Even as an adult there are still some things that hit with surprising accuracy, right in a place you didn’t even know you had, that starts unraveling you. It’s like that feeling you get, fumbling through a dark room in your house. It’s all familiar, but you’re half asleep, and suddenly you forget about a footstool, a desk, an entire entertainment center. You hit it with your toe or your hip. There’s no physical pain, but there’s an emotional string has been plucked; something in the dark, unseen and unexpected has hit you and a string within you begins to fray.
Even at 29, when it happens to me my first instinct is to cry like a toddler, waiting for somebody to check my unmarred skin for bruises and bleeding I already know isn’t there. Part of the pain in these situations is perhaps the swift realization we are the adult that must check our own boo-boos when we stub our toes or bump our heads in the dark.
This is how it feels sometimes switching medications.
Epilepsy is a recognized part of my life. I’m familiar with it as I can be at this point, but like a child fumbling in a familiar, dark room, there are still things to bump into.
I can’t express why it feels lonely or scary to switch medications. When on one I’m displeased with, the desperation to be away from it, to have it out of my body is explosive. I resist flushing pills down the toilet, giving into the whims of my dysfunctional, broken brain every day because I know, on their basic level, these pills are working. I push thought of kidney failure, swollen gums, depression, suicidal thoughts, loss of hair, loss of appetite, and many other side effects out of my mind. I am consoled by the thought that today my family will not find me a shaking pile on the floor anywhere in the house, but I make a mental note to switch medications as soon as possible.
The doctor finally complies; I get a bottle of new medication and begin to switch, but instead of being relieved or excited, it is scary and upsetting.
Why? Because each new pill could be a bit involving the line, “It can’t get any worse!” I, downtrodden and petulant, get fed up with a medication that is doing its essential job and believe no medication could make me feel worse than this current hell I am in. But then it does get worse. It rains a new medication and I almost begin to wish I’d just put up with being apathetic toward life.
Apathy is quickly replaced with moodiness, intense depression, crying fits over nothing. There is less will to eat than before. I start to vibrate with nervousness and anxiety, and eventually guilt, realizing I didn’t even walk through a dark room and accidently bump into furniture. Instead this was me running into a brightly lit gallery of knives, testing them for sharpness with the palms of my hands.
“Why did I do this to myself?” I always inevitably think, watching my thoughts and even my limbs unravel as new chemicals take hold of my brain. They make me feel crazy. Such a small pill, only 100 mgs, and I’m told it’s supposed to keep the bad things out but all its doing is letting different bad things in.
It reminds me of a phrase I used to hear a lot on daytime TV when adults where trying to sound witty and cool in shady bars where clearly all hope was lost: “Pick your poison.”
Poison. Medication that makes me feel like I’ve clawed my way out of my own skin and made a new home in the U-bend of a drain pipe or potentially losing everything there is to me as neuron misfires slowly take over my body, my mind, and my life.
It’s lonely because other people seem more adult; they check their own bumps and bruises without surprise that they are the only ones left who can do so.
It’s lonely because other people don’t take medication. Most of all though, its lonely because as new medication floods my system, and if I am honest, I can admit there are times when I no longer understand if the condition is worse than the medication, or if it is obvious which poison I would pick anymore.
Until I know I keep shoveling down pills, tip-toeing through a dark room in hopes that I find myself before another sharp corner.