You Are Not Your Symptoms, But Take Care!

Don’t let your symptoms define you. You are not your illness. When you are sick, in a manic phase, you may be angry, irritable, grandiose, a chatterbox. When you are depressed, you may be hopeless, even suicidal, totally fatigued, anxious, withdrawn and perhaps even morose. When you/I are exhibiting these extreme behaviors and emotions, it is time to call the doctor and have a medication adjustment. Be careful about adjusting your own medication as well. 

I was taking a certain medication for many months. Then my hair started to fall out, my hands started shaking so much I could not take a photograph, and it you know me, you know I love to take pictures. Additionally, my skin got bumps on it all over, and I became extremely fatigued. So I cut my dose down after asking my doctor. After a couple of months of the lowered dose, and while I was traveling for my son’s Law School graduation, happy stress but stress nonetheless, my mood symptoms started to return. I became very anxious, panic stricken, and easily emotional. Although the physical side effects such as hand tremors and fatigue had abated, I still had to increase the dose back up to the original dosage. Which I did a few days ago and already feel calmer. The pharmacist told me that my medication comes in an additional miligram amount, so I’m going to ask my doctor about trying a dosage in between what I am currently taking and what I just tried which was not enough. Hopefully, that will control my mood symptoms without any physical side effects. I really prefer not to go bald. 

Ok, back to you are not your symptoms. Of course everyone gets anxious, irritable, angry, etc. But it is when you or I, we are consistently this way, and the magnitude of the anger is getting higher and higher, that’s when you are not your symptoms, but your symptoms are simply from the fact that you are becoming manicky. Same with depression, you are not your crying jags, or your hopelessness, or moroseness. These are truly symptoms of depression and if left untreated, will only get worse. 

When in a depression, and having awful anxiety, I have often wondered where the real me went. What happened to the carefree, happy, person who is at peace most of the time? Where did this weepy, anxious, sad person who is carrying the weight of the world come from? After asking myself this a few times, the light bulb goes on in my depressed head: Aha, it’s a depression! And then I call my doctor and we adjust doses of medications and in a little while I begin to see glimpses of the well, the real me. Thank goodness for psychiatrists and medication!

So I think the moral of this “story” is we have to be vigilant about our mood states, realize something is changing, realize we are not doing well anymore, and call our doctor to get help. This way we can live life in a euthymic state not depressed or manic. Hallelujah!

To read more from Samina, read her posts for IBPF here, visit her personal blog, or check out her work for Huffington Post

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