Meds, Mania, and Middle Ground

So…a while back, I did a thing.

The thing I did, I think I did right.

Actually, I am not sure.  I am still kind of going through the motions now.  But I did do a thing.  I am a bit hesitant to discuss this topic, because the thing I did might spark some very polar responses.

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The Beginning

Before I get into the thing I did, let me recap quickly on how I got to the point where I felt the need to even do the thing:

About 2 years ago I had this mental break down.  It was serious enough to where I had to be “put away” so-to-speak.  Yes, yes, basically I was admitted to a funny farm, cuckoos nest, padded facility, etc., etc., etc.  I didn’t really have a choice in the matter though.  I mean I did, since I agreed; but I didn’t have a choice in terms of:  what kind of treatment would be next for me after I recovered from the brain fizzle.  I needed definite mental treatment because I didn’t really know what was wrong with me and I wasn’t able to think straight.

I had started becoming suicidal, more so than usual.  Suicidal to the point of allowing the thoughts to carry me to an entirely unhealthy level of thinking.  I had these unexplained bursts of anger for the most random things.  My work load was insane.  My marriage was always rocky because of my reactions to everything.

Then it happened.  The brain fart of the century.  It was like my brain had melted and slowly seeped out of my ears.  No control of my thoughts or emotions what-so-ever.  I don’t remember exactly what happened from the time it happened to how I ended up in the mental ward.  I just remember not knowing where I was, how I got anywhere and how I agreed to voluntarily admit myself and avoid a 5150.

Long story short:

  • I was put on a 72 hour hold, and was given happy face socks.
  • I was forced to bunk with a homeless cutter.
  • I ate three square meals a day.
  • I did crafts.
  • I heard stories from mothers who wanted to kill their children.
  • I was diagnosed with severe depression and put on anti-depressants.
  • My diagnosis later evolved into Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder.

The Beginning of the End

Looking back now, I don’t know what took me to that point.  Was it work? Marriage? The influx of kids? A build up of everything that spanned my entire life?  I could say that my sordid past with all of the drug use, alcoholism, and womanizing was my really sad attempt at self medicating my issues.  But I really don’t know for sure.

One thing I do know is that this diagnosis that was made on me, that I even question now, and all of the medication I was put on; it was the beginning of the end.  It wasn’t so much knowing or dealing with the fact that I was mentally ill; it was the uncharted journey I was about to face with what, I will call in this blog, “my battle with meds.”

I don’t want to knock on people who take psych meds.  They do work.  In fact, I venture to say the work too well.  But, my eventual problem was the long term effects.  Do they work long term?  Are they meant to be taken long term?  These things can be argued forever.  I am no medical practitioner; but I will lay out my experience in this blog entry and let the reader decide on their own.

Pill Poppin’ and Weed Tokin’

When I first was put on my medication, they gave me the basic combination/cocktail of medication I needed to bring me back to reality – in terms of not wanting to kill myself and hating my life every day.  There were also some additional medications given to me to help overcome anxiety and sleep deprivation.  Both of these things (anxiety and insomnia) were obvious proponents leading to my break down.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.  I mean, who wouldn’t go crazy if all they did all day was hardly sleep and worry/freak out about everything?

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There were a few issues with these two meds:

  1. Anxiety meds are highly addictive because they feel so. damn. good.
  2. Sleeping pills caused me to over sleep and if I forced myself to wake up for work, then I was half in reality and half in a haze.

When it was all broken down, I was up to about 4 pills a day.  Manageable right?  I mean, old people do it all the time.  Right?

I didn’t want to take the sleeping pills and I didn’t want to spark a new addiction, so I looked into medical marijuana use.  It seemed totally legit.  I will still argue today that medical marijuana is the better route for anything medically related.  The problem there in lies with how it is being consumed.  You could take it in a pill form, but you’re high as a kite for an entire day as your metabolism breaks it down.  You could smoke it like a thug or smoke it like a very rich white guy that never left the summer of ’69.  You could eat it, but there again, you still had deal with the metabolism thing and well, anyone that knows anything about “edibles” knows that you don’t take edibles.

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I tried all of the ways and every single one sent me to the moon and sometimes into a THC induced coma.  The good news was, I fell asleep immediately.  The bad news was that it was affecting everything in my life: my work performance, my lifestyle, my marriage…everything.  My marriage the most (which I will dedicate an entire entry on that too).  But I kept on doing it and eventually, after about a year, I came to grips that every day use of this stuff just wasn’t for me; which was sad because I had really come to be very knowledgeable about marijuana and all the amazing strains…jk.  Seriously, jk.  Ok maybe I was a little sad…and lying about the amazing strains part too.

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The End of the End

Putting the pipe/bong/bubbler/vaporizer down, lead me back to pills again.  In hindsight,  I realize now that I was convinced I had to medicate this mental illness I was diagnosed with, in some form or fashion, in order to escape the plights of mania.  I was told mania is bad.  People say it’s bad.  Reacting, uniquely, to life’s challenges is a bad thing in this society.

Anyway…

I go back to my doctor and tell him, “Doc, I am off the fine, sticky greens, give me everything you got.”  (I didn’t really say that, I said it classier than that, I am paraphrasing)  He chicken scratches some stuff and the next thing I know, I am up to 10 pills a day!  I had a pill for anxiety that I had to take more than once a day, a pill for sleeping, two pills to stabilize my moods, a pill for depression, a pill for bipolar disorder and another pill that took care of other adverse affects I was having.  Adding in my gigantic vitamin stack, I was literally consuming 21 pills a day at one point.  IN JUST PILLS!!

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Then it happened.

The medication I was taking started losing it’s effect.  I went back to my doctor and he put me on a different one while I weened off the other.  All the while, keeping my current cocktail.

That one made me feel worse so he put me on a different one.  This final one was the life changer.  You see, this particular pill is known to have serious side effects.  Some of the side effects listed were so bad that they could cause eventual death…after a lot of suffering first.  So, I am sure you can guess what happened to me.  You know, because I am such a lucky guy…

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Yup.  That’s right.  I started feeling the side effects.  Big time!  My skin was on fire, my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t get up or walk.  It was a gradual thing over time.  I am assuming it took a while for the symptoms to incubate while the medication was coursing through my system.

I ended up in the emergency room and that is when I decided I had to make a choice.

The Middle Ground

Back to that thing.

The thing I did was I decided to get off all of  my medication.  Every. Single. Pill.

I devised a plan to ween myself off of everything.  I knew I couldn’t do anything cold turkey when it comes to psych. meds.  I knew I had to get off of the one that was killing me.  The others weren’t so bad but if I was going to get off of the main one, I had to get off of them all.   It took me about a month of weening.  It wasn’t easy.  My wife could attest to that.  My kids too.  I mean, I had withdrawals.  I had manic outbursts.  I experienced every single problem people go through when they take the journey to drifting back to the real world.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though; at least not from my point of view.  I can’t speak for everyone else.

But drifting back to the real world – that was me.  Drifting like a fallen angel back to the hard ground I fluttered over, like a ghost, for two years.  The real me, almost invisible to everyone.  Those pills did that to me.  Maybe I still need them.  Maybe my wife will tell you I still need them, actually, she probably will tell you I still need them.  I don’t think I do.  I still have manic episodes every now and then; but the difference is, I don’t have to wear a mask anymore.  I am also aware of what I am doing now and why.  But most of all, I feel better.  I feel like me again.

When someone suffers from a mental illness, there is no middle ground.  There are only highs and lows.  Our hands can’t touch the sky when we are sinking into hell; but at the same time, our feet can’t touch down on that middle ground when we are floating in our plastic heaven.

The best part about all of this:  My doctor hasn’t even called to check up on me.  I want to say he agrees with my decision.  The truth is though, he knows I need refills.  No one has contacted me and I’ve reached my fifth month without anything.

Final Thought

I am not condoning everyone should get off of their medication.  I am condoning the idea of being brave enough to show the world you’re still alive inside.  Get back on your feet and do what is best for you.

The medication and the therapy and the blah blah blah blah.  It paints a picture society expects to see.  We become manufactured and polished with pills.  Our need for commonplace is still there, it never goes away.  The pills can’t take that from us, because it’s in our souls.  But, that need haunts us, which is why we keep up the refills.  And the need to want to walk on middle ground,  the place us crazy people strive to get to; we all remember it!  We all remember when it went away too.  We all know the day it happened and when it all dropped out from under our feet.

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Current Mood: I am happy.  I am sad.  I am up.  I am down.  I am not numb.  I am not in haze.  I am in control when  I want to be.  I am glad for that.  I’ve got everything I need now.  I am not perfect and never will be, not in this life.  But at least I have the middle ground now, just like everyone else.  My forever mood.


Side note: I still am pill free, weed free, but not beer free.

 

 

 

6 Comments on “Meds, Mania, and Middle Ground

  1. I had always heard that mental health counseling and a strong support group were vital – a lady at my church believed it to be the case and she started a support group for anyone suffering with anxiety and depression. You kind of have to be open to talking it out and accept it being out there. Something not a lot of Christians like to do. It’s mostly because we’re supposed to say that we’re fine and any other answer is unsatisfactory. Nobody really wants to be the one with the testimony as if they haven’t gotten it all figured out or suggest that God doesn’t seem to have their back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. And I think having open discussions are much more productive. I did counseling too. I have a regular counselor at my fingertips. The doctor I was talking about in my blog was a psychiatric doctor. I had two. One that talked to me and one that wrote me prescriptions.

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      • That’s good – I tend not to trust Christian counseling because of their pray it away attitude – they can often miss signs and indicators that trained psychiatrists and psychologists know to look out for and how to direct people to parts of the conversation that can be a breakthrough for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very true. That’s why I don’t do pastoral counseling. Plus as a pastors kid, I know not everything is confidential if it can be used as some kind of political leverage later. This has happened to me numerous times. I found a MFT that is Christian in how she counsels but doesn’t do the whole “God will heal you if you just pray” thing. I haven’t seen her since December so I’m curious to see her opinion on my progress, especially knowing I’m not on meds and all that.

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      • Yeah – I know of one time that my pastor shared details meant to be kept to himself in his sermon – he wasn’t all like: “so-and-so …” But even with: “I have heard that somebody who shall remain nameless has this problem …” It was enough for us to realize that doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t exist between pastor-parishioner.

        Liked by 1 person

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