that biorhythmic body low at that time of the morning and thus, internally chilly, and 2 of my 4 cats thinking it was time to yell for breakfast. I kept putting on the audio book of the moment (THE SCENT KEEPER by Erika Bauermeister is 5/5 for me), hoping I’d drift back to sleep, but no, I was super-interested in the story.

And what with Angel sitting on my pillow, yelling that it was time for breakfast, and Chloe walking on me, purring, bunting, and hopping over to chew on the prayer plant beside my bed, I finally gave up on sleep and just listened to the audio book and tried to feel warm.

I tense up when I feel cold. Thus, I have aches all over. A hot bath has only gone partway to alleviating matters.

Was it an anxious awake? No. No fretting. Just….awake.

To be honest, by the time I had breakfast and a cup of tea, I felt wrung out, cold, and tired. A little sad, perhaps. I think lockdown is getting to me, as is the super cold and wet weather. I write that just as the sun peeks out for half a second. Oh Helios, you messing with me?

Chloe is now curled up on one of the dog beds beside my little writing table, purring away. A tabby fur doughnut totally content with her world. Sure, purr it up, kid. You’re not the one dragging through the day.

The depression stays gone, but with this little sad here…well, time will tell if it’s a sad, or tiredness, or just season-related. I suspect the latter two. I don’t especially have that dragged down feeling of the abyss that accompanies depression.

I mean, I’m here, aren’t I? I’m blogging, as per my weekly date with myself to update about TMS.

I’m craving going out for breakfast or lunch with my husband. I’d really like to do that, but not for another couple of weeks at least. Lockdown Number 5.

Even if it is cold and wet outside, I must get out for a walk today. It improves everything.

Daily Card – how I interpret

Light Seer’s Tarot

Question: why am I so jittery today?

9 of Cups.

The usual interpretation of this card is ‘abundance, almost to the point of too much of a good thing’. Not only is there a box of treasure at her feet, but 9 singing bowls float above her, all there for the taking. Dreams manifested, it’s all good.

Today, feeling flat, but at the same time unsettled and jittery, what I see is Too Many Ideas, and trying to reach for them all. The yellow background, and the floating woman speak to me of the element of Air. She is not grounded, and is actually not connected to the bounty that groundedness brings (treasure).

Because this is a Cups card, to do with the element of Water, that of feelings, intuition, I feel that I have run around far too much this past week, and not spent time dreaming, being, doing my grounding exercises. I need to slow my fitness practices down to flexibility, strength, and stamina, and let the aerobic fitness take care of itself. Slowly, slowly, steadily. Back to the treasure within.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation – in the midst of maintenance

I don’t know what maintenance session I’m up to. Certainly, I’m in the first month of it, going from 4 acute sessions a week to 2-in-a-row sessions. It frees up my week, and so far, my brain is holding on to the changes wrought.

Depression has not been an issue since about week 5 of acute phase. I simply don’t go there any more. There’s certainly stuff to be sad about. Just as I booked a 5 day trip up to Queensland to see my grandkids, Queensland went into lockdown, and so, my plane tickets are back in the system, on hold. I have a year to rebook and use them.

I’m still muffled as to emotions. I’m still on 20mg of Citalopram, which has been my maintenance dosage for many years. I just don’t feel emotions right on the dot of having them. I have a delayed reaction, and if I remember rightly, I always have. I thought it was a big old repression thing. You know, just not taught how to have the big emotions bc white middle class repressed family. Then I thought it was birthing trauma – premature baby left in hospital for 6 weeks at a time when big city hospitals would have fed, and changed babies, but not had the time to give them much attention, and my querelous, repressed mum not being told she could come in a visit me. So, me getting the message of ‘what’s the point in screaming?’

Now, I realise it’s probably an autism thing.

Whichever way, my emotions are muffled, so while I’m resigned to not visiting my grandkids just yet, I was kinda half expecting I wouldn’t go, and the missing them hasn’t quite hit me. It’s always a background thing anyway, but when my plans are stymied like this, I tend to feel it more.

My anxiety requires some managing, but still isn’t debilitating. I went into the city with two girlfriends last week. I didn’t try to cancel my plans. I didn’t get so exhausted as to cry afterwards. I didn’t sugar-load as a way to cope.

I can now look forward to more outings like this, where I’m not freaked out by the idea of being out, in company, all day. So much so that I’m having to rein myself in somewhat. I may not have as much anxiety and be able to do more things, but I still have thyroid issues and/or residual fibromyalgia issues that limit my energy levels.

I’m much better than I was, but I still want more, more, more.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – the start of maintenance sessions

Yesterday was my 30/30 treatment of TMS for depression and anxiety, coming right in the middle of a cold winter. Today is my first maintenance session. Absolutely the same routine. Go in, get measured up with tape measure to locate the right spots, get marked up with a white board marker. The magnetic coil is positioned over the right side of my head, and away it goes with its steady tick-tick-tick for 19 minutes. Then, the coil is wrestled over to the left side of my head, positioned, and off we go with the woodpecker session for 25 minutes. I put my ear buds in and listen to an audio book. I’m a little ways into ENTERING HEKATE’S GARDEN, which is all about the healing and poison paths of witchery. I sometimes use the session to do meditation and visualisation of the TMS working on my brain. Calming down the right side, gee-ing up the left side.

All up, I’m in a much better place than I was eight weeks ago. My mind makes attempts at the old suicidal ideation, but quickly bounces away again instead of staying there and me getting further down. The last time my mind had a go at thinking ‘what’s the point, we should die’, the rational part of my mind said: “Oh what a waste of money and time, after all these sessions.” If anything’s going to leave me stricken, it’s someone or something pointing out that I’m wasting money. Hey, if my mum and my first husband are going to leave marks on me, it may as well serve some purpose, right? So thanks for the money guilt, it’s finally come in useful, if it keeps me here, while I find my energy and enthusiasm for things again.

The anxiety….well, it’s less. Not gone, but less. I noticed it ramping up…last week? The week before that? A couple of days of jitters about…nothing in particular but spilling over into most aspects of life. So I’m doing some active meditation and visualisation to help manage that.

I’ve also noticed that my old habits of ‘move from one activity to another, like I’m back in high school, and I have six subjects to fit into a single day’ no longer serve me. With my autism diagnosis, and growing irritation if I’m asked to interrupt certain activities, I can now see that piecemealing my day isn’t how I like to operate. All those years of swapping between 3-4 jobs, plus study and whatnot, no day like any other, most likely lead to a great deal of this generalised anxiety.

As much as possible, I’m at least trying to have themed days. So if it’s a tarot day, it’s a tarot day. If I’m writing, I’m writing. I’m not also trying to shove art, or whatever else in there. And if it’s an art day, it’s an art day.

I do have plenty of time each week to find time for each of those things. Everything doesn’t need to be loud all at once. With today kicking off with a blog entry, it could be that today is writing day. With side streets to get my shoulders worked on by my myotherapist, and TMS in the afternoon.

So, into maintenance. 3 sessions this week, and then 2 next week. I managed to miss yesterday’s phone call from the TMS psych, so I’ll get another call next week to plan out how things go from here on in. I know I can go Thursday-Mondays without a zap, so a 4 day gap is a start. It’s all a matter of me continuing to do the work, and see if the treatments hold in my brain. Time for more brain magic.

Oh, and I wanted to ask you interested readers, are you keen to know what visualisations I use to help the TMS take? If so, drop me a comment, and I can easily do some posts about those.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – before treatment 29

I’m sad to say that the anxiety has returned. Not as bad as it was, and if I exercise, move, eat well, and tick a couple of things off my list, then I’m in a better space than if I did what I did yesterday – lie around all day, eat chocolate, and crazy-re-read HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT(which is not one I’ll likely re-read again, as it’s less palatable for me than the movie, and that’s saying something). I didn’t sleep well, and the old bothers bothered me.

The depression…isn’t. I feel sad, but it’s not like sliding down a slope any more. It’s nearly mid-winter, days are short, nights long and cold, not enough sunlight, but I’m hanging in there, and doing stuff to keep myself interested, alive, awake.

Today is treatment 29 out of 30 acute treatments. I finish my acute treatments next Tuesday, and yesterday, the Tall Clinician and I had a chat about where to next? I want to continue with maintenance, and see how long I can stretch treatments out and still feel okay. It’s a worry that the anxiety is back, and it’s no longer quiet in my head. No, no, no!

I did do some visualisation yesterday whilst in the chair. I’d also forgotten to do my basic meditation practices from the Feri tradition of witchcraft, so I combined it all in the chair. I guess I do have a strong mind, because even with the magnetic coil doing its bang bang bang thing on my head, I could conjure up the abiding images that have emerged from this treatment.

The right side of my brain is the steady tick-tick-tick Chinese water torture side. Depression and anxiety are treated here. I have come to visualise the magnetic pulse as thick, soft water flowing over mussels that are clumped onto a rock surface. All are ‘standing up’, sharp, slightly open. That’s how I see my anxiety, always standing at attention. I saw the water flow in and over the mussels, allowing them to lie down, be nourished, rest.

The left side of my body is the woodpecker bambambambambambambam pause bambambambambambam side. Depression is treated here. I see my depression either as a black hole that needs light shining into all corners of it, or as wilted dandelions that need sunlight and rain.

Either way, a lot of water (element of water is associated with emotion, feelings, intuition) is involved. I came out of the meditation feeling much better.

Didn’t sleep well last night, but that’s what I get for not exercising or even walking yesterday, and not doing much of anything else.

I’m about to have lunch, then go for a walk. I’ve already done the walk up exercises from Swift Fitness, my active movement studio. I know them off by heart.

I am fretting about things writerly, which you can see if you go to my previous post WHAT IF I AM CICADA? However, I can’t let those thoughts become obsessional, the way my playing and replaying of SORRY NOT SORRY from the musical SIX. Every darned day for weeks. Well, at least I now know the song. What did I want with it? I don’t know. I’m a bit scared to listen to it again, in case the obsessional thing kicks off again.

Well, I guess I’ll update again after treatment 30, and see where I’m at then.

Poem – Could It Be I’m a Cicada?

Could it be that I’m a cicada,

that I’m three quarters through the long sleep,

the shedding, the drinking from tree roots?

I am seasonal.

Quiet in the winter,

and I thought I bloomed in summer,

but maybe each year has been growth,

an old shell too small,

as I expand with heat, light,

and the scent of blue eucalyptus haze.

Thirteen years on this one pill

that keeps me from cutting my wrists.

I don’t feel anything,

not for a long time,

until an emotion gets through

medication bunting.

The cicada has a seventeen year cycle.

They are ready to emerge this year,

in their millions.

A giant orgy of mating,

singing, and egg laying,

so their children can gestate another seventeen years.

Will they drink, take drugs,

visit a vomitorium,

go to Burning Man?

In four years, will I be new?

Will I finally be fully grown

out of the pill-need?

Will I emerge, blinking,

into sun-strong light,

ready to engage the world

in a orgy of novels, paintings,

book tours?

Will I finally be ready

to claim the season of my dreams,

or will someone dig into the ground

in which I nest,

and find nothing but a husk?

Will I have died whilst waiting?

*********

From the TypeWriter Tarot newsletter: They’ve been growing underground for 17 years, drinking from tree roots, shedding their skins five times before they climb from their caves to find mates and initiate a new cycle.

Before session….24(?) of TMS

Well, I’ve lost count. I had one session cancelled last week, and one this week, and then another make-up session shoved in on Friday, and now I’ve had the confirmation sms that I have a session tomorrow when one wasn’t supposed to be scheduled. Cue me, or PizzaBoy, giving them a call in the morning to say WTF?

My depression is in abeyance, and I wonder if this is as good as I get. I can’t say I don’t get suicidal ideation any more, because my brain tried its very best on Saturday. I got as far as ‘if my health isn’t going to give me any more energy, and my shoulder never gets any better, then why on earth would I spend another 40 years hanging around?’ And then my mind said: ‘Oh, what a waste of $$$$ all this would have been.”

So, I’m still here, and feel mostly okay, except the old anxiety is ramping up. Not as bad as it was, but as soon as I said to myself last week that it might be time to attempt to rewrite an old short story, bam, my sleep went screwy, and I was in low-grade lather until it finally sorted out how to tell the story. It wasn’t a short story after all, but a poem cycle.

Now I’m in the ‘for gods’ sakes, just carve out fifteen minutes, and write one of the damned poems’ phase. Let’s just say that I’m getting through the old book pile. Reading as avoidance. Not quite as useful as cleaning as avoidance.

My energy IS better than it was, my outlook mostly better, but honestly, I thought being non-depressed would be….more. I was hoping for a batsqueak of sexuality, just a hint of desire, but no. Still nothing. Poor PizzaBoy. I thought there’d be more ‘oy boy!’ when waking up of a morning. I thought…I dunno how I thought it would be. Just more.

I lifted up really quickly, and have mostly maintained that level, but this plateau seems to be it. That’s unless I give myself a talking to and say ‘well, of course it is if you’re not going to do any of the suggested work sheets, up the ante on yourself in terms of magicking your brain, and starting up some therapy again to reframe, if not clear old junk’.

Sulky child self then wants to stomp around, saying: “But it’s supposed to work!”

It works if you work it, as they say in the classics. Re-find that ‘this is going to bloody work for me 100%’ drive, and get on with it, Satya.

Gratitude: that I get to have this therapy, with the support of my family; it’s worked very well for me; I seem able to maintain equilibrium between Friday afternoon and Tuesday afternoons, which is a good stretch of time(some clients can’t maintain more than about 36 hours without going downhill again, and need to slooowly stretch out their visits); the Glen Waverley clinic opened and it’s a seven minute drive, rather than a thirty five minute drive; the story idea finally fell into place; I wrote 5 poems in the cycle; I decluttered my wool stash and there’s a bag of wool to go to the op shop; 16 minutes of belly dance drills this morning; I love the cold weather when I’m tucked up on my bed in the afternoon, reading; gratitude to Unicorn Girl for suggesting I actually read ‘Betwixt and Between’; PizzaBoy; my three grandkids; friends.

Book Review: The Midnight Library

Copied and pasted from my FaceBook page.

I inhaled THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig in one sitting. What do I say about this book? It starts out with a suicide attempt. A young woman hates her life, and the huge amount of paths not taken that surely would have been better than the depressed, hopeless state she now finds herself in.

Whilst unconscious and hovering near death, she travels to a place called The Midnight Library, where she is given the opportunity to explore those untaken paths.

The first 2/3 of the book grabbed me, but then….it slid into Messages To The Reader On The Importance of Truly Living The Life You’ve Got. And as I read on, it became more and more bloody obvious, this Uplifting Message.

Now, I don’t mind the message. It’s one I’m doing my best to live right now. But I agree with the GoodReads reviewers who have given this book 3/5. The writing is good, very good in fact. Interesting characters, but they felt a little cardboardy. There are a few pages or paragraphs I’ll copy out to keep, but on the whole, this isn’t a book I’d read again.

And so we bid a fond farewell to THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, and give it a 3.5/5, and recommend a library copy to curious readers.