|No Meds, No Shrink, No Sanity!
September 28, 2000
About two months ago my world turned upside down. Which in a way is a bit comical because according to most of my "friends", my world is anything but normal.
Due to bizarre circumstances, some of which were of my own doing, others due to someone else's doing, and some just must have been due to some sordid cosmic fluctuation, I lost my insurance, my shrink, and of course this is when ALL my meds were due to be refilled.
At first I was angry. I wasn't happy with my shrink and he knew it. But you would think that a medical professional, especially a Psychiatrist having spent 20+ years in the business, would have distanced himself from falling prey to the ol "counter-transference" trap.
It was obvious he wanted nothing more to do with me and by the end, I wanted nothing to do with him nor do I wish anyone to be treated by this person.
After only a week or so, I began to develop symptoms of nausea, light headedness, hot sweats, chills, cramps, horrid nightmares, insomnia, and the crying jags. Oh my heaven did I shed some tears during those two months. I cried at the drop of a hat over anything. I fought these symptoms, hoping it was just some "bug". After two months of no improvement, I called my pharmacist and she told me flat out "you're going through medication withdrawal".
Great. With the help of my professionally trained shrink I was now a withering junkie who had neither the means nor the knowledge on what to do to help myself.
There were two incidences that will never leave my mind. On two separate mornings, I awoke to go to my piddly little 4 hour a day job. Within ten minutes I was literally going out of my mind. Hearing voices, seeing things that were not there, thinking someone was trying to kill me, etc. That's it, I thought. I've snapped and am having a nervous breakdown. I screamed. I cried. I shook. I paced. I damn near fainted.
Scared that I truly was flipping out, I ran to wake my fiance and it must have been a shock to see his beloved a screaming, crying, swollen-eyed she-devil. I did not know which was up or which was down. I could not remember the past 6 months nor the past 24 hours. My mind was on a roller coaster with no end in site.
Thankfully, my fiance, a very intelligent and caring man, held me close, let me cry and did everything he could to calm me down so I could get at least 15 minutes of sleep before "going off" again.
My therapist along with my shrink had both pulled out of my insurance group because they weren't getting paid. Can't say I blame them but I am sure it wasn't a last minute decision and why the hell didn't they tell me months in advance that it was going to happen. At least now I understand why my therapist never did the typical "let's go back to when you were a child" routine. She knew then and there that she wouldn't be in it for the long haul. The shrink said he didn't do that "therapy thing" any longer, he just prescribed meds. Thanks doc. But yet every session I would be told that because of childhood trauma and trauma throughout life, I needed therapy. Thanks again, doc.
Anyway, I contacted my former therapist who said to contact the shrink. Well he was on a three week vacation while I struggled with the withdrawal. When I finally did reach him on his first day back at the office, his reaction to my problem was to "call and make an appointment with his office if I had something to talk about."
And this is the man who took a Hippocratic Oath, a moral obligation to see to the welfare of his patients after HE got them hooked on prescribed medications? I didn't expect him to hook me up for free but for God's sake, I needed some sort of help.
He did sarcastically ask "Why I went of my meds". Well duh you moron, you know I lost my insurance. My monthly med bill is almost $800 and I was barely making that in two months of work.
Do I want to sue him? Sure, but not for money. I'd rather jeopardize his license so he cannot to this to others. You do not get someone hooked on drugs and then turn your back on them when they are in need. This is the same person who tried to extort $400 from me for assisting in filing my disability claim. I knew he wasnt entitled to that and I told him so. And he wasn't! But he had to cooperate with the government so he sent the necessary paperwork, but I'm sure that he made sure it looked better than it is.
Am I angry? Hell yes. Am I scared? Hell yes. But every system in America moves so darn slow that nothing can be done in under at least 3 months.
Finally I gave up and told my fiance to either buy half a bottle of Effexor for me or have me put in the psych ward....I needed help. After 24 hours of the Effexor, I felt a noticeable difference. I could not believe it.
So now I have to wean myself back ON to my psych meds after going cold turkey off of them. Am I going to stick with the experimental CNS drug he had me on? No! I never liked it and that was part of our not getting along. I don't care for shrinks who use my body and brain as a guinea pig for new trials.
So for the meantime, half of the Bipolar is being attended to. What worries me is what happens when the other side, the manic side starts to kick in again only stronger. All Bipolars know that if you're only treated for the down side, it can and will kick you into a manic phase. Right now the phase isn't so bad. We all (whether we want to admit it or not) like being a bit manic. Who wouldn't? It's fun, you feel good and life feels good. It's when that mania turns into a full blown episode that we get ourselves into some deep trouble.
Until I find out whether I get disability (I'm only on month two of a five month wait), I'm working just enough hours to afford to pay for my own damn individual insurance which is less than half of what my meds costs. The insurance hasnt went all the way through yet but if it does, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be at my pharmacy saying "filler up, please".
I'll ask around, find a new shrink...and know more of what to question them about before agreeing to continue seeing them. Good ones are hard to find and a good match is even more difficult. Anyone can hang the shingle but only the special few hang it correctly.
So, in closing, all you BP'ers out there....please for God's and your own sakes, don't ever go cold turkey off your meds! It will turn you into a creature you never knew lived inside of you.