This blog took a break as I was under the weather for several months. I took the site offline as I entered Charité again. I’m now re-reading these posts to recall where I left off. I’m surprised the last post was even in 2018. So it goes.
It’s a bit difficult to know where to pick up here for people who are following and those who haven’t. I was very ill from late 2013-2015, went to hospital in 2015 and got better thanks to the amazing folks at Charité and experimental medicine of ketamine infusions. I recovered and decided to go back to school.
I earned my BFA studying painting/drawing along with art & tech at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). After graduating in 1992, I worked as an interaction designer and creative director for 22 years. A change of scenery might be nice, so I looked around for things which might be of interest, where I could apply my experience in design, tech, and art and found the program in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Sustainable Development most appealing – a jointly conferred MA degree offered by the Università di Torino and Politecnico di Torino in collaboration with UNESCO and the ILO. Based in Torino, a city I had already lived and worked in for a number of years. A beautiful city and with wonderful people, no less. A win-win-win-win-win-x100. So I applied and surprise (!) was accepted. So I did that in 2016-2017.
My thesis focused on capturing the intangible cultural heritage of refugees in Berlin in digital form and expressing this through video installations in museums and cultural institutions. The project includes the design of bespoke software which can be extended for the use of cultural institutes globally. I’d begun the steps towards making this project real by starting up a firm focused on this. While I’d begun that, we had begun looking for an apartment in Torino.
Torino is a very special place in its own right, doubly so having worked there, and now even more so after school. We had decided earlier to invest in a flat and I had found one while I was there for school. Even after I had returned to Berlin, after some back and forth, negotiations, etc, we were ready to take the plunge. We did so and purchased the flat in January, 2018.
With Joel working full time, I focused on setting everything up. We had storage in Stuttgart still and a bunch of things to move down from Berlin. Thus, it was a big undertaking, really, by any measurement. The excitement overtook/displaced any anxiety and so, onwards…
January, February and March were spent on getting everything situated in Torino. I think. I will have to check with Joel on timing but it seems so. That’s how things are now. My memory is … another story tk (to come).
I was on such a huge cocktail for so long, it seemed, I thought that perhaps it was worth removing some medication. I was doing well, having applied to and gone through school, and all that. Would it be so horrible to remove something? I thought not and planned quitting one with my psychiatrist.
I had been on both bipolar and major depression medicine among other things to help alleviate symptoms. So it seemed the thing to quit would be the depression med and keep on the bipolar. Also, perhaps, because the depression med (Brintellix/Vortioxetine) had been taken off the German market due to its high cost. I could still get it with my doctor’s note but it had to be ordered from an international pharmacy and was a huge pain in the ass. So that was the one to stop, obviously.
It was still Fall 2017 when I tapered off very carefully. So careful, my end doses were not tablets but droplets. As I had tapered off in November/December, even while visiting family and friends in LA, there were no side effects. Nada.
Come mid-February as I was setting up the flat in Torino, I began experiencing things which I knew were just not normal. I can’t recall details now but can look back on email I sent to my psychiatrist at the time explaining this and in my own words:
“My emotions are very unstable, fluctuating wildly from experiencing examples of staggering human beauty to sudden tears to suicidal thoughts in the space of a few hours. Every day. It’s been like this for a week or so. I wake, things feel okay and by afternoon I’m holding back tears and then the onslaught of suicidal thoughts. It’s all I can do to white knuckle the feelings and force myself to bed as early as possible.”
Since I had recently stopped taking my anti-depressant, it was her opinion to get back on it. So I contacted a doctor in Torino whom had treated me previously and explained the situation. I got a prescription, began again on the Brintellix and got myself back to Berlin.
As is the case with most antidepressants – they take several weeks before they actually begin to work. No different here. So, I was not feeling any better anytime soon. Nor did it seem like this medicine, at this time, was going to do the trick. I felt worse and worse.
My doctor recommended going back to the hospital and giving ketamine a go again. It worked before, why not now? True. Let’s see what happens…