Wednesday, June 02, 2010

my brain and the world it lives in

Hands Across the Sand: Feb, 2010
Clearwater Beach:



Perhaps you heard, there was a flotilla (bunch of ships) headed towards Palestine a few days ago, which was stopped and attacked by Israeli soldiers. According to most of the reports I've seen, the people on the flotilla were unarmed. The soldiers weren't. A bunch of the people on the flotilla ships are dead. Some more were injured. Unless there is something I have not heard about it yet, none of the Israeli soldiers were killed. This is, to me, yet another entry in the ongoing "But, I was here first!" saga of the middle east. Remember when you were a kid and your brother or sister would hop into that front seat before you could get there, and you said, "Hey, I want to ride up front!", and they said, "No way! I was here first!".

That kind of sums up the situation between Israel and Palestine to me. I mentioned a few months ago, when Ribbit the orange bully cat came to live here, that my couch had turned into the Gaza strip. Spooky, the heavyweight who really was here first, was called Palestine, and Ribbit was Israel. At the time, I thought this was an accurate description, but it's not anymore. Reason being, Spooky doesn't really ever fight back. She doesn't even do anything to piss Ribbit off, unless you count the fact that she likes to eat and likes me to pet her once in a while. If it were up to Ribbit, poor, fat old Princess Spooky would be starving and would never receive any attention at all. In fact, when he catches me petting my poor princess, he jumps on her, takes a big bite out of her back, and chases her across the apartment when she runs to a hiding place. Poor Spooky. She has claws, and Ribbit's front paws were removed by his former mom (my ex-sister in law), so one would think she would take a scratch into his face in her own defense. But she rarely does that. Spooky is a true pacifist, and unfairly victimized.

I'm in an ethics course right now, online, as part of finishing my A.A. degree (which would have been done by now if I did not change my major to Social Work). Much of what we are studying is about power. Whether or not people as individuals have rights that overrule the rights of the majority or vice versa, whether or not it's fair that humans have ownership over the earth and use that power to pollute and destroy it, whether or not humans should have power over all other animals, just because we're higher on the "food chain", etc. One blatantly obvious example of humans' misuse of power can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico, which is just a couple miles from my apartment. Corroded in oil from the worst "spill" (ie, disaster of unbelievable proportions) of all time, who knows when it will be clean and back to normal. We need fossil fuels, so, the "drill, baby, drill" crowd says, it's alright to drill near shores or away from shores, because we have that right. Who cares if we destroy the water!


Back in February, I think, I participated in an action called "Hands Across the Sand". This protest was planned on the internet and particularly on Facebook. People all over the state of Florida went out to the beaches, wearing black clothes, or black garbage bags over their clothes, and for fifteen minutes, at the same coordinated time, all around the state, we formed lines on the shore and held hands. It made for some awesome photographs. I was happy to participate, and there were a couple of people I know there as well. That was before BP made it's little "spill". People were wise to be worried that such a thing would happen. I wish we hadn't been correct in foreseeing such a nightmare. I wish it never happened. But this is one of those times when some can say, "I told you so," because, well, we did. Even the mayor of Clearwater, who is a conservative person politically from what I understand, was there and wearing black and speaking to the crowd. There was an airplane with a banner behind it that said, "Love tourists, not drilling!", and everybody cheered when it flew by. I am glad I went to the beach for that experience.

Why am I talking about any of this? After all, it doesn't seem to relate to this blog much. I'm getting to that. So, I haven't been able to sleep lately at night.
I am totally exhausted during the day, and then the night comes, and despite taking enough meds to put an elephant into a coma, I can't sleep. I was at my endocrinologist's office yesterday (Tuesday), and I said, I haven't been sleeping and I'm really tired. He said, "Do you want a sleeping pill?" Well, actually, no, I said. I'm already on a few medications... "Are you on something at night?" Does this guy ever even glance at my chart?, I thought. Yes, I'm on Seroquel and one milligram of Klonopin at night. "Do you want to take another Seroquel?" What is with this drug pushing? I wondered. Actually, I said, I'm taking 1,000 milligrams right now already. "Oh!".

Yeah, it's pretty clear, if you're familiar with medication and dosages that you don't dole out more than 1,000 milligrams a day of Seroquel unless you have a really, really good reason. I have met one person who takes more Seroquel than I take. He takes 1200, I think. And when I first heard that, a couple years ago, I thought, "WHAT?". Because, really, most people don't take more than 800 milligrams, tops, of Seroquel. Little did I know then, 800 wouldn't keep working for me forever. So an increase was required. But that's because of psychosis. Not because I can't sleep. Seroquel is an antipsychotic, not a sleeping pill.

But why don't I want a sleeping pill? I think, every so often, about my liver. I envision it being corroded as the Gulf of Mexico, as if I'd been smoking and drinking for 50 years on a daily basis. My liver has gone through a lot. I never smoked even once, and I never drink, but I take a hell of a lot of medication, and have, for a long time. I take only meds that work for me, and only because, without them, I can't function much. But I don't want to take more. I want to take less. I don't enjoy being a walking pharmacy. And I've gotten a little tired of mentioning something to a doctor, only to be told instantaneously that the only solution is another pill. What if I don't want to ingest another pill that may have side effects nobody can even foresee now since no research has been done on somebody taking all the meds I take for all their life. The meds haven't all even been around long enough for that kind of research to take place, especially Seroquel.

So, what to do? Most likely, when I go to my psychiatric A.R.N.P. the solution will be that she'll prescribe another pill. And, after a month of only sleeping 2-4 hours a night, I'll take it. Because I'm really tired, and I'm really not able to function well when I'm this tired, and I really, really want to be able to sleep. I don't like the idea of another medication at all. But nothing else seems to work. In the past, when I thought there was some other solution available, I tried Melatonin, and Valerian Root, and other herbal things, and drinking tea, and I cut out caffeine, and I took large dosages of Benadryl. Nothing ever worked. When I can't sleep, I really can't sleep. This has been going on ever since I went off the Anafranil that I had been on for the past several years. I'm glad to be off Anafranil. It's an outdated antidepressant that I was only taking for obsessive-compulsive issues, and it didn't work well to help with them. It also causes weight gain, so that was a major reason I wanted to stop taking it. So, I am glad to be off that. The first thing the community mental health center staff person said, when I called a few weeks ago to report that I could not sleep, was, "go back on the Anafranil." I refused. So I haven't slept in as many weeks hardly at all.

This stuff gets old, but it's not the worst thing in the world. I am well aware that I could have far more problems going on then this. In fact, there are some other things occurring. I finished, happily, the last semester at school with good grades. But as I focused solely on that, I got to be more, and more, disorganized, and fell behind in housework. Then the summer semester started. I never caught up with the disorganization issue. Now, I find myself depressed and feeling like it's all out of my control, because there is not enough time in the day to do the stuff I need to do, and because of that feeling of being paralyzed that comes with depression. It's like you can't do things. I know that not being able to sleep is at the core of this entire situation. Hopefully it will be resolved with the next medication. I was doing perfectly fine, for a while there. I still am doing okay with the psychosis stuff. Not having much of a problem with that. It's there, of course, as it's always there, but it's not bad enough to be worth going into it here at the moment. What's happening are little things: a vision of something that isn't really there for a moment that disappears quickly, smelling cigarette smoke when somebody smokes on television (weird, I know), hearing something that may or may not be really said. The little things that indicate caution. I drive by this construction area on my way to work, and these poor guys have to stand there, in the hot, Florida sun, all day, holding these signs that say, "stop", on one side, and "slow", on the other side, to direct traffic around the workers. I envision somebody holding these signs up in my head. "Slow", it says. Proceed with caution.

I think a major issue contributing to these problems is simply that I have no therapist anymore. My former therapist was wonderful, and she really helped me keep track of what was going on with my brain better than I can by myself. She did a great job with that, and I didn't realize at the time how lost I'd feel when she was gone. I simply assumed I'd be able to keep seeing her. Such, when money and the government are involved, is not always the case. I am supposed to make an appointment with a new guy, that will actually be paid for seeing me if he has openings available, but I haven't been feeling too interested in starting the whole story of my life over with another person. The first new therapist I went to, after my former one couldn't see me anymore, was this woman about 22 years old, who quit right after her first week. She actually spent my entire appointment typing things, which was odd. And then she was gone, which was not disappointing in the least since I had no desire to see her again. Maybe the new guy could help. I guess I should give that him a shot.

I wish that I could go off all medications. I wish I did not have to worry about the effects they will have if I am still alive 20, or 50 years from now. I feel sometimes an innate desire to protect myself, to draw a line in the sand like we did at our beach protest and say, "No more". But I look back on my life before I had the proper meds, and I know that the hellish nightmare I lived through for years is not something I am willing to go through again, just for the sake of not being on medication that makes me obese and corrodes my liver. We all have to make choices; sometimes they are not easy. I am grateful that the medications work as well as they do.

On an unrelated note: I've been working on adding some new pages to this blog. If you look at the top of the screen now, there are pages on suicide resources, what this blog is about, and combating stigma. I'm going to be adding more in the near future. If you have any suggestions for things that might be helpful to people who come by here, please let me know. Thanks.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

I've been checking out some prior posts, and want to thank you for sharing your voice. You are clearly so incredibly brave and strong. And even thought my particular struggle is labeled "bipolar," it's so helpful to read about others struggling with "mental illness" in general. (Finding a sense of belonging has been one of the most helpful things about my own recent jump into blogging.)

Anyway, I apologize if this is overstepping, but I'm wondering if you've ever checked out a blog called Beyond Meds. Some of the info there has been so helpful to me following my diagnosis. And given the questions you delve into in this particular post, I thought it may be of interest to you. I'm not too familiar with all of the posts specific to schizophrenia, but a quick search surfaced this (in addition to many others):
http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/curedschizophrenia/

Anyway, thanks for sharing so openly! Take care.

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