Tuesdays With Abhorrent Fiends vol. 50: adventures in medicine, with dream log

"I hide behind curtains 'cause I have a fear of being stabbed."
~ Chief Wiggum as Polonius, when the Simpsons did Hamlet

So today is a big day in my personal timeline: I have lost my med virginity. Meaning that today, for the first time ever, I took psychoactive meds prescribed to me by a psychiatrist.

And yes, there is a big difference between taking meds prescribed for you by a doctor and taking recreational mind-altering substances you procured yourself, even considering the very limited extent to which I have done the latter. Leaving aside things like side affects and potentials for addiction, the difference is largely one of intent and expectation. With recreational substances, the intent is to escape from consciousness of self and everyday reality. With a prescribed substance, the intent is to more fully experience those realities. People I know have experienced both sides of that coin with one and the same substance, for example in the case of aderol. And the really cool documentary Hoffman's Potion (link to video) asserts the same is true of LSD: used correctly with a doctor's supervision, it can be beneficial. Used irresponsibly in the wrong situation, it can do a lot of damage. It's one I haven't tried, but the documentary kind of made me wish doctors were allowed to use it.

As for my new pills (these ones), it'll be at least a week before I know what effects they will have. My mind completes the chain of thought without needing to be asked:
Pill delivers chemical to bloodstream.
Bloodstream transports chemical to brain.
Brain alters balance of various hormones used in the signaling of emotional states.
Emotional states of the preferred type become chemically easier to enter into, improving the personality's overall ability to confront external reality.

It is a good thing, to do this. Lots of people I know, love, and/or respect are now or have been psychiatrically medicated at various times. Family members. Friends and friends on hiatus. I don't attach a negative stigma to seeking out psychiatric care, and I like to think I don't attach a negative stigma to taking doctor-approved pills.

The fact that it feels like such a big deal to me, though, makes me feel in turn like I'm some kind of wuss. Because most of the people I know have had far more exciting adventures in psychiatric medicine. (Although some of those adventures had unpleasant results, which is part of what makes me so suspicious.) Because I'm getting growly about trying out a very small dose of one of the least harsh SSRIs on the market at the late, late age of 27. Because I can refer back, in my mind, to the Rolodex of disordered postcards I call a memory, and wonder if there may have been other periods of time in my life when a stint on the smiley pills might have done me some good.

But I don't like it and it is galling!

When dealing with my own psychology has principally to do with cognitive stuff, that is comfortable territory for me. Or comfortable discomfort, at worst. I know there's bad scary things in my personality, parts of me that don't like the rest of me or anybody else. For the most part I know where they are, to a certain extent how they got there, and increasingly, as the work progresses, how they work and what I can do to make them function properly. Oh, I complain a lot, but my intent is for it to be the useful sort. The kind where you break off in mid-sentence to say, "...hey, wait, that could actually work." If I have a disturbing dream, like I did the sleeptime before last, it usually only takes me a few days to figure out which issues my brain was trying to tell me about.

As for the dream, this paragraph should suffice. If you know Pearl and she's ever told you about her Grape Escape dream from way back in the day, or if you watch this video and use your imagination (commercial for Grape Escape), it started out a little like that. Only with Lego people and different torture devices. *shudders* Dangit, in real life you can't feel Lego people's pain or hear them screaming when they get horribly killed. That dream eventually did have a good ending, although the landscape had to be reformatted like three times to get there. At first I just watched, helpless, while bad stuff happened. There was a brief interlude where pushy, sales-skills-having people who conformed to the ideals of corporate successfulness were faxed to heaven on a giant fax machine. Then there kept being dream-people in awful situations, and when I saw them I would want something to happen to them. As soon as I did, my perspective would switch to inside that dream-person, and I'd experience the results of my decision. After this, the landscape would change to a different situation. If I'd made different choices the dream could have been a lot worse. Instead, the Amish c-section was successful and the mother survived (barely) as well as the baby. The technicians escaped from the evil building of death and deactivated the monstergate on the way out. The boss of the spikey spheres level was defeated and the key to the door at the end was recovered before the boss respawned. Me and Dave rescued the fluffy little dog from the woods and gave its fur a spiffy new hairstyle instead of shooting it because we'd been sent to kill coyotes. And when we returned to base camp, the fashion instructor complimented my spiffy new hairstyle. Oh, foolish brain. It hasn't been enough days yet to put it all together, but soon I will figure out exactly why it is I'm so afraid to admit that I'm a freaking adult.

Changing that mutable mental landscape with chemicals, though, feels like taking the problem out of my hands. Meds are a tool I don't myself know how to properly wield. I am deeply distrustful of letting anybody else wield a tool which directly impacts my mental state and which I don't myself know how to use. I think that's the principal reason why it feels like such a big deal. That, and resorting to the use of this tool to bludgeon at the big stupid rock of my own brain means that the tools I already possess have proved insufficient to the task. So my pride is ouched, not merely my sense of excessive caution.

But I have made my decision. Hopefully, like the ones I made while fast asleep, it will prove to have been the right one.

Here's to happier days and better living through chemistry.