Monday, August 3, 2009

When They Messed With My Head

Several years ago I had what was diagnosed as an epileptic episode. I blacked out in an STD booth in Bangalore, bang in the middle of a phone call. My best friend had been with me, both of us in our PJ's still, having stepped out early morning to make a bunch of phone calls. I terrified her with my fainting spell. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to do the right things and took me to the hospital in an auto.
At Mallya, I was put on a glucose drip and admitted to a really expensive private room. I remember nothing of that time, my friends were making all the decisions (we were all in our early 20's). Within 48 hrs, I was on a plane back to New Delhi, leaving behind a city I loved and a fresh relationship.
Upon reaching Delhi, I was 'shown' to some head doctors and subjected to many tests. No one could find anything (there was a hilarious episode of the neurologist looking at my brain MRI and saying - "There is nothing"). At the end of it all, we were no better off than when we'd started. Yes, I'd collapsed. The nature of the spell suggested it was epilepsy. No one was sure of anything. I was put on medication.
The medication was awful. My hands shook, I couldn't grip a pen to write a straight sentence. I felt dull and would retreat into a headspace where there was only static. I was told I'd have to be on this medication forever.

Years on, I've yet to have another epileptic seizure (if it was indeed that in the first place). I've gotten my act together healthwise - I eat intelligently, use my body for things other than watching television and have even made the dreaded yoga a part of my life. I am happier today than I ever was, I accept myself and appreciate my virtues more than ever. I feel as if I am learning to see myself. Recently I decided to stagger my medication and eventually stop taking it altogether.

Since then, I've begun to feel the withdrawal effects of the medicines. My anxiety levels have increased...a strange sense of dread sits inside me for no apparent reason. I couldn't make the connection for the longest time until I had a horrible night last night. Tossing and turning, trying to get rid of the creepy-crawlies, I tortured over what was causing this mental unrest. Woke up with a horrible headache that could only be ascribed to anxiety and felt like someone had pummeled my body all night.

I then did what any educated adult would have done years ago when told to ingest medication that affects ones neurology. I went online and typed in the name of the drug I'd been taking. Turns out, besides being used for epileptic seizures, this was mainly a drug used for mood disorders and bipolar. That just threw me for a toss. Bipolar? Bipolar?? God only knows which senses this drug was dulling out inside me. The more medical journals I read, the more disturbed I got.

For a chunk of my twenties then, I've been on mood elevators - on uppers, for fuck's sake! I'm appalled with the casual attitude my allopaths took to this. There was nothing in my diagnosis to suggest this course of treatment. They should have referred me to a therapist, told me to meditate, change my diet...try something else, before putting me on mind altering drugs.

As I nurse my poor head, I feel such a sense of betrayal and helplessness. I feel like apologizing to my brain, to my blood and my body chemistry. I'm so sorry. I should have watched out for you better.
Now I'm just angry...and it isn't just because I cut down on the happy pills.

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