Friday, July 11, 2008

Lithium

10 days ago i proposed
a 2 month hiatus.
silence for 9 weeks.
minus 1 day.
a lot of numbers
but no words.

10 days ago i proposed 2 goals. goals that would make things easier and better for us each even if we didn't reunite at the end.

his was to work on his dissertation without the distraction of a demanding, mewling, crying slave kitten crawling around his feet and scratching at his pants leg for attention.

mine was to get my mood swings under control. which meant only 1 thing.

Lithium.

the drug has been haunting my horizon for years.

among all the other diagnoses i've had to accept over the years, this has been the hardest, even if not at all arguable. bipolar with depression. not really severely bipolar, but bipolar nevertheless. it makes sense for someone who hates to be put in a box, even as i've longed for my master to keep me in a cage. there have always been 2 sides to me, and i've always resisted being defined by one side or another.

as has been pointed out to me, the real value to the diagnosis is how i am treated to control the mood swings. i'm not the crazy kind of manic depressive, veering from grandiose schemes and wild behaviours to deep, dark, bottomless depressions.

but my father-in-law was.

and he committed suicide.

it was quite a while ago. i can't remember exactly when, i think the first attempt was in the mid-80s. that one failed. but it was horrible. i won't tell you what. but it failed. a number of years later, he didn't take any chances. he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

and then-hubby #2 and i couldn't blame him. he was debilitated from the first attempt, and in such psychological pain that he couldn't go on. they had tried everything. and nothing worked. none of the medications worked. there was only one route to stopping the pain. and he took it.

they didn't have the fancy newer drugs now. i've tried some of them but had allergic reactions. others were ruled out for other reasons. the only thing left for my really pretty mild case is lithium.

and i've been refusing it for years.

because to me it's all tied up with my late father-in-law, whom i loved. an unusual man, a sensitive and wise and creative man. a rare person whom i hardly every saw because ex-hubby not only saw his parents even less often than i saw mine, but rarely spoke to them, either. he was special, my father-in-law. you couldn't help but feel it in his presence. just as you couldn't help but feel his fragility.

and he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

maybe i'm afraid that by taking lithium i'm saying yes. i am truly horribly mentally ill. i have this horrible disease that drove him to kill himself.

i don't know.
i really don't know why i've resisted so hard.
all i know is that any mention of my taking it would make me cry.

like now.
like this morning at my doctor's office.

she's a very wise women, my psychopharmacologist. i admire and respect her greatly, and this is the only thing i've every totally resisted her on. until today. when the philosopher accepted my proposal of the 9 week silence, i said i would tell my doctor that i would go on lithium. she's known all along that all she had to do was wait.

and today i walked into her office and sat down and told her i was ready.
and started to cry.

she assured me all i need is a very small dose.
just to stop the bouncing up and down.
way under the normal therapeutic dose.
as if i have just a touch of bipolarity
along with my bisexuality.

i had made up my mind.
i had promised to rein in my mood swings.
so i sat there and cried and said ok.

and tonight i take the first dose.

i'm taking so little. and it's really so safe. and even so cheap. there's nothing to be afraid of except memories and connotations, nameless terrors and waterlogged ghosts.

i've resisted for years.
i've feared it for years.
but i'm doing it now.
for you, master, for
you and for us, if
there is such an us.

i'm crying and grieving for a man long dead and normality long fled and i know it will help and at least i'm facing the state of my disordered brain and taking the help of some sort of psychiatric personal organizer to get the clutter under control. looking at it that way, i suppose there's no harm in using some mild soap to clean up a little of the accumulated sludge.

i suggested the comparison of the lithium to mild sandpaper, smoothing away the rough surface. she said it wasn't even as extreme as that, especially at the dose i'll be taking. she compared it to a chamois cloth instead. now that doesn't sound so bad.

so i'll take the first dose tonight, and try not to cry too hard, and have faith that it will work.

and i'll lie there in bed, and try to conjure up the comforting stroke of his hand on my hair, and i'll try to recall the safety of his arms, and i'll listen very hard for his lilting whisper in my ear...

don't cry, kitten...
don't cry...
there's nothing to be afraid of.
everything will be all right.

7 comments:

mamacrow said...

Oh darling. It's such a hard hard disicion to make. Both sides of the argument (for and against) get so fanatical about it that it's hard to figure the facts from the fiction.

I remember breaking down in my poor gp's office years ago and sobbing all over her when she suggested that I might be depressed and that perhaps we should try medication.

In vain she tried to point out that a diagnosis would be a positive thing and would mean treatment.

For me it meant going all sorts of dark taboo places.

Thinking of you. xx

Alice said...

OG,

So many struggles and changes in your life right now. Trust your doctor, trust your self, take care and get back on an even keel.

Know I am here and that I care. You aren't alone. I'm sending my thoughts and my love your way.

Alice

longingsend said...

Oh sweetie, I don't think there is anything wrong with having to take something that could improve your life in the end. Nobody HAS to know. I understand it is very hard to have to deal with the fact that you need to take something. I hope it all works out in the end and you have a smile on your face once more.

xoxoxo mina

Sabine said...

While I have been reading for a while, I have never commented, but now I feel I have to, and I start with this:

Oh, darling. I feel for you.

I know it can be scary. It's genetic in my family. My mother has it, along with paranoid schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. I just have the manic depression. And it's hard. It's hard to admit that you have a problem, and it's harder to know that you and those you love most can't fix it by yourselves.

Don't fear it, though. You know that you need something to help you, for the sake of yourself and your darling master. And I understand having so many feelings wrapped up in taking it, but I think you love life and the things you have in it far too much to leave them.

I know you don't know me, but if you need someone, I'm here. I've been where you are, maybe not the same street, but definitely the same neighborhood... I understand. And what I don't understand, I will try to.

-Sabi

oatmeal girl said...

i was going to say "you can't imagine how much your support means to me" - except that i think you can. thank you over so much.

i do want to reiterate that i'm not averse to taking medications when needed - oy, do i take medications! my little plastic case includes pills for depression, ADD, high blood pressure, etc. i tried but couldn't tolerate other drugs for bipolar disorder. it was THIS drug that i couldn't handle for emotional reasons. but if it helps, i suppose i could get used to it. it just needs to smooth out my ups and downs a bit...

and if that means ultimately making life a little less stressful for the philosopher, then it is worth struggling with my fears.

Sabine said...

Oh, I know how much feelings can get tied up in specific things, on that you can trust me. Medications especially. Being terrified that what is supposed to cure you will make you become some kind of monster akin to the others who take it, oh, I know.

My mother and I have shared the same mood stabilizer for years, and my hugest fear is definitely turning into her. When the other drugs didn't work, and I was told "It's this or nothing" I had some very very dark places to go to before I could just trust that I was doing the right thing.

One of the bits of flotsam that I have clung to for comfort throughout the shipwreck that has been my life so far (please excuse the maudlin metaphore...) is something a doctor told me once about my mother's illness. He said "Everyone's brain is different, and when one person has a chemical imbalance, it doesn't always respond in the same way that other people's brains do to treatments and stimuli." I have held that up as my justification and my shield from all the terrible 'what ifs' that creep into my head during sleepless nights.

I still have no idea whether it's true or not. : )

-Sabi

marianne said...

This is a very courageous step. I'm proud of you. xo