Drugs do not work in my case, and it's taken quite a while for my doped mind to figure this one out. Now my body is giving me clear signals that I have to do something about it.
Don't read on if you feel you may become distressed. I won't be writing like this very often, but I have to get this out.
I wasn't doped up three years ago when I was exhibiting very clear, checklist-like M.E. symptoms. Nobody I saw in the early days had the expertise to pick up on what was wrong, or the sense to refer me to someone who could help.
So how do you treat someone who crashes into your clinic in a state of physical crisis and emotional turmoil? Let's put ourselves in the shoes of your average UK psychiatrist for a few moments.
Picture the scene from the other side of The Desk. Occupy for a moment the tiny mind that is governed by the DSM (the handbook of mental disorders used by every dysfunctional doctor who lacks perception, life experience or empathy). What would you be thinking?
Look at clock. Reach for DSM.
And that's about it.
Really. Truly. That's what happened. Each psychiatrist I saw, whether at the clinic, in a respite house, during home treatment or in hospital added something new. The excuse has been that each of them was only trying to help. But throw in the combined efforts of a couple of seriously clueless GPs along the way and nobody communicating, and you get my current prescription.
Zopiclone - a sleeping tablet: addictive.
Valium - a tranquilliser: addictive.
Propranolol - a cardiac drug, given for anxiety symptoms
Mirtazepine - an antidepressant which made me eat my way out of malnutrition, only now I'm far from malnourished
Lansoprazole - used to treat gastritis and stomach ulcers. It was severe stomach problems that caused me to need hospital treatment for malnutrition. Brought about quite possibly by overloading my stomach with medication. Now I need Lansoprazole to keep my stomach functioning.
An average day: I get up, get my son breakfast. I am in a stupor, hungover from my night medication. I take my morning propranolol after he's gone to school, so I can function at least whilst he's around. If I don't take it I seize up. But when I take it, it puts me back in bed for two hours. I am not safe to so much as boil a kettle until the effects have worn off. The rest of the day is floaty. I have valium and more propranolol at 6pm. I feel groggy. I take all five drugs at bedtime. If I try to cut down on anything I fit, vomit or shake. I have been on this medication regime for more than two years. My hormones are shot to bits, I have back problems, jaundice and something vaguely referred to as 'mood disorder'. That'll be the drugs then.
Rehab was discussed but ruled out by the M.E. team who finally came into the picture sadly after I'd been put on this disastrous cocktail from hell. I have something called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It means my body is groaning under the pressure of these drugs, not metabolising them very well, and yet will go into crisis if withdrawal is mishandled. Not surprisingly, no one wants to go near my prescription. I can't do rehab. I don't want to be in a longterm state of withdrawal, and yet I have no choice. Five drugs to kick. One at a time. Very slowly. I'm guessing it will take the rest of my son's childhood. Robbed is such an inadequate word. Here's a few more. Violated. Abused. Fucking Furious.
So there you have it. I'm finally out as a prescription junkie. But I hope you all understand that it's the last thing I wanted to happen, and I never would have thought it possible that the strong, capable person of four years ago would end up like this.
Why have I done this now? Because I wanted to. Because it's time. Because I'm not ashamed. And because I don't want anyone to ever live even one day like I had to for months on end in the not so distant past...lying on the bathroom floor, less than seven stone, too weak to lift my head to vomit, my then partner trying to keep my son away because the scene was just too terrifying.
"Is Mum being sick again?"
"No, now come downstairs. It's nearly time for school."