15
Jul
18

Brain Surgery

I’m crazy. Absolutely batshit. That’s been known for some time, and I’m not one to pretend otherwise, or shy away from admitting it, or worry about what anyone else says about my particular brand of madness. It’s just a fact, as much a part of my makeup as black hair, bad teeth and my asthma.

Being broken that way doesn’t mean useless, though. It’s treatable. Not “fixable” by some standards, but certainly livable. Hell, I muddled through 37 years before having a stable and functional chemical cocktail to keep me running.

But we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you. Yes. You. Someone out there reading this is suffering from mental illness and not doing what they can to treat it. Because nobody bothered to tell me this stuff, I feel the need to say it, on the off chance it helps someone else. So here’s a quick list of things to remember.

1. It’s not your fault. Sometimes the chemicals just don’t work right and that’s not something you can will to be otherwise. Stop blaming yourself.

2. Don’t let other people tell you how to feel or how to deal with it. “Cheer up!” or other platitudes – offered in various levels of exasperation – doesn’t do anything except make you feel worse if you fixate on it. Other people don’t get it unless they’ve been there, and that’s not their fault. Hating on them or hating yourself because you can’t do as they say isn’t going to get you anywhere.

3. Get a psychiatrist. Not a therapist, not a psychologist, not a GP. A head-shrinker who does that and nothing but. Try to find one who specializes in whatever you think you have; if you’re right, they’ll know how to treat it. If you’re wrong, they’ll be the first to notice and offer a referral to someone else.

4. Get two. No, really. A second opinion is always a good idea. Shrinks are just as fallible as anyone else, seeing the world through the lens of their experiences, biases and education. Finding two who agree – at least generally – is a good sign you’re on the right track.

5. Talk to your shrink. Tell them everything. Hiding things, misrepresenting things, or outright lying isn’t helping anyone. Their job is to help you, and they can’t do that if they don’t have all the facts.

6. Take your meds. If they were prescribed to you, you should take them. That means take them as prescribed, when prescribed. Most psychoactive drugs take time to kick in, and need to maintain a presence in the bloodstream to work. Skipping doses or deciding you “feel good” one day and just not taking them is a quick right straight back to where you started.

7. Talk to your shrink. Toying with brain chemicals is more art than science, because everyone’s illness and internal chemistry is different. The first thing they give you may not work. The dosage may be too high or too low. They may need to add something else to it. Stay in touch with the doctor, tell him how each tweak is working (or not working) and adjust accordingly.

I’m sure there’s something else I’m forgetting, but I think that covers most of the bases. If any of you out there have stories you’d like to share, words of encouragement, or other things you think should be on the list, drop them in the box below.

Until next time.

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