Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Some things I wish I knew years ago...

Dear People who Suffer from Side-Effects Like Nausea, Dry-Mouth, Tiredness, and so on,

When I was first diagnosed over 10 years ago, nobody really told me much. Mind you, I think I was pretty young, and so I'm going to optimistically believe that they just didn't want to burden me with more than I was already dealing with.

I was put on medication pretty much within days of my diagnosis, and while it was clearly explained that there would be side-effects, there was never much followup about what that would mean, and where I could go to find help for my side-effects.

One of the first side-effects I noticed was hunger... I always had a low grade rumble in my belly that felt better when there was food in it. I think this side-effect exacerbates the weight gain problems that happen in a lot of people who take atypical antipsychotics.

My solution for this rumbling was to eat... all the time... but to eat food that had super high amounts of protein - and just to snack perpetually while avoiding large meals. (Since I was feeling consistently fullish from my perpetual snacking.) Luckily, my solution worked, since I managed to combat the rumbles, and I didn't gain significant amounts of weight.

Another negative effect of my medication was sleepiness. I was so tired all the time. My solution was twofold: For many years I arranged my schedule to start my dater later than everyone else so that I could sleep a little longer and to take an afternoon or morning off from school or work during the middle of the week so that I could catch up on sleep. This worked for me as a student and as a part-time worker, but has some pretty obvious limitations in the 9 to 5 working world.

The side-effect that bothered me the most was dry mouth. Because of dry mouth I have had problems with dental decay and with canker sores.

Little did I know up until about a week ago that there are actually products that you can use to help ease dry mouth and its associated problems. Why on earth did no one tell me this?

I remember telling my family doctor and my psychiatrist about dry mouth problems. And I know that more than one dentist pointed out that I may have dry mouth due to some of the things they saw. So why did not one of these health care specialists think to inform me about the things that were available to help this.

As a poor university student I often had to gather my pennies together so that I could get dental work to repair the damage caused by "insufficient oral lubrication." Now as an adult without dental coverage, I find myself still having to pay for dental problems that began long ago.

I really wish that someone would have asked me long ago about my side-effects. I wish they would have been specific in their questions. And mostly, when I complained, or when they noticed something was wrong, I really wish they would have taken it upon themselves to inform me of the things I could do to help make my life easier and more comfortable.

There is a lot of self care that is required when you have a problem of mental health. And sometimes it's just almost too much to bear to deal with the disease itself (and the discrimination issues it often carries). Why have I had to deal with the additional time-consuming burden of experimenting with schedules/organization/products when this information is out there, but just not readily available to me?

Is it time for a What to Do When You're Expecting (A Bout With Mental Health Problems) handbook for psychosis and/or other conditions?

Seriously. Shit. So much of my time and money wasted on problems that could have been solved before they even started!

Tucking her pennies away for another cavity,

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