Day 3: What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?
Everyone is different, obviously. Every illness is different and not all are going to respond to treatment the same way. I have officially been in treatment for just under a year and have already had my medication changed twice and my therapist and psychologists have been changed as well (one due to my not feeling comfortable with practice procedures and the other due to a change in insurance).
Before I was diagnosed, I knew that I felt better when I ran. I used to joke that it was my “anti-depressant” and that “running was cheaper than therapy”. I said this often when people asked me why I subjected myself to rigid training scheduled (not so ridged compared to some of my friends) and why I chose to run the full, 26.2 mile marathon year after year; sometimes more than one a season. It honestly helped me. It was my escape. This was how I chose to self medicate. I came to learn others turn to drugs and alcohol to help with their pain; I enjoy the runner’s high myself.
I was hospitalized once. I will have to say that it both helped and didn’t help. Let me explain…
Part of my illness, as I have come to understand, is that I am comfortable with routine and controlled environments. I recall looking back, when I underwent my procedure after Alexa was born to have my tubes tied. I have never been afraid of much, I had simple childbirths as I chose to go natural with as little medical and medication intervention as possible (healthier for baby and Mom…I did my research) and so when asked if I wanted to be knocked out for this procedure or given pain medicine I said that if I was given the choice I would prefer not to. So they gave me a spinal block so I wouldn’t feel anything and they began the procedure. My doctor knew I was a “tough cookie” as she put it, and spoke to me about what she was doing the entire time. Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t move! What if there was a natural disaster; or a masked gunman took over the hospital; or the doctor passed out; or aliens attacked!! I began to literally freak out. I broke out into a cold sweat and shake and became nauseous. I had no control over my body at that moment. I wasn’t in any pain, but I would have gladly taken pain over no control. I didn’t want to show that I was panicking so I asked the doctor how much longer and she said it was almost done. She offered to let me see the tube she had removed (scarred from a previous tubal pregnancy) and I said, “NO!!! Just finish and I want to try to walk!” She kind of laughed and said that it might take an hour or two before I got my sea legs back.
I thought I freaked out because I was awake while being cut but it wasn’t that at all. I was having an anxiety attack due to loss of control of my own body. I had a similar situation in the hospital. Although I did have full capacity of my person, this was a locked facility. I had checked myself in, but I could not leave without a full evaluation and I knew I needed to figure out how to fix what was going on with me. So the good was; I did get diagnosed and placed on a medication regimen. The bad; I had to remember to stop and take deep breaths every time my chest got tight and I began to get that ‘fight or flight’ feeling because I was locked up in there. I was told I could be prescribed anxiety medication but I did not want anything that might alter my ability to think clearly at any point, day or night. I also would not take any sleeping pills. The doctors and staff were very respectful of my preferences and always explained anything I had been recommended to take. I would not choose to be hospitalized again but the medication was effective in the long run.
I am in talk therapy once a week and see a psychiatrist once a month to evaluate my medication and current state of mind. These are also effective.
Most effective: family, friends, writing, acceptance, taking it easy on myself, and “no schedule Sundays” in which I allow myself to sleep in until at least 8am!