invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

a familiar road December 3, 2008

things in my life have taken a turn for the worse. call it anxiety. call it depression. call it bipolar. and yes some suicidal thoughts thrown in the mix. call it whatever you want but it’s not fun. at all.

the past 12 or so months have been unusual and quite difficult. in no particular order dealing with:

-loss of health insurance for the first time in my life
-the 20 year anniversary of my rape which has flooded my mind more than usual
-the diagnosis of sciatica and adenomyosis
-choosing a road without medication for my mental illness
-the economy failing and finding it incredibly difficult to secure a job-especially when the last ten years of my “occupation experience” fall in the film industry, which nobody seems to understand. when you can’t get hired at the new whole foods or trader joe’s in town-things are bad.
-two newborn nieces i have never met
-difficulties with my family over numerous issues have brought much sadness

where have the above left me? in a deep, dark hole. and for the first time (in a long time) i have not been able to see the light and that fact frightens me.

it could be worse. i know this. we all do. i especially know this considering a family member was killed in Kuwait, he was 19 and had his whole life ahead of him. another cousin just happened to be at the Alfred P. Murray building on the same day Timothy McVeigh “visited”, Thomas died that day. A girl I worked with was shot during last week’s Mumbai attacks.

however, I have a mental illness and have come to realize that sometimes you must take drastic measures to get out of the “hole” and that (sometimes) requires taking medications you absolutely despise. (this would not be the case if i could afford acupuncture)

i paid a visit to my internist since i cannot afford to see a psychiatrist without insurance. yesterday morning i sat in her office taking deep breaths, trying to avoid a full blown panic attack. i stared outside her window, watching small snowflakes slowly fall to the ground. grey skies. ugly buildings. but beautiful snow. and my mind kept going back to the same place—when will this end? it was there that i decided, probably never. i will be fighting this illness my entire life. it’s like an incurable cancer that you are born with and forced to live with…until the end of your days. and i say that because…

my internist walked in and asked what was going on…i broke down…and three crumpled tissues later she was handing me 3 sample boxes of Abilify (the heavily advertised antipsychotic), a prescription for xanax and celexa. Wow. I fought the Abilify choice-I am 100% against antipsychotics after my Seroquel experiences. However, she basically told me i am in a very bad place and need something strong to get me out of it. She promised it would be short term-hence only a 3 week supply. During our visit I was reminded of something a nurse at a Vanderbilt psychiatric study told me. and i told the story to my doctor. basically, a few years ago i signed up for a paid depression study— after i listed the medications i had taken over the past 15 years, the nurse denied my participation in their study by simply stating, we have deemed you untreatable.

yesterday my doctor laughed at the idea of participating in such a study and my response was a bit harsh, and from the look in her eyes, I don’t think she liked it…..i said, “why not…i’ve been a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical companies for YEARS and i might as well get paid for it!”

untreatable. and that’s where i’m going with this. i am convinced the medications on the market for depression, bipolar, etc either a) don’t work b) work short term or c) make us sicker. and although a lot of my “symptoms” revolve around situational experiences, i do believe i was born with a mental illness and i have to figure out how to live with it and survive it…in a world full of stigma and companies that do not seem to give a damn about the medications they are pumping into our bodies. the studies are flawed and fixed. it’s all about the money. doctors are influenced/bribed. the hippocratic oath is a rare thing these days and that is very sad.

and so i stare at these and cringe:


as much as these medications disgust me it was the printout i received from my pharmacist that truly disturbed me, it was titled:

Antidepressant Medicines, Depression and other Serious Mental Illnesses, and Suicidal Thoughts or actions.

the printout goes on about how loved ones should pay close attention to any sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. they list possible symptoms like…thoughts about suicide or dying, new or worse depression, new or worse anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, new or worse irritability, acting aggressive, being angry or violent, acting on dangerous impulses, an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania), feeling very agitated, other unusual changes in behavior.

How unbelievably ironic and SAD. medications prescribed to stop these very things can lead to any of the above. So much for progress. I have fought this illness since I was thirteen, that would be 22 very long years.

and this is where we are?!

but…i’m not back at square one. i’m just on a very familiar road. a road that is very bumpy, curvy and unpredictable. luckily i’m smart enough to know when that road leads me to a cliff, i do whatever is necessary to avoid jumping off.

maybe someday i will not be deemed untreatable. maybe someday my illness will be understood by the people i hold close to my heart. and hopefully someday that road will never lead to a cliff.


3 Responses to “a familiar road”

  1. Tilting at Windmills Says:

    I just found you by way of my stats. I mostly just want to say hang in there, but also to ask if there might be anything in holding off on jumping onto 3 meds all at once. It sounds like you feel like meds are essential (and probably short term) right now and know the risks, and are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, but I’m wondering if just one of the three might be a place to start. E.g. would a low dose of the xanax only help you regulate sleep for a week or two and help get you back on track? (don’t know if sleep is a problem for you or not, just an example).

    Also, you probably know this, but if you are in an urban center, acupuncture schools often offer very low cost services.

    Hang in there.

  2. clementine Says:

    i appreciate your thoughts. after spending twenty years with many different psychiatrists and therapists, etc…i am convinced i know my body better than they ever will or care to.

    however, for the first time in 10 plus years i’ve been having suicidal thoughts…which scares me. my doctor was convinced the xanax would not get me out of the hole. after putting up a fight, i gave in a took the abilify samples. after one pill i already feel loopy, tired and my speech is slurred. i took a half dosage of celexa this morning but will rely mostly on the xanax and hope for the best.

    thanks for the tip on acupuncture schools. i have never strayed from my favorite acupuncturist in town but might need to reconsider until i can afford to see him.

    by the way…i absolutely love the title of your website…

  3. Stephany Says:

    I’m keeping you in my thoughts, I understand your trepidation and the need to feel better–just know things WILL get better. I know you know my 2008….and during the Spring had so many suicidal ideations flood my mind, reduced xanax and added wine. Not a good choice, and it wasn’t noticed by me (the wine). Somehow, against all of my doubt that I could even survive until December when the bankruptcy was finally closed (dec 4)–well here I sit. I made it and so will you. My psych has allowed me to come in for free, and when I can pay 50 bucks I pay. When I took Seroquel it was so awful I couldnt drive a car–train wreck fog–anyway, you are not alone. You are not alone.


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