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Archive for September, 2008

It worked.

I got a positive pregnancy test this morning.

1 1/2 years of acupuncture.  4 tries.  10 frozen sperm vials.  G-d I hope it sticks.

It is extremely early.  My period would be due tomorrow.

Even if I lose it, this is progress.  My eggs work.  Maybe I really will carry our second child.

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Laughter

[NB:  I found this tidbit of writing from mid-tegretol withdrawal in Feb 2006.  At that point, I’d gotten off of zyprexa and klonopin, and was still on Lamictal.  It is hard to believe 2 1/2 years have passed since then]

 

 

Sometimes I find a piece of myself I didn’t even know I lost.

 

I’m down to 200mg of Tegretol.  Down from  the 1000mg I’ve been on since October of 1998–that’s about 7 1/2 years.  I’ve been tapering down since mid november. 

 

Over the last month or so, I’ve noticed that I laugh more.  When we watched Garden State a couple weeks ago, there was a scene where the main character is wearing a shirt made out of fabric with the same design as the wallpaper in a really overdecorated bathroom.  I started giggling and I couldn’t stop.  I would sort of stop and then I’d think about the deadpan look on his face and I’d be off again.  I felt like the laugh was just bubbling up out of me, and there was so much more of it there.  Then that would get Agnes started, which would make me laugh harder.

 

I remember laughing like that before–when I was young.  I thought I grew out of it.  Everyone gets more staid as they age. 

 

I don’t think I’ve laughed like that in 7 1/2 years.

 

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Bootstraps

One of the major themes when apologists for the current system diagnosis and treatment get going is that people struggling with mental illness cannot be expected to just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” that you can’t just “decide” to get better. Back when I believed in my diagnosis, I would take deep offense to even slight suggestions that I should just “buck up.”

But what if you can? In some ways that’s exactly what I did. I also believe that I was misdiagnosed, and maybe that’s an important point. Maybe if I was “really” mentally ill, I wouldn’t have been able to get to those bootstraps. I don’t believe I ever met criteria for bipolar disorder, even by a generous reading of the DSM-IV, but I certainly met criteria for depression. I’ve had times when I couldn’t get out of bed, when my life felt empty and meaningless. Who hasn’t? What I’m getting at here is that even though I was misdiagnosed (and have significant doubts about diagnostic practices in general), I wasn’t necessarily substantively different than your average semi-functioning patient seeking out mental health care. Well, maybe I was substantively different in one way. I’m god-awful stubborn.

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I recently spoke with a doctor who founded and runs a clinic specifically for women who are or want to be pregnant who have a mental illness diagnosis, everything from mild depression to schizophrenia with active psychosis. I approached her because I heard her ask a smart question of another doctor about the effects of antipsychotic meds prenatally (the question went without a satisfying answer). For a psychiatrist, she seemed very conscientious and caring, and far more aware of the dangers of psych meds than most. She also seemed to understand that withdrawal needs to be gradual. This doctor said that she tries to maintain all of her pregnant patients off of meds, and that if she sees women prior to becoming pregnant she has them withdraw over 3 months. This sounds hideously short, but is longer than the 2 week line I have been fed personally by doctors, and have even heard presented at research talks as “gradual,” and she is also probably treating women who are antsy to start getting pregnant ASAP (I know that feeling well).

What was scary about the conversation though was that she said “The absolute hardest to treat are bipolar I women who want to breastfeed.” (more…)

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