Saturday, September 8, 2012

Red pill/ Blue pill

Fall. What a season.

Autumn makes me nostalgic. It makes me miss faces I haven't seen in years and old familiar places. It makes me nest like an animal going into hibernation. Fall is a season to get your affairs in order before winter sets in and its time to buckle down through the parkas and the almost frostbitten toes.

I am getting my affairs in order, folks. 

Here's a little story;

When I was 16 I was diagnosed with acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This basically runs the gamut as far as "symptoms" are concerned; depression, anxiety, self harm, suicide attempts, eating disorder, flashbacks and dissasociation. I had them all. I was in need of serious help and so I was placed in a mental health facility for youth for a long time. I don't remember exactly, but it was almost 10 months I believe. Before that, I had spent a month in an adult ward at a different hospital waiting to be transferred. So in total it was about a year. This all happened in the fall.

I was on medication already for depression and the doctors spent that year figuring out the perfect cocktail to at least keep me stable. I hated it. I hated the institution and the doctors telling me that I needed to talk. I didn't want to talk, not to them at least. I had never talked to anyone about anything except for my best friend K. I was utterly beligerent and defiant as a teenager who certainly didn't trust anyone. I had good reason not to trust anyone.

When I left there, I stayed on my meds and did good for a little while. Then I fell harder into drugs and drinking. That had always been my fix, my cure. As far as I was concerned, the doctors and shrinks and social workers and counsellors could go to hell. I was going to do things my way, period.

Somehow, I think I stayed on my meds though. I kept taking them.

And then I sobered up. I got clean and two years after I decided that I had more tools to deal with life and came off all the medication.

Its been four years since then. I have mostly fought the overwhelming highs and lows to keep my life somewhat manageable. I have convinced myself that I am fine, that whatever happens I can deal with it. I have been adament, even through bitter lows and really bad decisions while I am on "ups", about never going back on medication. It's one of the accomplishments I am most proud of, to be free of these little pills that the doctors told me I might always need to take.

And then my bubble burst last week. I had a moment of clarity and I was able to be honest with myself for the first time in a long time. I am not ok and my emotions are far from manageable. They haven't been in a long time. I have extreme mood swings. I can have a great day, be in a great mood (which is always more "ecstatic" and "excitable" than just a good mood) and then crash so hard that I want to go back to doing drugs and drinking just to escape this cycle. I do impulsive things. Sometimes dangerous, impulsive things. My compulsions when I am happy have led me to things which I don't recognize. I don't recognize my own behaviour, because they are things I wouldn't and don't want to do. But yet I do them, over and over and over.

So I went to a doctor and told her my history, told her what is happening now. I feel weak, scared, and ashamed. I know that these things are not my fault. I know that I need to surrender and admit my powerlessness over my mental health issues, at least as far as "managing" it on my own. I can't do this alone anymore. So I went back on medication and I'm feeling only the side effects. It takes a few weeks for these things to balance out. I hope it will. I'm so tired of this cycle, of this tornado of emotions I am constantly in. I want to have a relationship, I want to maintain consistent friendships, I want to not cry at work or feel so excited that my skin is crawling with anxious energy. I want to be able to to rest normally, instead of swinging back and forth between insomnia and sleeping 14 hrs a night.

I know its going to take more than medication. I know they're not magic pills. I've been refered to a psychiatrist for re-evaluation, since the last one was over 10 years ago. I'm looking into therapy and counselling. I feel like I am going down another mental health services rabbit hole.

Except this time I'm willing to talk. And willingness just might be the key.