Thursday, August 4, 2016

Withdrawal: an essay.

I had put aside Surviving Psych Med ​Changes and/or Withdrawal: an essay & guidebook for creative minds to read at a later time (today!). The piece, by Luke B. Goebel stuck out for me, since I have intense dis-associative symptoms when I don't take my medication. I didn't take it for a few days once due to forgetting it while on a weekend away and it was brutal. I had to ask my mom to drive since I was hearing "brain zaps" and couldn't focus. It was something I do not want to re-live.

I recommend reading his piece in its entirety. Writing, when you feel insane seems impossible. Trying to properly express the entirety of how you feel when you're manic or down is hard enough, but the experience of being in some kind of fit is so fragmented that the parts of us that are able to use language are often partially disabled. There's also trying to organise the madness of it all. It seems like a cliché to put it that way, but things that one day came and went through you become absolute certainties you fixate on, to your own detriment. So much of who you are seeps out, and so much of something darker takes its place.

So much of it is living without a healed self, without a celebrated empowered identity or persona as an author or person sharing how they healed. I agonize that I am not a packageable brand of salvation I can sell, a story line of resurrection and overcoming of challenges. A Ted Talk. No, I’m still trying to crystalize meaning. I’m still wild. I’m still healing this sometimes hard-to-handle self. And so are the authors I’ve mentioned, many of them, and yet they have their story sorted. I don’t need that to be resolved today. I need my medication to straighten out. But in this state, everything swirls together into madness.
It's a difficult place to come to and to accept: there is no downhill, it's all uphill. There is no snap back into place, you'll have scars, that part of you will never go back to how it was before. You might have some good days, but you'll never be better. In Goebel's case as a writer, I can see what he's facing. I adored Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir The Chronology of Water. I felt she wrote it to me. It floored me. But in all the memoirs I've read by the mentally ill / on mental health, so many ended with a "and I'm better now" ending. It isn't the norm. Or is it? Am I part of the statistic that's forever afflicted?  Regardless, the completion of a narrative in art is a false god.

What is having a sorted story? Maybe Goebel is talking about it as a narrative, about a story with a clear arc. I know for me, I had this sense that eventually I'd get my shit together and eventually life would be easier. But that's not where I'm at. My realisation is that no, things just evolve into something else. I have the language now, I have some tools, but the struggle is still omnipresent. 

I may not be actively suicidal, but I am always fucking worrying about job security now. Always worried about being able to afford myself, afford a life. I'm tired. It's been uphill and the slope is unforgiving. I am now piecing together what it is I do have, and trying to focus on what it is I do want. How do you learn to live a life within a "normal" set of societal set of rules when there are days of your life you vividly remember wanting nothing more than to burn it all down.

This bit, ooooof:
He didn’t seem interested in my crashing. He gave me a prescription to add to the stack: Neurontin. He told me I might want to decide to get back on my medication at full strength. (It was left up to me!) Every doctor and shrink I have talked to since say it is insane to cut Desipramine in half as a starting point to weaning off the drug. Not insane—dangerous. Extremely dangerous. I smelled burning plastic that wasn’t there. I wept. I felt panic. Every day lasted and lasted for what felt like weeks.
It is beyond me, how we're asked to make life-altering, DANGEROUS decisions while possibly manic or going through some kind of panic or psychosis. WHY DOES IT TAKE THE MENTALLY ILL OF US TO POINT OUT HOW THAT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE. I've documented my own experiences in accessing care, and time and time again I've been dumbstruck by how often we're left to our own devices. 

Read Goebel's piece. 

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