Why I Choose Sanity

By Marcie Kelley, CPRP

Marcie Kelley is the Director of Mental Health Peer Connection, Western New York Independent Living Project and Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP).

I was sitting in church last Sunday, a phenomenon in itself, and was asking myself why I choose sanity over failing physical health, diabetes, obesity, poor knees? Why do I choose to take the damn medication? The very same medicine that keeps me sane also contributes to my weight gain and my diabetes, which relate to all my other physical health problems. I would have to say that I am a winner in the class action suit against the manufacturer for not listing all the side effects of the medication when it first came out.

My psychiatrist understands this dilemma of mine. I continue to work closely with her in order to get off this medication and begin a new one, one with fewer side effects. I have tried three times since 1996 to get off this medication; however, the positive and direct effects of this medication are a decrease in paranoia, restlessness, irritability, anger, dissociation, and panic.

Recently I began a new medication, slowly weaning my body off of the old one. During that time, I lost 12 pounds. But, when I was taking only half the dose of my old medicine, my insanity came back. Having a mental illness and not receiving the right treatment is a form of inhumane torture. I was trying to hold it together, trying to keep my life in order, be patient and understanding, not blow my car horn at everyone who I thought should not be allowed a driver’s license. It was excruciating. I was up at 4:00 am; what does one do at 4:00 am?

The Dilemma of Withdrawal

I was told that the withdrawal was going to be the hardest part. I was told that once an individual can stop taking this medication, it was going to get easier. Yet, I could not make it through the hard part. Eventually, with my doctor’s guidance, I went back on my old dose of medication. Due to this experience, it is now clear to me why “we” with a mental illness die 25 years earlier than everyone else. This choice I’ve made is an awful choice, yet it was a choice I had to make. Can I continue to fight the daily cravings for food, the increase in my appetite, the constant need to sleep, my ever slowing metabolism? Can I fight the slow decline of my income due to medical costs that are not covered by my health insurance? The answer is yes; I will continue to fight.

I want my sanity, my physical health, Dish TV and the ability to feed my dogs “high quality dog food”; I want it all! Therefore, I have set my priorities to, first and foremost, my sanity, my physical health, a livable income, taking care of the dogs and my family. I have had to compromise and make hard choices so that my priorities can continue to stay in order. If one does not have his or her sanity, then the rest is unimportant. When my sister tells me, “I think it is just mind over matter,” I say, “I choose sanity!” I firmly believe that the rest will follow.
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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on April 06, 2009

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