In case I didn’t mention it, I dropped one of my medications. In coordination with my doctors: I didn’t go rogue. If it turns out I did mention it, welcome to the update. *
There’s been some good. The dread that accompanied the pill-taking is gone. I didn’t realize how heavy the burden had become until it was lifted. But good girls don’t complain.
I’m also not missing the side effects. Not even the ones I didn’t know about.
It turns out the medication has a dampening effect. Off it, I’m more aware. I’m more here, more “of the world”. I’m sharper.
If I mentioned dropping the med, I probably avoided the details. That’s because Lurasidone, also known as Latuda, is an antipsychotic.
I don’t have a problem with being on medication. It doesn’t embarrass or shame me. I’ve taken pills on and off for years and I’m fine with it. This was true until the moment my doctor suggested an antipsychotic. Suddenly, I felt extra crazy. And ashamed. Antidepressants and fun meds like Ativan are one thing. Antipsychotics are something else.
But it does help with the PTSD. Or it did.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know what a medication is doing or even if it’s working. The effects can be subtle and gradual. The changes when you stop are easier to recognize. You see what comes back and what’s different. Like the flattened affect. I’m enjoying that being gone.
And then there’s the lack of mad. Not regular mad. The big mad that the magic pill that the magic pills kept away. I almost forgot about her.
I got mad this week. Not regular mad. The kind of mad that little pills tried to keep in check.
Pills aren’t the only things that can make you feel ashamed.
I have so much anger inside. I’m like Bruce Banner: it’s always there. It’s not specific. It’s not anger about this or that specific thing. It’s vague. It’s cumulative. It’s feral. It’s mean.
It might be a big ball of disguised pain but I don’t like to think about that too much.
I try to tell people about it sometimes, friends and family. I try to talk to them about being a big ball of rage. Nobody wants to hear about it; they treat me like I’m joking or a fool. Maybe I should work on my crazy eyes and rage-up my wardrobe. I could be meaner: I could start tripping people and making rude comments about unfortunate wardrobe choices. Unfortunately, that would lead to guilt and then it’d be about shame-filled rage.
“I’m a huge ball of rage; it feels so massive that I’m afraid I’m going to destroy the world.”
This was one of the first things I told my current psychiatrist. He believed me and that was a nice change from being humoured and patronized. That anger hasn’t turned my life into smoldering rubble is mostly due to maladaptive coping mechanisms and luck; the lack of debris is not evidence of anger’s absence.
Medication also helps.
Like the one I recently stopped taking.
I don’t do many projects. The tendency to perfectionism can make them more stressful than fun. Occasionally, however, needs must.
I bought my dining room set second-hand. I love almost everything about it except the seats. Nobody with children, pets, or humans should have white upholstery. And I come from a long line of chronic spillers. Recovering was the plan from the moment they crossed the threshold several years back and thanks to procrastination, they’re now a hot mess.
Perfectionism and depression try to make taking action impossible. Enter the work-around. What works best for me is breaking down jobs into small steps I complete one at a time. I take longer to get things done but my goal is not only completion but mental stability.
Step one was the staple gun. I’d bought one when I recovered my piano bench last year so that was easy to tick off. Step two was the fabric. I’d initially thought to pick up six different scraps to create complementary but non-identical chairs. Unfortunately, there were only a few upholstery scraps available, and even fewer I had affection for.
Three metres of blue and white zebra print it is. Which ended up being four because the woman at the fabric store didn’t believe I could measure or do math but that’s another story.
Steps three, four, and five followed a few days after I got the fabric home because it’s important not to rush things. Which is a disseminating way to say I felt lazy and uninspired.
I disassembled one of the chairs, made a template from the old seat cover, and tested tracing implements on fabric scraps: graphite pencils work best. I’m not sure what the white pencil that lives in my sewing box is for: tracing a pattern on upholstery is not part of its skillset.
And now the penultimate step: stapling the fabric to the seat.
I thought about watching a YouTube video on how to upholster chair seats but that would make sense and improve the finished product so I went with winging it instead. That way there’s more chance for mistakes and self-criticism. Perfect.
Working on the floor seemed to be the best option. I tried the counter but I didn’t have the right angles or enough leverage. I thought about sweeping the floor five seconds too late. Luckily, I have a lint brush in the junk drawer. I pulled the upholstery taught-but-not-too-taught and lined up the first staple.
The staple jammed. Idiot. Can’t use a staple gun. Fucking gun. You probably bought the wrong gun. You cut the fabric wrong. You didn’t have enough of a seam allowance. Stupid.
I check the staple box. It says they’re for upholstery. It says they’re the right size for the staple gun. I open the bottom and pull back the slide. I give it a shake and smack it against my hand. Nothing. I unscrew the tension screw to see if that helps, then randomly wiggle bits and pieces of metal about. The jammed staple falls out after I shove it out of the way with a screwdriver. I put the staple gun back to rights and move back into position. Did I pick the wrong fabric? It’s running at the cut edges. I should’ve asked for help. I should’ve used different scissors. I should hem it. Was I supposed to wash it? I don’t know anything. How can I be this old and still be such a failure?
I fire the staple gun. Impact. Success. I knew I could be good at this.
I move an inch to the right for the next shot. I could make the gap larger but I don’t want slack, gaping fabric. I squeeze the trigger. The staple jams again.
I completely lose my shit.
I am not being hyperbolic.
I fling the goddam, useless, mother-fucking staple gun to the right, denting the front of the dishwasher door and sending my already volcanic rage skyrocketing. I can’t tell you what I’m thinking. I’m not thinking anymore. I’m up on my feet. I kick the cushion. I’m screaming. The word, “fuck” is echoing all over the place. I’m glad it’s winter and the windows are closed. I’m glad I’m home alone.
I grab the stupid stapler. I hate this fucking stapler. It’s useless. The whole thing is a failure. I can’t do anything. I’m pathetic.
I slam the stapler into the counter, over and over. Bits and pieces of red paint are flaking off everywhere. Quality control is shit.
The edge of the counter cracks which makes my rage, frustration, and feelings of failure worse.
I storm through the house to the garage and rip open the door. I’m savagely disappointed it doesn’t leave a hole in the wall as it slams wide. I throw the staple gun as hard as I can into the recycling bin before adding a kick.
Metal’s recyclable, right?
I want to heave the garage can through windows but sanity is already trying to regain control. We’re not there yet though. I grab the staple gun’s storage case and the extra staples and hurl them at the wall before kicking over the bike propped up next to me. I throw a ride-on toy that I stumble into at the shelves with a curse before storming back into the house. No damage from the slamming door this time either.
But I’m coming down in earnest now and it’s horror and shame and embarrassment. What the fuck is wrong with you? And now I need a new staple gun and kitchen repairs and how am I supposed to explain the embarrassing loss of control to people who ignore me when I tell them that this is part of my struggle?
I tell my kids a sanitized version to explain the damaged counter. They shrug it off. They shrug off most of the stuff related to my mental illnesses. I’m not sure if that’s because it is what it is or because they’re hideously traumatized.
Something else to worry about.
It was the Latuda that kept the lid on. The antipsychotic helps with the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms vary but for me include problems associated with frustration and rage. Luckily, I timed my nut-losing well: I had visits with my counsellor and psychiatrist already scheduled for two and four days ahead respectively.
Quiet listening, nods, and prodigious note-taking by mental health professionals make me nervous.
There could be a new pill if I want it. One that was originally designed for epileptics but shows excellent off-label results with mood stability. It’s all about working on the weird wiring. But the new pill might also swing me back to numb. Maybe that’s something I’ll ultimately have to accept. It’s better than regular and expensive home repairs.
I held things together in the past by doing terrible things. I don’t want to use warped coping techniques anymore. I don’t want to be flat, either.
It’s going to be a while before I chat with my psychiatrist again. Baring severe emergency, we won’t reconnect until March. This means my decision to hold back on adding another medication will stand, barring emergency, until then.
I like to downplay the dire and focus on the funny. Another reason professionals are good to have around: they have a more accurate outlook. And while rage-y outbursts are bad and they’d prefer them not to happen, they don’t think I’m a danger to other people. Only to myself and not that, in particular, right now.
Being evaluated that way is a bit odd.
I feel a little like a line in a press release.
But an awake one.
* I was sure I mentioned it but couldn’t find the reference with a quick review. The WordPress search engine frustrates me.
** The eating disorder and comorbid conditions screwed me up six ways from Sunday, but they did allow me to survive.