The Other Me

The Other Me

‘Life’s Short Interruption: Part I’

In life untethered from psychiatric supervision, free from ongoing medication, I tried to find where I now stood. There was no forgetting this thing. It was scarred into me, just like the surgical scars on my right arm when doctors had operated to insert plates on broken bones when I was sixteen. But that healed. It might never have gotten back to perfect, but it was healed. This felt like it could re-fracture, and there was no forgetting it. It remained there, lurking, inside my head.

Some days, I was fine. And some days, I wasn’t. The anxiety would brim, threatening to go from nuisance to murderer. These days often followed a night of drinking.

I was always worried there’d be another blowout – a panic attack, which would start unrelenting anxiety, leading to more panic attacks, and then I’d be caught in the rigmarole all over again. I’d gotten this at arm’s length but, sometimes, the anxiety nipped, tried to bite me.

One occasion, I was in the city and stopped by the Church of Scientology to get a free IQ and personality test. After I’d finished and the scores had been calculated, a woman, Alexandra, sat with me to talk about my results. She told me I’d gotten a 134 for the IQ, but the personality test showed me to be on a rollercoaster. She suggested I do a course. I declined.

A week later, the anxiety was searing, and searching for any answer other than medication or PANCH, I rang up and agreed to do the course. It was all about identifying toxic areas in your life and not letting them affect you. It made sense. And everybody during the course was so nice. Cult-nice. They asked me to take another course but I begged off. Ever-after (and even after I wrote to them several times, asking them to stop sending me stuff), they would send me literature, and for a few years Alexandra would call me to ask if I was interested in another course.

Not me.

When worst came to worst, I relied on the Mogadon. I’d count down the time until 10.30pm, when I could take one. Then, within fifteen minutes, the Mogadon would smother the anxiety and peace would sweep over me. I wouldn’t even go to bed either, because I became desensitized to the Mogadon putting me to sleep. I’d just stay up for an hour or so, revelling in euphoric calm.

This didn’t help my worsening sleep problems. It took forever to get sleep. Despite how hard I tried to structure my sleeping patterns – to get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time – it never happened.

I was seeing a new GP from the same clinic I always went to, Dr Warren. With Dr Warren, there wasn’t the threat of the family connection that Dr Persakis had. The other thing was that I got the impression Dr Persakis thought I was a hypochondriac, which I was, but I still wanted any symptoms to be treated seriously. Dr Warren seemed much more thorough, although maybe that’s just because he didn’t know me.

When it came to my sleeping problems, Dr Warren tried everything – including some medications that weren’t for sleep, but caused drowsiness as an effect. I was happy to experiment. I wanted to get my sleep under control, and I didn’t like the reliance I’d developed on the Mogadon, regardless how good it made me feel. We went through stuff for months, but the most success I had was with an antihistamine, and even that wasn’t very good.

There was no choice. I returned to the Mogadon – and was happy to go back to it, since it helped with the anxiety also. But instead of taking a whole tablet, I went down to half a tablet. Because I hadn’t taken it for a while, I’d lost my tolerance for it, so half a tablet was enough. I staggered my usage until, eventually, I did get used to the dosage. Then I went to three quarters of tablet, then back to a full tablet. I used it more than I should and missed it when I didn’t use it.

It bordered on addiction, but it was the best way to get by.