Catching Up. Feeling Down. Holding On.

  • Saturday / November 27, 2021
Catching Up. Feeling Down. Holding On. 1

Catching Up. Feeling Down. Holding On.

Catching Up

It’s been a few months since my last post. The new cat smell is gone, and the kittens (Rocco & Rudie) are more adult-like every day—at least their physical bodies. Rose/The Bear is still tolerating the boiz, and is allowing them in closer proximity without incident. Rudie & The Bear seem to be bonding a bit. Rudie can rub up on her without being batted down. It’s quite cute to see. Rocco on the other hand can not pass by The Bear without raising a paw, whether in play or defiance—I’m not sure. The end result: rapid response paw batting until Rocco is on the floor in submission. Oh! They know who is the boss!

Goodbye Brother Auggie

Catching Up. Feeling Down. Holding On.

A bit of very sad news here. Back on July 21, 2021 I wrote the post: Rocco, Rudie And Brother Auggie. The post explained how I came to know about Rocco & Rudie’s brother Auggie. He was a special needs cat fighting for his life with help from the very loving and capable hands of SHAHS Non Profit Rescue Society. They specialize in helping animals with Hydrocephalus: water on the brain. For months the amazing people at SHAHS were doing all they could to help get Auggie the help he needed: procuring a (human baby) brain shunt via donation from any vet, (human) pediatrics unit, hospital that had a “dated” shunt. During this time, Auggie had been in an out of the animal hospital—several times— to have fluid removed from his brain. He’d have the procedure, become stable, and would return home to his brofurs & sisfurs. The good hearted people at SHAHS tried all they could do to help brother Auggie, but sadly, he passed away a few weeks ago. He’s off chasing bunny clouds in the sky, with his other hydro-pals, and my boy Rocky.

Feeling Down

Unfortunately this whole “Feeling Down” thing is just a more polite way of saying: I AM SO FUCKING DEPRESSED—AGAIN! It started long before I moved in with my mom—in her “red neck of the woods”: Lanoka Harbor. The cycle of chronic fatigue, confusion, brain fog, memory “disruption” & the ensuing depression that comes with it as a package, is what caused me to give up my Asbury Park apartment nearly three years ago, and go on early Social Security retirement benefits. At some point things quieted down once I was settled in here and started a new routine around living with my mom; she @ 91 & me @ a newly minted 62. The fatigue is always present. Whether it comes as another gift from the disease that keeps on giving—Sarcoidosis—or from some other unknown malady, doctors/specialists still have no clue. Most times I feel I’m on my own to solve this riddle.

My mom fell Christmas Eve 2020. We ended up taking her to Community Memorial ER the night after Christmas. She stayed for 2 weeks & was released minus a gallbladder. She had become a mere shadow of her former self after her hospital stay. Her recovery was long and arduous, and she’s still not 100% almost a year later. If I was her primary caregiver before this incident, I am certainly earning the title now. This doesn’t help my daily outlook living in my skin, compounded with the isolation of life during COVID—and the energy sapping feeling of this fucking fatigue.

I have to say, these past few weeks have been hellacious for me. I’m trying to be the dutiful son, but I also need to take care of myself—’cause no one else will help!

Holding On

I am trying with all my might to just hold on to my sanity and my humanity. My fatigue and depression would manifest in misguided anger directed verbally to my mom & the cats. The combination of all these factors pushed me to get help—again. For a solid month I tried finding a new therapist via my health insurance website. I did searches, called people, left messages, and out of a dozen therapist (or more) only one called me back to at least tell me he didn’t accept Horizon NJ Health—even though he was shown as a provider on Horizon’s website. Seems therapists are in short supply due to COVID.

During the time I was looking, I met with all the aids that came to the house to help my mom. I was chatting with one of her nurse aids & told the aid of my strikeouts with finding myself some help. She told me about the organization Early Intervention Support Services (EISS—pronounced ice) in Toms River. Once I called EISS I had an intake appointment within a few days. Days! Not weeks. Not months. Days! Amazing!

Houston. We Have A Problem.

It’s a terrible thing to wake up each day and be disappointed you did indeed wake up—because the GRIND needed to commence, whether I had the energy or ambition to do anything or not. I was not, nor am not currently suicidal—for those having read this far and or care. Nor was I then. I just didn’t care if I woke up at all. No plans to off myself. My days were that dark, removed from real communication, mental stimulation—never mind human touch—or even simple conversation. Talking to the cats, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter interactions did not/does not/do not count. During this time I even turned away a friendship (or the possibility of more) because I was in such a dark place. I didn’t want to have to act or explain what I was going through. He very well may have understood. I just didn’t want anyone seeing me like this, or telling me what I “should” or “needed” to do. As “Dexter” may have said: I wasn’t ready to share my “dark passenger”, or admit he needed to leave!

Chemically Altered

Catching Up. Feeling Down. Holding On.Long story short—I am once again “chemically altered”. I’m back on the 101ers: 150 mg of Bupropion XL. I have had a long sorted history with depression & antidepressants. Antidepressants never worked for me. They made me more depressed, until I eventually tried Wellbutrin / Bupropion five years ago. Bupropion worked so well for me last time, it bordered on the miraculous! Unfortunately, the miracle lasted only 8 months before my mental health slowly disintegrated & I was standing back at the edge of the abyss: back to my old fatigued & depressed self.

At that time my doctor and I tried some additions to the Bupropion to formulate a “cocktail” that for others had worked. For me? Not at all. Months later I even submitted to a full round of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation. For 70% of people DTMS was a game changer. Again, for me, not at all. It angers me that I’m one of those few people that have issues with antidepressants or other therapies not working or worsening issues—hence my hesitation to start down this chemical path—yet again.

So with history in hand and at the fore of my fragmented mind, I decided I HAD to try something. I know my brain chemistry has changed. I know it’s also spurred on by my physical & emotional health, or lack there of.

I started Bupropion Friday. No. No first day miracle like the first time I tried the drug in 2016. So I wait. It can take up to three weeks for it to have any effect. Though I may or may not be experiencing one of its side effects: waking up at 2 AM and not being able to turn off my racing brain. Fun! But I persist. I will keep trying. I will see or talk to my caseworker, my temp therapist, and my NP who helps—prescribe or not prescribe. I will wait until they find me a permanent therapist that takes my current insurance & pending Medicare (come 1/1/22). I can only do this one day at at time. I want to say that talking to a therapist & the Bupropion might be working, but that’s my optimist trying to whisper over the rants of my dark passenger. Hey! DP! STFU!

And In The End

Hopefully—in the end— optimism, hope, & joy win out—or some reasonable facsimile thereof. In the meantime … I’ll hug Rocco, Rudie, and Rose (AKA: My Furry Prozac) just a bit more, and continue down this path and see what happens. What else is there?

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Joe Streno

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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