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.