Medication, Monsters, and Myths

I see my therapist every Wednesday morning and this week we decided we’d step down to biweekly visits. I’m a little nervous about this, but I think it will be for the best.

The point of seeing a counselor is not to have therapy forever, but to eventually “graduate” from therapy with the coping skills and different outlook you went into therapy for in the first place.

We also decided that I am ready to go back to work. I am more than a little apprehensive about this, but I agree with my therapist that I am ready. All this sitting around doing nothing is driving me up the wall. When I have nothing to do, I go shopping and spend money I shouldn’t be spending.

Retail therapy is weird. I don’t know why I feel better after buying myself a new pair of shoes or a fountain for my desk. (Okay, the fountain was purchased with a gift card, so that doesn’t count.) I mostly buy clothes, which can be a nightmare in and of itself because when I go into my favorite stores in the mall, they frequently don’t carry my size. I know I’m a little overweight because almost all of my medications list weight gain and increased appetite as a side-effect, but my doctor says it’s better for me to stay at this weight than risk relapsing into my eating disorder by trying to lose weight. I still consider myself an average-sized, even reasonably attractive human, and it’s really frustrating to not be able to find clothes that fit.

Anyway, I think going back to work will be really good for me. I’ll have a bit more of a structured schedule, something to occupy my time, and a purpose. My therapist and I discussed what my “normal” is. She asked me if this constant up-and-down cycle is as good as it gets. I told her that I hoped it wasn’t, but after giving it some more thought, I’m starting to see that maybe it is. Everyone’s lives have normal ups and downs: birthdays, fender benders, grandchildren, promotions, getting fired, etc. That’s all part of this game of life.

I finally finished Elyn Saks’ memoir The Center Cannot Hold. It was an incredibly story of a Elyn’s battle with schizophrenia all throughout her adult life. In the end, she writes that she wouldn’t want others comparing themselves to her, that she doesn’t want someone shaking her book at a mentally ill child or friend saying, “If Elyn can do all this, why can’t you?” Her achievements were incredible. I lost track of how many college degrees Elyn accrued throughout the book. She fell in love and got married. She got her happy ending, neither because of nor despite her mental illness. Her husband didn’t love her in spite of her schizophrenia, but he loved the whole package that was Elyn, quirks and all.

This is very much the same way Rebecca loves me. She is reassuring when I’m paranoid, she doesn’t tell me my fears and beliefs aren’t real. She’s there for me, and she listens. I try to do the same for her.

Last weekend, I had a birthday party at my house. My mom made pasta bake (affectionately known as horse tonsils, but that’s a story for another day), fruit punch, and a birthday cake. It was the best birthday party ever. I had real friends to invite, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We painted flowerpots and put little succulent plants in them. It meant so much to me that people came to my party when in the past, I wouldn’t have had anyone to invite.

I’m a very anxious person, and I don’t normally like social gatherings, but this was so much fun, I might do it again!

Meanwhile, I’ve been on Clozapine for a little over a week now. At first, it made me horrendously irritable and weepy, but my doctor told me to take it at night instead of in the morning, and I feel like a million bucks! He also prescribed a longer-acting anti-anxiety medication that helps me sleep and makes me feel a lot less grouchy during the day.

I look forward to spending more time with my new friends, going back to work, and the beginning of the spring semester. I changed my major back to photography, and I’m super excited to start making art again.

It took Elyn a long time to learn that she needed to take her medication. She didn’t “feel like herself” when she was on medication. I can relate to that too; sometimes I’m over-medicated and my thoughts feel slow and I stutter. But I think I’m finally getting close to the right cocktail of medication that will help me, as my dad always says, be the best Katie Orfinger I can be.

One thought on “Medication, Monsters, and Myths

  1. You go, girl! You’re right about everybody having ups and downs in their lives. Maybe not like yours, but there all the same. I’m so glad to read another post that’s positive…you’re stronger than you know. I love you!


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