For those struggling with severe mental illnesses, medication may be the only thing that gives a little respite from the storm. For some with illnesses like schizophrenia, relief is a little pill once a day.
I’ve been on medication for my illness since I was 27 years old. There were times throughout my thirties where I was on nine different medications! Now it’s down to two after I broke the addiction to the benzo prescribed for anxiety.
These past few months, I’ve been having terrible psychotic episodes along with anxiety and depression. Against my better judgment, I asked my doctor to adjust my medication to give me some relief.
She doubled the dosage of my antipsychotic, Risperidone, and added a new medication to replace Prozac. I’m now on 50 mg on Sertraline, and it’s supposed to help with the anxiety and depression.
The first few days were okay. The only difference I noticed was sleepiness. I napped frequently.
But now my brain is like molasses. Before I started the new dosage of pills, I had a vivid alternate reality in my head. Ideas were always being formed, and arguments and debates were going on. Even if it was hard to process everything going on in my mind, at least I had a place to draw creativity from.
Now I have nothing. It feels like I am walking around with a cinder block on my shoulders.
I haven’t had this much trouble writing something for years, and I have to admit, it’s quite depressing.
I’ve been fighting for an hour with the last 282 words, and it’s not getting any easier.
Before, I could rely on my brain to keep my fingers moving. I never planned, I just started typing, and my mind would form the story without effort. I loved the process of writing.
But I’m battling today. It takes so much effort to pull words out of the clouds. Before there was flow and now there’s none.
I felt like I was actually getting somewhere the past few months. My writing voice was strong, and I was connecting with people on so many levels. Now my writing feels forced and stunted. There is no joy in the process of creation.
Is it too much to ask that this can be temporary? Will my voice come back once my body can come to terms with the new medication?
From talking to Flora, I’ve realized that the bedlam in my brain was what made me who I am. Maybe the Jason that is creative, honest, edgy, compassionate, and smart is a product of the voices, noise, and sensitivity. Maybe the things I think are bad are what make me the best version of myself.
I have to ask myself: is it worth it? How important is creativity, art, feelings, and emotions? How important is it that I write at the expense of my sanity?
The alternative is to take pills and turn into a robot zombie. I can lay in my bed and be an emotionless shell of the person I once was. Do I give up the noise and the voices and the anxiety, and put in its place depression and suicidal ideation?
There is no balance, no happy medium. If I take the pills, it removes every trace of the person I am. It turns me into something I’m not, but at least I won’t have to deal with the voices, anxiety, and pandemonium in my brain.
If I don’t take the pills, I will be constantly harassed by what’s going on in my head. I will be anxious, sensitive, and volatile. I can never hope to lead a normal life because the things that go on in my mind keep me from blending into society.
What kind of choice is that to make? Dull my senses, and be someone I’m not? Maybe live an extra five years? Or swim through madness and create with what’s left of my life?
I guess it’s more poetic for me to sacrifice everything for my art and go out in an exploding flash of light and fire, but dammit, I have a family to think about. I have people who rely on me every day.
As much as I want to be the flaming pinball, I know I need to think about doing the things that will keep me here for a little while longer. I need to figure out a new way to write that will allow me to earn while I keep my sanity.
I hope after a time I can find balance.