GUEST VIEWPOINT: Without anti-psychotic drugs, I am finally free to be me
Source: The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA
Today I sit before you, drug-free for the first time in 19 years.
I’m unable to express the emotions I have been experiencing, because of the quasi-positive effects of the psychiatric drugs I was on. I am exhausted from the emotional conflict I have been fighting for nearly two decades. For the first time in more years that I can remember, I am able to think clearly and coherently, as opposed to the chemically induced fog of war before.
I have been on most of the perma-smile anti-psychotics: Seraquel, Lamiqtal, Zyprexa, Abilify and Risperdal. I have been skinny because of these drugs, and I have been heavy because of them.
I have been manic because of these drugs, and I have been depressed because of them. I have been sane because of these drugs, and I have been insane because of them.
But one thing these drugs never gave me was the ability to be me.
My reality was a chemical reality, not the reality of a normal adolescent. Standing at the crossroads now, I see all that was wrong with my situation, and there is a large part of me that is angry.
I am angry that my goal while growing up was not to become a functioning member of society, but instead I cared only about keeping myself afloat in this aquatic mentally ill nightmare.
I was always just striving to make it to tomorrow, trying not to allow myself to overthink pulling the metaphorical trigger.
I just needed someone to understand and believe in me. I needed more than the support of well-wishing doctors, parents and the local community resources around me.
Since the age of 11, I have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, clinical depression, anxiety disorder with panic attacks, and the toxic phrase “potentially dangerous.”
What no one understood was that while I had symptoms of all these disorders, I was still a person underneath. I was never given a chance to be anything other than what was contained in those infernal medical records — and because of this, I was unable to comprehend the circumstances of a poisoned existence.
Changing my situation took the intuition of a young woman I met just five months ago. She saw something beyond the classifications of disorders. She saw a gentle soul struggling to keep his head above water.
As she tells the story now, I was a lost and desperate young man, looking for some sort of non-water-soluble security.
I needed someone who I could completely trust, allowing myself to remember what it was really like to truly be me — the young boy at heart, the boy who was never given the chance to become the man he was destined to be.
As of today, I am no longer that boy, I am the man I was supposed to be — and this makes me happy and whole.
I no longer swallow or follow the color-coded cocktail.
I will not wonder if I can escape the clutches of insanity today.
I am my own person now, and I answer to no one.
I do not hear the critical voices in my head today, only the voices of reason and hope.
I do not have the symptoms of bipolar disorder, only the motivation to succeed in my goals.
I do not get depressed, but feel the waxing and waning of a typical human being’s brain.
I am no longer paranoid, but extremely aware and openly intuitive.
I am awake, and I am alive, because of who I am and what I have been through.
This is my story. While this journey has just begun, I am certain it is mine to journey with.
I get to decide where it leads, and while I have plenty of work ahead of me, many discoveries to make, I plan to touch as many lives as I can in the process.
I firmly believe that no one should have to suffer as I have, just because people out there do not have the capacity or empathic sensitivity to understand what is beyond their knowledge base or realm of reality.
This is for all those like me, looking for the light of understanding, holding on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, there is an answer and a way.
Brian Merrick of Eugene has been a member of Mindfreedom, an organization that advocates for the rights of current and former psychiatric patients, since 2010.