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Post-antipsychotic life - Sara

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May 17th, 2016

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04:24 pm - Post-antipsychotic life
This journal is so sad. Reading through it over the past few years, I have come across as this hopeless, lost creature who has no direction or dreams in life. That's really not true of my day-to-day existence. I have worked hard, and fought, to have what life I've had. It's just been very hard under the burden of medication that's made me feel not like myself, a system that's traumatized me more than it's helped, and other chronic health problems I haven't really talked about much on here in the past few years.

I'd like to change that. Last Thursday, after many months, I finally finished a taper off of Seroquel, the drug that has been making me feel awful since 2006. Let's just say I'm on something else, not an antipsychotic, at a pretty low dose, which has proven to not make a zombie out of me. The doctor has his magical belief in the new drug, which is dubbed a "mood stabilizer", and doesn't seem to believe in ME as much, but at least it keeps him off my back, and if I can keep myself in a good space long enough, the system will not be able to force me to become a zombie again.

It's weird to be in this position. In the past few years, I've gradually come to understand my life story more, my triggers, my trauma history, my coping mechanisms, and see things in a deeper way. I've become stronger in my daily life. I've done things despite being apathetic and lethargic from meds, despite having some physical problems from time to time (or most of the time), despite gaining so much weight that it used to really, really upset me.

And now I just feel... normal again. No, not unburdened, but normal. Not messed with chemically.

Life is not easy for anyone. But in these past few years, it's been very hard to come to terms with my actual human struggles, because of the emotional/cognitive muting. I even spent 6 weeks recently working as a university newspaper reporter, and during that time it was hard to feel the stories very much. The work which should have been manageable and interesting was made especially difficult by being on Seroquel. Ironically, I even won an award for my work, but getting that work done was not easy. This week, I'm working on another story, and I can already feel the thoughts and questions, much more clearly focused than before.

I've been taking a journal-writing class these past six weeks, and today I wrote what might have been the first journal when I actually talked about what happened to me and how I felt about it, rather than just vaguely saying "I feel upset", "I feel sad", "I feel some hope", "I feel I really want something". Those vague feelings were something, and were helpful, but this was even better. What's funny is that even at a very lose dose of Seroquel (12.5 to 25 mg - the last 3 weeks of my taper), I was still feeling fuzzy.

I've realized that humiliation is a pretty profound trigger for me, and I think my last post was made in the spirit of humiliation... and defeat. I'm not sure anyone can understand that specific type of defeat if one is never subjected to antipsychotics. The profound sense of being cut off, being emotionally and intellectually castrated, is utterly... impenetrable. Couple that with what happens in a hospital - the seclusion, the force, the violation of bodily and mental integrity, the utter fear of the experience - one ends up in a position that feels inescapable. For many years, I've struggled with panic and rage attacks at night in particular, when my room brings back memories of the hospital, or when I fear not sleeping and ending up back there. I've learned to get those feelings out of my system in the past few years, with imagery, with letting my body do the things it needs to do to finish the fight/flight response, e.g. automatic kicking. It helps. And I continue to struggle, but that's not what defines me.

I'm not defined by my emotional struggles. Even calling them mental illness is problematic. It's highly stigmatizing. It makes me feel hopeless and like something is terribly wrong with me. Everyone has struggles, some worse than others, that's all. And there are reasons for our struggles. This I believe.

I lost my voice for years. We'll see if it starts coming back. And we'll see how well I do at keeping myself grounded. It's my challenge, it's my journey, and it's one I've learned a lot about these past few years. As for this blog, I don't know what to think of it anymore. Maybe useful documentation of what can happen to a person in the system.

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[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2016 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see how far you've progressed, despite the ongoing struggles.

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