Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drugs vs. medicine

Addicts often have underlying mental illness issues. I.E. depression, anxiety, OCD and even schizophrenia... Some were diagnosed prior to their drug use. Some only found out when they finally got sober. The question of which came first (the drug abuse or the mental illness) is almost irrelevant when talking about meth. Of all illegal substances, meth is particularly damaging to the brain. (more on that tomorrow)

I was diagnosed with major depression at age 12, and have been on and off a smorgasbord of medicine since then. When I was first diagnosed, depression was treated with tricyclic antidepressants, so named for their three atom molecular structure. These carried more side affects than SSRI's, which are more commonly prescribed today. Tricyclics are still used for a variety of medical conditions including irritable bowl syndrome, specific types of chronic pain, insomnia and fibromyalgia.

SSRI's, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, are widely used today in part, because they have fewer side effects. (as I said, I'll talk more about brain chemistry tomorrow...and NO IT WON'T BE BORING:)

When I was using, I took my meds haphazardly, at best. I had reasons for this that made sense to me at the time, like meth works on serotonin and so do my meds, so it would be wise for me to not mix the two. HUH?? Like I said, it made sense at the time.

Now that I'm sober and living on a small cocktail of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and anti- anxiety meds, I've finally reached homeostasis. But here's what I find bizarre, at least for myself: It took me a long time before I began taking my medicine every day. Now, understand that if I go two days without my drugs, I'm a complete mess. I plunge into deep depression which then leads me to not care about them because, why bother? This will never go away... I'll always be this way (depressed) so it doesn't matter...blah, blah, blah ad nauseum.

When I'm in my right mind, though, this is what I think: I NEVER forgot to smoke meth! Not once. No sirree, Jim Bob, I was faithful to my love, even though it almost killed me. So why can't I be faithful to medicine that makes me feel and live better? Even now, after almost two and a half years of sobriety, I have to constantly remind myself to take them. I've tried everything: putting them in the bathroom by my toothbrush, putting them on my nightstand, putting them in those little "days of the week" pill boxes...

Now, I have them on the top of my microwave and so far, that's working out. I still have to consciously remind myself to take them. Just yesterday, I realized at 5 pm that I still hadn't taken them. It's just weird. I'll see them multiple times a day and think oh, I need to take those now, and then I'll get distracted by something as simple as brushing my teeth or finding lint on the floor. (ooooh, shiney!) Oy.

I've always hated the stigma that goes along with taking medicine for my mental illness. (which reminds me of a personal ad I've thought about running somewhere: overweight, mentally ill drug addicted single mother seeks male....) It seem like everyone these days is on Prozac, Paxil or Wellbutrin. People even put their dogs on anti-depressants. So maybe that's why it's such a struggle for me. Do any of you have the same problem?


  1. Hey Kim, Are you sure you haven't been reading my mind? I have been on Paxil and ativan for almost 3 years. Am currently trying something different AGAINST my doctors advice. Some days it's ok...but it is a daily struggle.The panic attacks are what seems to be hanging on more than anything.
    Hey, how long do you tink we'll have to wait on that book! I AM HOOKED.

  2. Like I said, nothings really happening yet, except an agent is interested. Keep your fingers crossed!!

  3. Kim...after reading these blogs, I don't think baking cookies is the only undescovered talent that you may are an amazing writer. You should write a book...really. You've got an awful lot of 'amazing & interesting' in that mind of yours... :O) Thank you for sharing.
    ~Missy D.

  4. Thank you so much, Missy. I do have the book written. I signed with an agent and went through a year of having it professionally edited, only to have the agent drop me. She didn't think I had enough of a platform to be able to sell it. It's something I'll continue to work toward, though.