This is a very different post for me. It discusses an element of my recovery, namely, my use of psychotropic medications, that may offend some readers. Not everyone wants to take them, not everyone who does is happy with them, but for good or bad they are part of my recovery and receive recognition for that.
Let me be clear. I neither endorse nor condemn the use or non-use of psychotropic medications. That is a choice between you and your treating physician or psychiatrist. If the use of psychotropic drugs is being considered, educate yourself. If you live in the Toronto area, consider enrolling in the CAMH Impact Study and receive information that may give a more targeted treatment.
It must also be made clear that the use of psychotropics is a part of the solution, not a solution in and of itself. Recovery takes work, lots of work. And it takes time. In my case, my illness was untreated for decades so I’m not at all surprised that it’s taking years for me to gain stability.
Yes, I take psychotropic medications, in fact three of them. The first is an anti-depressant, the second is a mood stabilizer and the third augments them both. My taking of these medications is a choice.
It’s a choice made in full recognition of where my illness took me in September 2014. I don’t want to go back there. More recently, the ideations came back in all of their vile ugliness. I can’t live with them infecting my mind. I know where that leads.
By September 2014 I was existing, not living. My mind was filled with a Blackness that smothered all possibility of light. It was a suffocating blanket that deadened all emotion. I grew numb of being numb. I came to appreciate emotion not by experiencing it, but by recognizing where it was lacking. Life passed me by and I was less than aware.
For me, these realities were sufficient reason to take the psychotropics and accept the side-effects. The side-effects of my medications include weight gain, dry mouth, restlessness and excessive fatigue (although some is this fatigue is a consequence of the sleep apnea).
In addition, I’ve lost some of my range of emotion. I accept that some modification of my emotions is necessary to enable me to recover. After all, it was feeling too much melancholy that spiralled me into the Black. Currently, if I feel “too” happy or “too” sad, I can feel a levelling out, a muting of these extremes. I still feel the happiness, and the sadness, just not with the same fullness. I do wonder, though, if the muting of my emotions is too high a price.
For some, this “zombifying” aspect of psychotropic drugs is exactly that, too high a price to pay. I accept this. It’s their choice, after all.
It does beg the question, which zombie state is worse: the zombie state you exist within while in the grip of a depressive episode, or the zombie state induced by psychotropic medicines? I generally think the former is more dangerous, but the effect on my writing does have me questioning if I’m paying too high a price.
My concern flows from my inability to write. While I appreciate that this may be due to the depressive episode, and my writing has been curtailed because of it, this seems different. I can’t seem to find the emotional connection to my subject matter to write with the same verve and candour. I think that my writing works best when the emotion is present and I can’t draw on it like I used to. The emotions seem to be muted too much.
I admit, there’s a lot of “seems” in that last paragraph. For that reason I entertain another consideration. It could also be that I’ve hit the wall that so many bloggers face. Perhaps I’ve simply run out of ideas. While that’s a possibility, I do know that when I sat down to write, there was a definite lack in emotional connectivity. That’s why I’ve focussed on the muting effect of the medicines.
That’s why I’ll have a talk with my psychiatrist about the CAMH Impact study. I’ll explore alternatives to my current medications. I’ll see if I can find a psychotropic drug that mutes less. My writing is too important to me to do otherwise.