Monday, March 1, 2010

Withdrawal or Relapse?

I'm lowering my antipsychotics a bit. I think I am having withdrawal symptoms. I hope I am not having symptoms of relapse. No paranoia, as I've had in the past. But I am not sleeping so well, I am anxious, I want to cry, and my heart feels racy. On the up side, I feel more awake and with it. This morning it was easier to get out of bed, it wasn't so much of a struggle. And I feel somehow more present. That veil that I feel is often there between me and the world is pulled back a bit.

Maybe the threat of tears, the anxiety, the insomnia, the racy heart, it is all transitory withdrawal symptoms. Or maybe some of it is here to stay. Maybe I have to take a little more bad in order to get a little more good. I'm okay with that, as long as the bad feelings are not crippling depression. But more tears, a little anxiety, I'm okay with that. Better than the numb I've been feeling recently. I just hope that the insomnia and heart pounding go away- that's no fun.

I've tried to get off of drugs before- and then got scared off by the withdrawal symptoms. But I'm doing it much more slowly this time- it seems like it is going to take forever! Then again, this strategy also means I spread out the length of time I'll be dealing with the withdrawal symptoms.

"Back in the day" before I was an occupational therapist, when I was in and out of hospitals- I used to get put in to hospital so my doctors could take me off, and then put me on, medications as fast as possible, and let me get every side effect in the book. And I would lie in my bed all day, too drugged up to attempt to go to the groups. I was a very bad patient. I always refused to go- even if it meant being locked out of my room. Until I got too bored- which meant I was feeling better. And then I would get into trouble for being too opinionated sometimes.

But now I say that I can never make another major medication change until I retire! I don't have a job where I can afford to not be functional, where I can be drugged up. What this has meant is that things have been added during breakthrough episodes, but we never want to take the risk of taking things back off. So over the 6 years I've been working, I've increased from 3 meds (an all time low), to 8. And that is just too much. So I'm taking the risk now of trying to get off of 1 or 2 things. And hopefully 3 by the end of the year. That is my plan, at least. And the best laid plans...

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