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Question
Posted by: Rob | 2010/07/02

No meds.. meds... no meds...

Hi Prof, Rob here (again!). Hope you''re well?

Prof, don''t shout when you hear this.  -)

As I''ve mentioned before, I was a private patient, but was forced to switch to the state.

In the process, a number of the meds that I had been taking were simply not available (notably Seroquel). So... I stopped taking them.

Long story short, it took months to see the state Dr, and when I did get my appointment.. we were sitting around... staring at the ceiling and the phone rings. It''s the Dr.. he''s not coming. So, I rescheduled, and months later.. same thing.

It''s been more that two weeks now and I haven''t taken a tablet of anything. For the first time in I don''t know how long my head doesn''t feel like it''s in the toilet, and yes, my emotions are more acute but not uncontrollable. I was always told that terrible things would happen to me if I stopped taking meds? especially abruptly. (Which I supposed was a " scare tactic"  to get me to comply?)

The only times I ever visited a psychiatrist was during periods of extreme distress (such as losing everythything, including my house, finding that I''m working sixty odd hours a week and studying full time - while being threatened with eviction - or suddenly finding that I fancy other guys.. THAT was a huge shock to my system) and then I was said to be " manic"  because I started exploring the gay scene and working myself into exhaustion and an ulcer. It was said that it is " out of context"  and not expected and I was not thinking rationally. But, I had to make ends meet - I mean I had to eat (although there were times when that just wasn''t possible). Fortunately someone took me in and gave me shelter. (By the same logic, if I went to the psychiatrist and complained about the economy, would that also be a disease/disorder?)

I was mugged at gunpoint. I was given some benzos and a few sessions with a psychologist and life went on. I mean, it''s not like Menlyn shut down because I had a problem.

My point is, my problems were (are?) relational and possibly spiritual. And I''d dispute the " biological"  basis - although I would concede that there is perhaps a genetic vulnerability and environmental factors also at play.

At university I completed two years of study (with the permission of the dean) simultaneously and passed cum laude before I ran out of money (see above). I was told I''m " intellectually gifted"  - which I''m not so sure about, but I did learn early on that if I just listened in class I didn''t have to study for tests and exams.

Furthermore, since I started taking psychiatric meds, my condition has become progressively worse. The dr says it''s because we haven''t discovered the " right combo"  of drugs. At this point I should mention that I trust my dr implicitly and believe that he would not intentionally harm me or prescribe unnecessarily. My biological father did die by suicide, but, I never knew him. I didn''t know what his name was until two years ago, and then he''d been dead for six years (he abandoned us before I was born) so I also don''t know what he looks like. The " dad-suicide"  seemed to fuel the psychiatrist''s diagnosis that I must have some sort of inherent problem.

The current situation: I am unemployed (and was forced to abandon my studies, so I''m also degree-less, although I have a good Matric), have maybe R2 in my wallet (and possibly a few more under the bed) and in the last 7 months I have received 71 pages of rejection letters from prospective employers. My basic needs, such as coffee and toilet paper, are met generously by my parents as far as they are able. I do not own a car (had to sell it to survive) so I walk everywhere since I can''t even take the bus. No medical aid. No savings (anymore). I haven''t bought new clothes in years. I spend everyday scouring every available site on the net for work, I''ve even gone to my local university - which is a sod of a long way to walk - (to the Deans of the faculties) and offered my services as tea-maker to photocopier, runner, whatever - to no avail. (This is not an exhaustive list, but I think you get the gist)

So dr, here''s my theory: Since I can''t immediately change any of this, I am trying.

I have to *temporarily* suck-it-up and every day try and make it better. Minimise the undesirable effects or render them harmless.

My distress (according to me) is largely caused by the view that I take of the unfortunate events that have happened. I still cry and I fight frustration every minute and it gets me down that the banks keep phoning me and letter after threatening letter arrives (the language gets more dramatic every time) demanding payment.

It does get too much at times. Waaaaaayyyy tooooo muuuucccchhh. Then I make a cup of java, eat a cookie and sit in the sun, listening to some music (which sometimes upsets the neighbours). When it gets really bad, I just take a nap.

Anyhow Dr, it''s just interesting that not too long ago I was taking this Rx - in a letter the dr calls me " stable"  on this -|- tail (at university):

Epilim 1500mg bd
Camcolit 400mg ii bd
Inderal 10mg tds
Dormonoct 2mg nocté  (although if I still couldn''t sleep, 4mg)
Urbanol 5mg tds
Seroquel 300mg nocté 

Right now, I''m not anxious, not depressed, not suicidal, I sleep fine, and I don''t tremor. And for the first time in forever I laugh (as opposed to being just amused) and truly wholeheartedly enjoy it. I''m a musician, and lost interest in music.. now, lalalala, I sing along (pretending I''m Josh Groban, and sometimes Taylor Lautner for good measure - I''m only five years older than he is). And my mental functioning has improved markedly. I remember things for one. Also, I actually " feel"  like doing something, especially pleasurable things - like having a cup of coffee alone, reading in a coffee shop (although my budget doesn''t allow it!) - that I didn''t have while taking meds.

I know that relapse rates are really high. I arranged to be in daily contact with a friend (PhD in Psychology) and talk about everything - sort of like a daily check up - in case I need emergency care. I compiled a " crisis plan"  for such situations and sent to friends and family as a fail-safe. So far so good.

All in all, I know when to face the truth and when to dream.

I''m sorry for the really long entry prof, but, I''d be really interested in your opinion.

Take care

R.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hey, even if I shouted, fortunately via this medium, you wouldn't hear me. Mind you, that also means you won't hear me NOT shouting.
What you describe of the carelessness and uncaring ways of a state doctor is highly unprofessional and unfortunate, and makes a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of equality of treatment and access to health care.
If you're studying full-time somewhere, isn't there a student health an student counselling service which might be useful for you ?
The warning about suddenly stopping meds ( assuming the diagnosis was prioperly made in the first place, and the proper med chosen ) is about an increased risk of some problems, not a certainty of them. Fortunately.
The situations inwhich you found yourself distressed are ones in which you would need to have been really peculiar to have NOT been distressed, weren't they ? Sounds like you are trying bravely to cope as well as pratical in these situations. And you're right ( and CBT, among other methods, holds to your view that its not events that actually harm or make us miserable, but the attitudes we choose to form and hold ABOUT those events ; so we can change the attitude and mode of responding, even when we can't always change the situation or the events.
( The main thing I find worrying in your message is the implied taste for Josh Groban ! )
It may be hat you are indeed one of the people who can do well by his own eforts, perhaps assisted by counselling, rather than on major meds. And the chaits ( like a sort of temperature taking and monitoring ), and the emergency plans, sound very sensible



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3
Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/07/03

Hey, even if I shouted, fortunately via this medium, you wouldn't hear me. Mind you, that also means you won't hear me NOT shouting.
What you describe of the carelessness and uncaring ways of a state doctor is highly unprofessional and unfortunate, and makes a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of equality of treatment and access to health care.
If you're studying full-time somewhere, isn't there a student health an student counselling service which might be useful for you ?
The warning about suddenly stopping meds ( assuming the diagnosis was prioperly made in the first place, and the proper med chosen ) is about an increased risk of some problems, not a certainty of them. Fortunately.
The situations inwhich you found yourself distressed are ones in which you would need to have been really peculiar to have NOT been distressed, weren't they ? Sounds like you are trying bravely to cope as well as pratical in these situations. And you're right ( and CBT, among other methods, holds to your view that its not events that actually harm or make us miserable, but the attitudes we choose to form and hold ABOUT those events ; so we can change the attitude and mode of responding, even when we can't always change the situation or the events.
( The main thing I find worrying in your message is the implied taste for Josh Groban ! )
It may be hat you are indeed one of the people who can do well by his own eforts, perhaps assisted by counselling, rather than on major meds. And the chaits ( like a sort of temperature taking and monitoring ), and the emergency plans, sound very sensible



Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Woman | 2010/07/02

Rob, it seems like you have entered a period in your life where you are in control again. Yes, it is true that you will have a manic period again. The first major one seems to have buggered up things for you.

Here''s the thing... you only get one shot at life, and this is it. You must work out a plan and then do everything in your power to make your life a wonderful place to be. Now in order to live a wonderful life, what do you need? You need education first. You need to finish your degree. What will you do to get that done? Will you work (even as a waiter) to save up, will you take out a study loan?

It''s great that you have back up, but don''t wait for things to get worse. Don''t wait for things to come your way. You are in a place where you have taken control, a back up plan is just that, it is not a reality. Reality is what you make of it. See the time you spent in mania as just that. You couldn''t stop it or change it. Live your life in joy, eat good food, enjoy your family and friends.

Good for you, Rob - really inspiring for a friday morning!

Reply to Woman
Posted by: anon | 2010/07/02

wow Rob you sound like an awesome guy, very reflective and well done for coping so well (by the sounds of it) with your difficult situation. all the best ahead!!!!

Reply to anon

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