Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Point

I'm not always sure what the point is.

I told myself that I could have this cookie with some tea if I started writing as opposed to binge watching House. So I'm sitting here eating my cookie while I write this.

I'm not sure what the point is of writing this today is. I'm also not sure what the point is of doing anything today that won't give me some pleasure or relief from my pains.


But I also want to do some of the things I should be doing. I want to listen to and index the interview that I sat in on for the Oral History project as part of my fellowship. I want to research the topic I've chosen for my proposal, the topic of archiving the personal blogs and scholars in order to get a better sense of their work and research articles. I even want to write.

Lately, I've been going through... a mental down. I've had anxiety attacks that incapacitate me,  some depression, and a strong knowledge that I am not well... and I mean not well in a very worrying sense. I'm tired a lot... but twitchy... my heart races... I can't stop thinking until I just... do... and then I can't do anything. I know what the cause of it is, and it's a situation that I'm trying to get out of, but for the moment, I had to get extra help to cope with it. I talked to my doctor and got some extra medication - Klonopin to take as needed for anxiety, Lexapro for depression, and Trazodone to take as needed to help regulate my sleep.

I'm not one to go straight to medication as a cure. I learned a lot in therapy and I've done research on what helps my condition and moods. I know that exercise helps (but not strenuous exercise), that therapy/talking to someone helps, that making lists of the positive to combat the negative thoughts helps me visually see what's real, and I know that putting myself on a schedule and regulating my sleep when things are at their worst can set my mind on the right road. I tried all of my skills, had done everything I could to take care of me, but my mood stabilizer and these things I learned to do just haven't been cutting it. So I asked my doctor for some extra medication... because learning to ask for more help is what I've learned to do.

What I've learned to do is what I have to do to live... and take care of myself through the bipolar episodes, up and down. Because I want to live.

I want to live and I want to live fully. So I have to do the work, even when it's hard.

But... I can understand why someone wouldn't want to live like that anymore... if they had to deal with that all the time... if they had the realization that they were not well in a very worrying sense. I can understand how they would not want to live because they couldn't live... because they didn't know how, or couldn't get past the knowing how to the actual doing of the living.

A year ago today, my cousin Adrian lost his fight with Schizophrenia. He was 35.

It was horrible and it was messy. He had been off his meds for a while because he said he felt better, that he was better. But then he had a bad week... and on the morning of the 26th of March, 2015, he took a knife from the kitchen, ran into his room, and locked the door.

From my understanding of the events of the day, my aunt pleaded with him to unlock the door, to talk to her, to not harm himself. I was told that he said he didn't want to go through this anymore, that he just wanted it all to stop. My cousin, his sister, tried to talk to him and get him to open the door. My aunt called the police in an attempt to get someone, anyone, to help her.

Once the police arrived, I was told they tried to talk to him, ordered him to open the door, said they were going to go in, and then... They say that he opened the door, throat already slit and bleeding, and charged at the police with the knife. So they opened fire.

I have to wonder how the police felt after that, knowing that he was just a suicidal guy who was likely making the suicide inevitable... definite. I wonder if they had hoped to save him, thinking that it may have been possible to save him... maybe. Who knows. But since he charged at them with a knife, you know they had to open fire, effectively finishing what he started.

You have to admit, one must really want to die to make the decision he did. It's a rather foolproof way to do it, if a little messy, not to mention mentally scarring for those left behind who already have to deal with the fact that their loved one is dead.

On the anniversary of my cousin's horrible suicide, I want to commemorate his death by telling everyone that it's not weak or bad to rely on medication and there's nothing wrong with getting help by using them. There's a key to not being a zombie (a common complaint), not gaining weight, or not having sexual side effects because of the medication. One can try to find the right pill, attend therapy as often as necessary, and learn the skills that can help mentally battle the demon. Mainly, though, the key is knowing that you need to get help and to get it no matter what, even if it means medication.

We can't do it alone. None of us, mentally ill or not. We all need to learn to get help... medically, emotionally, and even financially. Some things are easier to ask for help with, although there are those that hate to ask for help with anything. But... asking for help is ok.

We live in a world that thinks we should believe in science, but medication is wrong. We're told that we're strong enough to get through anything with the right mental attitude and the right habits. Well, sometimes we aren't strong enough... and that's ok. And sometimes it's ok to live a medicated life because we aren't strong enough; some of us have oddly wired brains. But, some of us have heart problems, or diabetes, or any other medical problem and have to live medicated lives. So why is that so different?

There's no difference. All of these people are just doing what they need to do to survive and live healthy, normal (whatever that means) lives. That's the point.


Unknown said...

That is intense. Your poor family. Your poor cousin. Man! There's no right answer!

Ceci Virtue said...

I know it sounds cliché, but I do think he's better now. You know? He lived with his parents... couldn't really hold down a job... went through bouts of good and bad. He was really the kind of person that needed to be on disability because of how tough it was to deal with his mental illness.
It's unfortunate that he didn't realize that it was the medication that was helping... that many, and from time to time I've done this, feel that one day they won't have to rely on medication. However, that's just not always the case.
I hate the stigma that is related to medication... and the stigma related to mental illness. It's a disease that can be life-threatening, just like any other... and somehow we don't accept that. So people then see medication as something that's wrong? Weak? Over-prescribing?
It's tough, that fine line between over-prescribing and needing medication. We don't understand the brain well enough to know what's really going on up there. However, science has gotten this much right: some of us DO need some corrective chemicals. I just wish it was something that was treated more like heart pills or insulin shots.
I wrote this because I wanted to say that about medications. I want to say something about my cousin's death. Had he kept on his medication I'm fairly positive he'd still be alive. However, I'm not so sure how his quality of life would have been. Maybe it would have gotten better... maybe he'd be functioning like you and me - a little kooky, but good. However, I can't be certain. I do know that how his life was... was sad... and tough... and I can see why he didn't want to live like that anymore, despite having a family who really loved him and was there for him, engaging him.

Unknown said...

Yeah. So rough. And the media stigma does not help.

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