Last night I went to be without taking my bedtime medications.
After a brief moment of sheer terror, I embraced the day, and it has proved through the watershed of my brother’s suicide.
The denouement is that I finally understood that my first psychiatrist–“CHILD psychiatrist!” I always said– was right in putting me on an anti-psychotic med. It is unfortunate that he put me on Mellaril which I had a bad reaction to. I was too uncertain of his treatment to let him know. I also didn’t know myself well enough to understand that it was the medication that was giving me the problem. I thought it was my fault and it led to a suicide attempt. It was a catastrophe that was unfortunate and avoidable. My father said, “Don’t take the meds, do you know what they are for?” I had to point out how stupid that is. Not taking the meds doesn’t made you not psychotic.
The doctor tried me on Haldol when i was in the hospital after the suicide attempt. It worked! But I was on another medicine, an anti-depressant–which also worked–but gave me a rash. He took me off both meds even though even I knew somehow that it wasnt the Haldol that caused me the rash. He put me on Prolixin, which at the time gave me really bad vertical hypotension, I was dizzy in the shower and in a subnormal mental state. Laster in my life it helped me. Just because it was associated with this time before things got so crazy. But the Haldol did become helpful at a later time.
In all the debate about meds vs. therapy, “nature vs. nurture” at that time, my case fell through the cracks. My psychoanalyst told me not to take the meds but then he was prescribing them even though he was not trained as a psychiatrist (he was an MD who was trained as a psychoanlyst, NOT as a psychiatrist.) He referred me to Dr. Schatzberg in Belmont, at the famous MacLean Hospital where Susannah Keyson of “”Girl, Interrupted” spent 2 years. Dr. Schatzberg was famous. He saw me 3 times. He was not really following me. Neither was my psychoanalyst. I got very sick due to improperly using the medication and didn’t know it. It was specifically as a result of this that I wound up in the state hospital in Pennsylvania after 2 years of treatment in the Boston area.
Dr. Schatzburg had said, “Stay on the major tranquilizers” (older anti-pzychotic medication.) At the psych hospital I went to in the Boston area before being sent to my parents’ new home in PA (where I am now 32 years later), I was told not to take the Prolixin because it was causing tardyve diskinesia. This is a risk with older anti-psychotic medication wherein the patient who uses the medication over a long time period developes involuntary lip-smacking and sucking movements with the mouth, as well as extra-pyramidal movements (movements of the extremities such as “pill-rolling motions of the fingers.) I had to sign a paper to get the medication. My condition was extremely frightening and nobody knew exactly what was going on with me and just how bad it was, but in my heart I i knew the medication would help. Then in Pennwylvania when I told the doctor what had been said Massachusetts he said “I won’t have you on this ward without your being on a major tranquilizer.” It was so confusing! And then I wound up at the state hospital after a suicide attempt. There, they had me on no meds with a diagnosis of low self-esteem but then when I ran away for the second time the doctor put me on Navane, another major tranzuilizer “for structure.”
!!!That was the end of it.
When I got out of the hospital the doctor and therapist I saw told me to “taper off” the medication and I thought they meant taper “all the way” off it– that is to say, stop taking it, whih I did, and there was a disasterous consequence, I became phsycially violent towards my mother. That set the stage for the next 30+ years of my life until today. When I finally realize that my first psychiatrist was right! According even to my own words about that time, I wasn’t suicidal at Harvard but I was suffereing from “acute paranoid stress psychosis,,” as seen in the submarine commander in the Sean Connory film”The Hunt for Red October, due to the stress of the Presidency of the undergraduate literary magazine. I was having homicidal ideation about my roommate! YES! I was a danger to myself and others and I needed anti-psychotic medication. Finally, today, 33 years later I see this and I am finally ready to let go of that confusing time back in New Jersy on leave of absence from college–and embrace all these years that have followed.
All at once I am whole.
Tonight I will have to take the Clozaril again–I know better than to face a second day without it without a doctor on board. For today ny son guided me most excellently. This is depressing.
I see my doctor on the 31st. That’s 18 days before I can address this with my current pychiatrist. The Clozaril causes an increase in saliva (drooling)–especially at night–it’s horrible. I don’t really sleep. And today I realized how badly it shuts down my system. It is a powerful drug. It has been good to me these past two years but I think I have come to the end of it. I have to address with my psychiatrist whether I really need the anti-psychotics any more, people do get better.