Hello, friend. It’s been some time, hasn’t it? I haven’t said anything to you since January 21st. I promise it’s not because I don’t care or have been cheating on you with new friends, but life has been…an asshole in the past month.

Let’s catch up, shall we? We’ll need an entire pot of coffee to get there, though. I’ll let the server know to keep ’em coming.

You may be wondering what’s been going on? Well, even if you weren’t, I’m telling you anyway, so shut up and listen.

January 27

January 27th was, for the most part, a typical day. It was a Friday. I worked as I normally do, then relaxed afterward…as I normally do. I became overwhelmingly tired, so I went to bed. As I lay there, extreme nausea consumed me. I lay there as long as I could, hoping the feeling would pass, but it only intensified. I rushed to the bathroom in case I got sick.

As I suffered in the bathroom, wondering if and when I’d vomit, I began feeling dizzier than a blonde jumping off a merry-go-round. At that point, I decided I was going to go tell Baby A I needed him to take me to the ER. Some time between me leaving the bathroom, which I was not sure was a great decision because I didn’t want to barf all over my floor, and reaching the base of the stairs, my breath was literally taken away. I was having trouble breathing, and my heart felt like it was going to burst from my chest like an alien. I could barely whisper by the time I reached the foot of the steps and asked Baby C to get his brother to call 911.

My poor baby has a real issue with anxiety and began freaking out as he hollered for his brother. I hobbled over to the couch and laid on my back. I’m not sure how long it was before EMS was in the living room, but the image of my poor son running up the stairs scared out of his mind is seared into my brain.

After questioning me for a few minutes about anything different I may have put in my body that day (I hadn’t taken anything I hadn’t taken multiple times before), they decided they wanted to get me in an ambulance and to the ER.

What proceeded felt like a scene from a spoof movie like Naked Gun. They apparently needed to determine whether or not I was going into cardiac arrest before they decided which hospital to take me to. They tried and failed to get the EKG connected to me. They initially put the sensors in the wrong spot. Then, when they tried again, they wouldn’t stick appropriately because of my chest hair. I vaguely remember one of the guys putting a 97-cent Bic in my face and saying, “Sorry, man, I’m gonna hafta shave your chest.”

I can’t remember if I responded or not, but at that point, I didn’t give a fuck. I just wanted to be okay.

While that was going on, one of the other responders was trying to get an IV in me. I clearly stated multiple times that a lot of nurses have trouble getting veins in my arm and always end up using the top of my hand. Nevertheless, the comedy troupe decided to use my arm.

They missed on the first try. On the second try, they got it and blew it. For the 3rd try, instead of using my hand, they decided to use the underside of my forearm. If you’ve ever had an IV there, you know just how painful this is. The pain pierced the mania I was feeling like lightning splitting the night sky and brought me back to reality for a few short seconds. Luckily I was aware enough of what was going on to keep my arm still.

This 3rd attempt succeeded, but when they actually were connecting the IV, the dude yelled, “Shit!” and he explained that he lost the vein. He then started rooting around with the needle (which is also not a pleasant experience) and at least got it to where it was usable.

I have no clue how long we were in the ambulance in front of my house before we started moving, but it had to have been at least 15 minutes or so.

As we began moving, I asked which hospital they were taking me to. They said I was not in cardiac distress, so they were taking me to the local hospital instead of a decent hospital like UC. Too bad. On the way, they gave me Zofran to quell the nausea.

When they got me there, the ER doc came in and said things. I couldn’t tell you a damned thing he said to me because, by that time, I was delirious. I knew where I was and why I was there, but I couldn’t tell you a damned thing anyone said to me or even how time worked.

The ER doc evidently ordered a series of blood tests, but since the clown in the ambulance gumped up my IV, they couldn’t draw blood from it and had to poke me each time. I got stuck 3 more times after I got to the ER, so that was fun.

Eventually, Baby A arrived and began grilling me for information I didn’t have. Like, sorry, dude, I know a doctor came in here and said things, but that’s all I can tell you.

As I sat in the hospital bed waiting for someone to give me any sort of news, the sight of my poor Baby C running scared up the stairs kept playing through my mind. Tears began to fall as I realized I’d traumatized my children that night. Baby A sat a few feet from the foot of my bed, and I could tell he was sick with worry, too, and I had no answers to comfort him. All I knew is that A and C were freaked the fuck out because of me, and that broke me. I’m supposed to be the strong one for them. I’m supposed to be there for them. I’m supposed to help them. Support them. Prepare them. I’m not supposed to be some Humpty Dumpty piece of shit they have to worry about and completely shatter what little calm they have in their lives. I’m the dad. I’m supposed to be their strength, not the source of their heartbreak.

The doc came in later to inform me that they could find nothing wrong. My heart rate was elevated as if I’d been running a marathon, but they couldn’t figure out why. At that point, it occurred to me that my mom had several anxiety attacks in her later years that she mistook as heart attacks initially. I asked about this, and the doctor said they didn’t have a way to test that. They just gave me a bag of fluids and another dose of Zofran. Once my heart rate stabilized, they discharged me.


To this day, I still don’t know what happened that night, but I’m calling it an anxiety attack because I don’t know what else it could have been.

January 28

The next day, Baby C decided he wanted to go play at the park. I let him go. Later he called me talking about he fell off his scooter and hurt his wrist. He then informed me he was just going to go back to the park.

I think not.

I told him to come straight home so I could look at it.

C had been relatively calm on the phone, but as soon as he walked in the door, he started bawling. He’s so dramatic… I looked at his wrist….there was no swelling or bruising, so I put some ice on it and had him chill on the couch.

After a couple hours, he was able to move his fingers again, and all seemed well now that he could press all the buttons on his Switch once more. It’s the little things, I suppose.

January 30

Monday morning rolled around, and C was still complaining about his wrist hurting. I was planning on scheduling an ER follow-up with my PCP, so I decided I’d take C with me since we see the same doctor.

So, Monday afternoon C and I went to the doctor. For my part of the appointment, the doc decided a GeneSight test was in order since I’d already tried multiple medications. Easy enough, they gave me the swabs, and all I had to do with them was scrape the insides of my cheeks. Easy peasy.

The doc then examined C’s wrist. He had full range of motion and was able to use it normally, but was still having pain. She said she didn’t think it was broken but ordered an x-ray just to be sure.

I took C straight to the hospital to get the x-ray. After the technician finished the x-ray, she asked if I could go back out to the waiting area. This immediately put me on guard. They’ve never done that before. They always say things like, “they’ll let your doctor know what they find,” so I asked what was going on.

The technician said she was pretty sure that C’s arm was fractured, and she wanted us to hang out until the radiologist confirmed it so that they could figure out what our next step should be. A few minutes later, the technician came out and said C’s wrist was indeed fractured and that they had put in a call to the on-call doctor to see what they wanted us to do.

A few minutes later, my doc called and advised me to take C to an orthopedic ER. I packed C up and headed that way. They put a splint on his wrist and scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for that Wednesday to get an actual cast on his arm. They said they didn’t do it that night because they wanted an upper-arm specialist to review the x-rays before they put a permanent cast on. Um, okay. Not my area of expertise, so I just followed directions like a good boy.

Before bed that night, I realized I was out of my 60mg Cymbalta. I started to log in to my MyChart app to request a refill, then thought…I had a GeneSight test done, and that likely means they’ll be changing my medication, so I decided then to begin weening myself off the Cymbalta.

I did not request a refill.

February 1

Baby C has his appointment with the orthopedist. The orthopedist explained that C had a buckle fracture and that they would be putting a cast on it basically just to make sure it could heal without the risk of getting completely broken. C was not a fan of the cast, but it was more comfortable on him than the splint. Plus, he was able to pick out a red cast, so he was at least happy about that.

I considered my medication dilemma a bit more over the next few days. All I could do was play every interaction I’d had with my psychiatrist over and over in my head. It was always the same. I’m not bad, but I’m not good. I’m not falling apart, but I also find no joy in anything. I am just a fucking shell, or robot, just going through life on autopilot. My life was apathy. I work, pay my bills, do my dad thing, and that’s it.

As I considered this further, I thought back to before I was medicated. The only real symptom of depression I had before I began taking antidepressants in 2012 was irritability. I basically turned into a leviathan dick if things weren’t going my way. It doesn’t sound like an awful thing to suffer, but becoming irate at the smallest, most inconsequential things gets old real quick. It also costs you your marriage if you have a spouse who isn’t gonna put up with your bullshit (and, in that regard, I don’t blame her).

So I just kind of decided on my own that I was going to try life without antidepressants again. If all I have a problem with is irritability, I’d rather just be on a mood stabilizer than an antidepressant that saps all the joy from my existence.

February 14

I was supposed to have another appointment with my psychiatrist, but I canceled it. I didn’t see the point. All she ever did was ask detailed questions about my mental health and say things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

Like, thanks, lady, I know that. THAT’S WHY I’M FUCKING HERE.

My PCP can do all this, so I just decided to go back to letting my PCP manage these meds. Plus, since I was weening myself off the Cymbalta, I didn’t see a need to go. She was also not doing much to help me find a therapist, so I just yeeted her. Not literally. I have some self-control.

February 21

I decided to call the local mental health clinic who allegedly added me to their waiting list last year because they were completely booked. I had seen an ad on Facebook (I can’t believe something good came from a FB ad) that they were accepting new patients again. While that was welcome news, I was quite miffed that they hadn’t called me already. Obviously, the bitch who told me she was adding me to their waitlist lied.

Anyhow, I was able to get an appointment scheduled for early April.

About. Damned. Time.

February 24

I got a notification from my MyChart app on the 23rd that I had an 11:45am appointment, and it gave the usual 2020 pre-appointment fare…if you have a cough or a fever…like, I get it, automated bitch! I won’t come in if I have COVID. Duh.

I showed up at 11:40 to check in for my appointment, and the receptionist is like…..”I don’t have you down for an appointment today. I have you down for one on Monday at 11:45am…”

I hadn’t even looked at the date of the appointment. I just assumed it was on Friday since I got the notification on Thursday. Honestly, I didn’t even remember making the appointment and didn’t have it marked on my calendar. I just said, “Well, this is embarrassing,” and left.

“See you on Monday!” she said with a smile.


February 27

I went back to my doctor’s office, and this time I wasn’t turned away. My doc explained that the GeneSight test results gave 4 different antidepressants that would work optimally with my physiology. She prescribed me Pristiq since it was the least expensive of the four and that since all four were relatively new medications, a lot of insurance plans don’t cover them.

She asked me how I’d been sleeping as part of the routine visit. I told her I sleep fine after I take trazodone, but no matter how much sleep I get, I’m always tired. She then hit me with questions to determine if I may have sleep apnea. She has suggested on more than one occasion that I have a sleep study done, and I’ve resisted because fuck that shit. But at this point, I relented and let her put in a referral to have the sleep study done. I don’t want to live life sleeping with some shit on my face, but I just need to man up and do it.

That night was the last night I took Cymbalta after having slowly weened my dosage down over the previous 4 weeks.

March 1

C had an appointment first thing in the morning to have his cast removed. When the tech came out with the little-bitty saw to cut it off, I thought C was going to have a stroke. His anxiety took control, and I could tell he was scared shitless. I put my hand on him to calm him while the guy mowed the cast from my little man’s arm.

C was quite pleased to have the cast off and spent most of the next two days just scrubbing and scratching the shit outta his forearm to get all the dead/dry skin from it.

He’s a happy young man again.

March 2

I had been somewhat irritable the past few days, which I expected to happen when coming off the Cymbalta. However, Thursday, things began spiraling out of control. I was starting to get brief but intense spells of dizziness. I began hearing weird noises that coincided with what felt like small electrical shocks to my brain. I felt like I had all this pent-up energy I needed to release. I would be shivering and sweating simultaneously. I was getting seriously angry over things that I wouldn’t have before. I mean, I was getting distressingly irate. I was feeling like I was on the edge of a breakdown constantly. I took some anxiety meds, and that calmed me down, but the noises and dizziness went nowhere. I felt like I was a character in a horror movie, and every time I heard the noises, it felt like the monster was about to get me.

Yesterday was more of the same. I took more anxiety meds, but there weren’t working as effectively as I’d hoped. I’d been rage-walking the past few days when I felt I was on the precipice of the rabbit hole, but yesterday we had some serious storms rolling through the area, so that was out of the question.

I knew all this had to be withdrawal symptoms from coming off the Cymbalta, but a dear friend sent me this link. Evidently, the dizziness and weird noises I’ve been experiencing are referred to as brain zaps. From the article:

The following are the most commonly reported symptoms:[3]

  • anxiety, irritability
  • tiredness, sleeping problems
  • headaches, dizziness
  • profuse sweating
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • “brain zaps”—electric shock-like sensations that can cause pain and disorientation

Reading this further solidified my decision to stop taking antidepressants. I mean, if this is what happens when you come off them, what is it doing to your body while you’re on them??

March 3

Last night, I received a call from my brother. Evidently, my father is starting to show symptoms of dementia. While this is distressing news no matter what mental state you’re in, I fucking lost it. I was bawling, nearly hyperventilating, felt like a fucking grenade that just had its pin pulled, and ended up putting my fist through my closet door.

It was less than 40 degrees and windy as fuck, but I went out in shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and a light jacket and walked as hard and as fast as I could until my legs felt like jello, my breath was gone (for a good reason), and I no longer felt like a ticking bomb.

Then I just lay in bed until I passed out.

March 4 (today)

I’ve already broken down multiple times today. As I wrote about C running scared as the paramedics stormed my house, I saw it again with my mind’s eye, and the tears dripped like a leaky faucet. When I was telling Baby A about his grandfather, I lost it and had to go for another rage walk.

I’m calm for the time being, but I feel like it’s just a matter of time before my demons come back for more.

Anyhow, I told you we’d go through an entire pot of coffee today. I see you spiked yours while I went on about all the bullshit that’s been going on. Sorry to ruin your good mood by telling you about my shitty life. For whatever it’s worth, I appreciate you listening.

Please, tell me how you’re doing. I’ve missed you (I think). I hope things are going well for you.