I’m currently on Day 10 of no Effexor. In general, I’m doing well, probably better than I was doing in late May and early June, when I was reduced my dose just a little bit. Certainly I am sleeping better. I have some tingling, but it’s staying at “medium” (I have an internal scale of none, low, medium, high and makes-me-insane). In the mornings, I have some muscle spasms and brain fog, but every day it seems to fade between 11am and noon. In the afternoon, I can get some things done. I even finished a big report for work on Friday.
My mood has been good, too… except maybe today. This afternoon I was dragging after a 45 minute walk, and when I crawled in bed for a short rest, my head was full of the kind of negative thoughts I often get when I’m depressed: thoughts of harming myself, even killing myself (though I don’t want to, it’s just the thought are there). For now, I’m just observing those thoughts, allowing them to be there but not something I have to identify with.
I will try to fill my next few days with low pressure things I love, like working in my garden. It’s raspberry season, so I’ve been a little busy making jam, and today I put a bunch of berries in the dehydrator to see how that goes. I’ve never dried raspberries before, but I’m hoping they might be delicious in salads that way. I can do these things even if I don’t feel my best, and doing something is always preferable to lying around in bed.
So that was topic one. Topic two is my dad. Earlier I wrote about how I wanted to experiment with having more contact with my dad. Since then, I have sent him a letter, a couple of cards, and a few emails. In my emails, I always try to say something that I think might make him feel connected. For example, I say, “As I write this, I am listening to old Willie Nelson songs; they always remind me of you…” or “I was out in my garden today and remembering how I used to go to the plant nursery with you…” So far, he doesn’t respond to any of that.
What he does do is send emails addressed to my two sisters and me altogether. Sometimes there will be several in one day, like on this day:
The severity of the pain in my back even trying to use the walker forces me to rely upon the chair for all movement. Ask around. They saw me this afternoon attempting to use the walker. The doctors should be made aware of my lack of progress, and NOT because of lack of trial.
The only way I can find complete relief is using the cylindrical pillow that I’ve had for years between the chair and my lower back.
Despite how I felt earlier, I an now quite well and ready to hit the sack.
So, I can see from these emails that he’s not always feeling well, and also that he is lonely and doesn’t have anyone to talk to. So I respond to them with short, sympathetic messages. He never acknowledges my messages though, and he never, ever, ever, says anything or asks anything about my life or my sisters’ lives.
After I sent him the sweetest Father’s Day message I could put together and still feel honest, he wrote this back to me (cc:ing my sisters):
Have a sharp pain deep at the base of the left heel, occurring about 10-20 times per day at intermittent times, lengths, intensity, and sometimes so crippling that I scream in pain, and cannot walk or stand. It gradually diminishes in pain, but may re-occur at any time on a random basis whether walking, sitting… Can a doctor explain the cause of this, suggest a pain reliever, in addition to all the others I am currently digesting. Or, does the current epidemic direct me to ‘suffer and shut-up’?
Then a day or two later, he sent this to all three of us:
Why is there a complete lack of communication between us during this period of corona virus? It can at least be done via the internet.
This just made me mad. I know he’s sometimes forgetful, so I emailed right back and said, wait Dad, I’ve sent you several cards and a letter and several emails, didn’t you get them? And he wrote back with one word: Yes.
What the hell?
I mean, this guy is old, and he’s stuck in assisted living all the time. Before the pandemic, my sisters used to go visit him, but they can’t now. He’s lonely. He’s bored a lot of the time. But we try to reach out to him in the limited way we can. My sisters communicate with him at least as often as I do. And he never asks about their lives either. It’s all only about him, him, him.
Which is pretty much the way he’s lived his whole life. Maybe as a younger man he had a few more social skills and would at least at feign a little interest in others. But ultimately, his focus was on himself and his own short-term pleasure.
I don’t know–am I being too judgmental? I told myself I wouldn’t expect anything, but clearly I was expecting something. Or maybe he’s fed up with me because I’ve let so much distance grow between us over the past decade.
I’m not entirely sure yet what I’m learning from my experiment. But in the short run, at least, it’s not, I don’t know, it’s not filling me with joy, it’s not inspiring me, it’s not making me feel connected to this man.
I’m not giving up yet, however. I’ll continue this experiment for a while longer and see what emerges.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash