I think this is a verity. I saw the 6th psychiatrist I have seen since October yesterday, and got another med fix.
Since I was first diagnosed when I was 22, I have been on the following medications.
(In no particular order)
I have also had ECT.
All given in an attempt to feel better, to get out of crippling depressions, for some sense of normalcy and living a life.
The other night PBS broadcast a Frontline special about Bipolar children. If anything can be learned from this cautionary tale, it would be "be aggressive, question everything". I heard Kay Jamieson say this back in 03, "badger (the pdoc) badger, badger".
I have to confess, it wasn't until about 18 months ago I started to tackle my illness agressively. Before that, I took the meds as perscribed by the pdoc, without questioning them, or asking what they would do for me. With the exception of Lamictal, which had to be stopped when I developed a rash, I did not question the doctor. He had a degree in medicine. My education, though it's good, couldn't hold a candle to his learning. I figured he knew best.
I know differently now. I don't take meds without questioning what this is and if the dosage seems too high or low, I question it. I badger the doctor to the point he almost hates writing scripts for me. But I feel informed and seem happy
But I cannot help but wonder, with all the trouble I have had with all these different meds, if I am being tested. Right before I had ECT I remember telling a very good friend of mine "I would do anything to feel better. Anything".
And that is what I am currently doing. Anything.
ANYTHING to feel better, which includes meds and talk therapy.
So I am currently on a new shrink, my first woman shrink in private practice. She adjusted my med cocktail- I was hoping she would lower it, but it's now
2200 mg of lithium daily,
160 mg of Geodon, lowered from 180, taken at night,
and 125 mg of Seroquel taken 5 times during the day. It makes me sleep most of the day, and when I wake, it's time to pop another pill.
I still have to take Nexium every other day because all these years on lithium have caused me to develop a case of GERD. I will never be able to eat spicy food again.
And why do I put up with all this chaos, this psychic pain, plus the wear and tear on my body?
Because I want to get better. I want to be the old me, the me I am when I am well. I like that person. The person who is a good friend, and daughter. The person who embraces life with both hands and enjoys it. The person who gets joy from simple things, seeing a rainbow after soft rains, seeing squirrels outside my apartment gathering food for the winter. Snow.
What I do for love. The love of me, the love that I will find hope again, and a reason to continue. I know it's out there, I have friends and family who believe in me. It keeps me going, when right now taking one step in front of the other is hard, very difficult.
Today I signed up for a 60 mile walk in Philly for breast cancer. It will take up the entire weekend. I've never walked that much before and need to start training for it. Fortunately, it's not for quite some time so it's all do-able.
But I got thinking about cancer, especially since I had a scare earlier last month with a mammogram. If someone suffers from cancer, people understand. They don't so much understand about mental illness, which was the purpose of me writing this blog. I intended to be as candid as I could about my struggles with this illness and share the not so pretty parts not sanitized or bowdlerized that other people write about. There is still a lot of "Snake Pit" unfortunately out there and people need to be educated.
Putting all those meds in your body over a 20 year period is hell. The side effects from them, from mild diarrhea to the latest which involved suicidal ideation with a med that had a black box warning and an aborted attempt and subsequent hospitalization. I have anxiety now, something I never had before, and have been told it's a side effect from the current cocktail.
Which makes me wonder, would a "normal" person go through this? Would a normal person subject their body to the slings and arrows that come from all these meds? 24 in 20 years, that's almost one and a half meds per year. All in the attempt to feel "normal" to be able to live?
I don't think so. I look at the people I know who haven't gone through this, they wonder how I can do it. I don't know if they could, chances are they wouldn't be able to.
Yes, I am a survivor. Maybe that is not visible, but I am doing the best I can. I may only be treading water now, but as long as I don't drown it's OK. Someday I will learn how to swim. Maybe it's today.