Wednesday, August 06, 2014
The next couple of days will be full of doctor's visits, so I won't have the time or energy to post much. As I often do, I want to show an accurate picture of the life of a person with mental illness. This is why I have no problem sharing the particulars of what I go through with you.
Each of us, well or sick, has a tendency to look only through our own eyes and our own perception. As I wake up for another day, my dreaming concluded, I see my blurry bedroom through my eyes and my own thoughts. In an effort to show the best, most accurate picture of my life to the outside world, I periodically turn the focus towards myself.
Last week, a new medication caused severe side effects. Often my energy level is lethargic, but in a matter of a few days, I had more energy than I've had in years. That was my first red flag. Most men I know have more than a passing interest in sex, but mine became an outright obsession. In other times in my life, I would have used this new capacity for the benefit of a partner, since all of that energy has to go somewhere. It was out of proportion to the way it should have been, another red flag.
I have to be careful in introducing stimulants to the already hefty number of medications (13) I take daily. Two of them can cause mania unless I am careful to closely monitor my health. For every medication one adds to the cocktail, the possibility of interaction increases. In this case, my psychiatrist cautiously treated fatigue by adding a chemical stimulant, only as an experiment. In this case, I'll chalk it up to a failed medication trial and be thankful I knew enough to keep it from getting completely out of hand.
The first two or three days were fine, but then I began to experience disturbing side effects. These may seem fanciful. I imagined that a psychic force was seeking to separate me from my friends. This is totally irrational, of course, but at the time it was very real indeed. I believed that I had secret insights and could rely on them for my own benefit. Fortunately, I knew I was experiencing delusional thoughts and quickly eliminated the stimulant from my daily regimen of medication. I have to credit time and experience for keeping me safe.
Years ago, I thought manic episodes were fun. One of my girlfriends, who was significantly older than me, appreciated my prowess in bed. She was a gossip and eager to brag. Shortly after we became a couple, she began to tell to her friends about me and our sex life. Following that, being in their company was embarrassing, because her friends were giggly and silly. Like many men, I'd always wanted to be a good lover, but I never knew how to manage the attention I now received.
Mania can make one feel superhuman. One cannot observe oneself objectively, meaning personal perception is not enough. I need an outside view. I know now that Mania is better off where it is. I do not relish those periods anymore. They are destructive to the brain, far more destructive than depression. I worry sometimes if a very intense manic episode, one that transpired six years ago, has created lasting brain damage. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I have pushed for a brain scan to rule out my deepest fears.
The most prominent reason I'm taking time out for the next couple of days is that two weeks ago something severely triggered me. I've never been granted an accurate picture of what happened to me in childhood, but I get bits and pieces every now and again. Until recently, I wanted to remember all of it.
Now I've changed my tune. Whatever happened must have been traumatic and painful. I was sure that knowing every detail would give me the ability to completely heal, but the triggering was otherworldly and uncomfortable. Now I am trying to avoid feeling that way ever again, which is an about-face from my previous position.
I've wrestled with thoughts that I cannot prove or deny. At times, I wonder if God is mania. For a moment, I escaped my mortal self and convened with a higher power. I could be totally wrong, and I acknowledge it. I'm sure a few prophets here and there have ascribed mania to a burning bush or some otherworldly sign. Needless to say, I do not doubt God now. I appreciate the gift, since I grew up in isolation, feeling separated from my peers. God is a friend who will never desert me, even as he confounds me.