It’s time to untangle my thoughts and feelings, I think, after a bewildering few days. This morning was the head
fuck shake, that is psychological therapy.
The headline news of the sesh today revolved around a very important and clinically significant fact. I have found out I wasn’t only of half the dose of anxiety meds that I thought I was taking for three weeks, but I’ve actually been on this incredibly low dose since MAY! [which, as now is October, is a jolly long time to be on what you know to be a very low dose of your meds].
It is disconcerting when your therapist lists things you have said and email exchanges that apparently have happened with your ex-psychiatrist that you seriously have no memory of ever happening.
The reason for this total amnesia, confusion and lack of ability to remain mentally present and attend to important details looks like it is dissociation.
Traumatised brains (like mine) are very liable to dissociative spells.
The lights are on, but mentally and cognitively speaking, no one is home.
Dissociation in simple terms is disconnection. Perceptions and sensations and all that incoming data are not processed in the usual ways, and you are left not feeling your usual self. Mild dissociation feels like daydreaming, and we all do it, but the type of dissociation I am talking about is more complex and pervasive and all encompassing/life destructive.
I mentally check out, and my attention funnels down into tiny separated elements. I cannot grasp the whole picture of something and the meaning of words. I hear words as separate words, but not hearing them as full sentences which are conveying meaning. It is perfectly possible for me (who is fairly academically bright) to listen to simple sentence and be absolutely unable to grasp their whole meaning until I have heard the sentence a few times.
Sometimes my brain gets overwhelmed and I can only listen to bits of words, or individual words. Sometimes people’s voices are far away, or other times they are booming and LOUD and make me want to crawl into dark nooks and crannies to hide from that sensory onslaught.
Sometimes when I read things I have to ask my husband to be the second reader, to grasp the whole message, but this has only happened at times when I am dissociated, which lately is extremely regular, and pretty much a key feature of my existence.
So, in this mentally/attentionally vacant and compromised state, I obviously had some email dialogue with my psychiatrist, which quickly tumbled out of my mind, never to be retrieved again, until now, when I am told I am apparently agreed this 50mg dose of anti-seizure drug, Pregabalin (Lyrica) all along!
This really disconcerts me. My actual words when I found this out via my psychologist were “are you FUCKING kidding me??!” [I was not in an eloquent mood today]. I was angry, and underlying my anger was anger at myself. It was not anger with them. It was anger that was self-directed, for my absolute THICKNESS at not recalling that this conversation/decision had apparently been made, all the way back in May, which feel like a lifetime ago.
No-one else but me would label myself as “thick”, and if someone else said it, I’d be hurt, but I can call myself thick, and I think that is more than okay because there is no other word in the English Language that I can think of (during times of emotion and surprise like that) that convey the full disgust and complete head-shaking regret that I feel, all associated with how my damn brain functions so much of the time.
Dissociation is a way to escape the inescapable. It is a brain shut down mechanism that enables people, and abused children especially, to survive the most terrifying and unimaginable traumatic horrors that can happen. Without dissociation, the terror in my childhood veins would have caused some kind of heart attack I’d imagine. That was how explosive my trauma felt to me, so naturally my brain numbed itself out, otherwise how on earth could I have survived in those awful circumstances, feeling pain as I did, and white knuckle fear.
Dissociation helped me, but now it hinders, because at the age of 36, my brain still does it! and it won’t stop doing it!
My brain will just not obey my orders, so the best way I could describe it is I sometimes have experiences that feel like early onset dementia, or MS or Parkinsons.
I feel old. So old.
I feel like a confused old lady instead of a savvy and smart 30-something mum of two.
I am ADAMANT that I had no knowledge of the psychiatrist instructing my GP to put me on 50mg Pregabalin, and they are adamant that (although I may not remember it), it did happen, so it is my memory that is at fault (due to dissociation), rather than them and how they communicated with me about medication options.
So I’m in a sitch where I’ve been on a shittily low dose of a drug since May, have had a very noticeable mental health relapse, stopped running, pulled back on volunteering, became suicidal, started self-harming again, and fell out with a few people, with the added mind pressure that I realise it is probably not someone else’s fault, but the fault truly lies within my own brain and how is dissociates.
If only I could exterminate exterminate the way my brain dissociates dissociates.
(I hope you are familiar with old episodes from the 1980’s of Dr Who, otherwise that reference will be totally lost on you)
That. my friends, is SHIT.
The shittiest pill I’ve attempted to swallow in a long time.
So basically, I have been on 50mg twice daily for months, thinking I was on double. Previously (at my ill-est and worsest, I took 200mg of lyrica three times a day, so being on only 100mg a day is very low for me, and was bound to destabilise me……… and it has.
So I start doing a bit of internet research earlier today about Pregabalin, only to find it is incredibly addictive, people easily become dependent on it, and it is a prescription drug that is commonly used for recreational use, (as the effect of it mimics the euphoria associated with opiates like heroin.)
I read that it is a drug that is incredibly difficult to come off, as the withdrawal effects are powerful, and bearing in mind I used to take 200mg of it, three times a day, (which is the maximum legal amount), 50mg twice a day was a significant drop.
“NO WONDER”, is the phrase that kept coming up.
No wonder you got so poorly.
No wonder you were edgy and depressed and irritable and self-harming and becoming increasingly hopeless and helpless and wanting your life to end.
You had drastically reduced a dose down of something that is (allegedly) as addictive as heroin. I am not going to get into debates with blog readers by the way about the specifics of this, or the various evidence for and against Pregabalin or other drugs. I will say that clearly in advance. All I know is I felt ill, because I was not getting my ‘fix’ of this drug.
I know now, with the benefit of hindsight and through observing my emotional state at different times, that when I am on Pregabalin my personality changes in a good way. I become mellow, and calm, and smiley, and protected by that euphoric feeling. I am friendlier, and more agreeable. The mood swings are not as erratic and I am more content to just ‘be’, and not be such a hypomanic hippo all the time with racing thoughts and agitation and insomnia etc.
My dissociation symptoms have worsened on this low dose of Pregabalin, without a doubt, because dissociation is a response to anxiety- so if we feel less threatened on a physiological level, it makes sense that we’d be less reactive to environmental stressors so there would be less need to mentally check out and space out and cognitively disconnect at times of high anxiety.
I changed from someone fairly oblivious and in my bubble (albeit a sedated one) of high dose Pregablin, to someone who was aware of every little detail and overwhelmed by it all; so at times when my senses became bombarded with incoming stimuli, I dissociated more and more, to the extent I had NO IDEA what pills I was taking.
I was so mentally foggy that for months I haven’t even had the cognitive ability to look at a packet and read the little numbers of it and take that information in.
I just see pills and I swallow them (only prescription ones, OBVS!).
That level of dissociative mindlessness is alarming to me. In truth, it’s been a big shake up for me.
I have sleepwalked through life, in a fog, and now I’m out of the fog and back on 100mg twice a day, I realise what’s been happening; all without me ever being aware.
I am taking now what my brain has been craving all the time, and I want more more more. I had already agreed (with my new psychiatrist) to try an increase to 150mg twice daily, possibly going up to 200mg twice a day, if I needed more.
But now I know the addictiveness of it and it’s similarity to providing effects that mimic heroin, I am thinking, yep, this drug sure makes me feel great, but do I really want to be addicted? and take it long-term?
I hate the thought of dependence and addiction on a prescription drug, but at the end of the day, Pregabalin is a literal life saver for me. I am suicidal and unstable without it. So if I want to be psychologically healthy, for me, Pregabalin is my best bet.
And the box it comes in also makes a very good top layer of a cardboard box (home-made) Egyptian pyramid! made for a school homework project! Here is a photo of it before my beautiful new dose of Pregabalin box was covered in tissue paper :D
I’m hooked, but I’m better on it, so this is what I’ll swallow.