The Mind Monster

imageA few months ago I was at a conference where a psychologist was speaking about standardised treatment for mental and emotional trauma. The present norm in such cases is using a combination of medication and a basic therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to attempt to restore the sufferer to the state they were in prior to the trauma.

This threw me somewhat as after any major incidents in life one changes and I would have thought it was counterproductive to deny this.

I chatted to the speaker after his presentation and as he had liased a lot with the government on various mental health related subjects I queried him about something which had been bothering me for some time.

I’d noticed that near everyone I know (predominantly menopausal women but also men and several very young people) was on antidepressants, specifically citalopram.

Now I had mused how odd that seemed, given the individual nature of all our depressions/anxiety related illness’, but reconciled to citalopram being the ‘in’ drug of the moment.

Another thing that I had noticed was that some of my friends who have more serious forms of psychological illness were being offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Whilst CBT does have validity of course, and admittedly my opinions are those of a layman with a long history of mental health related ‘issues’, but offering someone who is contemplating suicide to go on a waiting list for CBT, seems a bit lack lustre.

So I asked this psychologist, do governments and health care systems and perhaps even pharmaceutical companies have a standardised joint plan of how to treat and drug the population?

He simply said, yes.

I’ve periodically taken anti depressants for years for compulsive obsessive behaviours, anxieties, depressions and mania. I hate being on drugs and manage to stay off medication for years at a time, but life is often a struggle and I use every coping mechanism in my arsenal to survive.

Physical problems such as Graves’ disease can exacerbate my manias, and sometimes I simply snap and am lucky enough to have an awareness that says.. get help…now!

I’ve been on this particular course of medication for two years and recently had my regular physical checks and scans at the hospital. I was chatting with my practice nurse about the unexplained steady weight loss I’ve had recently. My nurse has been working with me for nearly ten years and always thought that I had the most awareness of my body of any patient that she had come across, asked me if I thought that my thyroid could be malfunctioning again. The thing is, I didn’t know. The anti depressants have dislocated me from my madness but also from my self awareness.

Now this situation unnerved me and made me very uncomfortable with my medication.

I’m not sure whether to risk coming off the pills to experience awareness of all aspects of life, misery and mania included, and to also be aware of my body and what’s happening within it, or to stay medicated, comfortable and sometimes even happy.

I also need to bear in mind that one of the symptoms of depression is the sufferer adjusting their own medication. The alternative to this is handing over responsibility of my well being  to the medical profession, a field which, as indicated above, isn’t entirely altruistic.

As always, I’ll go with the change, the risk and what I hope, is the progression.

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About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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7 Responses to The Mind Monster

  1. Two years is a long time to be on SSRI anti-depressants, maybe give it a go without and see how you get on? I’m not a doctor but have a couple of good friends who are psychiatrists and have heard them both say that they don’t recommend SSRI’s for more than six months at a time, in most cases. Maybe try weaning yourself slowly off them over the course of a few months?

    • That’s the plan Greg. It’s a nasty one to come off, but my dose isn’t high and I’ll do it slow!

      • Fabulous Charlotte, I wish you all the best with it! Me and my partner have been on Escitalopram (I think a stereo isomer of Citalopram???) very occasionally for a few years now, but we rarely need to take it for longer than two weeks to a month, touch wood!

  2. David says:

    Thanks! One thing which I is feel is of importance. You mentioned restoring to a state before trauma. This is just impossible I am not the person I was 1 day ago, 1 week ago, 1 month ago or 1 year ago. It’s change we need to accept we are different from what we once we’re yet at a subtle level the self or I remains.

    • I agree completely David, this is why I found this medical approach untenable. I think the speaker was referring to a cookie cutter approach of medicated pseudo wellness, rather than an integration and healing.

  3. Patently, you must do nothing without first consulting a doctor. I have been on life-saving medication for fifty-eight years. During that time I have often thought of taking matters into my own hands but have sought a medical opinion first which usually confirmed my ‘self-diagnosis’ to be correct. As for changing day to day, moment to moment, I find the reverse to be true. As I grow older I am becoming the man I have always been.My experiences do not change me they merely add another subtle layer to my existence.

  4. I talked to my doctor recently and he thought that I should stay on the medication, however twenty years ago another doctor told me that he would arrange me a lifetime script of methodone as it was such an effective anti depressant, so even the medical profession can have inaccurate opinions.
    I’ve had so many diagnosis over the years Russell, that while I appreciate our medical system, I tread wary of it, esp as I grew up around some of the over medicated generation of the 1960’s.
    I’ll take care and work in tandem with my doctors as I know the inherent dangers of playing with my meds.
    I agree about time bringing us full circle, to the person we were at core and were born to be. However I also believe that everything that happens to us, adds a different element or subsumes or highlights what is already there, and that these occurrences can’t be denied but are part of our personal rich tapestry.
    I understand medication being used to suppress that which one isn’t able to cope with or deal with, but that isn’t healing or integrative treatment, just a temporary balm.
    However as I said, I’m only a layman with opinions dictated to by my own experiences and of course I would never, ever recommend my own choices to anyone else.

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