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Sophie's Choice- To Med Or Not To Med

Posted Dec 27 2009 12:00am

I have a bad back. So do lots of people. Mine stems from a bad fall, landing on my back as a summer camp counselor. Add to the fact that Mother Nature has, depending on your view, either blessed me or cursed me with a set of DDD's. So this past September, I threw out my back. Nothing new here. A couple days in bed with the heating pad, and I should be as good as new.

This one went from bad to worse. I could barely walk, crawling around from the bed to the toilet, into the kitchen to put out kibble and water for the cat... back to bed. I couldn't reach the cabinet to get my meds, so I went without. And during that time, I went cold turkey off my anti-depressant. I don't know if the pain and nausea I felt was from my back pain or the med withdrawal.

Eventually, a couple days later, I felt fine. And when I went to take my meds in the morning- I noticed the Cymbalta bottle was empty. And my brain, felt clearer than it had in over a year. I didn't think twice, took my lithium, and decided from that point on- no more Cymbalta. No more anti depressant in my cocktail.

I started running low on my lithium back in October. I was flying blind, no psychiatrist at the time- because she and I had a parting of the ways. I was on a dose of 3100 mg a day, and I realized- I better find another doc, and make the script last. So I weaned myself down, on my own. 3100 one day. the next day, 300 less. A week later another 300 less. And down down down til I got down to nothing. That was one fortnight- two weeks ago.

I feel wonderful. My brain is clear for the first time in years. I can write. I actually feel like I can talk to people. I am not afraid to leave my apartment. Other than massive cravings for sea food and sugar, (Anyone for chocolate covered shrimp?), I feel better than I have in years. I've gone down from sleeping 12-14 hours a day to a normal eight.

I have had periods of my life when I have been med free- the shortest one was about 2 or 3 months, the longest was slightly over a year. Mood swings, hanging pretty close to the middle, but no serious highs, or lows. What would happen is my brain would clear, and I would evaluate my life. And I wasn't happy with it. At various times, I was working at jobs that I was over qualified for and bored out of my mind. To the outside world, it seemed like a good job, i just felt my brain was atrophying and I just started hating it. Hating getting up in the morning, hating every part of work....hating coming home to an empty apartment with a cat, and no other company. I joined a dating service, no luck, and I was past the point where I would go to City Gardens or Zadar's or Katmandu, after spending an hour or more on makeup, hair and clothes, to have some drunken clod spill beer all over my clothes, or bump into me and make drunken sexist comments about my figure. Ugh.

I stopped drinking in clubs and started drinking at home, on the weekends. Really drinking. From Friday night, til Sunday night, drinking, passing out, anything to stop the lonliness I was feeling. I always had bad luck with men, they either were intimidated by me because I was "smart", was "one of the guys", or just "not pretty enough, too low maintance". Finally, I got tired of it all, decided to give up my weekends doing volunteer work and working in bookstores for extra pocket money. I love books. I love every aspect of them, feeling them, shelving them, reading the book flaps, opening them and just loosing myself in a world of words. But I was still suicidal, I just knew how to hide the ideation. I would go to the shrink- to the therapist, and just take what ever pills were given to me, not questioning. More lithium. More antidepressants. More more more.

And hate the way they would make me feel. But I was a good girl, I wanted people to like me, I wanted...... I wanted no trouble, and to be liked. Winding up in a Dickensian orphanage was my biggest childhood fear. I still act like a child around authority. Never questioning, never saying "please sir, can i have some more", while my tummy is rumbling.

Now, a new doctor. A script for a new med cocktail- back to lithium- a new anti depressant- Abilify- and Topamax. I put them in my wallet, shake hands with the doc, and leave. The scripts have stayed in my wallet for a few days. I don't feel like filling them, yet I finally do. And put them in the medicine cabinet, not taking them. I know my disability needs me to be on meds, but do I take them or not?

My mother cries. She wants me to take them. She is convinced I will suicide if I don't take them. I am convinced I will suicide if I do take them. Not now. But someday.

The other night at my local DBSA meeting ,I bring up a topic. Would you rather live two very good years, being able to be the best of your abilities, functioning as a real human being, and happy- but off meds- or on meds and live 20 years just existing, just breathing but unable to think as your brain is clouded in a sea of fog and miasma? All your life is reduced to a bunch of involuntary bodily functions?

I said I would rather live two more good years than exist in a prison of fog and miasma made possible from a clouded, broken brain. Some agreed with me, most did not.

Most did not. The story of my life. Not fitting in anywhere- and not knowing what to do, but following my heart, and soul. Tomorrow may rain. I'll follow the sun.
(Picture by Frieda Kahlo. She knew about a bad back too).
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