Training New Brain Cells

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Was I disabled? No, not really. It was just harder to do everyday, usual things.

Lifting and carrying took more thought. I had to consider how to balance things, etc. I couldn’t use my casted fingers for Anything. Nothing could be two-handed.

Getting dressed was a challenge, ex., judging sleeve size to fit my cast. Thank God for short sleeve/T-shirt weather. Sandals were fine if they were velcro’ed. Slip-on shoes! Elastic waistbands were how I rolled.

Taking showers was an adventure. I employed a newspaper bag and a rubber band to shield my cast from the wetness. Washing and drying my hair was difficult. Hotel-sized shampoo containers were best. I almost mastered the one-handed towel turban. Brushing my hair left-handed was new. Training new brain cells I guess.

Makeup, well I was perfecting the art of applying mascara in a new way. As long as I didn’t poke my eyes out…

Eating involved remedial use of a fork (or spoon). Cutting anything was out of the question, temporarily. Pouring things took practice and patience. Cooking was not  attempted. Making coffee was a success! Opening and closing containers was difficult. I was confounded by potato chip bags and cracker packets and anything sealed tightly.

Sleeping with my arm elevated, or at least vertical, was something I got used to, mostly. Weird, but necessary. Propped pillows was an art form.

This was my new life, and though temporary, I gained insight into a small piece of how it is to live this way. It was a very small but useful sliver of experience.

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Mental Health Journey, Pt. 2

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Life for a mental health patient is a journey, made somewhat better by medicines and treatments. Sometimes the “better” is marginal, sometimes it’s manageable, sometimes there’s a glimpse of a near-miracle. Medications are little slices of wonderful, if and when they work. There’s the issue for many. The ever-present IF.

With psychiatric medications, what works for one person may not, and does not, always work for another person. This is because individual brain chemistry is as unique as a fingerprint. Patients are often faced with having to try different medications to find one that works. After that comes finding the proper effective dosage that works for them. And with psychiatric meds, if A doesn’t work for you, you can’t just take one, stop and then immediately start taking B like you can a pain reliever or some other type of drug. There is a sort of “half-life” with brain chemicals when they are affected by psychiatric meds.

Because psychiatric medications have to build up in the brain tissue in order to be effective, if a drug does not work, you have to wean yourself off it before starting a new one. This can take time and is frustrating and, unfortunately, depressing for the patient. It often feels like you “roll the dice” when you try another drug because you truly do not know if it will work. In addition, you wonder how effective it will be or for how long.

And don’t get me started on the Side Effects! (too late)… With side effects of psychiatric meds, it can sometimes feel like you are experiencing the saying, “The cure is worse than the disease”. There is weight gain, or there could be weight loss. You have insomnia or you might sleep too much. You feel ravenous or have no appetite at all. There is constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention impaired coordination or memory, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, fatigue, and of course, sexual difficulties. You are dealing with many of these while you are trying your hardest to JUST FEEL BETTER!