The drizzle was falling quite sideways and steadily like weather more befitting a Scottish moor than the Southern plains of Alabama. At the streetlight on the corner, a lone catbird called his boisterous early morning song crying to the entire world that this little corner was his. I pulled up the collar to my jacket as I began this morning's three mile walk on a quest to get slim and trim again.
One of the more discouraging side effects of certain medications for mental illness is weight gain. For the longest time, I could eat almost anything I wanted. Lately, after a medication change, I have had to fight to keep the weight off. I was getting quite chubby for awhile there. This morning before my walk, I peed and then waited to put on my tennis shoes until after stepping upon the scales. I have lost eighteen pounds, but I have to starve myself to do so.
"I don't think I am going to take these medications anymore," I told my father last night.
"What?" he asked stunned and flabbergasted. "What do you mean?"
"I don't like the side effects," I replied. "I gain weight at the drop of a hat and feel sleepy all the time. I have to take two hour naps all during the day just to make it."
"You're just coming down from a high," my father said, trying to reassure me this random mix of medications were the ones for me, and that was about how we chose these medications.
My father told my doctor that I had "mood swings" and was on a "high" all the time. The doctor prescribed this extra handful of meds to subdue me and placate my father.
"You can't stop taking your medications," my father finally said firmly.
"But isn't it my body and my choice?" I asked. "You are not the one living with the side effects."
"You can't make those kinds of decisions for yourself," he replied. "You're mentally ill. That is why I have power of attorney."
I sighed. I may have a mental illness, but I am not stupid. I have watched my mother stay constantly drugged over the years to keep her in the bed and "calm" as my father likes to call it. She will wake up sometime in her later years with grey hair like a drug induced Rip Van Winkle and wonder what happened to her life. I don't want to be in that unenviable position. I really don't know what I am going to do.