All Behind Me

I write this post after disposing of every last one of my Mental Health Medications. I no longer have a secret stockpile just in case, I no longer live in fear of having a relapse, I no longer have the same internal struggle whether I wished to live or die. I firmly believe that this is All Behind Me.

I was sorting through our medication box that was tucked up in our hallway cupboard, looking for something to settle my wife’s stomach. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything that could help my wife, but I did find all of my old medications that I used to take for Depression and Anxiety; Lithium, Olanzapine, Sertraline, Temazepam, and Quetiapine. Boxes of them. Hundreds of tablets designed to keep me safe from myself. I looked at them all. I looked at the cost, the number, the side effects, the regime that I was under. I looked at myself. I looked at where I am now, where I have come from. I looked at the bin. I decided that I would no longer keep the medications as some kind of safety net, a fall mat for just in case. I would dispose of them all and finally say good bye to that part of my life.

Since I gave up the medications at the end of last year I have been feeling elated. I am still struggling with my anger, though I am improving day by day. I am more positive than I have been in years. I laugh, I cry, I joke, and I interact. I don’t shy away from social situations, I feel like I have my mojo back. Like I can take on the world, and Win. My job is great, it challenges me, pushes me, but most of all validates me, respects me for me, understands my background, my knowledge, my experience, and uses it. We as a family have been battling with Illness for the better part of 2-3 months, sinuses, snot, and coughing, but we are better together. We play more, interact more, laugh more, enjoy each others company. We live together more.

I write this post knowing that not everyone is having the best time. I know that I have friends and family struggling with their own Mental Health issues, physical health issues, family issues, work issues. I write this knowing that I may not be able to physically do anything about it, but at least I am now physically here to be leant on, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be a sounding board, to listen, and to share with. And sometimes that all you need. To know that there is someone in your life that no matter what, is there for you. Not to provide answers, or pearls of wisdom, but to listen. To allow you to say your piece, cry your eyes out, open your heart and reveal everything. Right before gathering it all back together again, composing oneself, and rejoining the fight. A little bit less burdened knowing that someone has your back.

That’s the feeling I have. I know that I have a great circle of friends, and an unshakable family that have my back. That listen to me whinge, bicker, yell, scream, cry, and in every other way emote. That don’t necessarily have the answers, but are there to just listen. And it helps. It helps a lot.

But I move forward. Every day I move forward and leave the past couple of years behind me. Like a bad memory, and in some cases no memory at all. I leave the drugs behind, the ECT, the weekly Psychologist appointments, and the constant meetings with my Psychiatrist. I leave it all behind, and hope and pray that I never end up there again.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

 

Weight Loss since Jan 2020: 8.5kg

Better or Worse

I trust that everyone reading this blog had a restful Christmas and New Year. I know I enjoyed the time with family and friends as I ramp up into 2020. Thank you to everyone for their patience during the break time here at Maintain the Rage.

During my time off I had a lot of time to reflect on where I was, how I was feeling, life in general, and what I wanted out of 2020. One of the thing that I knew I wanted to change was weight, the other was to regain control over my emotions and the ongoing effects of my medication. I noted that my medication could be contributing to both my weight and the numbness I was experiencing. Most of the medication that I was on, namely Seroquel, Lithium, and Venlafaxine all act to reduce the swings in mood and control depressive episodes, but also have the nasty side effect of weight gain. These two factors led to the choice, without consultation with my medical team, to cease my medications. For better or Worse.

No More Meds

No More Meds

The first step was to research the right ways to cease my medications. Most could be stopped reasonably easily without too many issues. the Seroquel and Lithium however would have potential side effects if ceased. These side effects would be small for a long period if weaned down slowly, or a week of pain if ceased suddenly. For better or worse, I chose the week of pain. I ceased all of medications knowing I would experience mood swings, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and a list of other potentials. Most of these side effects would be reasonably minor and manageable. Insomnia was hell for the first two nights, no sleep there, a couple of nights with help from Phenergan, and my sleep returned, if not a little broken. Headaches were managed with hydration and aspirin as needed. The nausea wasn’t too bad. Mood swings were managed as I was on my own most of the time anyway, as my family were visiting family in Western Australia, and I was taking the opportunity to rest up before a big camp that was coming up. The worst and most annoying side effect was definitely the dizziness. The only way to describe it was like being tipsy all the time. I felt that every day started with 6 or seven beers and never let up. Since then the side effects have subsided and I feel that I am now completely off my medications, so now the only thing left is deal with my emotions.

Rollercoaster of Emotion

Rollercoaster of Emotion

Since the drugs are no longer in my system I have been feeling the full gambit of my emotions, in their full, unbridled fashion. This has been great, in some respects, as I don’t feel numb or disconnected from myself or those around me. The down side is I have been swinging from hysterical laughter, to crying, to blood boiling rage. I have not been managing these very well and it has led to arguments with friends, family members, my children, my wife, and myself. It has meant that something I would normally have dealt with appropriately and civilly was instead dealt with; sarcasm, a sharp tongue, or harsh words. Those around me know of the part of the journey I am on and are, thankfully, patient but this won’t be the case forever. I know I will regain control, even if it is a little slower than I would like, however I believe this choice needed to be made, for better or worse.

For Better or Worse

For Better or Worse

I will continue to share my journey through mental health, and all of the lumps and bumps along the way. I will continue to monitor myself, and have safeguards in place to ensure I don’t wind up where I was last year. I am taking a hiatus from my psychiatrist and psychologist while I work out what I want from myself and work through the rollercoaster of emotions. For better or worse.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld