I have to pay the rent today. I know a lot of people don’t look forward to paying the rent because it means that they have to look at their checkbooks and balance them once more, or look online at their bank account, never a pleasant task of course, but for me, it’s different. The dread, for me, is walking into the office and being noticed by those office ladies. I know that in a month I’ve gained a significant amount of weight. Thankfully, it’s a cool day, so I can wear my bulky coat. I love the flap that covers my face. I keep thinking that I will leave there and they will say to each other, “She can’t control herself now,” or something else horrible. Maybe if I think about the budget instead, and try to forget about what others think, it’ll help.
I was motor-mouth for a couple of weeks and now suddenly I’m slow like molasses is in me. It’s a relief, to tell you the truth. I don’t feel the constant pressure I felt. I guess you could say I was agitated. I was agitated for a long time, looking back. I feel a lot calmer.
I’ll explain: When I got on Imipramine…actually, I was on Desipramine first, and then quickly switched to Imipramine, the bingeing stopped. This was around the beginning of November of last year. Of course, I was so happy about this that I figured I’d put up with the side effects. I felt as if my life was saved by this drug. I knew that all the literature said that if I felt the side effect “agitation,” I should report this to my doctor immediately. I remember walking home one day and telling myself that I definitely felt this. It was uncomfortable. It was annoying. But no way would I tell anyone that I was experiencing this, because maybe Dr. P would take me off my precious Imipramine that kept me from bingeing. So I learned to live with it, and then gradually forgot that this was my life.
The reason why they want you to report agitation is because this is the side effect that causes people to go over the edge and commit suicide, by the way. This is the “Black Box” thingy on antidepressants such as Prozac. These antidepressants have a stimulating effect and also a calming effect and it varies from person to person. Whatever it was about the Imipramine that stimulated me caused the agitation. It was a physical discomfort, kind of an antsiness, and also a mental discomfort, never satisfied, never at rest, always on edge.
It is also the stimulating effect of antidepressants such as Prozac, and notably Effexor, that causes me to binge, ironically. So I’ve gone for years without bingeing, and then they’ve slapped an antidepressant into the mix, and whamo, I’m bingeing and miserable. But these drugs are so complicated, much more complicated and unpredictable and dangerous than the prescribers and researchers truly fathom. Each of these antidepressants is different.
I’ve looked through my journal from last fall and studied it. The Imipramine definitely stopped the bingeing. The whole tone of my journal changed dramatically. A lot changed. Most of the stuff I’m not even going to mention at the moment.
I’ve been off of Imipramine, that is, zero milligrams, for three weeks now. I’d say that the drug’s side effects seem to be leaving me. I used to have a very bad dry mouth. No matter how often I brushed my teeth, I had a horrible taste and I knew my breath was bad. Speaking was also difficult because my lips would get glued to my teeth and I’d have to wiggle my mouth to unglue them, right in the middle of a sentence, and do all kinds of other mouth tricks to enable me to speak with a dry mouth. You can imagine what it was like to read aloud in front of an audience. It’s great having saliva back.
My breasts seem slightly less swollen. It was a gradual shift. I was very impatient to get rid of this breast milk. There is a difference in overall skin coloring and also in the shape and coloring of the aureoles. If they’d remained proportionately the same as they were, given all the weight I’ve gained, I’d have had to buy new bras by now. People who have been following my blog for a while can imagine the horror and misery I would have felt to have had to buy new bras. It is unthinkable. Just devastating. So I guess it’s a relief to me that I no longer look like I have implants. I know all this sounds very self-deprecating, but if you consider that I was treated like a pair of boobs and otherwise worthless when I was in my 20’s, and stared at for much of my life, and had this worthlessness drilled into my head by the man who raped me, you can see where I’m coming from.
It was sometime between Sunday and Monday that the agitation left me. I’ve been feeling very resigned and worn out. I have recordings of myself speaking that I’d made prior to that point, while I was feeling agitated. I did these recordings simply so that I wouldn’t “lose” writing ideas. I have over 30 of these recordings, but I notice that often in the longer recordings my speech accelerates into this feverish, often angry and riveted tone. I was annoyed that I was unable to control this. It kept on happening.
I was speaking with someone, I recall, last Thursday night, while she was driving me home, and I found myself going on and on about things I was excited about, my ideas about how I was going to change the world and what was wrong with the world in the first place. But I couldn’t stop myself from speaking. I felt like I was imposing on her. Of course, most people would have been driven nuts by my motor-mouth. She shut off the engine when we arrived at my building and let me go on for a while. I felt rather grateful for this, actually. I kept apologizing, saying that I so rarely had human contact or human conversation whatsoever, and sometimes it just burst out of me, everything that I thought, all my ideas, volumes and volumes of wonderful, crazy, revolutionary ideas.
This, of course, is how you lose friends. But there are a lot of people out there, exceptional people, who do not judge. They don’t close themselves off to folks who are a little different from themselves. I am trying to teach myself not to judge. It’s a belief I have. We as a society, in our language and way of life and hierarchies and social structure, are programmed to judge others and fear them when we don’t understand them. I am trying to undo this programming.
I didn’t feel judged that night. I felt like my friend was treating me with patience and understanding. I told myself I’d make it up to her somehow. I’d be the giving and loving person that I wanted to be.
I feel okay now. I went to see my minister today, and we spoke at length. I wasn’t motor-mouth. Just resigned to everything. Sad about my life.
These drugs are scary, scary, scary. I’ve experience hypomania before, and even peeked into actual mania maybe once a long time ago, but this wasn’t anything like that. It was agitation. A long time ago, while hospitalized, stuff would happen and I’d get violent, maybe shove a chair or something. In all cases, it was in response to something the staff did to provoke me, but at any rate, I’d say that what I felt when I did these things was agitation. A feeling in my body like I couldn’t stop.
And I suppose it all started on that day I was walking home and told myself I’d put up with the annoyance, this side effect from Imipramine, just live with it. I’ve been withdrawing from Imipramine for weeks and the agitation has gotten much, much worse. I read in many, many sources that stuff like this happens when people withdraw from a medication. This can lead to all sorts of myths, according to the literature, about these medications.
First of all, some are addictive and some aren’t. It is the antianxiety meds that are addictive, just like alcohol. Antidepressants area not addicting. But your body gets used to having the antidepressants in your system. I should provide the link to the .pdf document I found that explains all this better than I can. You can take an antianxiety pill, such as Klonopin, and maybe feel less anxious once it kicks in. You don’t just take one antidepressant pill and suddenly feel not depressed anymore. You take these pills and they build up in your system over a number of days, weeks even, before it starts to help, if it is in fact going to work at all. By then there has been this huge change to your chemistry. You don’t crave the antidepressant the way a person craves the antianxiety pill or alcohol or a cigarette. But because of the chemical alteration, there are going to be repercussions while trying to get off the antidepressant, especially if you try to get off too fast. You know something? Some people can never, never, never get off these drugs, even when they try, because getting off is such torture that it seems better to stay on. Effexor, for instance, is notoriously tough to get off. Google it and you’ll see message boards where folks have talked about the tortures they’ve been through.
So I’m off Imipramine. I went through the bad headaches a few weeks ago from getting off the drug too fast. I went through the agitation the entire time I was on it that I did my best to ignore. I was motor-mouth for a few weeks that was probably another withdrawal thingy. And you folks who have been reading my blog this whole time must have noticed I was one helluva bitch. Can’t promise I’ll stop being a bitch in my writing, but the person behind it is less fucked up on drugs.
You know what they do when they see a person who is agitated? That’s right. They give this person antipsychotics. So Dr. P saw me motor-mouth and hinted that I needed antipsychotic medication. This is how people end up on five, six, even seven psych meds. A lot of stuff I’ve been reading lately talks about people who start taking pills like Prozac, which induces a mania-like state. They are then diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and given mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medication to control their mania. Of course, they have to have a med to counteract the side-effects of the antipsychotics. And if any of these pills causes insomnia, they are given a sleeping pill. Blood pressure pills for high blood pressure, stomach pills for stomach acid. Then they’ve gained weight from all these meds, have to buy new clothes, maybe the doc hints that they should exercise and control themselves, and it all seems so useless and futile.
I’ve been that route. Shock treatments on top of it. Lots and lots and lots of unnecessary shock treatments. They work, then the effect goes away very, very quickly. Soon after, more shock. I got so confused, just out of my head from repeated shock, which was mistaken for further depression, and I was back on the table for more shock. I remember that I was lying on the table and they were about to stick the anesthesia into me, and suddenly they asked permission to do “bilateral” ECT, that is, to shock me on both sides of the head. No papers were signed, and there was no discussion of the pros and cons, potential for permanent damage, or why they were doing this. I lay there while they held the anesthesia needle and waited. As per usual, I had had no food or drink that morning so that the anesthesia wouldn’t sicken me.
I said, “Yeah, go ahead.”
The anesthesiologist said, as always, “Pick a nice dream,” and I was out.
I couldn’t keep track of much after that for a long, long time. I guess I should be thankful that today is May 1, 2012 and those days are over and I know to pay the rent and give Puzzle her monthly medication. Would you believe that was 1996? So sixteen years have passed since I had bilateral ECT at McLean Hospital, over and over and over.
I joined MindFreedom International yesterday. The URL is mindfreedom.org. Go take a look. Most of the emphasis is on forced drugging, use of restraints, and ECT when they talk about the abuses in the mental health system. I was looking for stories about abuse by therapists but it’s tough to prove that this happens. I also looked for stories about eating disorders treatment and the need for change and alternatives to the “team” approach and imprisonment and controlling, manipulating, coercion, blackmail, lying, withholding information, lack of informed consent, human rights abuse, etc. So I plan to start a mailing list and get some dialogue going, and contact the Massachusetts chapter of mindfreedom about what I went through at Mass General last summer with the sitters agency, and then at Blake Eleven (the psych unit). I’m not an isolated case. This was happening with all the patients there, the monitored phone calls, everything. Writing to the state chapter was suggested to me by the national people. Here is my chance.
I am going to work on the problems that have resulted from my tumultuous relationship with my last therapist. It seems like as soon as I started seeing her, everything went wrong. She was manipulative. She was very controlling. She had a temper, too. There’s a fine line between being a caring therapist and going over the top. She lost control sometimes. She’d accuse me of stuff, and threaten to have me put away. She used scare tactics. I was always scared to show up and scared not to. I was convinced that she was a great therapist because of her caring and dedication. But people who can’t control themselves should not be doing therapy. I’ve had bad therapists in the past. But she is the one I’m the most torn over. Or maybe that it’s just all so fresh in my mind. It’s only after I’ve left that I can look back and see it all for what it really was.