The medications didn't really just happen either; however, the fact that they are effective happens within my neurotransmitters, and I have no control over what goes on up in that brain. I can control what I do with what goes on in there, but as far as maneuvering the neurotransmitters goes, the pills do that and nobody knows exactly how they do that or why they work.
What I did control, though, was the getting put on the medication that worked for me. I totally took control of my life a year ago. I refused to take Clozaril anymore, because Clozaril clearly (clear even then, but a hell of a lot more clearly now) never worked for me effectively at all. I read about the Saphris that I'm now, and I knew that it was one antipsychotic that I had not tried, and I asked the doctor to put me on it. He was ready to try to convince me to do electroshock therapy, but I told him I did not want to do that. I'm not saying that people with mental illness never benefit from ECT, but there is not much research at all indicating it is effective for psychosis, and I am not willing to do things that have no research showing they are effective, particularly things that involve electricity going into my brain. So I told him I wanted to try Saphris. Smartest sentence that has probably come out of my mouth in the past decade of my life.
I said it while I was sitting there hearing voices and seeing, literally, writing on the walls, and while I was thinking about jumping off the Skyway Bridge (my go-to suicide plan when things get bad), because the voices were telling me to. I was in so much debt (and still am), creditors were calling me on a daily basis, and I could barely get dressed and get to my part time job, much less do anything else. I was unable to clean my apartment or take care of things in any kind of healthy manner, and I was completely terrified of my existence.
Saphris changed all that. It was the first antipsychotic of all of the ones I've been on (I've been on a dozen of them), to ever change all of that the way it did. I went into the hospital manic and psychotic, and with the adjustment of a new antidepressant, new sleep meds, and a new mood stabilizer, in addition to Saphris, I came out no longer experiencing psychosis or depression or mania at all.
I came out okay.
Usually hospital trips result in me coming out sort of better off in some respect or at least enough that the medical professionals can legally justify sending me home. But often times, I am bad off for a very long time without ever going to the hospital, and often I leave the hospital when I do go in not feeling a whole hell of a lot better than before I went there.
That was not the case with my last hospital trip. I have had over 20 hospital trips, and this was the most productive one of them all. The medications that I was put on this time just work
I was really scared recently with the side effect issue I wrote about previously of urinary retention, that I was going to be taken off my medications. Two urologists and a pharmacist told me that numerous meds I'm on could be causing me to have this problem, and the urologists both said I might need a catheter. To explain, I'm not a wimp, but I can't handle anything gross. And me putting a catheter into myself a few times a day, every single day, for the rest of my life was not an acceptable solution to this problem for me. So I was faced with the challenge of trying to figure out whether I could go off any of my medications safely or not. This. Completely. Terrified. Me. I was so freaked out I even wrote about urinary retention on my blog, which is probably one of the most embarrassing things I've mentioned here in a while (though not really more embarrassing than the fact my apartment was infested with fleas a year ago..). The reason I was terrified was because these medications work. And I cannot and will not be able to have the same peace of mind I've been so relieved to find without these medications. At the same time, I do not want a catheter or the frequent infections that come with them.
So I talked to my psychiatrist and he agreed that I could go off Trazadone if I wanted to. Trazadone was something I was only taking for sleep. I am still on other things for sleep (Restoril and Melatonin), but I stopped taking Trazadone about five weeks ago. I went back to the urologist. It turned out that my bladder problem has gone away! I am not longer having the problem of not being able to empty it. I did my research on Trazadone on urinary retention on my own and I also asked two pharmacists at my pharmacy to look up which medications I was on could be the most likely culprits in the problem. I then did the math in my head as far as what the cost/benefit analysis would be of going off Trazadone and decided it was the least risky thing for me to stop taking and this, coupled with the fact that it was indicated to cause urinary retention, lead me to stop taking it. I still sleep too! I had to get used to not being on it at first, but since I'm on other stuff for sleep, as I mentioned, it was not like I had to go back to my days of horrid insomnia and endless sleepless nights.
So far, so good.
This is a huge relief!
So that is good news. Other things are going okay. I had a couple weeks off work without pay which was not good at all, but I am surviving. I've had to buy all new clothes, now that I've lost so much weight in the past year, but I've bought them at thrift stores, where they are affordable. I actually quite enjoy thrift store shopping sometimes. So when I was off work, I went to a bunch of thrift stores. I found a fantastic deal one day with a 50% off coupon at one of them and got a couple pairs of jeans and like five shirts for $14. It was pretty fun. I wanted to go to some museums while I was off work, but I never got around to it. I did go to two food pantries, and stocked up on some groceries one day, which was useful. I did not do anything extremely exciting, but I exercised and browsed the internet, things like that.
Now I'm back at work, and this week I also go back to school. This will be my last semester, if all goes well, at the university, and then, after almost 20 years in college off and on, I'll graduate with my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, specializing in Social Work and Political Science. I have to get through statistics and I'm really nervous about that, as I despise math and have never taken math at the university level. I've only taken it at the community college level, and even then I had to take the easiest liberal arts math courses, because I could not handle the overwhelming task of math. My brain was not able to do it in the past. This goes back to my years in elementary school where I attended a horrible little Christian fundamentalist school, where we didn't learn anything and I never got my math skills down pat. So then when I finally went to a public high school, I was already behind in math (and everything else, except writing and reading came naturally to me so I had no trouble there). I ended up with an intense fear and loathing of math, which is with me to this day. I've dreaded statistics since I entered this university four years ago, and I've intentionally put it off all along until the last semester. Unfortunately, I don't expect to do too well in it. But the good part is, my GPA at this school is 4.0, so all I need to do is get through it with a C and get my degree. I will go to tutoring every single week if I have to, and I suspect I will have to. That is okay. Somehow, I will manage it.
So that is what has been going on with me lately. There is this saying in 12 step groups "it's progress not perfection", and I always liked that saying even though I am not currently attending any such groups. In my life, I've often had a tendency to want perfection, but the fact is that being a perfectionist merely sets on up for misery. You constantly feel like things are not good enough, that you're good enough, that nothing you're doing is good enough, and you never measure up, not even in your own head. So I could focus on the fact that I don't think I'm going to graduate school and feel like a failure about that or get really worried about applying to graduate school right now, but I've decided not to do that, and just to focus on right now. Right now I need to get through statistics, keep up with my job, and do my work in my political science course this week. Right now, I need to take some time to enjoy life, to exercise, to pet my cats, to eat healthy foods, and I need to keep my apartment clean and do my dishes. Right now, I need to take my medication every day like I've been doing for ten years, keep up with doctors' office visits and therapy, and talk to friends. That is enough for right now. A year ago, in the hospital, I came up with a saying, "I am here now and present in all surrounds me". It is on my bathroom wall still today, with a couple of other quotes. It is the most important quote of the three.
Thanks for listening.