Is it wrong that I simply want to retreat? Winter hibernation is calling my name. I’ve been on the go — busy, busy, busy — for the past several months; and I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. This is not an exaggeration. Long before New Leaf or even CSU in July, I felt like I was ready to collapse from the bone-tired-weariness I’ve felt for the past couple of years. I’ve challenged myself more this past year to ignore my instincts, confront my fears, “do” rather than “think about doing,” and act like a more normal human being.
Normal is a setting on a washing machine. My “normal” isn’t the same as everyone else’s “normal.” I can only compare what is normal in relation to myself rather than to others. None of what I’ve been doing for these past few months is normal for me. It borders on chaos for me.
I went from having about 40 hours per week of alone time to about half that due to attending at least one NA meeting per week, IOP 3 times per week, peer support once or twice per week, and all the driving time (half an hour each way, more than that to the NA meeting I prefer). Granted, a lot of my alone time is spent running errands, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and all the other daily chores I have to get done; yet I still have to accomplish all of it and hope for maybe a couple of hours per week of downtime to do what I enjoy — draw, play piano or guitar, blog, game, or hike.
AND I still have to make enough time to find a damn job and work outside my home if I’m ever to be taken seriously! Honestly, I don’t even want to think about that. I really don’t. The disability advocate still has yet to return my phone calls, so I can only imagine that even he doesn’t think my case is winnable. “Grow up. Just get a job.” That internal pressure to conform is enough to drive me mad.
On the plus side, it has gotten easier to be a bit more social and leave my house regularly. It’s just exhausting and overwhelming at times, finding myself a bit more short-tempered. When I first wrote this post last Thursday, I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I was ready to call it quits on everything and isolate for the next few months — till spring. I know I can’t do that (why not?) but I also know my time in IOP has to be close to an end. We’re only allowed a certain number of group sessions, and I’m close to if not right at that limit. Once IOP is over, I worry that I might fall back into my old routine, isolating myself from everyone and everything simply because of the weather and that need to hibernate for the winter, not to mention it’s simply my default position.
I’m a loner. Period.
I can’t tell a difference in my thinking or any other aspect of myself on this medication other than the negative side-effects. Past experiences on other psychiatric medications were much the same. One complication of accepting medication is that I feel like I compromised a belief in myself by second-guessing my own judgment. After only a week and a half on the Latuda, the NP already raised the dose from 20 mg to 40 mg — precisely the type of behavior that drove me away from treatment in the first place! My mind is in chaos. The medication makes me feel physically groggy, mentally dull, and emotionally numb.
After I began the 40 mg dose, I fought a blasted headache that bordered on a migraine for 3 days straight. Not to mention the paranoia has increased 10-fold due to my fear of the medication doing more harm than good and the fear of gaining weight, especially given the 350 calorie requirement. I’m obsessing over food, counting calories, weighing myself nightly. In order to maintain my weight, I know I need at least 3 hours of digestion time prior to going to bed; but when the medication makes me so sleepy that all I want to do is go to sleep, I find myself fighting to stay awake for another 3 hours!
I’m more angry with myself for breaking a vow to never take psychiatric medication again, knowing that it increases the paranoia I feel, increases the suicidal and self-harm thoughts, and my impulsivity to act on them. I feel more paranoid and suicidal than I have in a very, very long time. I haven’t felt these aspects of my mental illness this strongly for as many as 9 years. Even though I struggled with all of this regardless of being in treatment or not, I have to wonder if I was better off during those 5 years I gave myself a break from treatment.
It’s not been all bad this time in treatment. I have to remember that. But so many parts of me are screaming at me to just quit taking the Latuda.