The Life Anti-Psychotic Medicines Stole From Me

Due to moving, insurance problems, and being irresponsible, I have been off my anti-psychotic medicines for over a month now. It’s amazing how much a month can change. There are things anti-psychotics stole from me that I didn’t even realize were due to meds. It was a slow transition – for about two months before I went off my medicines, I reduced myself to a half dosage. I knew I would probably run out before finding another doctor and getting everything set-up … I did not anticipate it taking this long.

Sometimes you don't realize how much you've lost until you have it back. After a month off anti-psychotic medicines, is it time to say goodbye to the life I now have back?

 

Give & Take:

I have parts of my life back, now that I’m off my medicine, that I had given up on. Unfortunately, there are also losses, things I no longer can control. Everything is give or take, it seems – so here I am after midnight, mourning the loss of the life I just got back. I can’t keep this life, you see. Without anti-psychotic medicines, I am unpredictable. I have a tendency to self-harm, and be fairly aggressive (mostly verbally). Without medicines stabilizing me, I tend to hurt those I love most. I isolate myself, and burrow into a pit that I cannot get out of.

Anti-psychotics & Weight:

The reasons that anti-psychotic medicines are a must do not soften the blow of their theft from me at all. When I’m on anti-psychotic medicines, the scale is terrifying. People tell me to diet, to exercise, to work harder to lose the weight. What they don’t understand is that I am. I’ve tried restricting calories, exercising like crazy. Avoiding carbs, not eating sweets, walking, running, lifting weights – the number on the scale only rises. In three months, though – two with a half dose and one with no medicine at all – I have lost 19 lbs. I am not exercising hardly at all. Not even walking (shame on me, I know). No dieting, either. I am eating full-carb sandwiches multiple times a week, and enjoying chocolate and candy regularly. Somehow, the number on the scale is still dropping. It’s a huge contrast – hardly any effort while NOT on anti-psychotics, and I’ve gone down a whole pant size. When I’m ON anti-psychotics, my pant size goes up just as fast as the number on the scale – despite my frantic efforts.

At this point, people are probably thinking, it’s just weight – it’s not that big of a deal. Body acceptance, and all of that. Isn’t it a big deal, though? We are shamed for being overweight in so many ways. People regularly ask me if I am pregnant (my weight tends to go to my stomach, and I am a young, married female). We see models in t.v. ads and magazines that are slim and fit – everything we want to be. More than that – I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I want to feel attractive for my husband (he thinks I’m attractive this way, but it’s hard to believe when I hate my reflection so much). Wearing the clothes I want to, without worrying that they are unflattering would be so wonderful, too!

Anti-Psychotics Stole More Than (a low) Weight:

We are discussing a life stolen here, however – not just horrendous weight gain. I was in my late teens before starting on anti-psychotic medicines. Spending all day reading a book was extremely common for me. Anti-psychotic medicines took that away from me so slowly that I didn’t even realize why I couldn’t read anymore. I went from reading at every opportunity to being unable to focus on the words on the page – rarely reading anything. From finishing at least a book a week to being lucky to finish a book a month. To constantly checking out library books (at least five at a time!) to not even knowing who the librarian was, because I hadn’t been in such a long time.

From a reading perspective, this medicine-free month has been amazing. I’m reading books I have been wanting to read for years, but haven’t been able to focus on. I’m living in the books again, becoming the characters, living their lives – instead of finishing the book feeling unsatisfied and unimpressed.

Mourn but Accept the Loss:

Those two factors alone, weight loss and reading, crush me with the thought that I have to give them up when I go back on anti-psychotic medicines. Staying off anti-psychotic medicines isn’t an option, though. If ever I were to hurt my husband because I refused to take my medicine and lost myself to a psychotic state, I could not forgive myself.

Even if I did not ever become violent off-meds, I cannot stand myself untreated. My thoughts are much harsher, and so are my words. I am much more impulsive, much more likely to spit out words that invisibly wound.

Hating Myself – Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils:

Maybe it all comes down to why I hate myself, then – off-medicine, I hate myself because I am a despicable human being. My thoughts are not anything like the person I want to be. I hate how I treat people, especially the people I claim to love. On-medicine, I am fat. I hate my body for being unattractive, and I hate that I cannot do the things I love to do anymore.

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my passion for reading from me. They stole my size-0 jeans, and my slim body. I hate them for the things they stole from me, the life they stole from me. With anti-psychotic medicines, I am almost unrecognizable as the same person I was before treatment.

Despite the losses, though, anti-psychotic medicines gave me the person I wanted to be. That person didn’t look the way I wanted her to look, she didn’t do the things I wanted her to do – but she was kind. She didn’t think harsh thoughts about everyone and everything. She didn’t try to wound everyone with her words when she was wounded.

 

Anti-psychotic medicines stole my life from me.

Meanwhile, they helped me become the person I always wanted to be.

Friends: Thanksgiving Gratefuls

Mental illnesses can be a lonely road. We are often surrounded by people who don’t understand, by people that want to believe we are ‘normal’. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Families get together, and friends might throw a party or have a nice meal.

Even when everything is going wrong, there is usually something to be grateful for. Since I had a long list, I narrowed it down to one thing in particular to share with all of you.

No Pressure: YOU Decide

Major holidays like Thanksgiving can be devastating for the mentally ill. Sometimes, the people who should understand better than anyone – they grew up with us! They raised us! – understand the least of all. It is not uncommon for people with mental illnesses to be estranged from family members. Remember, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a gathering with your family. You can join your friends with one of their families, or have a celebration of your own with friends. You can even volunteer at a Thanksgiving celebration hosted for the homeless or needy. We all have different paths to walk, different lives that we’ve led. Don’t feel shamed into spending Thanksgiving alone if you don’t want to – and don’t feel forced into being around people on Thanksgiving if you don’t want to. 

Gratefuls:

Soon (if it isn’t already), the internet will be buzzing with everything people are grateful for. Thanksgiving is about being thankful, after all. I have a long list of gratefuls, so I will share only one (for now):

friends.

As a person who is not very social, I have very few friends. I can count them on one hand, with fingers left over. That’s not the important part, though. The important part is that I have friends who are willing to be there when I need them. When they need me, I return the favor.

One In Particular:

Fortunately, one of my friends works nights – which means that even when he isn’t at work, he’s awake at crazy hours. I can text him at one a.m., and he will answer – even if it’s a ridiculous reason.

He doesn’t know why I text him at odd hours – but it’s okay. There doesn’t need to be a reason discussed. (Although he knows I have a mental illness, sometimes it’s nice to pretend that everything is normal. There is no reason to tell him every time I hallucinate.) He doesn’t know that I texted him at one in the morning last night because there were people surrounding me in the dark room. That I was texting him for a distraction while waiting for my sleep aid to kick in and make me sleepy enough to ignore what I saw around me. It’s okay, though.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for people who we call friends. People who we can text at one in the morning when we’re scared to death, and people we can hang out with and watch a movie. There are so many good friends out there, and this is my shoutout to them.

Do you have friends you can rely on, that know your struggles and are still there for you? Give them a shoutout!

 

The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies

Ordinarily Jefferies’ novel wouldn’t have been something I would choose to read, but the description sounded interesting. The title and cover kind of age (in my opinion) the selection of readers likely to choose this book.

However, once I became invested in the story, I couldn’t put it down. The last night reading it, I told myself “just until the end of this chapter” (it was eleven at night). At the end of the chapter, though, the part I was anticipating still hadn’t arrived … so I told myself, “just until this part is resolved” (now almost midnight). When the part was resolved, there weren’t that many pages left to read, so I might as well finish the book … right? It was after one in the morning when I finished The Tea Planter’s Wife, but it was worth it.

An engrossing novel that I couldn't put down. Jefferies pulls you into the story to live in the 1900's with Gwen, and the ending is not what you expect.

Synopsis:

It’s the 1900’s and a young girl named Gwendolyn (Gwen) has just married the love of her life – but he lives across the ocean from her. Gwen is determined, though, that “If Ceylon was where his heart belonged, it was where her heart would belong too” (pg. 15). She settles into her new life on the tea plantation, learning a heartbreaking secret along the way. It’s not long before she has a secret of her own, a secret that could ruin her contented, well-established life.

I loved that Jefferies revealed the secrets concealed throughout this novel slowly, making readers think that they knew the entire truth but then showing us that we were too confident too soon. For one secret in particular, throughout most of the book I thought I’d figured it out – of course the reader knows more than the characters! – but Jefferies proved me too confident once again.

Minor Inconsistencies:

The characters were very real, with insecurities and mistakes, and while reading these 413 pages, the reader exists in the novel. There were a few inconsistencies in The Tea Planter’s Wife that bothered me after reading, but they were minor. One was in the prologue, in the short description of what the unknown woman did before leaving the house (I cannot explain without plot spoiling, but maybe you will notice it, too?). The other was in a description of a ball Gwen attended.. even in Gwen’s (slight) memory of the event, the same detail was included – but it’s a detail that doesn’t make sense when it comes to the explanation at the end of the novel.

Inconsistencies included, I loved The Tea Planter’s Wife, and would gladly read any similar works that Jefferies has to offer.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Reducing Symptoms: Strawberry Pecan Salad

Did you know that your diet can affect your symptoms? An article on Diet and Mental Health from the Mental Health Foundation explains that “nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is similar for fresh vegetables and salad” (“Diet,” n.d.). Is further prompting needed to enjoy this delicious strawberry pecan salad? It’s easy to make and completely worth the effort.

Strawberry Pecan Salad:

This salad is based on the strawberry pecan salad at Cracker Barrel, but it’s not quite a copycat. My sister-in-law came up with the idea.

A delicious salad with warm, toasted pecans and sweet strawberries. Based on a Cracker Barrel recipe.Ingredients:
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Pecans, chopped and toasted
  • spinach or lettuce
  • red onion (optional)
  • Browned chicken
  • Bacon bits
  • Mozzarella or Feta Cheese
  • Strawberry or raspberry vinaigrette
How to:

Slice the strawberries, chop and toast the pecans at 350 for about 5 minutes or until warm and toasty. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. You should smell a nutty aroma in the air when they are done.

Strawberries for Strawberry Pecan Salad. A delicious salad with warm, toasted pecans and sweet strawberries. Based on a Cracker Barrel recipe.

Slice the chicken into thin bite sized pieces, season to taste (we used Adobo and Creole seasonings) and saute in a skillet with hot oil until cooked and lightly browned.

Rip the spinach or lettuce into bite sized pieces. Dice the onion, if desired.

Onions for Strawberry Pecan Salad. A delicious salad with warm, toasted pecans and sweet strawberries. Based on a Cracker Barrel recipe. Combine greens and toppings with desired amount of dressing.

Delicious strawberry pecan salad. Topped with sweet strawberries and toasty pecans, this salad is based on a Cracker Barrel recipe.

P.S.

If you have extra strawberries and pecans, consider using them as a topping for vanilla ice cream – don’t try to cut all junk food out of your diet! It will likely cause cravings and you will be more likely to binge when giving into them.

Leftover strawberries and pecans from Strawberry Pecan Salad as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Resources:
Diet and Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2016, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/diet-and-mental-health