A mind maintained

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With drugs like antipsychotics, the recommended maintenance doses are set for a reason and are extremely well researched and tested.  I’ve been on antipsychotic medication for 26 years, after I had my first schizophrenic breakdown in 1992 at the age of 24.  I became ill partly due to the trauma I’d experienced from spending a lot of my youth in jail and because I’d regularly taken  drugs.

When I last got discharged from Springfield hospital near the end of 1993, they put me on a depot injection of antipsychotic medication called Piportil, which I had every four weeks.  Depot injections are intramuscular and work as slow release medication.

I’d become a Christian in my final year in jail but backslid on my release and later had a breakdown.  I rededicated my life to Christ and started going to church again at the end of 1998, and at that time I also began having counselling with the mental health charity Mind.  Both these things really began to make me feel better, so within a short time I started to reduce my medication.  After a while I was on just 15 milligrams of Piportil every four weeks, although the recommended maintenance dose is 50 to 100 milligrams.  I thought that I was getting better, but I realise now I was getting worse.

I’ve seen some of my old diaries from after this time and my writing looks demonic.  A lot of it is very dark and disturbing.  And from about 2002 when I got my first computer and got hooked up to the internet, I started to regularly look at adult pornography.  I remember that for the many years I continued to use porn, I’d sometimes be swearing whilst I was praying.  That’s how defiling porn use is to the mind.

I got married in 2003 and become a step dad to two young children, and became a father when my daughters were born in 2005 and 2007.  In the early days of my marriage I used to occasionally shout and lose my temper.  And there were times when I used to tell my wife I hated her and would text her messages saying this.  And since my medication had been reduced to less than a third of the recommended maintenance dose, my creativity had made the transition from quality work to quantity.  For years I’d been a writer and shortly after I became a Christian I got qualifications in filmmaking.  The funny thing is that when I started my City and Guilds in video production my films at the start of the course where better than the ones at the end of the course.  I’d got worse, and this is because I quickly reduced my medication a couple of times whilst I was studying.

I changed my medication to Olanzapine about 13 years ago and take it as a pill each night.  The recommended maintenance dose for Olanzapine is 10 to 15 milligrams.  When I was first on it I used to take just five milligrams as I’d ended on just 15 milligrams of Piportil injections.  However, on just five milligrams of Olanzapine I’d often feel anxious and scared and often had insomnia.  One night I took an extra five, and then another five after that, so I’d taken 15 milligrams.  I immediately felt relaxed and a deep sense of relief.  And I suddenly realised that I’d been a fool for years to have only been on a fraction of the maintenance dose.  And I describe now having not been on enough medication as feeling like my brain was decaying.  A couple of years ago I reduced the medication to 10 milligrams, which is still the maintenance dose.

When I went back on the right amount of medication, so many things changed.  I stopped losing my temper and shouting at my kids sometimes, and now I rarely raise my voice.  I also later kicked my pornography habit and haven’t looked at porn now for more than five and a half years.  And about three and a half years ago I took up jogging and usually run once or twice a week.  I only do a combination of alternating running and walking for about 20 minutes, but that’s enough for me and it makes me feel blissfully relaxed.  I also walk once or twice a week for up to 80 minutes.  And for about two and a half years now I also do about fifteen minutes of stretching exercises, including some yoga postures, about three times a week.

Stretching makes me feel a real sense of stillness.  And in combination with running and walking, I’ve gone from feeling a sense of burnt out frailty, to someone who is becoming physically more robust and sometimes feeling a sense of strong suppleness, flexibility and more elongated.

The next big change I experienced was about two and a half years ago when I started reading the bible most days.  Even though I’ve been a Christian for about 20 years, its only in about the past two and a half years  that I’ve started to read the bible regular.  And I really believe its true now that the bible renews your mind and restores you.  I used to be filled with psychological problems and delusions, but now I’ve started to rise out of them, and despite schizophrenia I’m more in reality, God’s spiritual reality.  A reality that causes my mind to feel brighter, quicker and sharper, but also at times slower, in the fact that I don’t panic as much and am less hasty to act or speak and I feel softer and I see the world as a more beautiful, warm and magical place.

I feel so much more relaxed than I felt years ago, and the main reason for this is because I accepted the recommended maintenance dose of medication.  And other things have fallen into place since then.  For years I only used to half enjoy life, whether it was going to a party, a bar, restaurant, cinema, theatre, church or visiting people etc.  I only used to half enjoy these things because I was often so tense and on edge, but now I’m starting to love socializing again because I feel more sane and normal.
 
 

Paul Warwick, 09/01/2019
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