I was reluctant to fly back home. I was worried about meeting family and friends.
I didn’t want to have to deal with pity. I didn’t want to answer questions. I didn’t want to remember who I was before I got sick, or know who I am now.
It was not easy in the beginning. I broke down because I was so ashamed of what had become. It was a feeling beyond me. I felt my failure and forgot all the progress I had made.
I was so tempted to end it all. I held on to the thought of how I would disappoint my loved ones if I do.
I shrank into a ball in bed, fighting my demons. My family and friends would come in one at a time to try and talk to me. I didn’t have words to say. I wanted to shut off the world. I hid behind my blankets to avoid seeing them- seeing me like this.
I asked for medication, I couldn’t do without. I got some tranquilizers, a benzodiazepine. I popped a few – nothing dangerous. I had to numb the pain. I wanted to get out on the other side – the good side.
I asked for an antidepressant. I am away from my doctor and didn’t want to call her. No energy to explain anything to anyone. I decided to take Prozac 20 mg as a preventive dose for further attacks. Just the thought of another one was enough to kill me.
As these things take time, not surprisingly I got another attack a week or so after. A few days before, I had started to feel the ups of hypomania; rapid thoughts, loss of sleep, increased self confidence. It was mild and honestly I enjoyed it. What a nice break from depression… but I worried about the crash after. The higher you go, the lower you will get.
One day shortly after I felt paralyzed when sitting on a small cliff by the beach a few meters away from my family.
I was trying to relax. It hit me as I was looking at the waves and the horizon. I was in harmony with the scenery and little by little I had to lie down. I could not sit anymore. So I did, and thought I should relax some more. A horrible fear of falling hit me. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t move a muscle, I couldn’t talk. I waited for it to pass, I do not know for how long.
My daughter saw me as she was swimming and I managed to wave to her. I asked her when she came up to tell my husband to come to me. He shielded me as I crawled away from the cliff when everything was swirling around me. I don’t know why this happened. I just hope it will be my last attack.
I will check in with my doctor once I am back about the drugs am taking.
Yet, despite all this, I am proud of this trip. I am proud I was able to break this wall of fear and to accept love and empathy.
I am proud of being loved and cared for. I am proud of receiving all these hugs and all this care. I still feel vulnerable and worry of breaking- of course there is no magic cure. But somehow I know the worst is over.
There are residues for sure. Yet for those who might have similar stories, reach out, find those who care for you. You might not want to, you might fear what they will say, you might worry about how they will see you… Don’t.
As much as mental illness is mysterious, as much as love is.
Love has a healing power, especially when it is unconditional. Don’t worry about facing the world. I was swept off my feet with care – literally. I had forgotten the power of living “in” a society versus the isolation I face when in Paris.
As much as I didn’t want to go on holidays because when depressed you couldn’t care less, as much as I knew I had to. I wanted to do that for my husband and for my children. They got so worn out that past year with so much pressure- mostly from me.
I put one foot in front of the other and did it. I was challenged to sit by the beach! Imagine that… I was challenged to see my children have ice cream! It was difficult to let go and enjoy islands and beaches and hotels and swimming pools… yes believe me when down no one cares about all that.
Yet magically the change of scenery worked. One at a time like a flower opening its petals, the family started to relax. It was probably contagious. I started to enjoy things instead of being lethargic. It took time, but it happened.
I cannot stress enough the importance of holidays. Needless to say it can be as simple as going to the park and enjoying the view, no need to travel miles to do that. I will personally try and keep this concept of having a break in our family routine. I urge you to do the same.
I will check in more frequently, and I will try to talk about this journey of mine, which I hope will end in recovery.
I want to take a pair of scissors and chop my hair off
I want to break both legs
I want to cut my face with a knife
I want to slice my wrists and watch blood oozing out of my veins
I want to live on the street
I want to never speak again
I want to never feel again
I want to never see again or hear again
I took the drugs today. Don’t know why or how many… probably lithium 250*3, Prozac 20*3 and a couple Temesta 1.
I had gotten so angry before it. Not mad angry but scary angry; where nothing matters anymore. I have been there and it is not pretty. I am getting numb now. Getting slower. My nerve endings are not painful anymore. My upper back has stopped wanting to detach itself from the rest of my body. I am mellow. I am high and low and I will hit the ground faster than I know it.
I couldn’t succumb to what I wanted to do. Is this safer? No. Is this what I want? No. Did I lose yet another month or two trying to be a good girl responsible for her body and mind? Yes. Do I gain points in this game or does my score go back to zero each time? What now? A life of broken promises and misery all around to which am the catalyst always. If I could just be on an island free to live or not as I please. Would it change anything?
The worst feelings I have are about those around me. The destruction I create in their eyes. I don’t want to talk to them or look at them. I don’t want them to see me. I should be locked up alone like a crazy relative in the attic. In a bare room with a small window. I wouldn’t be let out because I lost my confidence and words remain words. What is a promise? Why is it so important?
I want to see my children grow from far away. No need to get them messed up with me. I will tarnish their childhood with worry, fear, and dread. Their small hands come to me to cuddle and my skin burns. Their kisses burn my face. I know I shouldn’t have been their mother. It burns and I feel I am contagious. What did they do to get me? How could I have predicted my state now 10 years ago? I love them too much to hurt them. I hurt them just by being a mass in a bed that moves right to left all day. I hurt them when they cannot play because Mama is in pain. They cannot go out band cause Mama is having a bad day. They cannot have friends over because Mama needs silence. They know I am sick and they ask me what hurts. They bring me dolipran and ask me if I want coffee. They tuck me in. The small one tucks me in ans shuts the door behind him… How long will I be able to lie?
I want to get my father only on the phone. I don’t think I can even handle this. I don’t want him to see me a bag of bones. I am his life and that is the problem. What kind of life is that? Tormenting my old man is what I do.
My husband, I don’t know what I want for him. I want him to go on and not stop because of his handicapped wife who should be locked in the attic. I want him to forget me and that is the toughest of all. I want him to forget 19 years of mostly joy and a year of mostly hell. I want to erase his memory of me and maybe remove all love and pity from his heart. If he forgets whom I was before maybe he will let go easier…
I want him to stop believing it will pass. I want him to stop hoping it will not be like this tomorrow. There is no more older me, a me of those were the days: she is gone. He says: She is getting used to new drugs, she reached the therapeutic level of the drug to work, she is having side effects from the drugs, she is in withdrawal, she is …. she is…she is done habibi that is what she is. The one you loved dearly is not me and I am not her. All what we had has been taken away with my illness. We got robbed 20 years and only you have at least a couple more 20 years to live. Don’t live in hell.
I want it to stop being about me.
Is this too much to ask? I want him to go to work. I want him to travel for work. I want him to do his job as he should. I want him to have friends and hobbies. I want him to have fun. He cannot with me around. How can I disappear? I want him to plan his life like anyone should be. I want him to stop walking on eggshells all the time. I want him to stop detonating my bombs right and left… I want him to live and embody life for our children. He can do it.
The nausea is kicking in now. My body is very heavy. I have a few hundred steps to take back home. It is sunny. I had coffee. People are in summer dresses. The street is buzzing. Kids in strollers and people on bikes. Motos ans buses make the most noise and it is annoying. The world is not stopping…
Dear all, thank you for checking in. It has been over a month now that I have quit all psychotropic drugs.
I hate putting pictures of myself online. I need to do this. Here is me: one in ER while on a cocktail of drugs and one DRUG-FREE on a night out (with my husband cropped out of the selfie for his privacy)…
They scare you…
This is a rather long entry. I will be telling you about how the experience has been. I will also tell you at the end my two cents on my last psychiatric appointment. I will also refer to what I do to be able to manage my withdrawal after almost a couple of year on heavy drugs.
They sacre you…
Ever since this experiment spectrum of emotions, thoughts and physical sensations have been revealed to me ever since.
I am partially proud and relieved. I have this sensation of being in charge of who I am and once again responsible for my decisions and thoughts.
It is not an easy journey. A layer of artificial pain has been lifted away quite dramatically from my being. I discovered the traces of other pain beneath. It was thrilling to regain emotional and bodily sensations again. It is spectacular to be human and mostly to feel like one.
I find myself unable/unwilling to think or plan ahead. I try to live a minute at a time and not to complicate anything. Although I can achieve a wider range of feeling, I prefer to dwell on the surface.
They scare you…
I am prudent. I once read that bipolar patients are always waking on eggshells. I think it is also true for those who suffer from recurrent depression. I worry about the consequences of my feelings and try now to stay at the surface. I think that this is more than anything, a survival mechanism.
Bad dreams have been happening. They are too vivid for my liking. They are probably the most vivid I have had to memory. Why are they so scary? Because they are not based on fantasy. They surprise me as logical, and this is why all the while during the nightmares I think that I am actually loving those moments.
Tears are close by. Menial tasks requiring mental skills are tough for me. I need to concentrate with all my mind. Adios to multitasking. One thing at a time.
My weight is soaring. As big as a whale; as if I have eaten every problem I have ever thought about.
Together with my limited mental capacity, I feel short of who I am.
They scare you…
My 38th birthday is around the corner. I am worried about the forties, worried of turning 41 – the age at which my mother died.
I think of her a lot lately, with more understanding. Though my turmoil was partially due to my childhood with her and to her sudden death, my illness has taught me to see our relationship differently.
I understand her now more than ever. I feel for her suffering and instability. I cherish her ability to have taken care of me to her best; with her limited means. I don’t blame her anymore. I couldn’t have done better myself.
I hope for the years to come to be able to see my illness as tough-love; as a blessing in disguise.
They scare you…
A disturbing fact though remains.
I had gone to my latest appointment with my psychiatrist 10 days after quitting. She was of course against it. She said quitting suddenly has severe consequences. Depression of course was a runner up. I was also told that lithium won’t probably work again should I need it. Rebound is possible, no one knows when, how or for how long. It would be very dark I was warned.
Perhaps I could live with all that. Nothing she said was new until she told me something quite harsh.
They scare you…
Knowing that I write about mental illness, she told me that I should put a warning when speaking about going cold turkey. She said: ” Mothers who kill their children and then commit suicide do that because of depression”.
They scare you…
She left the sentence hanging in mid air; either to refer to potential readers who can harm themselves by listening to me. She could have also meant me; I was left to choose.
Besides being deeply offended and utterly shocked, I felt a lot of self doubt that I now regret. I dwell on this almost daily.
I say with utmost confidence – something I generally strongly lack – They scare you…
Bullshit; No one can pretend to know you better than yourself.
Bullshit; Stop stigmatizing mental health patients; you of all people should know how to weigh your words.
Bullshit; No! Our loved ones; for that fact my children are a red line that no one is allowed to cross.
Bullshit; no! Crying, anxiety attacks, binge eating/ drinking, nightmares, dark thoughts, are and were never ever directed to anyone else.
BULLSHIT!!! STOP!! I will not let your narrow single sided knowledge of an incredibly complex topic such as the human mind dictate how I should live my life.
I tell you my dear reader. I warn you like she asked me to do not to quit cold turkey. But I add to that; this road is not to be travelled unless under certain circumstances that are very complex.
You and you alone can decide how to live and what to do with your life. You alone will know when or when not to quit. You alone know down deep inside your motives for such a decision. And most important of all, you alone know if you are god forbid dangerous to yourself or worse to others.
Whatever you do, do not quit believing in yourself medication-free. Yet better, do not quit the hope for one second of being illness-free.
Without any conspiracy theories, let us not have the world of pharmaceutical companies tell us how to live or love our children!!
I do not deny that yes unfortunately such miseries do happen. Yet, millions of millions live and die without committing any of such acts and hopefully you and I are no different.
Should you decide to cut off or quit. I urge you besides doing it at the right time and weighing the benefits and the doubts as well as the consequences, TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.
I have a routine filled with micronutrients, vitamin D, omega 3, probiotics, and amino acids. I also use essential oils for withdrawal pains such as headache, back ache and insomnia. They help me a lot. All this is due to my dear husband. He has done incredible research on the topic and I do take all my supplements religiously. On most nights I sleep, and on most days I go out of the house.
Please I’d urge and beg you, if you are reading this before you go to your first doctor’s appointment because you are suffering, considering an alternative route. Do your own research, ask a loved one to do it for you. Just don’t start with antidepressants, mood regulators and benzodiazepines. You might just need iron and vitamin B complex instead. So take charge and do your homework. There is an alternative route – less travelled nowadays yes but real all the same.
No one will care when you have a zillion side effect but you.
I will be writing another follow up to let you know how things are progressing. Feel free to comment or ask questions…
I have to document what I am going through. It is equally possible that I have done the boldest or the stupidest decision. I quit three medications cold turkey. Prozac 20 mg, lithium 600 mg and Temesta 1 mg.
I did this without the knowledge of my psychiatrist; I even postponed my appointment with her not to get influenced.
I know what science says. Don’t quit cold turkey whatever you do. I know. Not to brag, but I quit before for other reasons, other drugs that were extremely addictive and I survived. Yes I almost died, but it was totally worth it.
Question now is how long will this honeymoon phase last before withdrawal kicks in? What is the difference between withdrawal and the side effects that I am going through? The big question is, why should I keep on taking drugs that do not alleviate my pain and give me a bundle of other things to suffer from? The question is, when do you say enough? When do I say I know my body and I know how it functions best?
Illusion or reality. What am I expecting now? A miracle? No, I so do not believe in those. I am just humbly aiming to get back to my initial problems; to my initial depression before psychiatry got involved.
I am a good patient. I am quite reasonable. Yet, and I repeat, why take drugs that make me sick?
I refused to draw a comparison between cancer and mental illnesses because I thought they were very distinct. I was wrong. I thought more research went into cancer: true. I thought cancer is a more pressing predicament. Yet, cancer patients sometimes reject treatment. Families of deceased cancer patients often swear the medication is the reason behind the death of their loved ones and not the illness. Patients who go through one cycle of treatment and sometimes do not accept another one. Yes, they would rather die; or live?
This leads me to my main two points here. One as a patient I have a choice. Two, quality of life is more important than life. Why else would euthanasia be legalized?
All I know is that part of my remaining brain is telling me I have to listen to myself. I prefer my own illness to that one artificially induced and resulting in neurological and neuro-chemical imbalances in my body.
I simply want to know why I am crying when I do. I want to stop twitching. I want to look in the mirror and see me; the fat or the ugly. It will be me and not some alien inhabiting my body and taking random decisions on my behalf.
Risk is part of life. We all make equally good and bad decisions. Only time will tell. The worse that could happen is returning to the status quo. At least then I would know my human limitations and will stop complaining. Wouldn’t you try if you were me?
A cycle. A few good days. No warning. Dreadfully bad ones to follow. Endless hours spent sleeping. A few many tears of what was and what has become. A glimpse of reality through the eyes of those around me. A warning. This must end.
If nothing is better so why keep trying the same old? A revelation against the common wisdom or foolishness of the others. I will stop the drugs. No way back. If I am to suffer let it all be mine. I don’t want no more appointments, no more needles, no more a pill before or after. No more shakes. No more tears of fear. No more pity.
The worse has been seen. Nothing can top it up. What is it am trying to numb? It is not gone. I feel my pain as much as an amputee feels her gone leg. Let me be me. Let me look in the mirror and despite of what I will see, I would at least claim it to be mine.
Let me sleep it through and when it is over, maybe life will resume…
I don’t want to hurt myself. I do not want to end up in an emergency room.
My only weapon is my writing.
I have to fight myself as much as I have to fight the system. What on earth am I supposed to do not to end up in an emergency room? How can I control my impulses?
Could my pain make my heart explode? Is this physically possible? Will I let my children see me this way? What does the system offer to those in my position? Waiting and some more…
I wish I could feel numb like the last 48 hours. Today it hurts like an open wound. Will I keep on bleeding endlessly? will I hold this scream till the end of time? Will my tears ever dry? What can I do to protect my children from me? Leave? Go where? Die? They will be motherless just like me.
I have given all my strength in this fight. There is nothing left in me, not even pride. All what I ask is for is that it be quick. This separation that is tearing me apart, could it happen in the blink of an eye?
I am rambling, scared like a lost child in a forest. How can I be a mother when I am like that? God, if you exist help me… and if you don’t, then let me be…
I spent all day in bed today. The only thing I forced myself to do I to go for a jog; a mere 15 minutes.
When I was awake I smoked; I managed to finish a whole pack.
I am depressed, real down. I have nothing to do but wait for Prozac to kick in, which would be in a couple of weeks.
Even then, my hope of healing is minimal. I depend on Benzos and the one I am taking now – Rivotril- is barely reducing my anxiety.
I wake up at 4 AM everyday. Today I patiently waited till noon to get to bed again. I mostly listen to a cocktail of brainwaves. They put me to sleep. I want to induce an artificial coma, to wake up when these two weeks are over.
I am scared, I am numb, I eat motley carbs. It is raining outside. I want to sleep again.
I had no idea or no intention to write again. I though that’s it… The end.
Life decided differently, and now am alive. I had almost died 6 days ago. I overdosed again, but this time for a different reason.
Sunday it was, I knew there would be one pharmacy only opened. I went in and asked for 2 packs of paracetamol and one of aspirin.
I headed along Rue de Seine all the way to the river. I had even bought a large bottle of water at the pharmacy. What were they thinking I don’t know!
Glam, I was looking at the river and sipping one by one my pills. Families passing by, a child on his scooter, a group of American tourists on bikes. One pack gone, then I opened the second. I had managed to take 20 pills of paracetamol 1g each, and this is when I discovered that the aspirin needed to be dissolved in water.
Headed back towards the back streets of the 6th arrondissement, and found a nice coffee shop. I ordered their largest coffee and a glass of water. Little by little I had 18 pills of aspirin 350mg each.
It was 10:30 in the morning. I ordered a cab and decided to go to the psychiatric emergency center by my house CAC*. I had called my parents by then and they were waiting for me. Soon the ambulance came and I was taken to the reanimation room. My temperature was high.
Tbey started inserting canulas and tubes all over me. I had one placed inside my nose and this was the worst part of the whole experience. They filled it with charcoal to make the paracetamol effect go away. They told us I would stay at least 5 days at the hospital.
I threw my guts out. It must have been that which saved my liver, or maybe it was God. I’d rather say the latter. I have to confess that I was scared. At some point I felt that was it. They then said that my blood results were good and that I could go home. A miracle by all means.
I wish the story ends here. It just begins. My husband had to take me to the famous psychiatric hospital of St. Anne. I had to have a psychiatric evaluation by a third party different from my own psychiatrist or that of the CAC.
Well, four hours later into the waiting room, we were finally able to sign the most importantly binding paper of my life. It said that I can get out of the hospital against all medical opinion and under my own responsibility. My husband of course had to sign it as well. We had talked hard and long about the danger of such an act. It basically meant that he will be psychologically guilty should I decide to be in danger to myself or others. That night I promised him that this will never happen again. I would never forget the look in his eyes..
The deal may sound naive. Yet we have a good system in place to avoid further crises. The CAC is my panic button. I will tell my family immediately that my rage is coming up and I would immediately go there. At the center they talk to you, they give you medication, well they do what it takes to stop you before committing the act. I also have biweekly meetings with the team to discuss any important developments.
Lesson learnt the hard way. Life is precious. By doing this I was not only hurting myself, but my whole family; my husband, my children and my father. Do not commit the act. Talk to someone first, try it. Maybe it works, maybe it saves your life and makes you grateful for what you have never lost…
Tips and tricks for those in Paris
*CAC Garenciere: A centre for psychiatric emergency. These centers around Paris are places made to welcome and orient or even be a place of hospitalization for a short period of time.
So dear friends, a post that it slightly out of date. Yet it took me a wile to have the courage to write it all down at one go. Now I am at the luxurious clinic. Hell in candy shape… what I would do to be in the arms of my children…
I had one of the worst experiences in my life. In the beginning of my stay, my psychiatrist gave me my first permission to go out – accompanied – for a couple of hours. I was euphoric. I was going to see my family, my kids… I would smell their hair, touch their faces, kiss their fingers… I was going to get hugged and I was going to listen to them saying Mama in the real Live version and not on FaceTime.
I would have slept if I could, by the entrance of the reception all dressed up waiting for them to arrive. Instead I forced myself to sleep. I got up, showered, dressed, put on make up, brushed up my hair… I waited. Lunch tray came, I said no sorry I will eat with my family.
Comes 2 pm I was by the door waiting for them. I can see my little ones holding hands… My babies, here they are. I held them tighter than I ever had. They were here finally in my arms. I imagined that moment and it was never as good as reality. We went through what the asylum requires: some admin stuff to make sure who signs me off and takes responsibility to brings me back.
We walked out, hand in hand all the way to the restaurant. Nothing better than an Italian place, loud and large enough to accommodate my big family. I did not want to sit next to my small baby. He is not even 2 and a half yet. I thought it would be better to have my eldest next to me, and my baby in front on a high chair.
I couldn’t look at them. My tears were flowing so fast. Everyone was trying hard to make fun of the situation, to make it lighter. I had my panic attack starting nicely. Not long before desert arrived, I texted my husband saying it was time to hit the road before I get a full fledged episode. He told my father to start taking me back. The problem was that my baby had fallen asleep on his highchair. It could have been an ideal moment to leave. I kissed my eldest goodbye, tears flowing and breath starting to get out of control. As I grabbed my coat, I made noise…
My baby woke up while I was going down the stairs. Screaming he was, mama, mama. I could not look back, I was almost paralyzed. God knows how I went out of the restaurant. My legs felt like noodles. I was mot going to tolerate them seeing me in this state. I held tight to my dad, breathing I don’t know how and crying my eyes out.
We miraculously reached the clinic. I went to my room and sat on my knees while wailing. To cut the story short, the nurse came in, so did the doctor on duty. They forced me up the bed. They were not nice. They wanted to contain this escalating meltdown by discouraging me to continue having a panic attack. They give me something to feel calmer. I held my head close to my knees and cried so much that I felt empty.
So now, from my horrible experience I want to share with you what you should and shouldn’t do when as a bipolar you need to get too see your children for the first time after your hospitalization:
– Do not see them in a different habitat: Big mistake. I highly recommend that you do not spend your first visit – or any visit- if you have small toddlers in a place they do not know. Why am I here? Where is this? Why is Mama here? Why does she leave me here? I did not know the exact questions that go through their little minds. Please do not choose if possible a strange place.
– Do not go while they are sleeping: It was tempting yes, leave without disrupting my toddler’s sleep. Big mistake. You need to say goodbye. I always say goodbye even if the children do not like it. You are not playing peekaboo. By 2 years of age, they know that people do not disappear out of the face of earth. It is a betrayal, that you should try hard to avoid if possible.
– Let them drop you off: If you are seeing them outside and close to the clinic, let them drop you off, just like they picked you up. It makes more sense to leave their parent in a place that is half familiar, or at least where they know their parent is staying at the moment.
– Clearly discuss your “in case” medication: I had and I have an extra dose of anxiolytics in case I need one for anxiousness or else. But the mistake that day was the timing and the dosage. I took it too late and too little. I had to have more, and to put it under my tongue to make it act faster. It would have avoided this emotional flooding as well as my panic attack.