I am having an extremely emotional moment.
warning: this entry may be disturbing to some readers. reader discretion is advised.
i was doing some "spring cleaning" today and finally tackled my medicine drawer.
In december of 2012 i made the decision to discontinue the use of chemicals in my body. i was on a mission to cure an ulcer in my eye. i had been prescribed a gel to use twice a day and drop to use 3x a day, for the rest of my life. the drops stung like hell and my ulcer wasnt improving. i did some research on what i was putting in my eye and found out the long term side effect were glaucoma and blindness. i have an ulcer that makes me tear easily and causes light sensitivity. how the hell is GLAUCOMA or going BLIND better??? things like this are why i just dont understand medicine. have a stomach ache? take this! the side effect is death. something is wrong with that picture to me.
Ii wanted to explore the natural route to cure my eye and part of the process was going to include discontinuing my daily medications as well as no longer taking any pain relievers, and switching over to a mostly organic diet. this was scary for me because i had been on a mess of antianixiety and antidepressents for 12 years. however, I had recently seen the documentary "food matters" where they suggest that a high dose of the drug niacin can treat depression, so I knew there were other alternative.
i was diagnosed with depression and biploar by several different doctors over several years, but my first diagnosis i was pretty young. i started taking the pills when i was 12. my step dad was dead set against it. he knew pills werent the answer, but he didnt have a better suggestion to help me. so my mother, who suffers from some anxiety and depression herself, understood and wanted to help me. the doctor said this would help, so she allowed me to take it. it DID help. i was much more sane on medication. every time i discontinued use i would end up hating the world, wanting to die, wanting to quit school and my job, hated my boyfriend, and the last time i discontinued use i threatened to kill someone who was stalking my sister and was put in a mental ward for 8 days. good times. the thought of coming off medication was pretty terrifying to me.
just before i decided to stop taking the medication i was prescribed 10mg of ambien to fall asleep. i dont know if youve ever taken ambien, but this shit is like coma pill. it KNOCKED me out. but the problem was i could not wake up in the morning. it was like waking the dead. i had terrible memory loss and was losing things and missing appointments. i asked my doctor to take me off of it and she refused. i knew i could stop taking it but i was worried about not having something to replace it. my doctors unwillingness to listen to how i felt and give me a proper presectiption was the catalyst to finally saying FUCK IT. IM DONE WITH THIS SHIT. i always felt like i was in the hands of medical professional who cared about my well being and thats why i wasnt concerned about the amount of chemicals i was pumping into myself daily. this incident made me realize i wasnt in the hands of a professional who cared about me. if it wanted to fix myself, i had to do it myself.
i told my shrink (i had 2 different doctors, one who prescribed me medicine and talked to me for about 7 minutes once every 3 months, and the guy i still see and talk to today) that i was going to wean off my medicine, and i wanted him to know so he could take note of changes in my personality i may not notice. i also planned to begin nuerofeedback- aka brain training. he agreed to my plan and i started my new treatment. nuerofeedback isn't an instant fix so as I came off my prescriptions I started taking niacin because I wasn't confident in my ability to function with NOTHING in my system. after about 3 months of nuero feedback I felt comfortable enough to discontinue the Niacin as well.
10 months later my ulcer isnt completely cured. you can still physically see it. however, there are NO symptoms. at one point i had to wear sunglasses INDOORS because the light from even just a TV was too bright and painful. now i can drive without suglasses if i should forget them (in the past i have had instances where i forgot my sunglasses and tried to drive, had to pull over and call evan to come pick me up because i was literally operating an automobile blindly) and i can also wear contacts on occasion. my vision was slowly getting worse with the drops and it doesnt appear to have worsened since discontinuing them.
as for my depression and anxiety.... i thought the pills worked because they kept me from physically hurting myself as long as i was taking them. they put me to sleep, which is something ive never been good at (my mom took me to my first sleep therapist when she was pregnant for my brother, i was 9) So, that was good enough for me. i thought the way i felt was normal and happy and thats why i never pinned myself as a depressed fat person. 10 months of nuero feedback later, i can positively say that i was NOT happy. i thought i was happy, because i had no idea what true happiness was. just typing that literally makes me cry because i remember when i moved home from california i told my parents that if THIS is life, and THIS is what i have to accept, I DO NOT WANT A PART OF IT!!! it wasnt a suicide threat, but i seriously had visions of just getting run over or murdered and day dreaming that someone would PLEASE just end this for me because i did NOT want to do it. if what i was experiencing was what my dad said was "life" and i just need to "get over it" then FUCK THAT. i dont want to get over it. i dont want to exist like this! if this is IT then FUCK THAT, i dont want a part of it.
clearly, my dad had NO idea what i was feeling because i now know that he was SO wrong. life is SO much better. earlier in the year when i went home to visit he even told my mom that im not the same person. like where did ashley go and what did this person do with her?
in the beginning i did nuero feedback twice a week, for 10 weeks. now i go once a week to maintain. i could prob even cut down to biweekly, but i am afraid to do that as i am terrified of "reverting". ive NEVER felt like i feel now. everything in my life is falling into place. i sleep about 7.5hrs a night and never wake up more than twice. i used to be in bed for about 12 hours, and have such a hard time falling asleep and then id wake up so many times that i was getting less than 5 hours a night. all with nuero feedback. not a single pill.
so, as i was saying, today i cleaned out the medicine drawer. i had tons of left over pills that i hadnt thrown out because i was afraid of having a breakdown or an emergency. lots of things have happened that were 'emergency' worthy over the past 10 months, but i havent had a single break down. i am so much calmer. i am so much more patient. i am less of time bomb. i am more understanding. i am happier. i am mentally (and physically) healthier, and most importantly, i want to be alive. i want to be healthy and exercise and eat healthy because i want to be on this earth as long as my body will allow. again, just typing that literally makes me cry because i spent more than a decade dreaming about dying and being put out of my misery.
in my life, that i can remember, ive been prescribed zoloft, ativan, ambien, depakote, wellbutrin, effexor, and paxil. ive basically tried them all! in my medicine drawer i had paxil, wellbutrin, ativan, and depakote. because i have all generics, i wasnt sure what i was throwing away and looked them up first. thats what caused my emotional breakdown. reading what chemicals i subjected myself to for so many years. depakote was probably the most painful eye opener. its medication used for bipolar people and also used to treat seizures and frieken alzheimers disease! reading up on all this was terrifying. i wish i had done it years ago. although, i didnt know then what i know now so it may not have effected me the same.
putting these pills in the trash is one of the most significant moments of my life. its the physical action of letting go. i am 25. i spent 12 years depending on these medications to keep me alive and all they were really doing was killing me. i cant believe i put kind of poison in my body so many times a day, for SO many years, and i thought it was working. it was NEVER working. ok, so it worked a little. maybe i didnt want to die, most of the time. i deff cant pretend i didnt have an episode here and there even when medicated. but i was never truly happy. i was never truly motivated. i was never truly living. i was ashamed. the majority would consider me a "crazy person" because i needed medication in order to not be crazy. whats crazy to me that i had to stop taking what i thought was keeping me alive, in order to truly live. i feel so proud. i feel so free. i feel so optimistic. I cannot even believe that i am the same person. because what i feel NOW, i missed out on for a LONG time. had my family and i known about neurofeedback when i was 9 and couldnt sleep, or 12 and getting my first script, i probably wouldve been the first female president by now lol its made THAT much of a difference in my life. I just want the world to know that theyre not hopeless. there IS hope, and it doesnt have to be in the form of poison. short term, life saving medicine is truly a gift of science. but long term, debilitating medication, is no medical miracle.
had i never met my trainer, i wouldve never known nuerofeedback existed. the best part is that i met her in a setting that had nothing to do with fitness, i had already lost like 60lbs and wasnt looking for a trainer, and it was seriously fate that brought her to me. i am SO so so so so so eternally grateful to have met her. And even more grateful that she cared enough to tell me about nuerofeedback. I am so grateful to my psychologist (who i refer to as my shrink) for being open minded enough to agree to monitor me while i stopped my medication. I have been seeing him for 3 years and probably will continue the rest of my life because he i the first shrink ive ever felt like really "got" me. I am SO SO SO SO SO grateful for my doctor, Betina DeSouza Psy.D. her job is to simply ask me how i am doing and hook my brain up, and she does SO much more. ive confessed things to her less than a handful of people know about my life and i feel like i am in a fort knox type of safe zone when i am in her office. i only wish i could clone her and send a few of her to MA to help my friends and family who are still suffering and need someone like her.
ive felt this a few times before, but today feels like the first day of the rest of my life. no more medication, and no more back up supply because im waiting for the nuerofeedback to stop working. today i feel like i have a weight off my shoulders and ive truly been liberated. i never imagined id have a life like i have now, and i most DEFF didnt imagine id have any life at all without the help of antidepressants. forever grateful is an understatement.