Let me recap a few facts in case you haven’t read any of my posts or at least don’t know or remember my wise words of wisdom. Nine years ago, the doctors put me on some medications that required periodic blood tests to ensure that the meds weren’t interfering in the normal function of my body. The test results were always slightly wonky. Over time those tests got a little more wonky. Like anything in my life, and even more my body, what should have been working wasn’t and no one could tell what was really going on.
I didn’t really care as there was no evidence that this wonky blood was killing me. I consider the fact that my body and my mind simply don’t work like everyone else’s as being a part of me. I am probably one of the ultimate originals. Part of me loves to imagine that this means I am some higher species but let’s be realistic; the medical community simply has no idea what to do with me.
The blood test results finally got to the point that the doctors I was seeing began to feel that I needed to get answers as to why my blood was wonky. Top that off with a mistake of epic proportions and you get a recipe that requires me to spend time and money finding answers I really didn’t want any part of. (The mistake was confiding in my friends and family. Once they knew, my avoiding of the issue was not an option. Instead it simply became a refrain from which I could not escape.)
So to finish this very brief outline of one thing that has been happening in my life for nine years, I went and saw a doctor who supposedly could not only determine what was going on but could give me more medication to fix the problem. Already being on enough medication to stone a elephant this was just another thing I was going to have to deal with.
So the doctor reran my blood tests, gave me a pill, and then another pill because the insurance company wasn’t going for the first one, and told me to come back in a couple of months. I don’t know how this doctor knows the best thing for me after one blood test, especially as she hadn’t seen the last nine years of tests that I was forced to take and pay for. But I was so sick of the topic by this point, I simply said thank you and took the damn pill. There may have been attitude in there as well.
The first two days of taking this pill I literally shut down. Shutting down is one of those unique things that while healthy adults may be able to see in a limited view, those of us with mental illness are intimately knowledgeable of. Its those times that you shut down every unnecessary action, reaction, need, want and subsist on the very basic of human functions. You can still go to the bathroom, but you don’t drink enough to actually need to. Your heart still pumps but the passion and existence that is placed so squarely in the heart’s realm don’t exist. Essentially you become a blob that functions very, very quietly. You become not a person but rather a piece of matter that breathes and takes up space. Being able to shut down is a major tool in the self-preservation those of us whose brains are simply too much for life to sustain for extended periods of time. It is self-preservation so that we can live another day. We don’t fight battles these days, instead we simply wait for the reserves to come along to fight the battles for us. This is not a bad thing.
Of course, the instinct to shut down because of the medicine prescribed is much different than the shutting down in order to simply survive. Both are necessary, both look the same, but they are caused by much different things. So while I was shutting down because of the medicine, I knew from years of experience that this was a temporary thing that would be corrected once the medicine leveled out. I couldn’t do anything to change the state I was in, so it was best just to hide and ride it out.
But once the shutting down finally finished it’s course, strange and odd things began to happen. Things that humans without mental illness are going to not understand, because they are things that they live with every day. But a girl who has very rarely felt normal, much less functional, because of this disease can see these changes in a much different light.
There are so many examples I could give, but I will try to limit it to a few. One of the most obvious one for me is the change to my temper. Prior to this new medication I could (and did) go off frequently on frustrating tangents that were mean, disrespectful and completely wrong for the situation in hand. In other words, I blew a gasket. But I am doing something very differently these days. I still get angry, but I can pull back from the fall out much more easily. For instance, the other day my husband and family were at a water park and I got irrationally mad about a slight that no one meant to give me. I was steamed in ways that even I know are not only dangerous to the happiness of my children but to the relationship I have with my husband. So while I got one line of my anger out there, I found myself almost immediately pulling back. What I was angry about didn’t matter. What I was frustrated about was as much my fault as anyone else’s. It took some deep breathing, and time to convince my husband that I was alright – I get angry, he tends to get angrier – but I did it. For the first time in more time than I care to admit to, I was able to put in perspective something that normally would have been lost in the radical emotions that are my norm.
Another strange example is I met with a doctor yesterday that was totally and completely irresponsible and unfit to be in her profession. Her license literally should be stripped from her because her ability to find compassion and even intelligence in her job was absent. Prior to this new drug I would have lost it not only to her but I would have sunk into a deep depression fueled by frustration. It would probably have taken me weeks to find a new doctor to try, a time frame that I don’t have. I need a doctor and I need one now. But this time I am willing to understand that just because the doctor I saw yesterday was borderline criminal in her practice, not all doctors felt this way. I was using common sense. I was using rationality. I was using adult emotions handing this. And if that isn’t the most unusual reaction for me, then I don’t know what else to give as evidence.
I suppose I could talk about how I don’t really yell at my children as much. These days I calmly explain why doing something is wrong. These days I trust and find in myself the joy of being a mother – playing in the park, in the pool, going to the library. It isn’t that I like my children more, it is simply that I like myself more. I could talk about going shopping, trying on a dress, and feeling absolutely beautiful. This is not normal. Not my normal.
You get the general idea. Life seems more balanced, more calm, even giving me glimpses of the incredible happiness that exists. Don’t get me wrong this drug hasn’t taken away my fears, my worries about the things we all worry about; it just has soften the blow. For the first time in my life I feel like instead of being surrounded by concrete walls, I am surrounded by pillows to fall back on.
Will it last? Nope. Will the fact that I am sending this post out into the universe almost guarantee that this medicine will turn on me? More than likely. I know that this moment of calm has to be the single point before a raging storm. Will that storm once again show me the origins of this disease and the place I truly have in this world? Yep. Unfortunately, life isn’t easy; and no one is allowed the safety of pillows forever.