The beginning of the end..

So yesterday began the start of a total detoxing, cleansing, and purging of some medications from my body, particularly psychiatric medications..  For fourteen long years I’ve been on all manner and type of psychiatric drug under the sun..  Here’s the shortest version I can manage to tell of how I started taking them..

It was about 14 years ago when I had a couple seizures; they were not the Grand Mal kind everyone pictures when they hear the word seizure, they were a less violent, but still serious kind..  I was seen by my neurologist, who immediately started me on anti-seizure meds..  I went through a battery of different tests, all indicating they were non-epileptic seizures..  After having a few, I never had any more; the cause was never determined, though it’s not entirely out there for individuals to have a couple unexplained seizures and then never have an issue with them again..  But I was immediately told I couldn’t drive, which I understood, but for an extremely independent person who drove everywhere, even to Walmart (or Taco Bell) by herself in the middle of the night, this was quite a blow..  The neurologist didn’t stop there though, he went on, telling me not to shower with the door closed because I might fall, stop up the drain and drown to death..  Or that I could fall, bashing my head against something accidentally and bleeding out until I died..  He was trying to scare the living crap out of me – and it worked!  I was scared to death..  Now, remember, I didn’t have the  drop to the floor, flailing about kind of seizures, so for him to say these things doesn’t (now) make sense..  But we were naive and unknowledgeable about things like that back then..  I’d like to think we’re smarter and more discerning now..  I know that whenever I’m given a new diagnosis or medication, we go home and educate ourselves as much as possible..  Anyways, after the few seizures I had in the beginning I never had another one..  But the neurologist caused the start of my battle with severe anxiety and that’s when I began having panic attacks..  Also, the medications he put me on were so strong that they were causing me to experience and exhibit very strange side effects..  When he couldn’t get those to stop he would either increase the dose or add another medication or both..  He obviously didn’t distinguish the difference between the seizures I described to him in the beginning and the bizarre side effects I described to him afterwards, or the fact that I was now having panic attacks that he was mistaking for seizures..  Looking back we say to ourselves, “why did we go to him for so long?  Why did we allow him to treat me for so long?!”  But we trusted he knew what he was doing, and at that point we knew so little about what was going on with me that we couldn’t distinguish what was what either..  But he was the doctor, who should’ve known what he was doing!, and we trusted him..  He would periodically run tests again, change meds, increase dosages with almost every visit, and I started experiencing depression..  I had never before had an issue with anxiety nor depression, until he started throwing drugs down my throat, literally changing my brain chemistry..  And when, after years of being so drugged up I couldn’t function, and with symptoms continually changing and getting worse, we finally asked for a second opinion..  You know his reaction?  Anger..  He was mad that we would question his ability to treat me..  I don’t think it was at all unreasonable for us to ask for another doctor’s input on what was going on with me..  So he begrudgingly referred me to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where they scheduled me for a five day EEG testing period where I was hooked up to an EEG monitor in a hospital room for five straight days, barely able to even walk down the hall (I had to ask special permission from the nurses, who usually said no)..  The specialist down there said it was definitively not epilepsy of any kind..  Not that he had the authority to make this diagnosis, but he thought it was a disorder where I imagined my symptoms and he all but said I was making them up for the attention it was getting me..  I can’t recall the name of the disorder, not that it’s important..

So we went home confused, not necessarily that it wasn’t epilepsy, because at that point we didn’t think it was, but at the proposed diagnosis..  I saw at least one other neurologist, another specialist, and a couple other doctors or practitioners here and there..  I ended up seeing a psychologist a couple times who “confirmed” this disorder diagnosed by the guy in Augusta..  We weren’t convinced, so we started going to a psychiatric facility in town where, again, for years I was having meds upon meds shoved down my throat, altering my brain chemistry even further..  My symptoms kept getting worse and the diagnoses kept coming..  I was, once again being mistreated, both on a medical and personal level..  Then a true godsend came in the form of Lauren, who I see now (at a different office) for my psychiatric care..  We’ve been working with her for probably about a year and a half or two years now..  She’s been great..  We love her..

Now come to present day… with the guidance and watch of Lauren, I am cutting back significantly on all my  psychiatric meds..  I’m either cutting the dose completely in half or stopping them entirely..  That’s six different meds, a lesser number and dosage already than I’d been taking when I first started seeing her!  I’m hoping to get to the point where I’m off all the psych meds and can tell for certain what mental health illnesses I may actually have, if any..  Growing up my issues always revolved around my period..  Three out of four weeks every month were torture, whereas one week I’d be fine..  Was that PMDD?  Or was it bipolar disorder?  It’s funny, “funny”, before the seizures I had been talking with Mom about seeing a gynecologist about my periods to see what could be done about the issues I was experiencing related to them..  But before we even had the time to find a Dr and make an appt, the seizures happened and my life was flipped, turned upside down..  The whole “period thing” got put on the back burner for years..  I eventually had a hysterectomy, but my body was such a wreck already from all the heavy-duty meds that I wouldn’t have been able to tell if symptoms got better or not..

These are things Mom and I have discussed at length about for a long time, over a period of months, some over years, and are things we’ve finally come to a finite plan on..  I’ve been saying for a long while that these meds are literally killing my body; I could show you the list of about a dozen things I’ve been diagnosed with since I first started the seizure meds (which often overlap and can be also used as psych meds) and then transitioned into the psychiatric meds..  I’ve recently felt an urgency to do something about it, like quit as many meds as possible, starting with the psych meds..  I’ve been diagnosed with two separate things by two separate doctors over the last couple weeks that the doctors flat-out said it’s because of all the drugs I’m taking..  If I hadn’t had my suspicions before that these meds were causing physical ailments, I certainly have reason to now..

So, now begins the loooong process of getting my brain chemistry back to some semblance of normal..  My hope is that I’ll discover I don’t actually have any mental illnesses and that what I’ve been dealing with over the last fourteen years has been a result of the toxicity of the meds I’ve been on over the years and that I can get back to the “old me” and am able to reclaim my life..  I know for absolutely certain that getting these drugs out of my system is going to be hell for me, and probably those around me, but I’m determined to get through this as a strong individual..  I am very afraid of the depths I may reach, but I am resolute to persevere..  I want to get my life back and to feel like myself again, not wholely consumed by anxiety to the point where I feel uncomfortable in my own home, even in the refuge of my bedroom..  I want to find pleasure and happiness in the things I once enjoyed so much..  I miss them, with all my heart, and I hope to have that desire for them again..  I know I have the full support of my family, and that’s everything to me..  I’m sure I don’t deserve that kind of devotion, but I am definitely thankful for it..

The plan of attack is to counteract this from all angles – vitamins, herbal supplements, diet, anything that we can do to help in this fight to get my brain healthy again..  It’s gonna be an uphill battle, but we’re raring to go!  I’m working on learning meditation and mindfulness techniques that I can use to center and calm myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed..  In time, when energy isn’t in such short supply, I’m sure we’ll begin to incorporate exercise into the mix, too..  Right now I’m feeling strong of will, determined; I’m ready to do this!  That’s not to say I’ve not got my eyes wide open about what could happen, but I am ready for this challenge..

I know this may be asking a lot, but maybe along the way, over the next few months, you guys could send a random word of encouragement, saying whatever you feel compelled to say whenever you feel compelled to say it..  It would help tremendously..  It could just be a quote from someone or a scripture or a song lyric or a simple ‘i love you’, I don’t know..  Only if you feel compelled..

I know how much love and support I have from you all and it truly means so much to me..  Just because we’re family doesn’t mean we automatically care for one another, whether we should or not..  And you all choose to care about me..  I’m sincerely sorry that I don’t inquire about each of you very often (or at all), that’s not fair to you..  But please know I do love you and appreciate you very much, even if I don’t say it..

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