21 February 2007

Where Do I Go From Here?

If you’ve read one of my previous entries then you know I have bipolar disorder. I like the word disorder. Think of its synonyms: chaos, disarray, confusion, mess, turmoil, anarchy, mayhem—you get the idea. I’ve gone from chaos to anarchy in just a few short steps at times. I think it’s the latter I am experiencing at the moment—utter rebellion.

I’ve reached a point with this disease process that nothing works anymore. I have tried every known cocktail of meds available on the market today in multiple combinations. Even in the midst of taking my meds faithfully, I can be in a full-blown manic phase with thoughts racing so fast my life becomes a blur and yet, at the same time, fighting the paralyzing depths of depression. It’s not even fair; I can’t enjoy the flights of fancy the mania can sometimes provide if I am battling the depression at the same time.

I have become completely treatment resistant with nowhere to turn. Well, there is one alternative to escape the depression, one that I refuse to even consider. It’s ECT (electro convulsive shock therapy). One of its major side effects is memory loss and I am unwilling to lose chunks of my life, no matter how miserable some of it has been. There have been too many happy memories that I am unwilling to lose, all of which revolve around my wonderful 24-year-old son. The many opinions I’ve sought (being unwilling to listen to just my psychiatrist, but others within the medical field) have tried to convince me that this form of therapy has come a long way since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This one option is simply a no-brainer for me (pardon the ill-conceived pun). And, it’s not as if the medicines have had no side effects. As I mentioned in my earlier posting, one of the biggest side effect to most mood stabilizers is weight gain. Almost everyone I know has gained weight at one point or another in the search of finding that magic combination of drugs. In my case right now, while all of the meds I am on are weight neutral, one I take in the morning makes me feel so loopy that I have a hard time concentrating on my tasks at hand—not a very good side effect if I want to keep my job.
Why should I continue to take the medicines that I truly can no longer afford (of course, none of which are generic) if the end result is no recompense? If the meds can’t control this disorder, why bother to take them at all? It’s not as if things could get that much worse. Moreover, I feel more than rebellion. Anger is seething through every vein in my body. I am not angry that I have to deal with being bipolar; I know too many people who have successfully managed it and weaved its patterns into their lives. I am angry because I represent the few that can’t seem to be controlled by any of the medications that are available. The ironic part is its analogy. Think of someone who has a major disease process that cannot be cured and they ultimately die from it. I don’t even get that reprieve. I have to live through each and every grueling minute of this experience I am supposed to call a life.

I truly feel as though I have reached a point where I can no longer function. Sure, I can get up each morning, shower and get ready for work and do my job (with a great deal of concentration), but my job is my only reprieve. Once I get home from work, I am faced with staring at my nine-foot ceilings that seem to cave in all around me. I have earnestly made an effort to attend legitimate support groups, but I couldn’t connect with anything anyone said. I always felt like the outsider because no one could understand the true level of impact this disorder has had on me. It has certainly broken me financially between all of the visits to my psychiatrist, the hospitalizations and, of course, all of the medicine. Not even having enough money to put gas in my tank, let alone meet all of my monthly bills has really done a number on the depression side of the equation.

I’ve said all of this simply to say, after one full year of trying, I have now elected to wean myself off all my medication. I won’t have the dizzying side effects any longer and it will certainly contribute to my bottom line. If I thought there was a chance in hell that these meds would make a difference, I wouldn’t be making this decision. Yes, I am fully cognizant of all of the medically sound arguments not to pursue this line of action, but what is the point at this juncture? You may say that suicide will become my eventual downfall, but if that is already ever-present on my mind with the medication, what is the difference? I truly cannot think of one solid reason why I should bother to continue in this futile effort to stabilize what has become the roller coaster ride of my life.©2007

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