Monday, October 24, 2011

A Card Reading

Well, on a little less medication it looks like I have more energy and less appetite. Lost the weight I gained on that minuscule dose of Seroquil, and I'm happy about that. Looking to lose more weight. Otherwise, art is going well, my mood is upbeat, and no complaints of symptoms of my illness. Today I'm lying low because I had over the weekend back to back days that I spent cleaning the house. The bathroom has never looked so good.

One of the reasons we cleaned so hard was because we had a guest Sunday evening. A woman came over to have her cards read. After, I asked my husband to do a card reading on me. Of course the number one question I had to ask was what is going to happen as I lower my medication?

There is a part of the card reading where there are three cards that represent fortune and three cards that represent fate. Fortune is your will, your actions, and your decisions that impact your life. Fortune is what you control. Fate is what God has in store for you, it is out of your control and it will come and happen if your will does not oppose it.

Interestingly my husband says that fortune and fate are not linked. One does not have to dominate, one does not have to occur, your will can be weak or you can seize the day. Its that old religious contradiction that Christians believe in an all powerful God, capable of manipulating events, who has a celestial plan for everyone, but that this all powerful God gave mankind, his creations, free will to govern their own lives.

Under my fortune was prudence, or careful consideration, pleasure, and stress. Under my fate was my husband's card (he said, look honey, God gave you me to be by your side!), truce, and disaster.

So my reading of the cards and what the future has in store for me, during the next six months (my husband says his card readings are only good for predicting a specific time period that mysteriously seems to be about six months) is that I will like cutting down on medication, and I will do it carefully and with prudence, but that something will cause me stress and a dose of unhappiness. I said to my husband, how can pleasure be next to unhappiness and he had no answer. Life is complicated.

What God has in store for me is loss (another interpretation of my husband's card - perhaps my present emotional stability will go bye-bye), but that my husband will steadfastly stand by my side, that I will come to some sort of truce with the medication, which in my mind is agreeing to be on some type of maintenance dose rather than going free, and that the effects of lowering my medication will be rather unpleasant. The last card for God's plan was ruin, the card of all cards that my husband is most afraid of.

It is interesting the people who will affect me. This is another three card combination. I don't remember the first card, but the second card was a father figure, my Dad, and the last card was a teacher and guider, most certainly my therapist. I had agreed to listen to my therapist's advice concerning medication, but it shocked me that I would listen to my Dad's advice. My Dad is a doctor, retired, but he is very interested in a stable daughter, in the past he would rather have me hospitalized and fixed (an impossibility but they locked me up for two years trying) then out in the world and living independently and eccentric. I joke with people that if science hadn't advanced to drug therapy my father would have had me lobotomized to get me under control and cure me. Nobody likes to think of their father as someone who would prefer lobotomization to your natural state, but this is how I see my father. As a child I thought that he wanted his kids to be dolls, beautiful and perfect, living in a dollhouse that he could show off to his associates in the hospital where he worked.

I called my Dad, a rare occurrence, to have a pleasant chat with him before I lowered my medication. I told my therapist that this phone call was me saying good-bye and giving him a nice memory to hold on to. I didn't know if I would be too sick with my mental illness to visit him for Christmas. I was going to fall from grace when he found out that I was tinkering with my meds, and so far, he doesn't know anything of my plan. My mother however knows all about it, and she is very supportive. Mom is rounding up people to pray for me. And I know that she too is praying for me.

The literature I'm reading is counter to many mainstream notions about schizophrenia and drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Currently the author Dr. Peter Breggin in "Toxic Psychiatry" is citing studies that conclude that schizophrenia is not genetically linked. He thinks that the environment had more to do with developing schizophrenia than the chromosomes do. Its funny because when he goes on television to debate the status quo his greatest enemy is NAMI, because NAMI likes to believe that parenting has nothing to do with who develops mental illness. Parents rather believe that everything is biology than that they might have contributed to their child's mental health deterioration. I guess in a parent's mind the successes are due to their good work and morality, and the failures are due to biology.

The book that started me thinking about coming off medication and Breggin's book both conclude that there is something addictive about antipsychotic medication and that a psychotic relapse is inevitable if you come off of them cold turkey. I sat in therapy and wiggled my finger at my therapist and said, "It might take me a year to come off my antipsychotics" and he said why are you wiggling your finger at me? And I said, it is to myself I point the finger, reminding me to be prudent and careful and that the predicted outcome, is in the short term, is very negative by all that I read.

"Don't do anything hasty" I remind myself, as I seem to lecture my therapist by wiggling my finger at him.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    Glad to hear that you're doing okay so far. May you continue in good health and good spirits. I haven't done a Tarot card reading or an I Ching reading in quite a while. I think it's pretty normal to get some negative cards in with the positive ones but remember the outcome is not written in stone and is subject to change too. It's also true that life is complicated and that pleasure and pain can stand side by side or intermingle. The more I practice Buddhism, the more I see this. Still, there is generally more good in situations than we realize. We have learned since childhood to fixate on the bad stuff and remember a lot of that, but that's not the true picture, not the Big Picture.

    If I were going off my medications, I would wonder if I had learned enough to combat the initial tendrils of psychosis enough to steer clear of a breakdown. I use the discipline of talking to myself into a tape recorder to keep me on track. A couple of years ago I was dipping into the Jesus delusion, but caught it on tape and steered clear of it. Of course, I was still taking the medications. Without medications I would be relying on taping myself much more than I do now. I do think it might be possible with vigilance to nip psychosis in the bud or at least to mitigate its effects.

    Having a stable support system, a small network of people willing to help give you reality checks, as you are doing, is very important. So when you check in with them, try to listen with an open mind when they point out where you may be going astray. In retrospect I see that where I got lost is when I stuck to believing my delusions and didn't consider my therapist's counsel. You might consider writing down all the primary delusions that you've had in the past as a way to flag them if they come up again. Your own thoughts/feelings can teach you. You do have a choice, but you have to exercise that right. It's a real challenge, but I think there's room for a lot of learning about yourself and your tendencies.

    My prayers are with you too Karen,

    Love, Kate : )


In order to keep a neat and orderly blog, I am initiating comment moderation. Thank you.