It’s been ages and I apologise for that. I have been having a long, well earned break from the formalities of A Path To Follow, since the exhibition. I have also been traveling my own path and thought I would share it, mostly because I know we live in a world of juxtapositions in regard to the roles of medication and natural therapies in recovery from mental illness. Both have played crucial roles in my recovery and this is about the role medications have played in getting me well again. I respect a person’s right to choose their own path. This is mine.
It hit me the other day when a good friend said “are you sure you’re ready?”. Just those five words threw me back to world of self-doubt; of what ifs. What if I am not ready? What if this fails and I go back to that world permanently? What will happen to my boys? My job? A Path To Follow? What if I return to the state of constant second guessing, of continual tears, of not, just not functioning? Perhaps because it was so easy to go back to those questions, those doubts, maybe I am not ready?
Then I stopped.
I mindfully retraced the path I have journeyed; the 13 years of being medicated, at first mildly and then, invasively for at least 6 years post giving birth to our third, equally precious child. I remember, like it was yesterday, watching my two oldest boys playing, while I watched for weeks, maybe months, my husband, dutifully taking over primary parent, of my family, helping when they could. Disconnected. I remember too, immediately after Nate’s birth, and nine months on minimal medication, crying profusely as Anthony took Ben and Kyle and left me all alone in that room with our third child, diving head first back into depression.
I remember the many, many different medications my doctor supported me with, until we found the correct potion. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, I learned to live again, somewhat detached at first until I found myself and began to thrive. I learned to shrug throw off comments of colleagues about their clients not functioning because they were on the same medications I was on. I lived through the awkward silences of people not knowing how to respond when discovering the amount of medication I was on. I learned to live with 20kgs weight gain. I learned to live with the support of my husband and boys and because I knew they could not function normally when I was not functioning.
I also remember now, that I have travelled this journey carefully, knowing full well where I could end if I did not; that I have prepared, that I have planned and now know my trigger points and will return to that medication if I need to; not because I would be failing, but because I wanted to live.
So, epilium, once my treasured friend and foe is gone and has been gone for at least 2 years. Now I say good-bye also to my other complex friend, Seroquel. I will remain on my anti-depressant until such time that it is right to farewell it also. Seroquel was my night-time friend who came and enabled a slow release of pure and long rem sleep cycles. It took the edge of the frantic pace and harshness from the real world around me. It saw me emphasise without tears, it steadied me. But that was when I needed it; now my friend is reversing its tricks and making my body more tired then alive and I want to be awake to feel the highs and lows life is going to throw at me. It is time to part ways.
I am mostly extremely excited about seeing how my body functions, mostly unaided by the life saving pharmaceuticals that have enabled me to live over the last decade. There are moments though, of sheer panic, when I wonder what sort of person I will be without the support of the medication that made everything even; no lows, some highs, but mostly even. My memory of who I was before, how I reacted, what I thought are sometimes a distant memory. I know I am loyal. I know am passionate and I know am sensitive and my panic is around not letting my world slip into a topsy-turvy merry-go-round of sensitivity and passion. I think I have grown enough through this to enable me to control that. Still, every time I feel frustrated, every time I feel teary, every time I feel excluded, those thoughts of self-doubt trigger those memories and I literally want to go to bed and wake up the next morning to breathe with relief it was “just a bad day”.
So, I am ready. I am ready to experience the doubts that I know will come when I no longer have the stabilizers that have steadied me. I am ready to implement all the non medicated ways I have been learning. Most of all, my body is ready. It has survived a lot over the last few years and I think it is telling me it is time to try to go it alone.
Where I go, I take my body with me…Wish me luck.