I have been experiencing for years an enormous amount of anxiety and as a result, major insomnia. This topic is on my mind today because I have struggled for about eight years with the decision to go on psychiatric medication to try and help me get through the many difficult things I have had to deal with. I have been seeing the same psychiatrist on and off for about six years, and have tried numerous anti depressants, anxiety medications, and sleeping meds. I do not have a lot of trust in the medical profession, to be very blunt, because of all the times I have corrected doctors and other medical personnel. This is going to sound really ridiculous and conceded and I hope you do not take it that way, but I cannot stand being right all of the time. I would like to be able to put my trust into someone else for a change. It is exhausting always needing to triple check things, and be on high alert all of the time. I cannot tell you how many times throughout the last 12 years, that I have had to really question and research on my own the things that many doctors were telling me. I can also tell you that of all the times I questioned or would not agree to do something, take something, etc I have always been right. It is frustrating. Beyond frustrating. Being an educated patient is so important, and necessary, if you are really going to take control and manage your own health, but there is also something to be said for being able to surrender some of your control to someone who has more experience than you.
When I first got sick at 13, I had no idea what was going on with my body, and had that trust with Dr. Nanci Pittman, who was my pediatric gastrointerologist. I let her take the lead. I took whatever she told me she thought would be beneficial, I stayed away from the things she thought would be harmful…I was truly THE most perfect patient. But, when the time came for me to have surgery, she led me down a very wrong path, and I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if I had been older, or had more of an understanding of my situation. Would I still be in the same place I am today? It is a question that has no answer and really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things but it is a question that plagues me. I have a lot of anger towards her because I can look back and pinpoint where it all went wrong, so to speak. I don’t blame her for me getting sick, I don’t blame her for any of it…but the thing that haunts me day after day, is the fact that under her guidance, I had a very complicated surgery done by the head of pediatric general surgery. I made the names of my doctors private in my first post because I wanted to protect the identity of this surgeon, only. This man, Dr. D, was so kind and did everything in his power to help me. His lack of experience in colo rectal surgery was not his fault, nor have I ever blamed him for all of the things that have gone wrong. But, I blame Dr. Pittman. I blame her for not explaining to my parents the seriousness of my disease, and the enormous risk that comes with the removal of someone’s colon. Both of my parents are very smart, very intuned, and very easy to talk to. There was no miscommunication in terms of what they heard from Dr. Pittman, who they trusted completely. I was having one of the most complicated surgeries performed by a doctor who had done 30 in his entire career, as opposed to a colo rectal surgeon who does about 30 a month. It is because of this, I believe, that I have had all of the complications I did. It is because I stood up to another colo rectal surgeon who I went for a consultation after my second surgery, that I did not go through two years of hell to save my Jpouch. Right after I had that removed, Dr. Stephen Gorfine, who is one of the premiere colo rectal surgeons in Manhattan, told me there was not a chance in hell that anything could be done to save my Jpouch. What if I didn’t stand up to Dr. Milsom, who I had the consultation with? I would have gone through two years with a tube in me and needing to be scoped every two-three weeks, to end up exactly where I was. I would have lost two years going through misery to end up exactly where I was when I came to see him. Why did I know the Jpouch couldn’t be saved based on all of the tests and comments of doctors and other medical personel? Why did I have to make that decision at 16 years old? And what if I just went along with what he said, what would have happened to me? Where would I be now? I know I am searching for answers that I will never find, but these are just a couple examples of times when I would have liked to be able to just go along with whatever I was told, because I trusted that person implicitly, and had it been the right thing to do.
So, back to my original point about the decision to be on psychiatric medications. I have an appointment with a different psychiatrist tomorrow, for a second opinion. I have done trial and error with multiple anti depressants, anxiety medications, and sleeping meds. Every single one of the anti depressants I have tried, have made me feel like I was a different person. They either made me need to be prodoctive 24/7, too jittery, numb, or suicidal. My mom talked to this new doctor on the phone several months ago since I have such a hard time actually explaining to someone new what I have been through in a short, conconsise way. From what my mom has told me, he sounds like a wonderful human being, very easy to talk to, and was very understanding. I would like to go in there tomorrow with the mentality of “I need help. The only thing that helps with my anxiety and insomnia is smoking marijuana, which I am not into doing. What do you recommend?” And just be able to follow his advice without feeling the need to research and check everything he says. I want, for ONCE, to feel like I can surrender some of my control and allow someone else to tell me what they think and without question, I just do it.
Very recently, I was taking trazodone to help me sleep. It is a sedating anti depressant that does help a lot of people with insomnia. However, if it was not for my parents, my dogs, and marijuana, I can honestly tell you that I would not be here today because of this drug. I would scream at the top of my lungs and cry for hours at a time, be extremely afraid and triggered by so much, I would wake up in a pool of sweat, and smelled very badly (and I am not a person who needs deoderant so this was very unusual for me). I also had very violent thoughts and wanted more than anything for my brother to come home so I could “fight” him, knowing I wouldn’t hurt him. I remember before one appointment with my psychiatrist, my mom was with me in the bathroom as I was cowering in the corner. I was so scared, so afraid to move. She was the only one I wasn’t afraid of. My doctor saw me like this. As embarrasing as it was, it was a good time for him to see me. It wasn’t until I saw something on the prescription bottle about how it can cause mood changes, that I did research on this medication. Within three minutes of looking it up, I realized that the majority of my issues were coming from this medicine. Why did I have to figure that out? I told my doctor numerous times how I was feeling and my parents even went to speak with him separately. He never picked up on it. Three days after I weened myself off of this drug, I was a different person. Truly, a different person. I was going through emotional hell for months, and it was only until I looked into it myself, that I discovered the reason- something my doctor should have told me or at least mentioned that this medication could be potentially to blame for the way I was feeling.
It is because of this, and a couple similar experiences like this, that has made me so distrustful when it comes to psychiatric medications. I want to be able to trust this doctor tomorrow. I don’t want to second guess everything he says. I need to be able to relinquish a tiny bit of control in order to allow him to actually help me. But, I am scared. Very scared.