Friday, July 25, 2014

Self-Medicating Mental Illness



I don't really know what I'm going to say here or how I'm going to do it but I feel like it needs talked about. Many times I have read here on my page about people who are self-medicating their illness. I have heard alcohol thrown out there as well as marijuana and other drugs. As I spiral down into borderline bipolar psychotic depression I am becoming acutely aware of what some of you deal with with your schizophrenia and psychosis. Personal experience is the best teacher but I can tell you that while I am learning a little more about your lives through my experiences, I can't help but think that this is one school I don't want to be enrolled in.

I am acutely aware that this blog has gotten off topic a few times because I have talked about the emotional pain I am dealing with myself right now. I apologize for it as much as I can but then I think of those of you out there who have put in their time for months and even years being a caretaker while simultaneously trying to keep your own mental health under control only to find that your loved one is finally pretty stable and somehow your strength for holding your own issues at bay becomes non-existent and your own demons start to creep in. This is where I find myself a lot lately and this thread I am dangling on is fraying.

Every day I still look to Thomas to see where he is at with his own mental health. I examine him trying to keep my own bipolar colored vision clear so that my assessment of him is fair. I think I am doing a pretty decent job of it since we did sit in therapy yesterday and he reported ones and zeros on all of his scales with only one hesitation about one of his long-standing delusions that I'm sure means he's probably keeping something from his therapist and I. He gave it a one. I'll bet you it's a 4.

At any rate, apart from that I will get back to the original subject of this post. After therapy and because I had had a ROUGH day, I couldn't wait to get home and have a drink. I wanted to escape from the pain I have been dealing with lately and alcohol was that escape. I won't paint a pretty picture here because there is no beauty in doing what I do. I am not proud of it in the least but that doesn't seem to stop me either. As Thomas went to his room, I went to the freezer and found my vodka and I drank a shot of it. Then I went and turned on the music that is piped through my entire house and I went back to the kitchen where the sound of the music is at its best (go figure) and I had another drink. Nothing was helping. The pain was still there, the memories, the newly acquired paranoia (a symptom of borderline psychotic depression) were still all stacked up there in my mind. I sat down on the cushiony floor mat in my kitchen and leaned against the cabinets and sang to the music surrounding me.

Somewhere along the line I lost track of how many drinks I had but still my demons chased me. All I wanted was to be out cold, out of this life and anywhere other than a kitchen floor in a house in a town (where one of my biggest sources of pain is--that my daddy died) and in a life filled with grief and fear and anxiety and paranoia and well...you name it. I went outside and smoked my 2nd cigarette that I allow myself 2 of per day and I came inside and sat down in my living room and (let's be truthful here) I (guess) I passed out, though I call it sleeping, until my husband came home from work.

I tell you all of this because I understand the need for our loved ones with schizophrenia to self- medicate away their symptoms. I also understand you caregivers who give your heart and soul and maintain that just long enough to get your loved one on their feet before you yourself implode. Life is not easy. It's not easy to have a mental illness. It's not easy to be a caregiver for someone with a mental illness. It's not easy to have other issues (for me it's losing my daddy and now my mom moving away) on top of all of that and let's face it, life in general is not easy.

It sucks.

Now, in no way am I singing self-medication's praises. Not even a little bit. It's dangerous especially if it goes unchecked and it's deadly once you start mixing it with a cocktail of psychiatric meds like I did last night and like so many of you suffering from medicated mental illness do I play a game of Russian roulette of the worst kind because I am damaging a life that is not all my own. I am here because of Thomas, I am here FOR Thomas, I am responsible for Thomas and it will be me, hopefully sober, that will be the one that comforts him in the middle of an inevitable psychotic break.

I am not proud of the choices I make to cope with my own bipolar and grief and probably it's not the smartest thing to even talk about it in public but the truth of the matter is, I am going to keep with the original goal of this blog and I'm going to keep it real, and raw and honest. No one admits to sitting on their kitchen floor singing Taylor Swift after 3 drinks after having had a HORRIBLE day but I suspect many of you do something similar. I refuse to leave you alone out there in your kitchens or your living room chairs or in bed with the covers over your head feeling like you are alone as you look for some escape from your life that

Just. Isn't. Easy. Right. Now.

My voice is clear, it's loud (because I have an audience over 2500 people) and although it's stupid and shameful, the choices I make to solve my symptoms, they are choices I make borne of a life full of painful trials that just never seem to come to an end.

You are not alone. It may feel like that (even I feel like that in spades right now) but there are people who care and who want to help. Let them.

And now, I will start another day, try to find my footing, try to stay off of the kitchen floor and away from Taylor Swift music and I am going to try to have a better day today.

Try to do the same for yourself.

~m

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