When I’m not feeling well, my symptoms usually manifest in one of two ways – my stomach and my heart. My heart usually begins to overwork, as though it needs to pump harder to get blood to the rest of my body. In fact, it pumps so hard, I can feel my entire body pulsating along with it.
My stomach – or rather the processes associated with my stomach – go completely out of control. Everything I eat becomes a trigger for nausea that can only be relieved with vomiting. I usually force myself to throw up because if I don’t, I’ll be in bed, so dizzy and nauseous that I’m unable to move. Food feels like it’s stuck in my throat and no matter how much water I drink, the feeling doesn’t go away.
So when I don’t feel well, one of the first things that happen is I stop eating. Part of it is that I’m simply too nauseated to keep anything in and at that point, why even bother trying since I’m just going to throw it up after an hour of misery anyway. The other part is fear because I know how miserable I’m going to be.
This also means I stop taking any of my pills because 1) I only get enough for exactly one dose a day and 2) if I throw that up, either I’m going to be short or I’m going to pay more for lopsided pills/month.
Okay, I know how bad that is. Considering that the stuff I take is very relevant to my well-being, I realize the implications of being non-compliant. I’ve written three entire research papers (and read way too many related studies and articles), so I’m competently-versed in the forthcoming issues. I don’t need a lecture on that.
So where am I going with this?
A few weeks ago, after one particular night of no sleep (I just couldn’t sleep, I don’t know why), I went to school in a complete haze. I could feel my heart pounding so I knew my body was spiraling downward. And then, of course, the nausea hit. The thing with being nauseous and vomiting is your body needs food to get better. But when you’re throwing up everything you eat, you can’t get that nutrition, so you simply get worse. It’s a terrible cycle.
During that time, a span of 3 or 4 days, I stopped taking my medication. Now, some of my meds are not very important. My allergies have very specific triggers (peaches, anyone?) so as long as I avoid them, I’m pretty good. Others are preventative (ovarian cysts, anyone?) and really, it’s my choice to take them. But then there are the essentials. Unlike my allergy meds – which I really take very sporadically, maybe once a week – my depression meds are not supposed to be stopped cold turkey. Especially with the dose I’m taking. There’s all these warnings and teachings and blah blah blah that says to not stop abruptly because you’ll suffer from withdrawal. This stuff is no joke.
At the time, though, I was too miserable being sick, hungry, nauseous and dizzy to notice whether or not my body was suffering from withdrawal. I didn’t seem any more moody because, let’s face it, I was sick! Who doesn’t get a little miserable when she’s sick?
But even after I got better, I refrained from starting my meds again.
Why? Why, why, why would I not take them again since without them, I not only get very “low”, I also run the risk of spontaneous suicidal actions? (Erm, side note, I don’t have my gun anymore. I gave it to someone for safe-keeping because I wasn’t sure how safe I was around it.)
Well, that’s not true. Once I felt better enough to eat regularly (i.e. once and a half a day), I took half my regular dose. I didn’t want to take the full dose because I didn’t want to turn into the poor wild animals in Over the Hedge after they had their first taste of Doritos.
But, oh my God. One of the particularly difficult side effects of my anti-depressants is that they make me extremely sleepy. I am already very sleep-deprived. For as far back as I can remember, I can count the number of times I’ve gotten restful sleep on my fingers. My first all-nighter was in the first grade. That’s how bad my sleep is.
So with my first half-dose since getting better, I was so tired that even with a solid 8 hours of sleep, I could barely focus on the road as I drove to school. I felt like I was sitting in a room filled with steam. I felt like everything was cloudy. I felt like someone had hit me with horse tranquilizers. I’m lucky to be alive.
Add to that that I was entering the final three weeks of school. I had six major exams, four papers, three presentations and 10 kids that I saw regularly on a weekly basis. I couldn’t afford to sleep 12 hours a day and expect to pass my classes and keep my job. So I made a choice. I would power through without my meds and once all this was over, start up on it like a good kid.
It took me another week to get over the side effects of the half dose. All I did that weekend was sleep. I slept for hours because I couldn’t stay awake. Because it began to get dangerous for me to drive when I had narcoleptic tendencies.
I have another week of school left. Three more exams, one more paper. But already, I feel my mood hitting an all-time low. I’ve become a ticking time bomb, exploding at the tiniest things. I’ve become lethargic. Everything is boring or pointless. Things that I breezed over before now frustrate me greatly. I’ve become enthralled by the new cuts and bruises that have appeared on my body from not paying attention to where I’m walking or what I’m carrying.
And then there are the thoughts. Those thoughts. I hate those thoughts. But I like them, too. They’re an evil sort of comfort, evil because it’s obviously about dying, but comforting because it’s a familiar entity.
Yesterday, I thought to myself that I couldn’t wait for this week to be over so that I could start on my meds again and become happy. But I spent a lot of time thinking today and I wondered which me was the true me. Is it the smiley, happy, giggly, joking girl with the support of medication? Or is it the silent, stone-faced, frustrated, lonely girl who lives in the shadows?
I know that darker version of me is difficult to love and to be around. But what if that’s the real me? What if the happy version is just a facade? Am I asking people to love a version of me that isn’t real? If so, then what? Should I be looking for someone who loves me even as the dark, terrible monster that I am? Or do I continue to hide behind drugs and be the girl that people can love easily?
People stray away from me when I revert back to my darker version. Even the ones who know about my disease simply disappear when they start seeing the signs. Should I still consider them as friends and loved ones? Or should I say, “Fuck you, I’m going to find someone who loves me for me, even at my darkest moments”? Is that even plausible?
I want people to love me for me. I think I’ve always wanted that, but when the two versions of me are so drastically different, when one is so much easier to be around than the other, it’s similarly easy to see why people choose one over the other.
Somehow, though, I feel like I’m lying to myself when I think someone cares for me when I’m happy and lovable. Somehow, that seems like an ironic lie because that still means no one loves me for me.
Or do they?
Why is this even important? Who cares?
Because everyone just wants to be accepted. Everyone just wants to know that the important things aren’t lies. Because I’m human and that’s important to me, too. And, hey, aren’t we all told that we need to be loved for who we really are? Or is that not realistic for someone like me?