I did a series of posts called “ This is My Body on Drugs“. That series was all about what the medication I have been taking has done to my body. I did not write about what it has done to my mind. Whenever you are introducing foreign chemicals to your brain there are going to be side effects. The side effects can go from mild to severe, depending on what medication you are taking, what dosage you are taking and how long you have been taking it. Over the past seven and a half years I have taken a variety of medications and I believe they all have had their own side effects. My brain has absorbed all of these chemicals and it has reacted in some strange ways. Having a chemical ridden brain can definitely drive you crazy!
Here are some of the common side effects of the medications I have taken; amnesia, confusion, cognitive dysfunction, speech disturbance, abnormality in thinking, changes in patterns and rhythms of speech and confusion about identity, place and time. Then there is disturbed concentration, false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts, hostility, irritability, lack of coordination and overactive reflexes, hallucination, and clumsiness. These are just the highlights of the laundry list of ways these medications mess with your brain.
Of course, I have experienced the mental side effects of the medications I have taken in my own personal way. My biggest issue is the cognitive deficits. I have issues comprehending things. I have to ask for the explanation of simple concepts because I don’t understand what someone is trying to tell me. I have a problem remembering names, numbers, conversations and important life events. I ask the same questions over and over again because I do not remember the answer I was given. Or I will remember right after I ask the question for the thousandth time.
There are tasks that I do repetitively but there are some days when I cannot remember how I do them. For example, when I do laundry everything has its specific place that I put it. Sometimes I cannot remember where the white t-shirts go or what gets hung up as opposed to what gets folded and put away.
My niece Eternity and I are the only vegetarians in my family. When Eternity was visiting me I forgot she was a vegetarian and fed her ground beef (she thought it was vegan). After not eating meat for three years, of course, she got sick. Bad auntie!
I also have issues with judgement. I have made some bad judgement calls. I walked around for two days with huge holes in my shoes. Now I was told to throw the shoes away but I didn’t remember being told that and I did not know how big the holes were until they were shown to me.
I am naturally clumsy. I hurt myself all the time without medication but the medicine made my clumsiness worse. There was a period of time when I would fall two or three times a day for no good reason. I would not trip or stumble, I would just fall. I would be walking upright one moment and the next moment I would go down. Thankfully, I never seriously injured myself.
One of the funniest and most frustrating things is when I am trying to tell someone something and I cannot think of the word I want to use. I can describe it but the word just won’t come. The conversation goes like this, “I was talking to a guy and he was acting really . . . what is the word I’m looking for? You know when someone is talking really forceful?” The other person will give me a couple of options, “mean, angry?”. Then I will say, “No not angry, the other word”. Eventually, they will say “aggressive” and I will say, “Yes, that’s it! He was being really aggressive”. It’s become a game to me. I’m going to give you a sentence and I need you to fill in the blank. It is funny when I am explaining it to someone but it annoys the mess out of me when it happens. Sometimes I never figure out the word I was trying to come up with. I will just take the closest thing to it and move on.
I joke around about it a lot but it is no fun when you cannot trust your own brain. I feel like I don’t “know” anything. I “think” this is the right answer but I am not sure. I will say something and totally believe it is right when it is absolutely wrong. I will take the blame for things I did not do because I don’t know if I did them or not. I mean, when you don’t remember what you have done or said anything is possible.
The bright spot in this story is that once my brain is detoxified I will go back to my “normal” brain function. Well, at least that is what I have been told. We will just have to wait and see!