Well, That Was Stupid

“I have known him to drive all night.”
— Bunter, describing one of Lord Peter’s PTSD reactions

Last night I missed refilling my dose of Lamictal. I had only 100mg left. I normally take 500mg, which is near the limit for what people can take of this thing. ((It really does mess with your hair; mine has a white, minor bride-of-Frankenstein streak in it, on the forehead where people can see it (it’s not very wide).))

Oh, I thought, what’s the harm. I’m going to be okay in the morning. I feel okay now, I’ll get my prescription tomorrow and buzz off into work.

Yeah. That was stupid.

I forgot all the little things the medication holds off. How it works ((Which took me a long time to figure out, and I suspect that is somewhat because the field of psychiatry is still a soft science, which is no fault of its own.)) is that it calms down the overactive electrical impulses of the brain. That’s why it’s a seizure medicine. It also works surprisingly for some people with bipolar/manic-depressive disorder, and I’m one of them. This is nice, because at low doses the side-effects drug is relatively mild in most cases. Even at high doses for me it’s this way.

When it was suddenly removed, and I woke up the next morning, things had changed in my head.

I don’t know what the Lamictal holds off more: the overactivity of the bipolar, or the overactivity that PTSD induces even when it isn’t being triggered (hyper-awareness and a constant sense in the back of your mind of never letting your guard down are some of the more chronic symptoms). I had the same sense of constant dread ((As opposed to immediate, brain-drowning fear when my PTSD was triggered a little while back. It’s a subtle difference. Man, I hate my life sometimes.)) when I woke up that I last perhaps had years ago, before the Lamictal.

People say that medication is bad for you, that it blunts the edge of your mind. Nuh-uh. It makes your mind function, sharpens you in the areas where other people live. You’re otherwise sharp in the areas where you use to survive, which, outside of actually being in that situation, is not where you need to be sharp.

Anyways, I got my medication, and quietly went out of my mind, even though I took the rest of the dose in the car (I’m sure it takes a while for it to kick in after the shock of being without for over ten hours). Not like I started doing Set Piece PTSD or was a danger to people: I just simply shut down, not of my own accord, almost everything but that part of my brain that I used to survive my father’s abuse and the atmosphere he engendered, even miles away when I was still in contact with him, by his constant need to control, control, control.

So I didn’t go to work. I tried to do normal things to calm myself down. I bought things at shops (breakfast was one, which I haven’t eaten yet, because I’m too nervous still), stimulating the local economy a bit. And I drove around town. Amazingly, it’s one of the things I do well when I’m like this, and it didn’t surprise me that Sayers had Lord Peter Wimsey do this when he was breaking down. It’s something to focus the bit of your mind that isn’t wibbling in a corner, and let it fill up the space in your head with something that matters.

I’m home now, and kind of broken down, and obviously am not in any shape to go to work. At some point I’ll rest after the banana muffins, maybe have a good cry, maybe wonder what’s triggering me right now, or if this isn’t a trigger but the bipolarism breaking through and having fun. At some point the medication will kick in (when, oh, when?) and I’ll be working from home.

Right now, I’m a mess. I didn’t realize how much really rode on those little angular, difficult to swallow, horrible tasting, blue pills.

Like I said, that was stupid.

5 thoughts on “Well, That Was Stupid

  1. oopsie. It’s surprising what the meds do for one, ain’t it? Didn’t TNH say something about that when the FDC stopped production of a stimulant she used to manage narcolepsy? At Nadar’s instigation, I believe.

    Hope you get back on an even keel soon. *hugs*

  2. Yuck. Been there. Congrats on those dicey hours between naming the problem and metabolizing the solution, which I’m skilled at filling with terror-terror-terror.

    (Here from your outstanding PTSD series on Making Light.)

  3. Thanks, Jesse!

    And do you mean Tor.com? Although there’s definitely a chain that will link (though not directly) from Making Light to PTSD in Fiction on Tor.com, so I understand any futzing. :)

  4. Ah yes, the accidental Lamictal under-dosing (I’m like you describe – take a high dose, low side effect profile, works surprisingly well). Got that one day when (due to extreme nausea and vomiting) I couldn’t take my meds – they came back up about an hour after taking them. I spent the day trembling, moaning, feeling like I was going over the edge in a not-good way… sadly I was stupid and went in to school anyways, but I spent the whole day in my office with the door shut.

    Later my therapist (I like your term – bartender) asked me “was it the mood leaking through, or was it withdrawal?” I still can’t tell. But it was hell on earth, regardless. And people wonder why I want to keep taking my meds…

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