On being a broken toy: More on mental illness

16 Oct

First, let me say I do not (anymore) consider myself “broken.” The title is a reference to this site. Raven Kaldera is a writer, among his many hats, whom Jalan and I both respect, and she has mentioned composing an essay for the site.


I’m working through what I term a “meltdown.”  In this post a few weeks ago, I said:

I’m probably going to need to go off antipsychotics in the near future, as the side effects are starting to accrue in a worrisome fashion.

Things have accelerated since then, and I did, indeed, have to come off my antipsychotic, that I have used as a complement to the main mood stabilizing meds. The side effects were becoming intolerable, and some of them may be lasting, even permanent. That remains to be seen. This class of drug is a lifesaver for many, including me, but is also a harsh, nasty one in other ways.

Working with my psychiatrists (plural now, for reasons not relevant here), I tapered off the one. I’ve been in good shape for awhile, and am currently in a day-to-day situation that lets me experiment with what I can and can not use. So the plan has to been to let my system clear out of the drug I discontinued, and then test whether I need one at all, and if so, find out which one is most effective and most tolerable by my physiology.

Naturally, there has been some withdrawal, even from my fairly low dose, which I’ve got through with Jalan’s help and short-term use of other meds to treat the withdrawal symptoms. Last night, though . . .

Last night, after a good day, I spiraled rapidly into a full panic attack, which itself spun into self-injury drives. That last is something with which I have struggled at least since adolescence, but has been pretty well managed in recent years. It was coming on full bore last night, for the first time in at least several months.

I kept Jalan apprised as well as I could. She knows me better than anyone else, and can read me well even when my words are failing. We agreed quickly that I needed to make no decisions for the evening. I ended up snug in the straitjacket, with hood and noise-canceling headphones, and sheets tucked around my legs. Her orders were to immediately let her know if I needed anything, and otherwise not to speak — just to lie there.

At one point I did speak, at a borderline case: To let her know that what I was about to do was not from distress. I almost never struggle against secure bonds, except testing at the beginning of play to make sure they are secure so that I’m not thinking of escape during the rest of the scene. Last night, I deliberately started thrashing in the jacket. This was about as productive in terms of escaping as you’d expect, but it turned out to help. First, it let me know that I could move as much as I wanted without hurting myself or anyone else. Second, it confirmed that decisions were out of my hands. Third, it let me tire myself out. It also had an unexpected effect that after each bout of struggling, I felt chilled and shivered. Still don’t know what that was. After several rounds of this, I settled and zoned out.

I don’t remember much more of the evening, except that at some point I had to sit up and be let out before bed and for bathroom break. Once I came out of the jacket, the cutting urges started coming back. Jalan held me and crooned reassurances, and secured me to the bed-chains for sleep. I fell asleep like that, in chains, and with her arms wrapped around me.

This morning, I called the psychiatrist for an urgent appointment, to try a new antipsychotic.

I am not broken, but I am ill. The difference in perspective affects the next steps, in a productive way.


Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Health


2 responses to “On being a broken toy: More on mental illness

  1. JanetM

    October 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Best of luck with the psych appointment and the new meds trial. And, also (and I am being absolutely sincere here, not sarcastic or snarky), I’m so glad that you have Jalan to take care of you when you are ill, and that the self-treatment you came up with worked so well.

    I understand where you’re coming from in terms of the neurology; as you know, I have chronic depression, and as you may or may not know, my current antidepressant isn’t really working for me anymore. I have an appointment with my brain pdoc (as opposed to my mind pdoc) later this week to try a new med myself.

  2. nagadikandang

    October 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

    (This is Naga posting off-account, due to WordPress fiddliness.)

    Thank you, Janet, sincerely. And I didn’t take it as snarky. We’ve been reading others’ journals long enough that we both know the difference!

    The bondage isn’t health care, but it is an act of caring, and it helps get me through until the pdocs can intervene with a longer-term solution.

    Waiting on a callback now. Good luck to you in this, as well.



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