Upon arrival at any treatment center, they do an initial intake. Generic questions to surmise your needs. Both, therapeutic and pharmaceutic. With a few choice questions, and my answers, I appeared manic to the staff at Brookhaven. My behavior, in those years prior, was risky and uncharacteristic. Coupled with my three suicide attempts, they determined that I was Bipolar. I was put on Lithium, amongst other things. Within a few weeks, I became extremely ill.
I wrote earlier that I had gotten pneumonia after my last attempt. While being intubated, my lung was nicked, and I got sick. Since I was still recuping from the pneumonia, it appeared that this was just a very bad case of bronchitis. But, I got increasingly agitated and angry. And, soon, I could not even speak. At all! Grunts and utterances, maybe.... I could not even write! The doctor said that I had aphasia. Aphasia is an impairment of language ability. It ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write. Aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke, but can develop slowly from a brain tumor, infection, or dementia. It was very scary. I have little recollection of most of this period. Different ladies, from Brookhaven, have since filled me in.
It was soon discovered that I had what is called, Lithium Toxicity. Lithium is a metal. It is used to treat and prevent episodes of mania in people with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder; a disease that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods). It was not breaking down in my liver. The doctor was certain that I had had a stroke. It could have been deadly. And, it got worse before it got better. One evening, I was found unconscious, in my room. At first, the staff thought that I had tried to kill myself again... I was taken to Baptist Hospital, in Knoxville.
As soon as the lithium was out of my system...I was fine. Or, so I thought. My hair began to fall out. And, I began to have head aches. Paralyzing head aches. But, I was feeling better. My diagnosis was changed to severe depression. My meds were changed. And, as you know, I eventually got well....
Why am I sharing this? Several reasons. For years, I went to the doctors for every ailment. I had an arsenal of prescriptions. But, now I do not go. And, I take nothing. My reasons were good, but not great. Initially, I just wanted all medications completely out of my system. To see how I felt with just my own chemistry! Too see if I had any pain. If my hair would grow back! If I was crazy. Depressed... My friend, Cindy, who has known me for nearly 3o years, had said that she thought it all started with the introduction of the pills in 1999. That's when she noticed that I changed. I am not implying that prescriptions are wrong. Never hear that! I did what I felt was best for me at that time. I quit all meds, cold turkey, upon coming home in June of 2008. It has worked for me. But, in recent months I have had some concerning health issues that need to be dealt with.
The CT scan of my brain, after my incident, was concerning to the Neurologist. There were "spots"...? I promised to follow up after I returned home. But, since I seemed fine...I have not.
I ask for prayer here. I have gone from one extreme to the other. Before.......anyone could have given me any pill, and I would have taken it. No questions asked. And, now, I barely take an Ibuprofen! In the coming weeks I have scheduled appointments to get some answers, and possibly medications. (Thank you, Sherri, for keeping me accountable to this!)
My head aches have gotten very bad lately. Last week, one got so bad that I was going to have my mom take me to the ER. I got on my knees and prayed over my sins...known and unknown! Just in case! Yes! It was that bad! I can laugh at myself now...but, it scared me. Last Saturday, I thought that I had some aphasia-like symptoms again. I could not say what I was trying to say. My words were mixed up. I had moments that my mind went completely blank. Not, out of common forgetfulness. Or, nervousness. I know the difference! It was like my brain did a "white out". Blank. Coupled with some other concerns (blood pressure!), I know that I must go... I joked with a friend, that the doctors will probably tell me to exercise and lay off caffeine. Let's just hope that's it!
Some things that I have heard at church lately, have made me really think about some parallels between what I am learning and that scary incident.
In putting something into my body, that could not be broken down, I got violently ill. It was toxic to me. How do we do that daily? Not pills. But, what?
I used to watch movies or television shows that were toxic to my mind. Whether it be lust, fear, disallusionment.... Music that stirred my soul for fleshly things. Rebellion. Friends that were gossips or negative. Stirred. And, so on. I'm thinking of that old children's song, "Input, Output". You can't "delete" things from your mind.
Now, when I start to to settle down to some mindless reality TV, I might start to enjoy it. But, because my heart is being fed differently now, a sense of conviction rises within me. I used to love a certain show on TV. The same creators have started a new one. I so want to watch. But, I will no longer subscribe to that toxicty. Not knowingly. And, when I'm around those with the propensity for drama or negativity... I flee! Because of where I am at, I pray daily for conviction over things that I am unknowingly allowing into my heart. Our flesh craves sin. Some are subtle...like juicy tidbits of a story overheard. Or, more blatant like "soft porn" built into a television series. Whatever it may be...just don't let it in. It can be toxic. It will "build up". It may not be "deleted". But, with prayer and living for the Lord, it can be "broken down". I've chosen. I will not take that pill.
Remember, I wrote at the beginning of this blog journey that it started with the seed of bitterness. That root still tries to sprout. Over and over a again. But, I've got some of the best "Round-Up" known to man. It's God's word. And, although I am a novice gardener. I am growing.
Examine your hearts. What is toxic in your life?
Our Pastor has encouraged us to read this passage daily, out loud, for the next month. I'm doing it! Will you?
Instructions for Christian Living
Also, this video has really struck me. It is not for everyone. Sorry. There are a couple of offensive images in this. But, as believers we should be offended at the moral ambiguity we live in today. I would like your thoughts.
I have gone from from pagan hedonism to hopefully, what Piper calls, Christian hedonism. Well...., at least I'm trying....
Here is something very cool!!!! I have been clean and sober for three years and seven months! My AA/NA/CR is my church! I have "sponsors" all around me! People that would meet me at the liquor store to stop me. That would call me if I just stopped showing up. That would call me out, if my eyes were dilated or speech slurred... That would love me even if I relapsed. (The fact that I have not...is huge!) While, this might not work for everyone in recovery...it works for me! Some people might say that I am too engaged in church...Too committed! Well, I say, "I'm just where I am supposed to be"! I'd rather be with my family or with them at church, than isolated in my room......It is my safe place. My "meeting hall'. And, with the exception of my struggles with over thinking things...;-) I'm doing pretty good!
Blessings! How can I pray for you? I love that many of you trust me to pray for you! It is a blessing and a privilege! I know that the prayers of so many...saved my life.