the end of a 9.5 year era (my life as a psychiatric medication addict)

To be honest, I thought that I was going to officially unofficially end this blog. I only have so many stories to tell, and rants to go on before people get fed up with my uncreative story telling and word usage, and to be perfectly honest, there’s some stuff about my mental health that I’m actually not okay with writing about on the internet. I know this is supposed to be completely uncensored, no bs, etc. etc., but some things are just best left to my own devices (one of them not being a computer). That’s why people have friends.

But there are still things, okay a lot of things. For example, why haven’t I posted jack squat in the past month or so? There are many answers to that question, but the main one being this: I’m officially on the klonopin wagon (I had to google “on the wagon” vs. “off the wagon” because I could have sworn that being “off the wagon” meant that you weren’t doing the addictive thing, but it’s the opposite and now I’m really confused about this phrase. Cause being “on the wagon” sounds like you’re back on the drug of choice, which totally makes more sense and not “yeah I’m on the wagon, I decided to stop drinking.” When you’re off a drug, you should be “off the wagon,” right?)

About a month and a half ago, after being fed up with psychiatrists telling me that I shouldn’t be taking Klonopin long term, that it leads to dementia and Alzheimers and it’s addicting and terrible for you, I finally went to my primary care doc and had him taper me off of it. I noticed my short-term memory going a bit. My anxiety wasn’t really under control anymore and unless I got a stronger dosage or switched to another medication that probably wouldn’t help, it was looking like I was going to be taking psychiatric medication for the rest of my life and eventually develop more brain damage than I’ve already inflicted upon myself and has been inflicted on me by medication.

I still remember when I first started taking Klonopin. It worked almost instantly and suddenly the things that normally scared me were just whatever everyday things. I lost a lot of weight because I was constantly nauseous and didn’t eat more than 500 calories a day and was still exercising daily. And for a while, I felt really great. My self-esteem soared because I finally had the mind and body I had been wanting for years. The nausea went away, but I still kept losing weight, which was okay with me. And I still felt better in general. I wasn’t scared to be around people or go out in public. After a while, I adjusted to it, but I just kept taking it because it was just a part of my daily routine and I didn’t think twice about it besides that it was still helping. And then I decided it was time to take away the safety blanket. No doctor could convince me to stop taking it, I made this decision myself.

After a month and a half of misery, days where I couldn’t walk straight, days I sat in my car before work having a panic attack, days where I couldn’t be around more than 1 person at a time, days where I’d stay in bed all day because my blood pressure dropped down to a borderline hypotension level of 90/58 and I thought I was dying..

I’m now happy to say I’m on my last week of tapering. For this last week of being a pill popper, I’m down to 1/4mg of Klonopin once a day, and then next week, I’ll be pill free. For 4.5 years, I’ve taken 1mg twice a day of Klonopin, always relying on it to keep me calm, cure my hangovers, blame anything that happened that day on the fact that I “forgot to take my meds.” For 9.5 years, I’ve exhausted the list of anti-anxiety, anti-depression, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, ADHD medications, benzos, and some others that I’m not entirely sure what category they fall into besides the “I feel like a sociopath” category. 9.5 years of side effects and reliance. 1 seizure, 1 overdose, several medication-induced manic episodes, days of withdrawal if I really did forget to take my morning Klonopin, weeks of not eating anything, my weight fluctuating between 100 and 135 lbs, nights fighting with my Dad because I legitimately forgot to take my meds, nights fighting with my mom because medications would make me a mess, days I had to be pulled out of school because I would start crying for no reason, 9.5 years of constant fluctuation of who I thought I was, what was wrong with me, going from on top of the world to begging the universe to let me die while I sleep.

I’ve haven’t been just me in 9.5 years.

And now it’s almost done. I’ve spent years jumping from medication to medication trying to find my cure, but really, I was just trying to find a band-aid. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that medications will not cure you, they will not fix you, and ultimately, they will not help unless you are actively trying to help yourself.

It’s liberating, really. While medications are convenient, they also get in the way of everything. Way too many trips to the pharmacy, too many phone calls to get refills, time wasted in doctor’s offices every month, needles stuck in my arm to get monthly blood testing. And now I can say I never have to do this again.

So that is basically why I haven’t written in a month. I’ve been re-learning how to be human, how to feel emotions somewhat appropriately, and looking all my fears and suppressed memories in the face and saying to them,

“I’m over you. Congratulations.”

*Special thanks to D for sticking with me through this hurricane. And to my few Foco friends who I have put off seeing because I’ve been a mess and I really will try harder to hang.

 

 

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Anti-Consumerism Month Update Numero Uno

Okay so I haven’t really been on top of the whole “update” part of this anti-consumerism month thing I resigned myself to. But here’s my first update! Are you ready? It’s oh so terribly exciting. Full of withdrawal and resisting the things that I “need.” It’s exciting, I swear.

Well, not really. I just had to draw you in somehow. So far, it’s been a bit difficult. Some of the things that I’ve wanted to do haven’t been able to work out. Frequenting farmers markets right now doesn’t exactly fit into my schedule at the moment. Since it’s the off season for farmers markets in Foco, the only farmer’s market that I know of takes place on Saturday mornings, and unfortunately I work on Saturday mornings, which has forced me to still rely on King Soopers, Safeway, Sprouts, etc. However, it has made me realize that some of the foods that I really love and tend to buy frequently, are either not necessary (oh, Complete Cookies and Lara Bars, how I miss you) or just expensive (avocados and tempeh, an unfortunate sacrifice). Food shopping is hard. It’s just so easy to overspend. Eating a mostly vegan diet does help in some ways since tofu is much cheaper than meat, and not buying cheese or milk cuts out a large portion of the grocery list. I’ve kept eggs on the menu, however, so it’s not completely vegan. Apparently there’s a whole different section of vegetarian and veganism that is called “veggan” aka, not eating any animal products except eggs. It works out though and while my vegan values are telling me that eggs are bad, I’m still trying to make sure that the eggs I do buy are from hens that are ethically raised. Also I forgot how good eggs taste and I refuse to eat the dreaded “vegan egg” (some weird powder made of seaweed that Follow Your Heart puts into egg shaped containers and tastes like nothing and is extremely overpriced, and also a complete waste of packaging. I’ll put the “not buying the vegan egg” in a definite anti-consumerism category.)

But also since I’ve been cutting back on my meds (on doctor’s orders), I’ve had to be extremely cautious. Benzodiazepine withdrawal isn’t something to be taken lightly. While I’m coming off the medication slowly, it’s still risky because of the whole likelihood of seizures thing. So basically, if I wasn’t already a heavy drinker, this medication withdrawal wouldn’t be as much of a concern. But coming off a benzo and trying to cut off alcohol completely in the same month? That’s basically me walking to my grave. Like being taken off benzos, alcohol is the same way. Cutting it off completely is very risky since alcohol works on the same neurotransmitters in the brain (fun fact: benzos are a common medication prescribed to alcoholics in rehab in order to prevent withdrawal). So I think it’s pretty safe to say that I shouldn’t go cold turkey on alcohol while going through benzo withdrawal (who came up with that “cold turkey” saying anyway?) So I buy cheap wine and try to stick to only a glass or two. So far, it works out pretty well. I’m definitely spending less on alcohol and my tolerance is decreasing so I don’t have to drink as much, which is kind of nice.

The one thing that I have managed to be good about is not eating out. As much as I love pita pit and sushi really aren’t necessary when I have food at home and it does save a good amount of money. Also not going to bars or going out is just an unnecessary expense when buying a 6 pack or a bottle of wine for $10 will last me the week.

Really, the hardest part is the realizing the amount of food that I consume in a week. Since I work out almost every day and do some heavy lifting, it feels like my body constantly needs food. Trying to find healthy and cheap foods to keep me well-nournished is difficult. Buying protein bars is convenient, but not cheap. I wandered around the King Soops for almost half an hour yesterday trying to figure out what cheap and healthy snacks that aren’t chocked full of high fructose corn syrup I could buy. After staring at the cracker aisle, the nut aisle, cereal aisle, and even just the general snack aisle, I settled for a bag of apples which I figured out upon purchasing them, that granola bars were actually cheaper. Just another learning curve. Since I already know how to make granola on a budget, I can probably figure out how to make snack bars in bulk that will long term be cheaper and healthier than store-bought granola bars.

Life has been stressful, and I admit to being a stress eater. Between the stress and withdrawal anxiety, it’s been tough, which has made me need to find other ways to relieve the stress. Some days have been hours long marathons of watching Buffy. When I have adequate energy, hooping has helped a lot. Staying active has helped combat the stress and the anxiety since anxiety seems to manifest itself in me as an overabundance of energy. Instead of stress eating, I try to hoop more, do some sit ups, yoga, hiking or just working off the energy on the elliptical. The nice weather we’ve been having here has helped keep my energy up (as much as it does concern me that it’s March in Colorado and it hasn’t snowed in almost a month).

Week 1 has been tough. Hopefully it’ll get a little easier from here given the learning curve of the past week. And hopefully the klonopin withdrawal will start to ease which will help as well.

More updates on Emily’s Anti-Consumerism Month 2017 next week (and hopefully other unrelated updates throughout the week). Stay tuned to see my sanity slowly deteriorate.

find zen in a punching bag

It’s funny to think about where I was a year ago. Actually a year ago I was in a hospital bed trying to convince the doctors I rarely saw to let me go home. But on the other hand, I was also dead set on getting out of Maryland and moving to Colorado. And now, I’m here and I’m not sure why. Funny how something you thought you were so sure about ends up being the one thing you’re completely unsure about.

I was so sure that I just wanted to be here to figure my life out and just work. Well, I am doing that but it’s not nearly as glorious as I thought it would be. I did figure out where I want to be and want to do, but in the midst of that, I realized I needed to make an even bigger decision. Should I stay, or should I go?

Truth is, times are pretty tough. This whole “starting a new life” thing kind of has ended up being financial suicide, which is pretty untimely now that I’ve decided to go back to school. I keep wondering to myself, why didn’t I figure this all out BEFORE I decided to move here? Well, I guess I was just a bit naive. And that’s okay. Sometimes learning things the hard way is the only way. I followed my heart instead of my mind. In doing so, while this whole concept is incredibly freeing, it is incredibly terrifying as well. Staying out here is what my heart is telling me because I am free and I am afraid. My mind tells me to go back to Maryland because I might find myself out on the streets trying to teach my pet rats to do tricks to earn money if I stay here. But the fear and freedom I’ve found in being here in Colorado and finally figuring out what I want to do with my life has made me realize I’ve finally begun to think with my heart instead of my head. As irrational as the heart can be, I now feel free. Decisions are hard. I decided to follow my heart.

And I did make a few decisions. First, I made the decision that it really is time to get off of my meds and handle my anxiety in more holistic ways through meditation, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, and of course the biggie: limiting alcohol. After dealing with this bitchy psychiatrist that I decided I never wanted to deal with again, I went to my primary care doctor who ACTUALLY LISTENED TO ME. He was completely on board with my decision and after telling him that I’m applying to acupuncture school, he was in complete support of me using acupuncture as an alternative treatment to my anxiety. Coolest doc ever, right? Doctors who actually support the lifestyle that you think is best for you is what every doctor should be, unless your lifestyle is hurting you, of course. He’s also the first doctor who hasn’t tried to scrutinize me for eating a mostly vegan diet by pushing me to take supplements and get my blood tested to make sure I’m healthy etc. etc.

Basically, I decided to take control of my life for the first time. Getting off of benzodiazepines is really tough, I won’t lie. There’s the physical withdrawal in which sleeping seems impossible because you feel like you’re heart is going to thump thump thump its way out of your chest because it’s beating so hard, and then waking up feeling hungover every morning even if you didn’t even have a sip of alcohol the night before. And there’s the mental withdrawal. Always on edge. Always afraid. Finding your anxiety worse than you can ever remember it being. It sucks, but I know that this too shall pass because I now know how to control it. I will be free.

Earlier this week, I had made plans to go hiking with a couple friends. Today, I woke up to get ready for the hike and I felt awful. Racing heartbeat, suddenly not wanting to go out, and still feeling hungover even though I didn’t drink last night (unless I’m getting Buffy hangovers, maybe I’m binging too much, possible?) Still, I wasn’t going to back out on plans because I wasn’t going to give into my anxiety. Once I got outside and we were on the trail and I’m 15 minutes into the hike and dying and hating myself (see JP Sears’ video about Boulder: The Consciousness Capital of the World, which also sums up what Boulder, CO really is like. Goddamn trustifarians, aka rich hippies), I looked out at the mountains and breathed in the fresh air and felt an immediate sense of peace. Sometimes it really is that simple, sometimes not. For me, getting outside and feeling the sun hit my face and breathing the fresh, clean air of the mountains reminds me to just be here, now. Sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes you have to go Buffy on a punching bag until your knuckles are bruised and blistered and your mom yells at you that you’re going to get arthritis to get out that nervous energy. Because that’s all anxiety is for me: pent of energy. I guess also slowly dying on a beautiful hike uses up a lot of the anxious energy too. But hey, the mountains are still beautiful even if you’re surrounded by an entire forest that was completely burned away in a fire about 5 years ago. Deciding to live with my anxiety is freeing, while also being ultimately terrifying.

The other decision I made is that I still want to be here. For a few months, I had convinced myself that nothing was ever going to work out here. The job market out here is horrific and I’ve found myself losing money instead of making money. Finding friends that I actually like in a town full of college kids is pretty hard too, especially when you don’t like people your age. But when I see the red light shining through my window in the morning as the sun rises, and seeing the sun set over Horsetooth Rock after a snow storm, I feel peace and I remember why I wanted to be here so badly in the first place. Maybe not being here in Fort Collins, necessarily, but being in a different place where I’m surrounded by mountains and being away from the place that I had grown too comfortable with is enough. I’m trying so hard to give myself reasons to stay because it is freeing and terrifying and I don’t want my head to make me go crying back to my mom in Maryland because everything out here isn’t working out.

How did I decide that applying for a graduate program in acupuncture here in Colorado was the right decision? Well, I felt freedom and fear. Freedom in the sense that I finally figured out who I really want to be and what I want to do, and the fear of everything that goes along with applying to grad school when you’re pretty low on funds and looking at a $60,000 program.

Here I am now, a year later. This time last year, the only future I saw ahead of me was my delusional relationship with Blob, feeling sorry for myself, not knowing who I was or what I was doing, but only knowing that I wanted to run away, and so I decided to do that. Now, I’m away from everything. Free from my past life, mostly, ambitious to follow my heart and take the next big step in my life and willing to take control of my anxiety instead of hiding it under medications.

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One year ago

I found peace on a mountain top. I found it letting loose on a punching bag. It can be found even when everything seems dark and scary. 23 years later, I am free.

*Most people know JP Sears as that guy who appears on your newsfeed once in a while sarcastically talking about veganism or how to be gluten intolerant. I found out the other day that he’s actually a certified holistic health coach who specializes in self-empowerment. See his video How to Follow Your Head (not your heart).

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Today. Grateful. Free. At peace.

 

the need to make my life smaller

Buying things we don’t really need because we think they’re going to make us happy. Let’s face it, we all do it. Splurging on some fancy chocolate at the grocery store because it’s that time of the month and chocolate is a “necessity.” Needing “new” jeans or a shirt because your current wardrobe just seems so blah. Driving everywhere because we’re lazy. It’s a been a long day/week/month/year. I “need” a drink. Hanging onto everything we’ve ever acquired in our lives because we just can’t let go of it (like that scarf that you really like, but to be honest, you haven’t worn it in over a year). We’re all guilty of it, especially me.

So last month, two of my good friends out here in Fort Collins decided that they were going to do an “anti-consumption month” challenge. At first, I was just like, why would you do that to yourself? After reading their updates week to week, it seemed like they were struggling a bit, but after a while, they found that what they thought they NEEDED in their lives, were completely unnecessary. Anti-consumerism is basically the principle of reducing one’s impact on the environment, the world, and our consumerist society. It is taking away everything that one thinks they really need and living on only what they actually need. Sounds a little crazy, right? I thought so too. Sometimes you need to treat yourself. But is that really necessary? Maybe what you think you “need” isn’t so lovingly over wrapped in tinfoil and paper (aka those Chocolove bars that really hit the spot when I’m PMSing or stressed out).

Here it goes: Starting March 1st, I’ll be starting my own anti-consumption month (which will then hopefully turn into something a little more long term). The rules of the game? It’s simple. Live on what you only really need to live. Get rid of the things that I think I really need to hold onto. I actually already started doing this this month when I went through a bunch of my old t-shirts and realized that I hadn’t worn or wanted to wear about 10 or so band t-shirts in over a year. Why do I still have these? They’re currently in a vacuum storage bag under my bed until I find some way to get rid of them (but not throw them in the trash).

Since my friends’ lifestyle is a little bit different from mine, I had to do some tweaking in order to fit my lifestyle of what I really need. So here are the rules for Emily’s Anti-Consumption month 2k17:

  1. Spending only $30 a week on groceries. It’s actually amazing how much you can buy in the produce section of a grocery store. Works perfectly for my vegan lifestyle. I’m also going to start being good about bringing my own bags when I go grocery shopping (which everyone should do anyway).
  2. Eating out? Out of the picture (unless I have leftover grocery money).
  3. Set a budget for gas. Unfortunately, driving to work is pretty much my only option right now since it’s a little too far to bike to and I’m pretty sure the bus doesn’t go that far. Besides work, it’s time to get back on the bike for everywhere else I need to go.
  4. Goodbye alcohol (unless I have some leftover grocery money, and even still, this gives me a good reason to cut back on my drinking in general).
  5. As anyone in their 20s knows, there are some things that I can’t avoid paying for like rent, utilities, recurring monthly payments, you know.
  6. Tis (almost) the season for spring cleaning. It’s time to go through all those clothes and other random things that I still have and donate them/recycle them in some way. Kind of like when I started to pack for moving, everyday I would find at least one thing in my room that I really thought I didn’t need, put it in a box/bag and would wait a week. If I forgot about it, I didn’t need it. Same thing goes for this month.

So what’s the point of this? Minimizing my lifestyle and my impact on the environment and not giving in to this consumerist society. Granted, I am going to have to throw down some money for some unexpected things (like that traffic ticket I got and the doctor appointment I have this coming month, my pet rats need food as well, and I might possibly need to get my oil changed.. but some of these things are unavoidable unfortunately). The point is to live with the bare minimum of what I need to live. Live small and minimal.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on how I’m doing, so stay with me here. Thank you John and Kacie for inspiring me to do this. I know you’ll have my back through this (and maybe Sweet D too if he decides to do this with me).

Let the hunger games begin.

writing is hard

And it’s even harder when you work a 9-5 in which you spend in front of a computer all day wondering “what random crap can I look up on the internet today?” and you come home and the last thing you want to do is stare at another computer screen. But here I am because it’s post Valentine’s Day and I’m sure you guys know what that means.

To be honest, most days at work I spend browsing Craigslist missed connections and damn I’ve learned a lot. Apparently Fort Collins has a glory hole?* Those still exist? And to the guy who’s wondering why there’s not enough traffic at “the local glory hole,” I’m going to find that glory hole and stick my vagina in there. Or get some other girl to do it. Hopefully he doesn’t have mouth herpes but considering a guy who is literally sitting in a bathroom stall waiting to suck some dick, the odds may be never in his favor when it comes to acquiring herpes. And why do guys get all the glory? I find this incredibly sexist.

Also I found where to buy TruckNutz (actually spelled like that on the official website), that cell phone use while driving is legal in Colorado (except texting), and peanut butter and pickle sandwiches are a commonly prepared sandwich in some sick part of this universe that I don’t want to know where or who or why. Same thing with peanut butter and mayo. You people on the internet sicken me.

So how did my Valentine’s Day go? Well, better than last year, but not as good as the year before in which I ran a mile in my underwear under the influence of redbull and vodka to raise money for children’s cancer. There is internet evidence of this.

Why did it go well? I think we can start with the fact that I’m not dating a sociopath who convinced me to eat a lamb burger and told me my blog doesn’t make sense like the DC metro (really, Blob, the DC metro still doesn’t make sense to me). See last year’s post.

Instead, I realized that Sweet D and I know each other too well superficially (that’s the word I was looking for last night, D, just FYI). I can order a pizza without even asking him what he wants on it (pepperoni and pineapple), I always know what he wants to watch on Netflix (Scrubs or whatever he happens to be binge watching), and I know that if I get up to go to the bathroom mid-Netflix, he wants me to grab him another cookie while I’m up (I’m a good girlfriend and made him non-vegan peanut butter cookies). And of course, he asked me if I wanted to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well, duh. It’s Valentine’s Day. Sometimes just knowing these seemingly superficial things about your significant other can actually make you realize that you do legitimately care about someone. Also when D is being too quiet for no reason at all, he has to pee (sorry D, but you know that I know it’s true).

I also know he hates my alarm. It’s okay. I think most people would be aggravated by hearing Heat of the Moment every day at 7am but how else am I supposed to wake up in the morning? No apologies. And “sober as a gopher” is code for “I’m drunk.” I guess I just spilled all my boyfriend’s secrets on the internet (not all, but a good amount). Not sorry, D, you’re just too cute even when I slather face product all over your face while you’re sleeping and you wake up to your face being super red and irritated. I should really stop attacking my boyfriend with overpriced face products as my own personal experiment.

Writing is hard when the only thing you have to talk about is the weird shit you found on Craigslist that day.

*to you innocent souls who don’t know what a “glory hole” is, here’s all that urban dictionary can tell you about glory holes.

all that and a pint of ice cream and bottle of wine

The blog hiatus is still pretty real. To be honest, I thought this was the end of my Wallflower Waterfall blog journey. After scrolling through all my social media accounts after the inauguration, I realized (as much as I really do care about it) that I don’t want to see all this stuff clogging up my newsfeed. And besides that, since it seemed that that was all that people wanted to read and write about, who would want to read my blog in which I completely avoid talking about politics?

The answer, I found, was still a handful of people. So I’ll keep writing for you guys, but you’re gonna have to look hard for it amongst all the political rants and articles that are probably clogging up your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages as well. And for that, you all will get a lot of virtual hugs and maybe cookies if you live near me (I guess we’re back to the cookie bribery). Also, I realized that as of next week, I will have had this blog for a year.  Definitely baking cookies for myself. And because next week is Valentine’s Day and I’m sure you all know how much I LOVE Valentine’s Day … queue sarcasm. See last year’s post numero uno and the Valentine’s Day follow-up of post #2. For the record, my mind is still like the DC metro (see the second post). I also totally take back what I said about teddy bears and all the cheesy Valentine’s Day crap. I fucking love flowers and those stupid little heart shaped boxes of chocolate. But only good chocolate. None of that Russell Stover excuse for “chocolate.”

I guess this year probably won’t be much different besides the fact that I’m not dating a sociopath, but vegan Ben & Jerry’s, wine and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind will probably still be in the mix. I really don’t know why Valentine’s Day always gets me down. Every year, I watch Eternal Sunshine to remind myself that people come and go, and life can continue on regardless. Yesterday, the tattoo itch kicked in so badly that I sat through six hours of getting my entire left side of my torso tattooed with the quote from the movie. It’s been six months since my last tattoo. And since it’s close to Valentine’s Day, I only felt it was appropriate:

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How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d                      -Alexander Pope

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll get it. If not, well I just planned your Valentine’s Day for you.

A spotless mind, one that is untainted, and innocent. Eternal light lives in the minds of the innocent. But are they happy not knowing?

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I guess we’ve all felt like this at some point. I thought this would be me this year. But second chances are always a thing. Sometimes even third and fourth chances if somehow it’ll seem worth it. But who am I to talk about relationship advice. I mean come on, I dated a sociopath for over half a year.

But disclaimer? I’ve actually been binge watching the Twilight series. 50 Shades of Grey will be on the queue for later. And then back to the beautiful tragedy that is the eternal sunshine.

 

I just really don’t trust doctors

I kind of wanted to just leave it at that and not even write a post about it. Let the title be the end of explanation.

But for real, I officially don’t trust doctors.

After driving down to this really sad part of Colorado to see a psychiatrist, I basically spent my $20 copay to get yelled at by a psychiatric nurse practitioner about my health habits. I’ve been taking klonopin for about 4 years now. After I told her that, I sensed the KLONOPIN LEADS TO EARLY ONSET DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMERS rant at which I stopped her before she even started and almost yelled YES I KNOW THAT FROM MY 2 DOCTORS WHO DIDN’T SEEM THAT CONCERNED ABOUT IT. Clearly, my first psychiatrist didn’t seem that concerned about having me on 3 different types of mood stabilizers at once and another time when he had me taking Xanax 5 times a day in addition to taking Klonopin twice a day.

Here’s the struggle with mental illness and psychotropic drugs: finding one that works for you can be one of the biggest struggles of mental illness. It’s frustrating, time consuming, hard on your body, and endlessly exhausting. When you find one that works, that’s it. You don’t want to change because after all that struggle, why would you want to change? From weight fluctuation, to no libido to insanely high libido, to the seizure I had in high school, the manic episodes from the first SSRI I took, to the other drugs that I just felt like didn’t do anything except make me feel exhausted for no reason, yeah, when I found that klonopin was actually helping me and the side effects were bearable, no way did I want to change. Let’s be honest, who would?

Now there’s this doctor who wants to take away the one thing that’s worked for me and make me change my entire lifestyle after going through the health questionnaire. Stop drinking, don’t be vegan, don’t take the Klonopin, get my blood tested for 8 different things, start a “selective carbohydrate diet” for my IBS, take a B12 supplement… Um. I thought I was seeing a psychiatrist. Not a life coach or my physician.

Somewhere, in every psychiatrists’ education, it has slipped through the cracks that when people find a medication that works for them, that’s it. End of the road. No more trying new medications.

And then there’s my hatred for medications. I would love to not have to take medications. Honestly, I might be able to. I’ve been medicated for 9 years now, so how would I even know if there’s anything actually wrong with me?

After a lot of reading about traditional Chinese medicine, I’m starting to believe that the only way to heal myself, is by myself. Chinese medicine looks at the body as a whole, and how the body connects to nature. It’s not like modern Western medicine where we have separate doctors for each part of our body. Chinese medicine believes in having one doctor that has a complete connection with their patient, mind, body and environment. Everything is connected. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the basic concept of Chinese medicine which encompasses a life force that inhabits both the body and the earth. When Qi is not in balance in the body, the body will become ill. Having the perfect balance of Yin and Yang in the body is what will make the body whole and healthy. When both Yin and Yang are in balance, then Qi flows throughout the entire body and keeps the body in balance.

Some people may think that this whole Eastern philosophy is total bulls**t. But think about it, it really does make sense. When someone suffers from migraines, instead of treating the migraine, we should be looking at what is causing the migraine. Stress in any part of the body can trigger distress elsewhere. You know that whole thing about how depression can cause sleep disruption, appetite changes, and body aches? Well, there’s your proof that the body and mind are connected. Yes, doctors can argue that the chemical changes in a depressed person’s brain can affect the rest of the body. This argument is valid. Having taken neuroscience in college, yeah those little neurotransmitters in your brain can have a huge impact on your mind as well as your body.

But medication isn’t going to fix it. Medication is still only a band-aid and that band-aid can lead to worse problems. See the body as a whole. See the body as part of the earth. The body is an element. The body is a garden. It needs maintenance and care. If you have a garden, you would know. You can’t look at your garden, see that your tomato plants are dying and ignore the rest of your garden while you care for them. The key is balance. The key is balancing the energy in the entire body, not just one part of it.

My Yang is weak, while Yin rules most of my body. Yin gives me quiet and coolness, but in excess, it’s unhealthy. Restoring balance to the heat and activeness (Yang) and coolness and quiet (Yin) is what will eventually heal myself as a whole.

I don’t need medications to find balance. I don’t need a Western doctor to tell me to do xyz and my body will be better. Don’t see me as a brain that needs tweaking. See me. See me as a whole being.

I don’t trust Western medicine educated doctors.