If you have a diagnosed mental illness, you most likely wrestle with taking the prescribed medication to manage symptoms. I do not want to take medications period. I worry about the ill effects on my body and I am a big believer in my ability to self heal. I have a prescription for a mood stabilizer for periods of hypomania. Like many with dissociative disorders, I was once diagnosed as bipolar, but I have learned that my periods of bipolar-like symptoms are really just symptomatic flares up of my CPTSD. Usually when under high stress. It goes hand in hand with more episodes of dissociation. I am glad I finally found a psychiatrist that has explained this to me, and bless his heart, although I resist his prescriptions, he takes my calls when I go into crisis and need a small scale medication intervention.
When I become medication compliant for my mood stabilizer, often I have been in a prolonged period of not doing well. My poor coping and self care skills become a question of hospitalization for my therapist. I am never in danger of harming another. I rarely want to harm myself. I just start falling apart and it takes kind helpers to nudge me into accepting the medication, because I do not see it. At some point in my rational day to day living, I go off track and start believing “I can handle this”, when I am obviously not.
Such an episode happened this week. This past month, I received information from a family member, and from myself internally, that was devastating. I was starting to access information long buried about one I am very invested in keeping on a pedestal. Actually that person has come off the pedestal lately, but I am still super protective of him and my sense of identity, safety and lovability are tied into my denial in regards to this person. But my inner self is not able to maintain the idealization anymore. It has been taking a big toll on my well being all my life and so the realizations and memories have started unfolding, despite me dragging my heels.
There were more things triggering me this month. A loved one came out of prison and that is fraught with worry and triggers. And although I have been awarded disability, it is not enough to live on and my fears about not generating other income has me afraid. Suffice it to say, my coping skills were on overload. I was dissociating more and subsequently , needing to isolate more, as I do not want others to notice. My immunity was low and I was getting health challenges as a result. I was starting with migraines, trembling and severe body pains. And finally, it culminated with several days of barely eating, greatly disturbed sleep, unhealthy sexual behaviors, shaking of my right hand and left eye twitching (which I know for me comes near a crash). I was consumed with art projects and working in long periods of intense concentration until I felt faint. Making art calms me, I am soothed by the textures, colors and creative silence in my mind. It shuts down the noise and agitation in my body. But I needed to stop even that and sleep , eat and take care of life demands. So yesterday I succumbed and took the prescribed mood stabilizer. It was that or starting a serious assessment for hospitalization to stabilize me.
Even though I felt drugged into a lethargic stupor (I know the intense tiredness and fogginess will subside when taken regularly, I HATE that initial feeling), I still could not sleep. I felt as if I needed a horse tranquilizer to knock me out. I lay in my darkened room and just pinged around in my head and cried. I was agitated and super tired at same time. Finally , I crashed, with the lights on, TV on, lying outside of bed covers… for fourteen and a half hours! I awoke foggy and thick feeling. But, to my relief, I was able to engage with repair men, do errands, eat, and am now jotting these words (in truth, I still holding back creative urges to write or paint, but not as strong). I know I will have to edit this piece even more in few days as I am still hyper and shaky but I want to post this while my thoughts are so clear in my mind. It feels urgent. Yes, some racing thoughts still here 😦 I will go back to nap after this post. I am so tired.
One side effect I really freak out about is weight gain. I have huge issues with wanting to be thinner. And the lethargic feeling makes exercise (which I enjoy) difficult. I also worry mood stabilizers will dull my creative inspiration and output. But frankly, I know I was headed to a worse intervention without the medications, so I am going to take it for 2 weeks and reassess then. I still do not want to be on it regularly, even though my psychiatrist thinks it would be advisable. I am accepting responsibility enough to tolerate the side effects in exchange for more functionality in my life for the short term. I am embarrassed to write this post because, well, it is embarrassing to describe how poorly I was coping. My outside facade was pretty much kept intact and I was just isolating more to hide the difficulties. But here is the truth of the matter.
I chose this self portrait to accompany this post because, when I painted it, I meant to capture the noise in my head when I am in one of those hyper creative periods.