Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Moment I Realized....

Lone flower- Looks the same but isn't
I will never forget the moment I realized I wasn't normal.  My oldest boys were still little enough to take naps.  They must have been in their rooms for a nap or the moment never would have happened.  I was curled up on the couch relaxing and watching Oprah.  I didn't watch television when the boys were around me.  Too many questionable things for very young ears that hear everything.

Yes.  My life changing moment came for watching daytime talk television.  I have no idea what the focus of the Oprah Show was that day.  At some point the guest started describing the horrible side effects of a medication he took.  Oprah compassionately  agreed that the side effects were horrible and worse than whatever it was the medicine was supposed to treat.

Those horrible side effects... I thought they were normal.  They were for me.

Feeling like I'm floating above my body?  Feeling like I can float around the room?  That's not normal?  I thought it was fun.  I knew I wasn't floating but it was still fun.  They are describing it as horrible.  I guess it was scary sometimes but I knew it wasn't real.

Feeling the crushing weight of eternity?  Isn't that why people are afraid of dying?  Afraid of the overwhelming expanse of eternity?  I'm not afraid of nothingness.  Life continues.  I'm sure of it.  Even when things threatened to overwhelm me, I never considered suicide.  It would offer no escape.  The thought of eternity almost suffocated me.  At least I knew what this life holds.

This isn't normal?  It's a horrible devastating problem?  I thought I just wasn't good at dealing with life sometimes.  I have probably warped the events in my memory.  We all do that.  The show may never have discussed these two things but it did talk about things I thought were a normal part of everyone's life as an unbearable condition.

I think I went into shock and tuned out for a while.  It was alot to process.  It was both horrible and incredible at the same time.  I'm not normal but maybe I don't have to feel swallowed up by eternity.  It took months for me to work up the courage to talk to a doctor and get some medication.

I wasn't completely honest with the doctor.  By this time I had realized that my paralyzing fear of bridges and driving in town were signs of excessive anxiety.  I didn't think I needed to tell him about the extent of my anxiety.  I knew no event caused any of my anxiety and "talking to someone" wouldn't help.  Rationally I know my fears are unfounded and the source was chemical.

So...on the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001 at 9 am, I was sitting in the lobby at the doctor's office waiting for my appointment and my first prescription.  9/11 changed all our lives.  For me, I was also the day I admitted I wasn't normal.  My brain chemistry is not the same as everyone else's.  I feel no shame in saying that.  No one should.  It is no different than a person with Type I diabetes, PKU or Lactose Intolerance.  I did nothing to cause the problem and medication helps correct it.

So much of the our physiology is poorly understood.  We know enough to recognized that bacteria and viruses cause disease not our humors being out of whack.  We know that epileptic seizures are not a sign of demonic possession.  Much of what other generations have thought they knew to be true we know to be false.  In the same way, much of what we take for absolute fact will be modified or totally disproven.

This I know...My brain chemistry is not the same as most people's.  I did nothing to cause this.  I have never taken drugs.  Yes, I managed to graduate from Ohio University in the 1980's without even smoking marajuana.  I did drink occasionally but now rarely.  My brain works the way it does because I was born with it this way.

This I know...I am not "unstable", "unpredictable", or "undependable".  I will not go off the deep end or become violent.  Before I started taking medication, no one ever suggested to me that I might need it.  I showed no outward signs of my inward struggle.  I thought my struggles were normal.  Death is scary.  People die on bridges and in car crashes.  The floating sensation is fun.

This I know...Whatever is different about my brain chemistry is helped by Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI).  I was lucky to be given the right medication for me from the start.  Why it works, I don't know.  It does.  It also has drastically reduced my number of migraines.  It doesn't work for everyone with anxiety because the causes are different.  If this has all been placebo effect for the past 14 years, I'm ok with placebo effect.

This I know...I think outside the box because I was never in the box.  I have anxiety but no long suffer panick attacks.  I am just beginning to realize that I also never got my social rules handbook.  I have felt this way since grade school, as if all the other kids had a guidebook on how to act and I didn't.  Then I convinced myself that everyone feels the same as I do.  Now, I wonder if my original thoughts were more accurate.  I am a step behind socially because, like my son, I am on the autism spectrum.