A Tale of Best and Worst Times


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When was the last time this quote accurately described your life?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this statement was true for me. There are a few times in my life when I could describe times as being both the best and worst but I believe the most recent time has been the last six years of my life as a whole.

These six years have been the worst of times because I have been battling with a depressive mood disorder and likely Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The way these diseases have limited my life seem unbelievable to me. I had to give up driving because I cannot pay attention very well and do not have the reflexes I once did. Someday I hope I can just drive to the grocery store or Shoppers Drug Mart and back but that someday isn’t right now.

I use to be an extremely social person and was very close to my friends. Now I feel because of my disease that gap has widened. Partly because I can attend so few events. Night is a difficult time for me so I often can’t go out that late and transportation and money are always an issue because I often do not have money to take a cab both ways or to bus because of energy. I can bus one way in the day usually but I’m just less alert and more fatigued during the night.

Chronic fatigue has also made it impossible for me to exercise at a level where I can lose weight put on from medications and inactivity. I love exercise, I have for a very long time but my body wears out quickly even during 20 minutes of yoga and cardio usually just makes me sick to my stomach and completely wears me out for the rest of the day, especially lately. It is a symptom of CF Syndrome.

Another big issue is that I can usually only concentrate for a couple hours at a time and when I go out I use to be able to do about 4-5 hours but now 3 is all I can handle. Then I go home so exhausted I have to crawl into bed and just sleep for hours, sometimes days. I have malais, which means after a big activity I require often a day or two of recovery time.

Those are the worst of times for me but despite my illness there have been some good times as well. There have been vacations with my Mom and Dad and/or brother to Las Vegas, Anaheim, Phoenix, and Montreal. All of which, despite becoming exhausted by mid-afternoon I have enjoyed so much and have fought to rest up in time at night for dinner and shows.

I have found out who my real friends are because they are the one’s who have stuck by me through thick and through thin. They were there to visit me in the hospital when I was first sick and they are here now with a ride, to share some coffee or wine with, and to invite me out and hang out when we have the time in our busy lives. They understand I need time to rest and cannot make it to every event and they can tell when I have had enough when I’m out with them.

I met my boyfriend A through a dating website called Plenty of Fish. Our first date we went for coffee at the 2nd Cup and went to the movie 21 Jump Street downtown. He has been my guy since and despite the fact we fight and get really mad at each other at times we have been together over three years. At first I was too sick for the first three years of my illness to consider boyfriends but when the time came that I was interested in guys again, he was there.

I have become so much closer to my family both my parents and brothers, and my grandparents, godparents, and extended family. I have learnt that I can rely on them and that we can take care of each other. I have rediscovered religion and the place that has in my life. My illness began with a psychotic episode in which I was so afraid I was separated from God and experiencing Hell. So, I’m grateful to be able to say I truly believe in God and his son Jesus and have no desire to be a part from them but to share them with others who want that. I have learnt not to be so selfish but to talk to others whether they are strangers who just need a smile or friends who I have not seen in ages.

This is why the past 6 years have been the best years of my life. And I think If I’m truthful, the best of times would not be the best without having those bad times.


Writing 101 – A Loss Of One’s Self

20140625-224220-81740472.jpgHow would you describe yourself to the people around you? Would you give a physical description, talk about the things you are good at, and describe your internal qualities? What if suddenly, the idea of who you thought yourself was, disappeared and what you were left with was some broken version of yourself, a shadow that you didn’t know and you weren’t sure how you had become the way you were.

That’s how it felt for me when I became very ill at the age of 23 years. It began with some very bad days in the office, days I could barely get through because I just didn’t have the energy. I would leave the gym at the end of the day dragging my feet and barely able to make it home on the bus. Then I began to cry, little things would bother me and I couldn’t concentrate on work just as I used to be able to do. Then something even stranger happened people began to say extremely rude comments to me almost as an after thought. They would tell me whatever they had to tel tell me ‘ Photocopy this for me…” then something very mean. This was particularly the case with certain people. Then I had trouble sleeping, I would lie awake all night, I began to lose weight, and I didn’t feel much like eating.


What I didn’t understand then, was that this was the beginning of a psychotic episode. To this day my doctors and I don’t know why I had it but I have never quite healed from it. Everything became so bad that I couldn’t work, I had a break down. Then I would sit at home and the thoughts in my head would go round and round and I began to hear more voices not just after comments people made to me but from the Television or Radio, from my dog. When these thoughts became nearly suicidal, I went into hospital at the Royal Alex and it was awful being there and hearing things. But one day my doctor started giving me this anti-psychotic drug called Invega and the voices stopped. What remained after my psychosis had passed was the shell of a person. A person it took me at least 3 years to get back and still even today I realize I will never be the same person I was before my unexplained psychosis.

After the psychosis followed a mini-depression. I could barely read after that and I had so much trouble filling out the application for long-term disability because my writing was very shaky and looked more like a grade 4 student’s writing then someone who had recently gotten their BA in English with a 3.7 average.

I was slow to heal. At first I could only go out for 1/2 hour before returning home exhausted. I still needed to sleep a great deal of the day and I had the sharpest burning pain in my shoulders and neck. I felt entirely lost. The conversation of my friends was too fast for me. I couldn’t go to 3/4 of the events we had planned because I didn’t have the energy. I had gone from 160lbs, a healthy weight for me, to 143 lbs, I weight I hadn’t weighed since I was 15 years old and as skinny as you could get. Soon the effects of the medication set in and my weight sky rocketed to 175 lbs. I was uncomfortable in my new fatter body and I didn’t like it. I did not have the energy to do exercise or barely more than a walk or a Pilates 20 minute DVD.

And to tell you the truth, somethings I have just never recovered from. It is 6 years later and I still have trouble concentrating and paying


attention. I have days where I can get much done and days where I can’t get anything done. My doctor’s and I are pretty sure I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after the Psychosis and I have dealt with that constantly. The other possibility is since we have most likely determined my psychosis occurred because I was so depressed, is that I have chronic fatigue from depression. But most signs point to the syndrome.

In these past years I have seem my friends develop careers, make many new friends, and start families. In many ways I feel left behind, that my path changed course and I don’t know why. And I don’t why what I have won’t heal. For me this is the biggest personal sense of loss I have felt in a long time because it as if somewhere in these past 6 years, I have lost myself, my dreams, my goals, and I’m not sure what the future holds. I just take things days by day because that’s how I can get through it.

Keeping Your Head Up

These past few days have been difficult for me. I have not been sleeping well at all. First of all, it was because I ran out of my sleeping medication ( the medication that helps me fall asleep) and it took a few days for my sleep doctor to phone the prescription into my pharmacy. I was stupid, I don’t know why I think this, but often I look in my pill bottles and roughly count how much medication I have left and think, ” Oh, I’m fine.” The last time I visited the sleep doctor he gave me 2 sleep medications to try and I ended up trying and liking how the first medication worked. I slept much deeper and felt more awake in the day. I thought I could just try the 2nd medication when I ran out of the 1st but that didn’t work well for me. One tablet is too little and 2 are too much and I felt awful after taking this medication the next morning. Taking a lot of melatonin the 2nd night I was without medication #1 I tried did not work either. My point is you get used to certain medications that you need to take. Often, their are side effects to them when you first start taking them such as feeling very tired in the day but symptoms such as that often go away. But being without my 1st medication for a few days I expected to wake up refreshed and ready to actually do some activities in the day. Instead, although I feel rested, I am experiencing tiredness in the day again and I think it will take me a few days to get back to normal. This is the last time I let this medication run out, that was not smart.

So I have had a miserable few days and spent most of it on the computer doing not much. I have intended to do some writing, writing that includes more research or interviews, writing I can use more for a portfolio or show to other magazines to demonstrate my writing ability. But I feel depressed about professional writing right now. The magazine I wrote for was looking for writers and I offered to do an article a week. I mean, my work was never that bad and often it was quite good but I never even got a reply. It hurt me actually that the editor would think that little of me.Obviously, if she is always looking for writers the problem is more on her end and an expectation of perfectionism. But let’s face it, people aren’t perfect writers. But because I had so many articles there, I feel pretty worthless as a writer right now. When I look at advertisements for writers or editors or look at other magazines I think, ” What can I contribute?” My experiences for magazine writing have left me feeling lost and my experiences with my health, especially a lack of sleep, have made me feel that I do not have even the mental energy to do what I have always been talented at. I feel useless. While other people are out in the world accomplishing things a large accomplishment for me is making it through the day without falling asleep. Or trying to stay rested in the day so I can go out a couple times a week to see my boyfriend or friends.

I have a course coming up and I’m doubting my abilities to being able to complete projects. I’m still waiting for course materials and the course begins within a week. I would have liked to try to get ahead, at least in reading. But some other information about my health since that is the main theme of this depressing blog.

Before Christmas, I went to see my family doctor and there is a medication that often works for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He had to talk to my psychiatrist about it since it interfered with some other medications I’m taking so when I visit my psychiatrist next week I’m hoping to hear her opinion on the medication. My family doctor did some blood tests, physically I’m healthy. So I’m not sure where to go after Chronic Fatigue. If psychiatry cannot help me and regular medicine can’t help me, I’m not sure what to do? I just want my energy back. I am 28 years old and am getting worse not better and medical professionals are no closer to diagnosing or finding away to help me. All I know right now is I have a mood disorder and the cause is physical, although that’s arguable.

So, that’s a health update and a general update. At a low time in life, but I know things will get better.