Something that is very difficult for me is knowing when NOT to listen to medical professionals and trust my instinct. I'm not a shrink, but I do know my own body and how legal chemicals affect it. However, I often defer to wiser counsel as I'm lacking in self esteem and believe on a deep level that everyone is cleverer and more grown up than me!
So here is the situation. I'm feeling slightly mental - not the whole hog psychotic or suicidal, but definitely on the dark side of dicey. I'm trying to decide if its a dip or a relapse beginning. I call a mental health professional, as my CPN is on a jolly with the older persons team. She told me she felt like a change of scenery. What a choice. Psychotic and delusional adults, or, spongy brained dementia clients. Anyway, the duty cpn isn't sure either as she doesn't know me very well. Neither of us is sure whether I should ride out the storm (hoping it'll pass and I'll Improve) or, not leaving it, come into the mental health team for a chat, and try to sort out what to do.
So I come in to the mental health ranch for a chat and my shrink increases my medication. Obviously I'm not happy. I increase it for 2 weeks; my mood lifts but physically I feel shite. Side effects fill as per normal make me feel like I am filling up with concrete, the appetite of the starved man returns and generally I am knocked about the head with cotton wool and fluff in my mouth. I go off to work leaving the front door of the house with the keys in it, leave the car door open in public spaces, forget what I'm doing whether mid sentence or mid task and just can't get it together. So I reduce it back down and feel mentally in the abyss. So I have to return and yet again he increases the meds (even higher than before) and tells me this is the recommended dose for bi-polar. Take 400mg at night and then 200mg when you get up in the morning. Quite frankly, I feel like giving up. I'm so medicated I can hardly function. I'm experiencing the same symptoms as I do when I'm hideously depressed (Over eating, sleeping, phasing out, lacking in motivation, shuffling around) but I'm not suicidal. I gain half a stone in 3 weeks and am totally demoralised.
I turn up at the gym for my near death experience on a bike session, and a personal trainer asks me if I have got a second opinion about the medication situation and have I challenged my psychiatrist? To be honest it had never occurred to me to challenge him.Later the same evening I sit in the bath and my husband sits on the toilet as we catch up on our day. He asks me exactly the same question, as HIS carer support network mention the benefit of getting a second opinion in their literature. It's definitely something I could consider. It's also glaringly obvious that lack of talking support from my cpn does affect my sense of well being as I feel slightly lost in my so called, "care program approach". Not so much care and absolutely no approach. I suppose the program bit is something I have to make up as I go along - a program of confusion.
So I take the bull by the horn and make some calls. First to my psychiatrist to tell him I really can't take the quetiapine anymore and the second call to my ex-psychotherapist for some advice. She used to run the Lithium clinic years ago so I trust her opinion about medication. I am regaining control. It feels good.