November 15th 2011

It has been several days now that I’ve been unable to spend much time out of bed or doing anything constructive. At night, I have insomnia and then when finally fall asleep, waking up is very painful, and I remain stuck for hours in this state devoid of energy and drive. I feel guilty and ashamed to be spending so much time in bed, not even able to focus long enough to read more than three or four pages per day, and being compulsive about email-checking, which in some way I think makes me feel less lonely.
I’m a bit scared because it reminds me of me two years ago at the same time of the year, and that spiral down ended in a hospital bed…
But not this time! This time I’m stronger and older and more experienced and I’ve lived more and know myself better. This time I will be ok.

Yesterday I found this quote on a blog: “No one should assume that it is safe to just stop taking drugs. It’s a huge commitment and responsibility. I would say that in my case it is a calling. I was on 11 mg of Risperdal, 200 mg Zoloft, 50 mg Seroquel, 400 mg Lamictal and 3 mg of Klonopin (up to 6 mg PRN) and in the end a variety of stimulants. You have to be called to get off all that. It is a vocation. No joke.”
I really like the concept of “a calling” to describe the decision and process of coming off the psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex. It isn’t simply like quitting smoking or changing a habit, it is an existential decision, it is a battlecry. Being diagnosed with a serious psychiatric condition and choosing to un-medicate means questioning the absolute nature of the diagnosing, reevaluating your symptoms in light of the socio-economic and cultural conditions of their existence. It means that you are going to fail and fall down and screw up a thousand times and that you know it and that you’re going to try anyways. It means knowing you are going blind on untravelled routes. It means you’re breaking new ground. It means going against all odds. It means you don’t know you’ll get there, you could lose your way completely. You could even give up at some point, go back on meds and then start all, over again. In fact, you probably will.

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November 14th, 2011.

It has been 18 days since my last lithium tablet,  two months and a half since my last lamotrigine pill and more than six months since my last intake of benzodiazepines. This might sound like a victory, if it weren’t for the fact that I am writing this at 3:38pm on a monday from my bed, which I seem incapable of leaving.

I think writing a blog might help in several ways. First, I can monitor my progress. The nature of bipolar is such that your state of mind and thoughts and feelings are in constant flux and you cannot remember from one week to another–sometimes from one hour to another!– what you were feeling or thinking before or why, where it came from. Your self from yesterday, full of confidence and joy, literally seems like a different physical person, who was it who could be so obviously ignorant and presomptuous to believe that she could achieve so much? Similarly, when you’re high, your depressed self from last month is nothing but a whiny stranger whom you will never have to deal with ever again, so you believe. Having a public account of myself might help making sure these two people cohabitate, or at least, recognize each other’s existence.

This might be a good way to meet people. I don’t really know other bipolars. I have amazing and supportive friends, but I always feel so ashamed of myself when I fall down again and again and keep needing their help and forgiveness for not being who I should be, for not being a functional human being. Being able to speak with people who are undergoing similar experiences would be a great relief.

My decision to get off psychopharmaceutical medication is quite recent. It came after a brief attempt at lithium, which I will write more about later, but was an eye-opening experience as to the effects that drugs could have not only on my brain, but on my Self. Engaging on this journey to find a way to live with my recurrent depression (or without it, even better!) requires a lot of work. Most importantly I am reading a lot (or at least trying to, whenever my anxiety allows me. my inability to read is one of my biggest disabilities.) and trying to rethink my symptoms, my identity, my diagnosis, my expectations, my idea of what my life could be. Having a blog might help me clarify all this.

Finally, if I write here, I’m accountable to more than myself. I shall not give up that easily.

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