The diagnosis is in. I suffer from a mental illness. What happens next? Anxiety and panic sets in. Questions begin swirling in my head. Will I have to take medication? Will I be on medication for the rest of your life? How will it affect my life? What do I do now? How do I begin picking up the pieces? What will people think of me now? Who will I be once I start medication?
After a diagnosis, it is quite normal to have these questions. At least it was for me after I found out I am mentally ill. Even more so when I discovered how severe my mental illness is. I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder bipolar type. I don’t like the person I was before. My life was chaotic, to say the least. I had manic episodes that border on psychotic. I suffered from delusions and severe paranoia that nearly crippled me. My behavior was erratic and disorganized.
I was anxious and excited to start medications. I had hoped that they would change my life. But apparently, not until I get on the right combination. So how does one pick up the pieces after a diagnosis? And what will life be like now? I have been asking myself these questions ever since I got the news.
The First Steps
Most importantly, the first step is to take the medications. I have been on medications for several months now. I take them religiously, every day. And I am methodical about taking them. I honestly hate the way I used to act before. But I am discovering a new problem. I do not know who I am anymore. The medication changes me. It affects my mind, my thinking, even my behavior. The only me I have ever known was the mentally ill me. But I feel a little medicated. Likewise, I can’t begin picking up the pieces until I get my medications straight.
The second step is to be patient. Finding the right medications takes time. I have been on three different combinations since my diagnosis. Some have caused serious side effects. Meanwhile, others have not worked at all. And it has been taking a huge toll on me. Both physically and mentally. It will probably take a while before I feel normal. At least what I believe to be normal anyway. I just have to keep telling myself to be patient. However, sometimes I want to stop taking these meds. I want to feel like my old self again. And there are times I miss the energy from the mania.
The third step is to change my behavior. This comes from therapy and awareness. I have not reached this step yet. I am unemployed, so I go to a behavioral health center that is federally funded. The center only offers therapy like that to those who can pay. And since I am unemployed, I have no copay. My psychiatry visits are covered and funded, but not therapy. So I have to wait until I get a job. This can only happen once I get the correct dosage.
Picking up the Pieces
So now I have to start picking up the pieces of my life. I am not sure where to begin or even how to. I can barely tell what the pieces look like anymore. I’m honestly not sure what my future holds. I can only hope it doesn’t turn out with me being in some medicated, coma-like state. I don’t really feel like I can hold a job, much less function like I did before. But again, only time will tell if this passes. It has only been 4 months since I was diagnosed. So I just need to be patient.
The anger and rage are subsiding. I don’t feel as restless and agitated as I used to. My paranoia is also starting to disappear. The only downside is that I have less energy now. I find myself wanting to sleep more. But maybe that will subside once I get on the right medication cocktail. I hope that happens soon. I am growing weary of the constant roller coaster. The most difficult part now is accepting that the delusions weren’t real. Accepting the fact that those things will never happen, and that they were made up in my head.
But I have to be patient and not give up. Hopefully, sometime soon I can start picking up the pieces.
IamThePatRatt – The Bipolar Hacker
Hack the Stigma. Hack the Planet