As some of you may remember, about three weeks ago I went off my meds. Part of it was in rebellion to a horrible psychiatrist and a part of it was because I was just done with all of the unwanted side effects. Now let me be clear. I do not advocate doing this. In general, it is best to stay on your meds.
With that said, I am feeling great! I’m not sure how long this will last. The ladies in my stained glass group said I seemed calmer and they didn’t know I had stopped taking my medication. They all thought I was on something new. I feel calmer. I feel more energized. I still can’t think clearly and whether that’s remnants of the ECT treatment or left over from the medication, I don’t know. My hands are still shaky, but I know the lithium is out of my system by now. So, I could just be stuck with that. My grandmother had shaky hands, so I may have inherited it. Not sure. Anyway, I know my family has noticed a difference. I’m more interactive with them AND I’m even more willing to go pick them up after sports. I used to just have my husband do that.
Going off medication, while not always a good idea, may just be an individual thing. You know, what works for one person may not work for another. So while in theory staying on medication is the right thing to do, I find for me (at least for now) going off of them is even better. I do have an appointment scheduled with a new pdoc. Granted she is more than an hour away, but at least I will finally have a doctor to supervise my lack of medication. I will feel even better about it all when I’m under a doctor’s care.
Everyone close to me knows this new route I’ve taken. This way, even I can’t see me heading for a spiral, someone is bound to. I am being very careful. I have cut out caffeine so that I can minimize the anxiety. I’m trying to exercise to lose some of the weight I gained on the medication. (This part is a work in progress.) I’m watching my alcohol intake, so that I don’t end up self-medicating. I’m minimizing my stress. This includes NOT talking to Congress. I just need to let that go for now. Sleep? Well, that’s still a problem…in the sense that I don’t get much. I know it’s important, but I do what I can. Hopefully that will resolve itself in time.
Anyway, I’ve embarked on this incredible journey and I am looking forward to seeing where it takes me. Like I said, this isn’t for everyone. It may not even be for me, but only time will tell.
Thanks for reading!
I was inspired by the support I received when I wrote about quitting advocacy. So, I went ahead and made one more attempt at getting through to Con. Murphy’s office. When I did my usual week later check up email to the scheduler (I only do this when I haven’t heard anything for a week), instead of an email back from her I received a call (about an hour after the email was sent) from his chief legislative aide. I knew this was my brush off phone call. He informed me that DR. Murphy (and he emphasized Dr. like I didn’t already know this) had received my info and did speak with the committee. (Not sure how much of that I believe.) He then proceeded to stress the fact that Con. Murphy has over 700,000 constituents and that I would not be granted a phone meeting with him. He assured me that Murphy had spoken to a spectrum of people that would be affected by HR 3717. I could tell this aide was annoyed the I dare attempt to speak with the congressman. However, I have spoken with several other congressmen/women (even ones not in my state). They managed to find time. What makes Murphy so special? Isn’t it his job to speak with people? He is paid quite well. If you’re going to write a bill that effects millions of people, you need to be prepared to speak to some of them!
Someone in one of my groups made the statement that the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender movement began much like ours…yet it has gained momentum and is finally being heard (rightfully so!). So why is it that those of us living with mental illness seem to be either unwilling or unable to unite? I’ve made several attempts at trying to spark some kind of unification, but nothing came of it. I’m either going about it all wrong or people just don’t want to get involved. There very well be other reasons. Just blogging about it isn’t going to cut it. Just sitting back and complaining about it isn’t going to cut it. What is it going to take? I just don’t know.
When congressional representatives are unwilling to talk, there’s a HUGE problem. Yes, Murphy may actually be a Dr. of Psychology, but does he really know the full effects of treatment? I’m not certain he does, otherwise parts of his bill wouldn’t be so glaringly against the Mental Health Community. Yes, I know parts of the bill are good. I’ve never denied that, but taking away our right to advocate on our own behalf…WRONG!
I know this post may seem like I’m attacking Murphy, maybe I am…a little. I’m sure he’s quite good as a congressman. I just can’t stand the fact that I get pawned off on people in his office that are quite rude. Before you start saying it’s because of posts like this one, I have a very different way of communicating with members of Congress. I know how to be respectful. I know how to word my emails and letters so they come across as if I’m a bumbling, ranting idiot. I’ve often said advocacy is an art form.
When is it our time? What will it take to unite us as one voice and be heard? Okay, I sound like I’m whining. It’s time to end this post. I hope I have at least given you something to think about.
So many people have been encouraging me not to stop my advocacy efforts, to take a break instead. Well, I took a break…a little over a week, maybe more. On Oct.1, I tried reaching out to Congressman Murphy’s office one last time…again, silence. Rather than getting frustrated and losing hope (like last time), it has reinforced what I have always believed… We, members of the mental health community, need to unite. One voice can make a difference, BUT if we stand united as one voice, we can and will be heard!
Some people may be content with just complaining about the state of the mental health care system, but I need to DO something. I think advocacy is in my blood. I’ve always fought for what was right and fought against the injustice of others. I’ve done it since adolescence. Now it’s time to fight for something that effects all of us. As a group, one united group, we can start a letter writing campaign the likes of which no one has ever seen before. We can ALL call our representatives in Congress, request meetings (get meetings) and voice our concern, our ideas on how to improve things, show them we will not give up. The list goes on. If they here from enough of us, they will have to listen. This doesn’t just only apply to HR3717. It applies to all mental health/suicide prevention legislation.
I’ve started the ball rolling, but I need a catalyst for change. I need your help. I can type up the letter that needs to be sent. I can help you get the contacts you need. I’ve done this for years and, apparently, I’m not stopping now. We just need to get organized. I’m willing to put in the time and effort. Are you?
Just an aside note: The picture I chose for this post shows a statue of George Washington in the Rotunde of the Capitol Building in DC. It just seemed inspiring to me. I hope it inspires you. 🙂