Side Effects may include Honesty.
I stopped taking my medication 6 weeks ago.
Nobody but James knows this.
Not The Irish one, Not my best friend, Not my Psychiatrist.
‘Enough!’ my brain screamed when she, my Psychiatrist, routinely suggested another alteration to my chemical imbalance, to supposedly help with the anxiety, ‘Four sets of medication is ridiculous!!! Are you even yourself anymore?’
I took the new prescription, signed with a flourish of her navy blue Cartier biro (no doubt one of those insanely heavy ones that only rich people have – a status pen if you will, i swear she was grunting with the weight of it as she wrote) and promptly threw it in the bin.
What a rebel.
For the first few days, sans meds, the time during which The Irish one incorrectly believed (as in, I lied to him) I was ‘just’ in the middle of a little medication change, he became completely unapproachable.
He honestly behaved around me in the same way I imagine I would behave, if I was sharing my home with a rabid Pit-bull.
Edgy, wary, alert. (Fucking scared.)
‘Just chill!’ he barked at me on day 3 from the safety of the door, as I sat crumpled on the bed, a Red Hot mess. ‘How can I help you when you don’t even know why you are crying??! You are low because you need to let your new meds kick in! Chill woman!’
There is no denying it.
He was being a prick.
But really, I guess, Can I really blame him?
He has had 4 years of me on the eternal roller coaster named Depression, the last 2 being the most stable, I guess he was scared, this new adjustment wouldn’t work, and history would repeat.
Maybe he was trying out tough love, as a way of telling me to be strong.
Or maybe he was just being a prick.
It left me feeling completely alone and completely stuck, and more determined than ever to get through the withdrawal stage and be medication free.
I have feelings. I am a person. I am not the sum part of an anti depressant.
People like me need medication to live a normal life, that’s what they say.
And I do agree with them, mostly.
I haven’t always though, it took me ages to ‘give in.’
In hospital they would wake me at 7 every morning to march me like a zombie, with all the other inpatient nut bags, to the kitchen area, where they would offer me drugs which I would promptly refuse.
“REFUSAL” the medics would write on their forms day after day, as day after day I said no to any form of medication.
I just had too many doubts about it.
I would sit in group therapy and suffer just as much as everyone who was taking medication, so what was the point?
They seemed no better for it?
Medication, I guess, at that time, on some level, I saw as a failure.
Confirmation that I had an actual illness.
‘I don’t want that kind of help, I don’t need that kind of help. I don’t want something chemical that is going to stop me being me. I can do this on my own, I am not ill, I am just pathetic, I need to get a grip.’
And besides, what if I take it and have some sort of awful reaction?
These are all the thoughts I am now re-experiencing, now I am without them, and having to consider re starting.
What if I get all of the millions of side effects written in Italics, covering one whole sheet of A4 paper?
Difficulty sleeping. – What if I get even More night terrors? The Irish one is already sick of finding me pulling up the laminate flooring looking for hidden gems.
Dry mouth – I can not bear those little white crusty bits people get, what if I get them and don’t notice? i’ll look like I have rabies. How can i sell face to face, do my job, looking like that?
Increased sweating – Brilliant. Just brilliant.
Abnormal orgasm in women. – What? As in, at random times of the day, without provocation? (Well ok, maybe I could get on board with this one.)
Apathy - Like when I picked my wedding dress cos i couldn’t be bothered trying on any more?
Constipation, Diarrhoea - What? Both at the same time? Is that even possible? So, wait, does this mean each time I fart I will follow through? Amazing.
Ejaculation failure- Um…. Not a party trick I have ever managed, so I am guessing this is aimed at men. Hoping. Hoping it is.
Feeling nervous – Well I feel all of these without medication so….
Increased salivation- So wait, which one is it? Will I be cotton mouthed or drooling?
Itchy- Ok, itchy where? On my head? Like nits? Or Itchy elsewhere? Like Thrush? I need to know!
Vomiting- So basically what they are saying is, I could potentially turn in to an itchy, vomiting woman, who occasionally orgasms mid conversation, who has a drooling dry mouth and never stops sweating? Yeah, no wonder ill experience agitation.
Hair loss- Oh, and I’ll be bald too. Brilliant.
Weight gain- And fatter. Awesome.
Anaphylactic reactions- Hurrah!
Anger – Ok.
Angioedema – Now they are just making words up!
Feelings of hostility – So I will become even more hostile than I am normally?
Impaired judgement – Ha. No change there then.
The list is endless.
And then this.
Psychiatric problems such as uncovering symptoms of depression or suicidal tendencies and self-harming behaviour.
So it could all be for no reason?
So what is the point?
First time around, I resisted and resisted, because the side effects frightened me.
This time around, yeah, also feeling pretty frightened, except, this time, I know they do offer some relief.
But back then, there was no way I was giving in.
Until one day, after my release from hospital, for some reason, I did give in.
I hit a big wall.
And I guess I realised it was my last shot.
If Addison was going to have any hope of keeping his mother, I needed to give it a try.
So, I reluctantly joined the army of people swallowing 40mg of Citalopram on a daily basis.
I spent 2 days feeling sick, but only with anxiety and worry.
(I did not want to be a convulsing, itchy mess, even with the promise of random orgasms.)
But over time the anxiety of side effects all but diminished and I began to notice I could get out of bed in the morning without thoughts of killing myself, without the overwhelming hopelessness, the heart gripping feelings that the future was too long a prospect.
2 years passed in a blur.
A blur – yes, but a stable one.
I was made redundant from a job I adored, upset, yes, but I handled it.
I blew through it.
I organised a wedding, I tried on dresses, I had a hen night which involved crowded areas, I got married.
I blew through it.
Yes, I guess, I felt happy at the time, but I felt I should have experience it more.
Looking back, it was as if the excitement was definitely there somewhere, but just like the suicidal thoughts, I could no longer connect with it, it was foggy.
I was Apathetic to everything.
I came off my medication because I was sick of the numbness.
I couldn’t remember how it felt to feel.
And now I can.
Six weeks without anything, it is definitely safe to say, I can connect with all of it.
The anxiety, the paranoia, the misery, the overwhelming love, the excitement that creeps up on me and sends me reeling in to an almost manic state, and also, of course, the overwhelming grief and disappointment that I am without doubt, a complete failure, in every sense.
The taking of everything personally.
The fear of being seen, full stop.
I can connect with all of it.
I don’t want to be looked after, seen, hated, disliked, spoken about, loved, enjoyed, seen.
‘Are you considering going back on medication Lexy?’ James asked me last week in our, once again now, weekly sessions.
It’s a tough choice.
I feel now, like I can actually feel.
And sometimes I enjoy that.
But the negative, it does far out weigh the positive.
Medication numbs the bad, but also the good, it takes no prisoners, makes no choices, can not decipher between the two.
It’s a catch 22.
‘I am doing well though James. I feel like I am winning most of the time.’
I can tell he doesn’t believe me.
Hell, I don’t believe me.
But I would like to believe I don’t need medication.
I wish I could just be balanced.
It is my greatest wish.
The reason I argue with people who state-
‘Happiness is a choice. My husband was depressed and one day he just decided not to be.’
I wish it was that easy. I don’t want to be ‘happy’ just balanced!
And Yes, I have tried.
Each and every day for what feels like my entire life.
“It surprises me you say that.’ James goes on, interrupting my thoughts.
He is going to say it like it is, I can tell.
I can also tell I am not going to like it.
‘In the last 6 weeks without medication I have heard you speak nothing of joy. The joys. Only of the pain, the irritation, the misery, the hopelessness. You have once again pushed away all of the people who care for you. You are suffering, and badly convincing yourself that you aren’t. A little fogginess allowed you to sit on a plane for 9 hours, something you wouldn’t even consider doing right now. A little numbness saw you try new experiences. You went to america and admitted you loved someone, something you can’t even contemplate doing now. You would laugh and smile and …’ he trails off as I glare at him belligerently.
‘Now, without that medication, you need to check in with me every week again, there is no relief from any of it, and last night….. Last night you beat up your husband.’
It is true.
I am ashamed to admit this, but yes.
I did physically attack The Irish One.
I smacked and punched, kicked and pulled at him.
My heart is breaking admitting this.
I spat and screeched, and when I got no reaction, other than him fending me off and telling me he loved me, I locked myself in the bathroom and tore my own hair out, carved in to my arms, head butted the walls and eventually wished to be dead.
Oh the pain.
What have I done?
It is unforgivable.
I desperately wanted him to retaliate, to punch my head in, to bite me, to scream at me I was useless and that he was leaving me.
I wanted him to leave me.
He hasn’t though.
He treats me as if I am never too exhausting to be loved.
(Yes he is lovely, and yes, I have already provided him with a Zero tolerance leaflet.)
It seems I have hit that wall again.
If the Irish one has found it in his heart to forgive me for attempted GBH, and wants his wife to remain in his life, I must, without further ado, swallow another white pill – daily.
And most probably for the rest of my life.
Tomorrow marks starting over again.
No more sudo-making it.
I need medication for the illness I suffer with.
And if it gives me thrush, so be it.
A little Numbness is underrated.
At least I will be able to cope again.
Bring on the Random Orgasms.
And Don’t ever again tell me about your husband, who ‘just decided’ to get better.
Because each illness is different.
Each story unique.
Every fighter not a failure.
And Irish One?
I am so desperately sorry.