There is a big claim in this post title…the drugs do work. I’ll temper that statement by saying I mean, in my case, with my psych meds, the drugs DO work….and I know they work because I’ve recently experimented with life without them.
Pregablin is a drug used with people with generalised anxiety disorder and PTSD; sometimes also for people with Bipolar disorder to calm agitation and sedate and relax you. It works. It is a very effective drug at calming you. It is also extremely expensive…one of the most expensive anti-anxiety drugs out there, so it is rarely prescribed. Coming off it is not impossible, but it is difficult. The reason being, it works so bloody well that if you taper it down then stop the drug your brain will protest like mad because it wants to stay on the drug pretty much forever. Things that make you feel good are addictive. Things that kill pain are addictive. We keep soaking it up like our life depends on it, because in cases of actual mental illness (not self-diagnosed, properly diagnosed illness) IT ACTUALLY DOES.
Since coming off Pregablin I have experienced urges to self-harm that have got stronger and stronger and harder to ignore. I haven’t self-harmed. I need to point that out. They are urges, but I’m a controlled person who is used to fighting these urges, just like a previously alcoholic and now sober person may always have background urges to drink.
What matters is not the urge, but whether we act on it. Yesterday I had a VERY bad day- the worst day I’ve had in months and months. Self-harm urges were strong and suicidal ideation was very much present. I felt episodes of danger and panic, feeling pulled towards the train track. But my legs did not carry me there to the level crossing. I made sure I didn’t move and I stayed in bed, because when I feel dangerous I cocoon myself in bed. How can you hurt yourself when you are wrapped in Egyptian cotton feather filled duvets, lying on hotel quality sheets, cuddling your favourite fleecy blanket into your chest creating a favourite teddy bear comforting effect? It is what I do when I feel unsafe. I soothe myself with nice warm drinks and nice food and snuggle under the covers and create a private nest of safety.
I also emailed desperate emails to Dr Caurious, my psychiatrist, and my clever psychologist lady who understands my psychological makeup like no other person on earth. I wrote a Facebook post saying I am waiting for the mental health nurse to call. Please distract me with comments. People reacted wonderfully to this and were only too happy to help. It meant a lot of me. I am blessed with a wonderful bunch of friends from all over the globe. They are handpicked and fabulous. I have high standards and only allow people close to me who I trust and who make me feel accepted and cared for. I don’t think that is selfish. I think it is a sensible way of responding to mental health problems. My support network has to be optimal for me to survive and thrive. I give back what I get in terms of friendship love and support. It is never one-sided. I give out love, I get back love. I am fortunate, and it hasn’t always been this way so I appreciate it more than I can describe.
So where I’m at with the whole suicidal ideation and self-harm urge thing is because I tried without meds. I am going back on them. I am waiting for my psychiatrist to provide a new prescription. I had a fab talk with a lush mum at school this morning who knows how I was feeling from my Facebook posting yesterday and stopped to talk to me. She reassured me that I haven’t failed. I experimented with coping without Pregablin and accept it isn’t worth the personal cost and detriment to my daily functioning. At least I tried. I will resume medication with a greater appreciation now for how much it helps and how much harder life is when I try and do without.
This is what I wrote on my Facebook today. I thought I’d share it here on summerSHINES as it may help people who feel bad for taking psychiatric meds, or anyone who judges people who do.
Thanks so much to everyone who offered support yesterday. I’m not poorly, or at least I wasn’t, but due to the meds reduction my brain is poorly. When my brain is poorly, I become poorly. My failed attempt to come off anxiety meds and the noticeable/extreme deterioration it’s caused in my emotional state I hope is proof against the doubting voices who say mental illness is a choice and it’s just that you’re not trying hard enough to be positive or strong or “happy”.
Nothing whatsoever has changed in my attitude or personality in the last few weeks. I’m still me. But my brain chemistry is disrupted.
To manipulate the brain via psychiatric drugs is not a decision anyone takes lightly- the same with trying to come off them…..Change your brain and you change the behaviours, thoughts and feelings of a person.
I have experienced lots of suicidal ideation and urges to self harm increasingly since stopping the drug. Rationally I don’t want to do those things. Of course I don’t! I love my family to pieces! But my brain cannot survive without these meds, just like a diabetic can’t survive without insulin.
I’ve have to accept despite all the positive thinking in the world and all the coping strategies I use daily to deal with my emotional SHIT, my brain needs the tablets, and the cost is far too great if I decide to be pig-headed and try and continue without them, just so I can feel like the ‘normal’ people who get by without them.
I wish I didn’t have to take any tablets. The side effects are depressing and everyday when I take them I’m reminded of my psychological fuckeupery. But my depression is far worse without them. Consistent thoughts of wishing you didn’t exist are not worth tolerating, not to mention dangerous, when you can easily swallow the magic pill that makes you able to function. I’ve had to learn a valuable lesson here. Despite what The Verve said, “The drugs DO work. They DON’T make me worse. I know when I take the tablets I’ll see my recovery again.”
Don’t feel bad for taking drugs. The mancunian guitar-based band ‘The Verve’ aren’t right about every bloody thing!!
I’ve learned my lesson here. In my case, the drugs do work, so they are bitter sweet symphonic pills worth swallowing :)
A HUGE big thank you to everyone who helped me yesterday. You know who you are XXXXX
PS. I JUST NOTICED I HAVE 99 LIKES ON FACEBOOK FOR SUMMERSHINES. IF ANYONE COULD FIND ME ON FACEBOOK AND CLICK ‘LIKE’ AND TAKE ME UP TO 100 IT WOULD BE LUSH :) THERE IS A LINK ON MY PAGE x
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MY DAY YOU CAN ALSO DONATE ON JUSTGIVING TO MY FAVE CHARITY! ‘TYNESIDE AND NORTHUMBERLAND MIND’ (A NORTH-EAST BASED MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY IN THE UK). I AM COLLECTING DONATIONS FOR THEM TO ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE TO FUND SAFE SPACE. A DROP-IN SUPPORT GROUP IN MY AREA xxx THERE ARE LINKS TO MY JUSTGIVING PAGES ON ALL THE SECTIONS ON THE TOP OF THIS BLOG (DOODLES, TALKING SELFIES, VIDEOS, ABOUT ME ETC) THANKS xxx