Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lower Med, Higher Global Functioning

Two weeks ago I lowered my Geodone dose from 120, which is minimum therapeutic dose, to 100mg.  This is a tiny decrease.  However, my medication nurse seemed to think that going under 120mg would have a drastic effect.  She implied that there would be major changes, as the drug worked differently under minimum threshold.

She's right.

Much is different.

I am now painting twice a day.  I paint, as usual, until I am tired and can't concentrate. On maximum dose of Geodone (200mg) this was a paltry two hours and then I suffered.  I mean I suffered agony.  My head felt psychic pain from being overworked, overused, and stretched to its utmost limit.  Then I couldn't paint again during that day, I was finished as far as doing anything with art was concerned.

So high medication, great disability.

Lower medication, much less disability.  Now during the morning I typically paint for three to three and a half hours and then I don't suffer.  I am merely tired.  None of this mental "pain" crap after thinking too much. 

On the medication dose I'm at currently I paint early in the morning and then I do something else.  I take a shower.  I walk to the coffee house.  I go grocery shopping.

This is so new to me.  I believed, for years, that after I finished creative work I had to lie in bed with no stimulation what-so-ever, no music, no tv, no phone, no books, no movement.  Just shut eyes.

I find now that this type of "down time" results in BOREDOM.

Then, as of late, in the early afternoon I'm ready for a second session of painting.  I'm not fresh like early in the morning, and I tend to want to do simple stuff, but I definitely have it in me to create again.

There have been absolutely no psychiatric symptoms of a mental illness on 100mg of Geodone.  No depression, no anxiety, no paranoia, and no delusions.  No funny thoughts that seem weird.  No strange conversational threads.  And no sadness.  The only thing that differentiates me from a non mentally ill person is that I grow tired easily and need to rest sporadically though out the day.  But really, there is nothing to my perception that is schizophrenic or could be diagnosed as schizophrenic in nature.  I'm a bit of a recluse, but I'm not exhibiting signs of being a mentally ill person.

I do notice that I have less desire to socialize and more desire to paint.  Painting never bores me.  And I'm never lonely painting, even though it is a most isolated activity.

And its too soon to tell, but I think my skill at painting has increased.  I just seem to be more sophisticated with the paint.  It could be the accumulation of years of painting.  Or it could be that my ability to make complex decisions has improved.  But I'm certain that I'm very very happy with the results of my creative effort.  I tickle myself when I see what is being created on the canvass.

I'm going to stay at this level of Geodone for three months.  Then, another 20 mg decrease.  I'm operating under the premise of the book "Anatomy of an Epidemic" that states that antipsychotic medication cause brain chemical imbalances.  Because the antipsychotic has altered the structure of my brain it takes time for healing to occur or else there will be psychotic like symptoms and relapse.  The book suggests that being taken off antipsychotic medications quickly does not reveal an illness, it causes an illness. 

I had the God damn presence of mind to stay at 120 mg Geodone for a fucking 6 months.  At the end of this six month period my mind was still changing, becoming stronger - and I had the first experiences of working on art twice a day rather than just once in the morning.  I felt myself healing, becoming a stronger more energetic and assertive person.  A happier person.

My mom says I've got to change the voice mail on my telephone.  It was made when I was heavily medicated.  She says I sound now like a completely different person.  But I don't know how to change voice mail.

I know I had a nervous breakdown when I was 19 and my brain dramatically changed.

But now I'm 44.  I've got a different brain then the one that had the nervous breakdown.  Who says that once you are diagnosed schizophrenic, you are going to be schizophrenic for life?  Is it a permanent condition?

Anatomy of an Epidemic makes one clear point.  As long as you are on antipsychotic medication you will be mentally ill and probably deteriorate.  Over the decades your frontal lobes will shrink.  The symptoms of your illness will continue and may likely intensify.  The medication, in many ways is toxic.  It chemically alters the brain and prevents healing from the mental illness from occurring.

If I have to stay at 100 mg that's fine with me.  Oh, there was one side effect from lowering my dose by 20 mg.  On day two on the lower dose, in the afternoon, I suffered an intense headache followed by scary dizziness.  I couldn't stand, had to lie down.  When I took my evening dose of Geodone the dizziness went away.  And its never returned.

But as long as I feel fit as a fiddle and happy and normal I'm going to slowly, slowly, continue decreasing my antipsychotic medication.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  I feel calmer on 100 mg than I did on 120 mg.

Feeling calm is the most wonderful, luscious feeling in the world.

I love mental health!