Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Case of One Non-Complier…

Being a schizophrenic man, it is very important for me to take my daily medications much as a diabetic must regulate their blood sugar with insulin. I have always been notoriously non-compliant with taking my medications over the years though. It is a catch-22 as when you are taking your medications and feeling better, you seem to think you don’t need them or they are hampering your life with side effects. Thus you stop taking them and another cycle of mental illness starts again. I have driven my family mad over the years completing this very same cycle.

Lately, I have found that eating three balanced meals a day followed by taking my medications after every meal has proven to be very successful for this notoriously non-compliant man. Sometimes, it takes going to the hospital, like lately, to get back into this healthy cycle of normality like a few weeks ago though. I have also found a hearty satisfying breakfast to start the tone of day. I complete the same ritual every morning of cooking an early breakfast followed by taking my numerous morning medications.

The hard part is that when you are not feeling mentally well, it is terribly hard to get back into this cycle. That is were having a supportive family and a capable and reachable physician comes into important play. I sometimes get tired of the ever watchful eye of my family, but they know me and my life patterns better than anyone other than Carolyn. They usually can tell within a day or two of my being withdrawn that I am not doing well mentally and will confront me. I need an outside source as a barometer of how well I am doing many weeks as my spates of madness can be intoxicating as I get lost in the paranoia and delusions that haunt my mind.

Well, I must go get a shower and head down to the doctor’s office for this mornings injection of my anti-psychotic. I almost forgot about it and my father called me from the Atlanta airport a moment ago to remind me. As you can see, it is important to have a caring and supportive family when someone deals with a mentally unwell mind.

This mornings hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, buttered toast, cheddar slices, an apple, and orange juice followed by this morning's medications below.


Cheryl said...

Knowing what's best for us and doing it takes a lot of willpower. I'm a very routine-oriented person, and it works for me. It sounds like it's just the thing for you. Thanks for sharing those thoughts.

Your breakfast looks great. It's oatmeal for me, every day. Of the year. Routine, ya know?

M said...

The cheese looks good. Since being diagnosed with allergy induced asthma, I have been avoiding cheese and other dairy.

Oh, I miss it!!

M said...

I wish I could get my family to understand that we need to watch out for my brother with schziophrenria.

I notice when his mood changes and I ask if he is taking my meds.

My mother screams at me for asking.

abbagirl74 said...

The food looks delicious! Looks like I have a friend that can throw down a good breakfast. I noticed that you take as many pills as you have different foods for breakfast. Cool coinky-dink. Do you take them all at once or one at a time? I would have to do it one at a time. I'm such a baby!

Andrew said...

I take them all at once with a big gulp of orange juice! lol

Summer said...

I have an old h.s. b/f who is manic depressive and non compliant at times. It takes one crazy email from him and one stern one back from me to get him back on track. But, you know it. That's half the battle and I so admire you for it. I have my own demons to battle and I'm not near as aware as you. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are a great person. I really do mean it.

RICH said...

Mental illness is just like any other illness and the medication piece is very important as you stated. People with diabetes do go to work every day and are productive people as is true for people that are schizophrenic.

austere said...

Like I told abbagirl a long time back, someday you're invited to an Indian breakfast with khakra/ prantha and pickle- ok ok we take orange juice and fruit too, so not so bad.

I find sleep also pretty imp.Old age and all.*cough*

Melanie said...

you know, i think that's a dance all of us do when we are learning to deal with our chemical issues. i think it goes beyond being an issue of 'willpower' or 'stubbornness' as well. it's been years since i was able to find a routine that (mostly) works for me in handling my cyclothymic bipolar issues, and i'm not sure if i could have made that work out if i hadn't had ONE person that i could trust to be my 'reality check' without using it to manipulate me (i.e., telling me i was manic or delusional any time i demonstrated behaviors or attitudes they didn't agree with, in an effort to make me be what they wanted me to be rather than who i am) without my one good friend whom i could trust in that matter - who later became my husband. but my husband, who has been chronically depressed since probably his childhood, only finally could be convinced to get some help about 5 years ago. Once he was diagnosed, there was the big spiritual crisis wherein he was afraid that, if taking a pill could take away the depression, how would he recognize himself without it, because it had been such a big part of his identity for so long. he was afraid of doing that. once he started taking the meds, it took probably a year to find something that worked for him without also having side effects so debilitating that he would end up in bed all day with terrible stomach cramps. once we found a medicine that did work and was tolerable, there were months and months where he would take his meds, then get scared that the meds were going to "erase" his viewpoint on reality and therefore destroy a huge part of who he was and he would never get it back. so he'd quit taking it for a few days, to see if something in his brain had been destroyed by the drugs. you know, i could always tell when he had stopped the meds. it was almost like i could actually SEE the big black could rolling up behind him, taking up position over his head once again. (there's a reason why he named our little girl Storm...until he got treatment, he lived in the middle of a big black thundercloud all the time. Despite it being a misery, it was familiar and he was attached to it in many ways. The devil you know, all of that. He still loves storms a lot and he spends a lot of time working at following them around and trying to get the perfect lightening picture.)

it took a long time for him to realize that he still had an identity without the depression dictating his reality to him. it took a long time for him to accept that he wasn't just trading one chemical-based reality for another chemical-based reality. and of course, there was the grieving process for discovering that his highly intelligent, creative mind, which had always been the biggest source of self esteem in his life, was an organ that was faulty and could not be trusted. there was suspicion that the "happy pills" were making him into a Stepford man, ignoring the ugliness of reality in favor of happy warm feelings. i understood all of these emotions of course, having been through them myself at some point. today, after several sessions of him starting and stopping his meds, seeing what happened to his life (and our family) when he did, he's pretty stable about it. he occasionally misses doses when he forgets to get a refill in time, when a doctor is being stubborn about giving him his meds without lots of expensive appointments that he can't afford, or when the meds himself are too much to afford what with all the other bills. he warns me, i warn the kids, and we all adjust our behavior for a few days until Dad's meds soak in again, taking away his prickly skin and making him accessible to us once more.

i'm so angry at depression. it has eaten so much of his life, and so much of mine. it almost killed our marriage. for a few years, the kids acted like he didn't exist, because they had to be trained to leave him completely alone all the time because he just couldn't cope with them. i lived with the constant fear that he would act on one of his suicide impulses. depression sucks! nevertheless, i do understand the "medication dance" and why so many of us tempt fate with it. it's hard to get used to the idea that your own brain is betraying you. i wonder if it's possible to convey that to people who haven't experienced it for themselves.

wow, this got long. :)