In a time riddled with information and plagued with opinions, who do you trust?
Where do you find your truth? Desperation can make a person do wonderfully horrible things and all too trusting in their dire hour.
I was raised in a family where the adults were to not be questioned. Do as you’re told was a family staple. I was not brought up to ask questions. Doctors were to be trusted. Police upheld the law. Adults were the ultimate authority in all manners of my youthful life.
As I grew up mentally in my 20s, realization set in - the black and white of the world is more a reflection of the rainbow with various shades of gray. It’s time to start asking questions.
In high school I was diagnosed with ADHD. I was prescribed Concerta. I was told to take it daily and my parents would question whether or not I was. They’d even call and ask my first year of college, “Did you take your meds today?” This question was especially prevalent if I was having any kind of emotional crisis. It wouldn’t be heard, it must be medicated. I was somehow convinced that emotions and feelings should be stifled, shoved deep down into a cavern of topics to ignore. What I couldn’t tell them is I’d lost my creativity when I was taking Concerta. My insides filled with cement and I disassociated. I watched myself complete assignments, maintain clean living space, and slowly die inside. I couldn’t write.
At the time the medication was prescribed I was told there was a chemical imbalance in my brain and this was how to resolve the issue. I was effective at my studies when taking it, I was emotionally in control to the outside but I felt more like I was a ghost, unreal and unseen. A shell of my former personality was left. The rest was pleasantly numb and silent. I questioned nothing for 2 years. I became more depressed and fell further into habits of negative self talk.
Halfway through my freshman year of college, I stopped taking Concerta without consulting my family or a physician. I stopped filling my prescription. Deciding to manage my diagnosis on my own without medication was my decision and I didn’t want a doctor or my parents talking me out of it. My creativity came back and my grades didn’t drop. I questioned, still do - Is this ADHD?
Through mindfulness practice and sheer will I was able to finish college while maintaining a full time job. Looking back on the diagnosis and knowing what I know now, there’s a chance that the diagnosis is wrong. I might have some ADHD symptoms that are a side effect of something like imposture syndrome, my over active anxious tendencies, or other health issues unexplored with the potential to affect my entire body.
The truth is I don’t want a drug to dictate my personality, nor a diagnosis, and the distractibility is another challenge I’m willing to overcome daily. Most of what I consider my best ideas come from those ADHD rabbits, hopping trails of creativity through my brain.
Fast forward to the onset of chronic pain. I had my first UTI at 25. After 6 months of an incredibly depressing cycle: infection, antibiotics, repeat. I was sent to a specialist to further investigate why I still had UTI like symptoms but my urine tests came back infection free. In May of 2015, I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis and became intimate with the nightmare I call Frank. My Urologist put me on a low dose antibiotic regimen. Taking my results back to my primary care physician. Telling her I didn’t know if I could survive the constant pain, she’d prescribed my Cymbalta.
Again I questioned nothing. Nobody warned me of side effects. Nobody told me this was for life. Take the medicine was all I was told. I trusted my doctor. I questioned nothing. I took the Antibiotics and the Cymbalta for 6 months before I realized I was once again a zombie who’d lost their ability to create and this time also a decline in my body’s ability to digest the foods I was capable of eating.
Time to start asking questions. I began to research side effects, withdrawal, long term effects. I became my own advocate. I decided once again to go off any prescribed medication. This time I regretted not consulting my doctor as I experienced withdrawal - headaches, nausea, entire body aches and other flu like symptoms for the following month.
Diagnosis: ADHD | Prescription: Concerta | Duration: 2 years | Side Effect: Zombification
Diagnosis: Interstitial Cystitis | Prescription: Lifelong antibiotic regimen | Duration: 1 year | Side Effect: Weakened immune system; Inflamed gut
Diagnosis: Tension headaches, IC, Chronic Pain | Prescription: Cymbalta | Duration: 6 months | Side Effect: Zombification
What I wish I had done was stop my doctors, the second they prescribed a drug and called it medication. I wish I would have asked what other natural alternatives there are for any of the conditions my body was suffering. I wish I’d stood up for my beliefs and not just blindly trusted an opinion out of desperation or pain. Instead of letting my insecurities and fears consume me I wish I would have spoken up and asked “Why is this the correct course?” I would have asked, “What other options do we have?” in order to ensure I knew all possibilities so I could choose the one best for me. Sure, they’re the expert in a field but I’m the expert of my own body. I’m most familiar with how it feels and operates. I’m in charge of what I want for my body. At least I’m trying to be.
It took almost 2 years for the majority of body pain to subside after giving up everything, even over the counter pain killers. I used natural healing modalities and drastic life changes to get my pain to a manageable place: Foam Rolling, The Rossiter System, Yamuna Body Rolling, Autogenic Training, a naturopath with supplementation, a nutritionist with extreme diet changes, a few different psychologists along the way, and a complete career change.
I believe our society has become dependent on instant fixes. Pills to change how and what we feel. Pills to replace the natural vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in food. Drugs are more readily available than any generation prior. We’ve forgotten that there’s alternatives - options. We’ve forgotten that to nourish ourselves we need food. We’ve forgotten that doctor’s don’t write laws on how to treat your body but they make educated guesses and suggestions based on their knowledge or experience when trying to help us treat our symptoms and heal ourselves.
There’s no medication out there without side effects. Seen and unseen, all prescriptions, modified and natural foods, and other ingestibles or topical medicines have side effects on your body. Both good and bad. Knowing your own body, knowing your own mind, knowing your own desires, goals and wanted outcomes is ideal going into any prescribed medication regimen.
Right now I’m medication free. I don’t take over the counter NSAIDs. I tell my doctors no thanks when they recommend pain killers and muscle relaxers for my pain. I instead ask them to find me alternatives. I seek out additional opinions. I’ve become intimate with my local apothecary and found sources I trust to educate myself on what my body needs and how/why it operates the way it does. I have more than one nutritionist I consult. I have and am a professional stretcher bent on helping others relieve their physical pain.
I have made studying my body and the human body experience my life’s work in order to best understand how to function optimally and help others on similar courses. I would rather question everything than blindly follow anything. I research. I experiment. I trust myself most and listen to the little voice when it pokes inquisition into my head. I am trying to be inquisitive in all manners of my healing journey.
Take answers with a pinch of curiosity yourself and always ask the why’s behind the whats.