Saturday, April 10, 2010

After The Crash, Part Two

I was admitted to the clinic nine and half weeks ago. This coming week is likely to be my last here.
During my stay, I've been administered – and weaned off – almost every psychotropic medication the doctors could think of. The hit and miss process was intended to reveal a combination of drugs that might best balance emotional relief and an ability to function with the least harmful of possible side-effects. It didn't quite work out.
I've done a lot of drugs. There have been mood stabilisers , including sodium valproate, carbamazepine, Lamotrigine, lithium and the relatively new Quetiapine. There have been anti-depressants, including most of the SSRIs and SNRIs. Some worked for a short while. Some didn't. But my mind or body reacted badly to most. One drug gave me a potentially fatal (and hideous-looking) rash. Another created a dark still pool in the centre of my mind that repelled any analytical and creative thought.
The side-effects of each drug were treated with more drugs. for instance, one screwed up my thyroid, which had to be treated with a thyroid hormone stimulator.
A psychiatrist described the clinic's treatment strategy as "a combination of skills and pills" and although the pills have proved to be a nightmare for me, the skills have helped. Throughout the medication trials, I've had constant and intensive personal therapy with psychiatrists and psychologists, during which I've learnt more about mental discipline, meditation, nutrition, vitamin supplements, sleep, exercise and acute self-awareness.
Most recently, the 'team' assigned to me have been trying to teach me a set of skills to manage my disorders without medication. These require an inordinate amount of rigour and self-denial. My doctors aren't entirely confident that I can cope with this non-traditional course of treatment. Neither am I. So they'll continue to seeing me as an out-patient. We all accept the possibility that I might need to return as an in-patient at some point.
I've been frustrated with my clinical team and at times, felt that they'd failed me. But when it became apparent that the standard treatments didn't work, they were willing to explore alternatives. I've been surprised by their open curiosity about the creative mind. They admit it is, for them, not easily understood.
It's probably just as much a mystery to the rest of us.

10 comments:

Remittance Girl said...

Good luck with your struggles.

Aminah K. ♠♣♥♦ said...

I'm happy that your blogging again. Personally I've never trusted prescription drugs. But I hope you do get better. Peace:)

C. k. Agathocleous said...

I also have BPD and have been through all the different drug cocktail trials. Finally I've accepted that there are certain aspects of the illness I will just have to live with for the time being. I take the meds that have helped me without hurting me too much (prozac & lithium in my case). I feel so much for you and am so impressed by your bravery tackling all this in public.

Uncle Kokoe said...

Sadly, they call the drug adjustment process "titration" as if you were just a piece of paper.

Gladly, you had the power to not have to settle for the ones that left you empty.

In a public hospital, or in days gone by, doctors settled for that mental stasis as a sort of Devil's bargain between patients and the social control and normative factors of society. I know the victims were not better for it. I don't believe society was either.

Keep writing, when it suits you!

Michael Radcliffe said...

I really hope things work out for you. And no, I have no idea what makes the creative mind tick, either!

Meliors Simms said...

Sending warm, loving healing thoughts your way. I am excited to imagine what new directions your art may take when you are ready to start sharing creative work again.

Francis said...

All the best, Hazel. We are richer with you back. Blessings.

alicia said...

From one BPD sufferer to another, I know how you feel. You are not alone. It took me 7 years to get my meds right. The sorry part is I chose to lose part of who I am in exchange for a stable life. I do miss it, but I know I wouldn't last long the other way. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that true and pure expression flows from a mind that has no constraints. Meds constrain. Society constrains. You have to decide what will kill you first; your disease, or a life of less than brilliant art.
I now take Nuvigil, concerta, lamictal and abilify and I haven't been in the hospital for 3 years. Most consider it a sucess story, but I sometimes wonder who I was supposed to be. You are in my thought.

Latifah Shay said...

Seek out alternative therapies, such as spiritual healing. Go through, go past who you think you are and find the Truth. I agree, meds bottle people up more than free them. I don't know what your specific experiences are, but I've been through hell myself.. I just want to voice that if you want to be 'truly' free within yourself, the best way is probably to go 'through' yourself to get there. I have a friend who was labeled as BPD, she has come a long, long way from where she was walking on the same spiritual path as I... I just hate to see someone stop with "modern medicine" when I know there is so much more. Especially with us creative-types, we are really deep people emotionally, we don't necessarily fit the 'traditional' mold. Be free in your own truth.

Fiorenza Mella Multilingual Communication said...

You have my humble and warm empathy. I feel your suffering. I respect and love your sincerity. Your creative and pure soul will sustain you with your struggles. Good luck! Fiorenza