helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

might as well face it, you're addicted to drugs

Damn you, Semagic, for eating my post!

I suppose it should have been obvious that hitting "save file" without changing the file name would save over the top of the entry I was trying to save for later... but damnit, I thought changing the subject line would be enough to change the file name! Oh nooo, that's not how it works. So now I have to try to recreate my rant from scratch, and recreated rants are never as good as the original-that's-been-lost-to-bitbucket-hell.

Anyway. This is one of my rare Serious posts. Look Serious in preparation for reading it. Huh.

I hate being a drug addict.

As this will come as a shock to some of you, let me replace "drug" with "prescription medicine". Does that make it sound better? Does replacing the implication of unknown & dangerous substances with the knowledge that the supply is safely controlled by a team of medical professionals make it any more palatable?

Well, it doesn't make it any easier for me.

In order to stay (relatively) healthy, I need to take a large number of drugs - some of which have unpleasant side effects. At least one of them is physically addictive. Oh, the big Pharmaceutical companies (known also as BigPharma) will try to dress it up, and redefine words all over the place to avoid the phrase "drug addiction"; but the fact remains - my body is dependent on the drug and undergoes really damn unpleasant side effects on withdrawal. Or, in the immortal words of the miserable ovoid creature ad, "if you take it for awhile, and then suddenly stop taking it, your brain will explode".

At this point in my life, my drug addiction is a matter of choice. Having been depressed for more than 8 years, and rendered completely non-functional for more than a year of that, I am too afraid to try a phased withdrawal to see if I can manage without. Honestly, I fear another bout of major depression more than I fear almost anything else in the world. You know the annoying personality tests and online quizzes which have questions like "Which would you rather be, blind or deaf?", and the answer is "well, neither, because they'd both be bloody horrible". Depression, for me, would be worse than either or both. It's not just like losing a sense, it's losing my intelligence, my self-respect, my self... and not knowing if they'll ever come back.

If I came off my drugs, even in a planned, medically-controlled way, statistics and family history (which I could've done with knowing about a few years ago) give a figure in the high 90%s for the likelihood of relapsing within a few months to years. I like the life I have now. Even now, I have occasional minor paranoias and psychoses - but they look like a walk in the park with a large ice cream (dairy-free if necessary) covered in big pink (vegan) marshmallows, and with someone nice to snuggle with, compared to major depression. If I can do anything to fend it off, I will - even if that "preventative" involves side effects up to and including testicular pyrotechnics and vulvar flamboyance (or was that the other way round?). It's worth the price for me. (Oh, and don't even try suggesting I come off these drugs to try another mix - because I've already tried several mixes which didn't work, and coming off the drugs to try another mixture is still coming off the drugs! I'll take a drug that works with 20 side effects I know over one that may not work with 50 possible others, thanks.)

So I pay my subscription (around £36 for 4 months - which shows what good value the NHS really is, seeing as the market price of these drugs is around £2.50 a day), suck up the side effects and sell my soul to BigPharma. All in a day's work. And in exchange, I get a life that's a little battered around the edges, with more worries and stresses than most people, but overall I get to live and feel and love and be loved. The problem is if I forget to take my pills - because if I suddenly stop taking them, my brain will explode.

So I guess around last Thursday, I missed a pill or two, and didn't really think anything of it, until Friday lunchtime when I woke up with the works. We're talking:
big gap for the squeamish, so you can look away, or read this when you're not eating or something

  • weird hypersomnia with bizarre surreal nightmares that left me needing 2.5 hours to get out of bed
  • sweats (hot and cold), complete inability to control my body temperature
  • the shakes, and then some
  • nausea so bad I was retching, combined with sudden and dire emetophobia, which was terrifying (in the sense that normally when I feel sick, I want to puke so I can get the thing that's causing me distress out of my system)
  • rumbly rumbly rumbly horrible churny churny guts that make my usual IBS symptoms look similarly ice-cream-covered
  • dizziness
  • The Efexor Headache (which should be a registered trademark of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, so inherent is it in the use of their product), which comes on about an hour after missing a dose (with the extended release form), and consists of feeling like a thin steel band has been wrapped around the top part of one's head and that this band is being pulled tighter so as to compress one's forehead and temples, accompanied by an extremely hot forehead and confused thoughts
  • pins and needles (in several parts of the body, particularly major limbs)
  • and the piece de resistance, funny electric shock-things in my fingers and hands.

Ugh. So I spent Friday and a lot of Saturday feeling like death. I somehow managed to get myself to the QTS test centre to take & pass my numeracy and ICT tests anyway, and then lay groaning on Tim & Peter's sofa for several hours. The question remains: who sucks for this situation to occur? Do I suck, for forgetting to take my pills? Do I suck for taking them in the first place? Does BigPharma suck, for allowing products to be released onto the market with such obvious flaws? Do they suck for not admitting to the flaws, and dressing them up in prettified language that doesn't change the reality for the users? Do the major power governments suck, for allowing medical treatments to be part of the normal economy, and thus subject to the whims and fancies of the companies' shareholders instead of forcing the best treatment at the lowest price? Or is the answer "all of the above, and then some"?

This is what I would have been thinking on Friday night, if my thoughts hadn't been more along the lines of "My heeeaad huuuurts...".

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