Saturday, February 27, 2010


I have been on psychiatric medication for about 16 years now. I take antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Of some of these, I take massive amounts. The reason that I started taking these pills is that I had one enormous, completely full blown, nervous break down in the complete sense of the word and that it wasn't pretty and that it took me a long time to get over it. In the course of this, a diagnosis was made of my symptoms, as a diagnosis is made of everyone who enters into psychiatric care and is observed for any length of time. My diagnosis is Bipolar Disorder Type II, complicated with Borderline Personality Characteristics. That's what's written down in my electronic file and that's what I'm labeled as.

The first years I started taking the medication a lot of it didn't work, so it was always a trial and error of trying to find the right medication in the right doses and the right combinations until we finally found the ones that seemed to work the best. Now, it would be nice to assume that these medications brought me back to my former self before I had that huge breakdown,but that is not the case. The medications made me less depressed and less suicidal and less morbidly preoccupied with obsessive thoughts and less anxious and nervous, but they never returned me to the person I used to be who had been fun and adventurous and outgoing and extroverted and socially adapt. I never regained that person.

I mourned over that woman and it took me a long time to come to accept the person I had become instead and for a long time I didn't. Over time I thought, well this is the best I am going to be and that's what I'm stuck with, so I may as well accept it and at least to some point I have a certain amount of peace and quiet. Of course, in reality I don't, because I'm still the victim of depressions and mood swings and I never know from one day to the next what my day is going to look like.

I live a very precarious life that constantly needs to be fine tuned with medication. I suffer from anxieties and agoraphobia and unnamed fears and terrors and sheer nerves. I have an untold amount of suffering and every day seems to be a battle, even on my good days. I suffer from highs that are too high and lows that are too low. I never seem to be in balance.

Instead of being the great solution to the problems I had and returning me to my former glory, the medications seem to prolong my suffering and add to it and never allow me a normal day. Therefor lately, I have lost my faith in them and I am very seriously considering getting off them and once again becoming the woman I was before all of this got started. I will just be older and wiser now.

My recent statement, that I wanted my life to end, was based for a large part on the fact that I could not see myself grow old on the medication and envision a quality of life that I have now with the medication until I die of old age. I thought, there have to be better ways to grow old. I think my quality of life is so low now that I can't accept it as a standard of living.

I talked to my daughter yesterday, from whom I have become practically estranged these past years and she told me that she felt that she had lost me to the medication. That the real me that she knew to be her mom was no longer there and that I had become someone else that she felt no bond with and that she could not get close to. I was unreachable to her and off somewhere in another reality away from the real life one. She wanted me back, but she felt it was impossible under the circumstances and I know what she means, because I feel the detachment too and I feel that about a lot of people.

I somehow have to get myself back. I have to get the joy and the life back into me and not be this drug induced person. My daughter talked of a detox program, but I don't know if something like that is available for me. She wants to get in touch with my psychiatrist and voice her concerns and be my advocate. She rues the fact that she lives so far away from me, because she wants to help me become me again. I want me to become me again.

I'm seriously going to discuss this with my SPN and psychiatrist and see what we can do. It's a possible way for me not to have to end my life. There may be light at the end of the tunnel.



Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Nora. Well I'm glad you had a chat with your daughter. It's great to get that feedback from her because it explains quite a lot about relations between you.

I suppose we've all met mentally ill people who we find more difficult to relate to because of their medication. But I find no difficulty relating to you through your blog. But then I have only known you as you are now. Your daughter was bonded to the you you were before. The change must have been very difficult for her to cope with.

I understand about feeling you have lost yourself - I feel the same too. That I lost myself. And I have tried very hard to get that previous self back and to no avail.

Life without meds is possible of course - I take no anti-deps or trancs (I was on buspirone for about 3 years as well as Lofepramine) now myself. I came off them due to severe side effects. And although in some ways it is better, it's still very difficult. I know you are strong and you also have good support, which will help.

Maybe you need to re-establish where you end and the meds begin. To find out exactly where you are and who you are now if you weren't on them - or were on less of them.

Regaining your self is a very slow process. Some days I think I'm closer to who I used to be, but others I think I'm actually getting worse and a lost cause.

Bearfriend xx

Wisewebwoman said...

I will email you privately on this.

pinklea said...

There's GOT to be some happy medium whereby you are closer to the previous you, but with the sharp and jagged edges off as much as possible. I mean, you still want to be able to experience some of the ups and downs of life, just not so very extreme. When you are numbed by large amounts of medication, there are no extremes, true, but there are no real emotions either, and I can certainly see how that would be so troubling. Yet, if your psychiatric symptoms are unbearable without meds, then some meds are obviously necessary for you to have some quality of life. I don't know, but a balance has to be possible. It should be possible for you take just enough medication to function without anxiety, but to still be the true you. Many good wishes and hugs! xo

Maggie May said...

At least you have a good grasp of what is wrong with your mental health and that is very good.

I would also love to be the person I was years ago but I doubt that any of us can relive what is past.
I do understand what you mean though. I also feel that drugs are taking me over (mine are cancer control) but it is the same kind of thing. A slippery slope to living a pill induced life.My husband has also had his personality altered by drugs to control cancer ... but its that or die. Sometimes there is no choice.
I can relate to your daughter, as for the last 7 years of her life, I felt I had *lost* my mother.

You could talk to your SPN about all this and I think it would be a very good idea to do that and get advice.
However, I don't suppose that there is an easy way to cut back on drugs. Tranquillisers are addictive and so are many other drugs. Do be careful. Don't just stop. I think it would be harder than giving up smoking.... but then I am no expert in the field of medicine.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Babaloo said...

I should've read your post before I sent my last email... :) The only thing I have to add really, is don't go off your meds, don't cut down on them without getting in contact with your SPN and/or psychiatrist. You've been there and it didn't always work out well.

I think that talk with your daughter was good for you and I'm glad that she is getting involved. It's good that you're not alone on this path.

Get advice before you go down any particular road. I'm sure there's help out there!


aims said...

My friend.

You know my story - complete total breakdown where I didn't know my own name and all those months in the psyche ward.

I came home loaded with meds and lived on them for a number of years. All I did was sleep - day in and day out.

One day I realized I just didn't have any kind of life and I decided to wean myself off of the meds because I knew they were the culprit. It wasn't my mind making me sleep it was the drugs.

It took me almost 5 years and I did it ever so slowly. Every time I felt like I was having a setback I told myself it was withdrawals and I hung on and got through it.

My MD was not happy about it at all and kept trying to force me to take them. I eventually changed doctors because we disagreed so much.

Without the drugs I became a human again instead of the zombie that I was.

I'm still not the exact way I was before - I still have my fears and anxieties but I can usually make myself work through them. And - I still get depressed and can cry sometimes at the drop of a hat - but I know my mind has been changed by the trauma it went through and that's all there is to it.

The one great thing about going through all this is the fact that I'm a much nicer person than I use to be. I was a truly hard bitch before and I've lost that completely. I (and those who know me) think it is a good thing.

All of this is saying that I know what you want and why and that I believe you can do it. Perhaps a small dose is what you will need to live on - or perhaps nothing.

We do get so dependent upon them - taking them when any little upset comes along - but other people have those upsets too and don't gulp down something to put a barrier between themselves and whatever they are experiencing - so why not us too? It's real life. And it's so much better than being a zombie (for me). Even with the pain that I feel at times.

Much love my friend.

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