Post-Medication Examination

I have had an interesting few days - weeks actually. Ever since I came to the realisation that I had probably arrived at the point in my recovery when I needed to change my medication, I have been on a nerve-racking little journey and I am watching myself like a hawk ....

I went to see my psychiatrist at the beginning of the week and the two of us had a good old chat about where I had got to. To my immense relief, he was totally supportive and encouraged me to continue gradually getting off my evening medication. And so this is exactly what I am doing.

I have reached the stage where I now cut my evening tablets in four (not an easy task!) and I still take my morning medication in the same dosage as previously.

As a result:

  • I have much more PHYSICAL energy than I have had for the past two-and-a-half years
  • I have more MENTAL clarity and my concentration has improved
  • I no longer eat late at night and my appetite has decreased by half (great news for my weight)
  • I no longer have a violent headache when I wake up in the morning
  • My 'vivid' dreams have abandoned their nightmarish quality and become so mild as to be pleasant.

Brilliant! Or is it....

I have noticed I have more difficulty sleeping regularly: some nights I am awake until 4.00am and some other nights I am in bed by 10.00am. I have to watch that because regular sleep is VERY important for me to maintain my physiological/chemical balance. (It has always been which is why I chose to study Linguistics at University rather than go to Medical School which is really what I wanted to do. Even then I knew the irregular and limited sleep that goes with medical studies would be dangerous for me.) We shall see how that progresses...

I have also noticed that, after two-and-a-half years of no unpleasant side effects whatsoever, my morning medication is having again the same effect it did have on me when it was one of the long list of sixteen different medications I tried at the beginning of my illness four/five years ago. At the time, not only did it not help at all and I continued to deteriorate but it actually made things worse. After a couple of days on it, I was climbing up the walls. I am glad to report that I have not engaged in wall climbing this time but I do feel 'nervy' - that uncomfortable feeling when I expect my hands to shake but all the trembling happens internally. It's as if all my organs were continually shuddering. It seems to get worse every time I cut down on the evening meds and it seems to settle down after a few days but I am watching this one too. This morning medication surprised me by working brilliantly in conjunction with my evening one but I have no idea how it is going to work for me now that it is operating solo....

So you could say I am in transit, between a heavily medicated state and a lightly medicated one. I have already admitted that this transition is a little scary for me because I am not sure I can trust my brain not to slide down into a crash again or speed up towards hypo mania once more.

Having said that, at last, I have become very good at reading my body's messages. For example, I now know that the first sign towards mania is a subtle change in my breathing. As soon as it becomes intermittent and a little shallow, I step in with deep breathing and relaxation. That seems to nip the 'climb' in the bud. I also watch my behaviour. The minute I start straightening bits and pieces around the house (I don't mean 'normal' tidying-up but straightening objects so that they are perfectly aligned to the edge of whatever piece of furniture they are on or to each other), I step away and laugh. We shall see if my self-monitoring efforts continue to pay dividends in the long run.

I guess the trick is for me to watch myself enough so that I can avoid going back to where I have been without becoming a self-obsessed bore!

I am watching this space....

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