I recently began seeing a new doctor. This isn’t really news worthy as I have to see doctor’s often. It is part of having and living with a mental illness; especially if you want to have any success with it. And like my times with many of the doctors I see, this one to wanted to began changing my medications.
There can be a number of reasons for changing medications. Sometimes the doctor’s ego can’t be assuaged without the knowledge that he put you on the path of freedom. This is normal as those without a serious drive for perfection rarely make great doctors. Many times it is necessary to change medications because the ones that a patient has been taking for years and years is no longer as effective as it once was – again normal. Or you may change medications because a new chemical compound that promises greater results is available to you.
All of these reasons can be valid.
The biggest problem with changing medication is, of course, the side effects. When we are talking about drugs that mess with the brain it is often the case that the side effects are worse than the disease itself. I have had one or two drugs that did much more damage than I could ever have done to myself.
Side effects for those who take medication relating to mental illness can be sleepiness or insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, clear skin or acne everywhere. You get my point. There never seems to be an accurate guide to the possibilities of a certain side effect when starting a new medication. It is more like looking at a vial of poison, drinking it and hoping it doesn’t kill you. This is the life of a mentally ill patient who chooses to actually take their medication.
So when I am given new medication I do two things: one, I don’t read anything about the side effects on any literature, anywhere and two, I watch myself like a hawk.
I have the ability to make up side effects in my body because I have read somewhere that it is possible to have them. I call this the placebo effect. You could give me a pill, tell me that it will make me gain weight, and I promise with everything that I am that the scale in the bathroom will literally rise to higher numbers. Doesn’t matter if that pill is a sugar pill, a pill with only water in it, or a weight loss pill – if you tell me the side effects that is exactly what is going to happen. May be a part of mental illness, or may be just a part of me.
And when I get new medications I have to watch myself like a hawk. I have to try and anticipate bad days or bad side effects. I have to be able to react to problems with my health before they become an issue. Not because I might die, but because once I am far enough gone, I can’t stop it.
For instance, once I took a pill that made me so high, I literally ran for miles each day. I couldn’t sit still; I had to pace back and forth just to be able to deal with the pure adrenaline that was constantly flooding my muscles. If you have never felt the pain of literally not being able to rest or even sit for a moment, I advise you skip the whole thing. But my point is, that I took those pills much longer than I should have. I went down to 90 pounds (think walking, talking skeleton), I could barely work or take care of my new son. It was awful.
So I spend an inordinate amount of time on myself usually. Yes, I fascinate myself but it is also a protective exercise in order to help prevent some of the issues I have had in the past.
When I change medications, I look even closer. I have to be able to react and I have to be able to know what outside influences are changing me. And I have to be in a position to make changes (and when you are too busy running there isn’t much time for contemplation.)
I began awhile ago looking and watching myself. To be perfectly about twenty years ago. But there are issues that have always been there that I choose to ignore. There have always been this darkness waiting for me to shine my little light into and find out what is going to happen. Despite the fact I enjoy self-examination, I don’t often delve too deeply into those dark corners.
Those dark corners are something much different than the depression and the madness I deal with on a daily basis. Those dark corners are the truth, the ugly little truths, about who and what I will have to deal with one day. They are the realizations that I don’t talk about in any doctor’s office and they are certainly not conversation to have with my husband. They are the things we hide from for as long as possible. The things that we deliberately deceive our own selves about; simply to continue. They are the things that will one day be a ghost haunting us, but until that day, they are not to even be talked about.
These dark corners are scary; and I have a couple. I know they are there. Sins too big to contemplate may be the most accurate way to describe them. They are not haunting me; truthfully, most days I don’t even remember that they are there. It is only when I am forced to look beyond the surface of my mental disease into the darkness of my own self that I have to admit the truth.
One of the truths that I have realized is that there will come a day that I may be a agoraphobic. In case you are wondering, an agoraphobic is someone who fears the outside. The outside as in anything beyond the four walls in which they live. Some agoraphobics can’t go outside their home, others can’t go out of their rooms. They are various levels and like most mental illnesses, various reasons, explanations and ridiculous solutions to these problems.
I am not making like of agoraphobia and I truly don’t know if I will ever be one. I don’t have a crystal ball into my future and may never have to realize this very real fear of mine.
For this moment I know a couple of things: I hate going out in public, any public. I hate pumping my gas as much as I hate picking my kids up at school. I hate the idea that I have to go to both of my children’s Christmas concerts – I fear it and I loathe it. I hate talking to cashiers, attendants, even those really nice people checking you into your hotel. I spend most of the conversation not making eye contact and working hard to simply get away.
I have started to literally hide behind my husband when we go out. I am two steps behind him, watching his shoes in front of me. Or if my children are there I can look at them, and smile at them, and try and ignore the rest of it.
One of the hardest things to deal with is the noise. The noise of a crowd hurts my ears. It makes me crunch up my shoulders to my ears and work hard to single the alphabet song in my head.
I have dreamed of a home of my own for awhile now. I have designed every room and every piece of furniture. It is exactly what I want. The only problem I worry about is if I build and design this home, will I ever be able to physically leave it. Or will it represent everything that I have always wanted and will I be able to convince myself there is no reason to ever leave.
I am not there yet. I am not an agoraphobic. The fear of being touched is getting worse as the days go by but that seems to be the only real symptom so far; and that has been building since birth.
But I can see myself building my walls and never leaving. I can see myself teaching and training those I love in such a way that they will not notice it until it is too late. I can see what is in that dark corner.
I believe that self-examination is amazingly freeing and important to our own growth. I think realizing that you have the tendencies and proclivities to be a phobic sucks.