Group Therapy, Metaphor Monday

Medication Monday | Group Therapy

In every therapy group I have ever attended, there is inevitably a session that I refer to as “drug day”.

It’s typically not the first meeting, but the second or third. We’ve all met, spilled our guts about family history and personal traumas and which mental illnesses we have and what symptoms we’re suffering from. There’s always at least one cutter (me, if no one else), one person with GAD and a serious case of imposter syndrome (no worries, kids, you do just as well as anyone else in group), and one person who’s just too god damn sparkly and bubbly to have a serious case of the crazies… but they do. (This one is also me more often than not these days.)

But in every therapy group I’ve attended, there has consistently been a majority drug use. I’m struggling to remember a group where there wasn’t 100% medication in our history. There may or may not have been one, but my point is this—medication is stigmatized. In spite of the fact that we’re all in group therapy, and in spite of the fact that we’re all baring our traumas to one another from Day 1, no one seems to be comfortable talking about psychiatric medication.

I’ve written a bit about how people view medication as the thing that destroys you, rather than as the thing that heals you. There’s a widespread belief that psychiatric medication is a conspiracy by big pharma to pick our pockets and drug us into compliance. I won’t lie and say there aren’t days when I entertain this idea—particularly, on days when I have to spend money on refills at the pharmacy—but I know that this is a symptom of healthcare in the US being a for-profit industry, and not a symptom of some vast global conspiracy.

I know this because the medication works, even when the placebo effect does not…but that’s a post for another day.

In 2011, Time Magazine reported that 1 in 5 American adults was taking psychiatric medication, and that antidepressants were the most used kind of psychiatric medication. According to the 2010 census, the population of the US over the age of 18 was some 234.5 million—almost 50 million adults would have been taking medication at the time of the survey.

50 million adults…and we were scared to talk about it in a group of young adults who were clearly struggling with mental health problems. Inevitably someone would bring it up, and there would be a sigh of relief as everyone suddenly began spilling a laundry list of medication we’d tried—laughing about the absurdity of it, sympathizing over shared side effects, and occasionally sharing horror stories about drugs gone wrong. (One time I went off of lamotrigine cold turkey. 0/10, do not recommend. Seriously guys, DO NOT DO THIS.)

There was inevitably a shift after the drug day. Things would ease up, we’d be more comfortable with each other, share more personal stories. Everyone was calmer, more comfortable with themselves, with each other. I wonder what would happen if we could bring that honesty outside of group… ❀

Quiet Reflection

8.6.2017

I’ve been feeling sick the last few days. I knew it was a mix of chronic dehydration and skipping meals, but skipping meals leads to skipping doses. Turns out dizziness and nausea is a side effect of withdrawal from my medication.

I didn’t realize I was missing so many doses, in such close proximity (and I’ve similarly missed breaks a work), but apparently it’s been completely messing with my physical health. Go figure.

I’m still tired, still dizzy. Making a concerted effort to actually eat three meals a day, actually take my medication on time. Stay hydrated. Etc.

This is recovery. ❀

Warrior Wednesday

Warrior Wednesday | Sometimes I Have Bad Days

I’m not doing so hot. I wish things were better, but I’m at a point now where progress is at a crawl, and some weeks feel like I’m taking more steps backward than I’ve taken forward in recent months. I’m still trying. I’m still working.

I’m finding out that self care is a lot less fun than social media would have you believe. People like to pretend that it’s bath bombs and comfy sweaters. I prefer showers and it’s too damn hot for sweaters. Self care is cleaning your home this weekend. And next weekend. And the weekend after that. And the following weekend. Apparently, adulthood is one never-ending span of not being able to keep a fucking studio clean! No shit.

I’ve been having a hard time sleeping, and a hard time eating, and a hard time remembering to take my meds on time (because I’m not eating regular meals). I’m trying my damnedest to still spend time with people I like, because I know that if I start to backslide then I start to withdraw from my friends and family and that blows because then I’m depressed and semi-medicated and alone. I’m trying to make myself eat. I think I might set an alarm tonight to make sure I go to bed at a reasonable hour.

I flossed today. I brushed my teeth. I ate breakfast. It’s three fifteen and I haven’t had lunch. (pill break….) Venlafaxine tastes like shit, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

I’m doing my laundry. I hate laundry almost as much as I hate doing dishes, so any time I can accomplish that particular chore is a reason to celebrate. I just have to remember to hang the clothes up when they’re dry.

Some days I am well, and I don’t need to take inventory of what percentage of Basic Daily Hygiene I’ve accomplished. I’m not having a lot of those days recently. I’m having to take inventory of what’s slipping, and grab those pieces even tighter. Some days you just have to hold on desperately to whatever you have and hope you make it through the other side of this. ❀

Metaphor Monday

Metaphor Monday | Layers

People have layers.

Every day of our lives, we make choices. Mundane. Profound. Sometimes in between. Not a day goes by that we don’t make some kind of choice.

Some people think that taking psychiatric medication numbs you, takes away your ability to feel, destroys your creativity, and turns you into a functional zombie. It’s not true. The disease does that.

Depression is a parasite. It can’t live without you, but when it latches on it takes and takes and takes until there’s nothing left. The disease strips you of your ability to make your own choices, peels away layers until it can eat your core. It strips away all the good in your life until all that’s left is the part of you that’s too sick to function.

On the flip side, being medicated isn’t a magic pill. They are pills, and they might feel like magic at the start, but all they can do at the end of the day is give you the ability to make choices again. It’s still up to you to make the right ones.