Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Random,Thoughts | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I wish I knew what to say to make you smile. I keep folding my words onto fresh white paper and sliding them under the door of your cell. The only way I know you’re still alive in there is that my letters have disappeared by sunrise. If you could just once… scribble something on the back and leave it for me to find. Maybe then I could get through the night a little easier. Maybe then I could fall asleep a little faster. Maybe then I could smile myself.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Drugs,Illness | Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

“what is your post about hallucinating? what happened?”

I have HPPD and it waxes and wanes in intensity depending on my stress levels, the medication(s) I am on, physical activity, lack of sleep, as well as other factors I haven’t identified yet. It never goes away completely. I have millions of tiny lights flashing on and off every second I am awake. It looks like the “snow” or static on a television tuned to a nonexistent station. They are less noticeable when I am in a bright environment with lots of random color contrast. So outside when I am driving or otherwise moving at least at a walking speed it isn’t much of a problem. I could still see them if I looked down at the sidewalk or road surface but I won’t notice them in the grass or leaves of trees. Flat, solid colors or surfaces with very little texture and color variation make it worse. So solid colored walls, the blackness of an unlit room at night, and so on will appear to have millions of these flecks of light pulsating. Sometimes at night they can become so thick it appears as if a solid surface is hovering in the air in front of me. Unnatural or manmade patterns also make it worse. So indoors the typical patterned carpets you might find in offices (especially doctor’s offices for whatever reason) totally bug my eyes out. I can’t even focus on one spot on the floor because my eyes start bouncing from one section of the pattern to another similar section then back again.

My case is somewhat unusual in that my symptoms started long before I had been exposed to drugs. Around the 6th grade I started seeing ‘clouds’ of sparkles in the center of my vision at night when I was running up the stairs to go to bed. There was no light switch at the bottom of the stairs that effects the lights at the top, and vice versa. So at night I would have to flick off the switch downstairs (so I wouldn’t get yelled at for leaving it on) then dash upstairs and turn the light on up there. If I turned around and looked down the stairs it appeared as if this cloud of sparkles was chasing me up the stairs and then disappeared when I turned the lights on… Being young and impressionable I thought it was a ghost chasing me and that it would get me if I didn’t run fast enough.

I don’t know why but for the next few years the symptoms went away as far as I can recall. Then in the 10th grade I was put on Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) for ADHD and the visual snow became constant whenever I was in darkness. On Dexedrine I also experienced greatly prolonged afterimages when reading and real (and terrifying) hallucinations at night when sleep deprived.

I was around the age of 19 when I realized one day while driving to my girlfriend’s house that my symptoms had become permanent, even in daylight. Two years later I told a neurologist about my symptoms and had an MRI with dye contrast that revealed nothing abnormal. Today my symptoms are pretty much as then. Reading books or the computer monitor leaves me with afterimages that appear as a shutterblinds effect of alternating horizontal bands of white and black across my entire field of vision. It can take 3-4 minutes for these afterimages to fade completely if I read for too long at a time. I should also mention that if I close my eyes in a totally black environment the static appears so bright it gives the impression there is a light in the room and that it is passing through my eyelids.

Sacrifice Self Sacrifice

Stephen Pimley | Friends,Illness,Thoughts | Monday, August 19th, 2013

I have cast aside my self interest and lied to you so that you can feel better about yourself. Now, I am back to spending my nights alone and you are back to smiling with your friends living off of one fraudulent breath at a time. Never again shall I spare you from the harsh truths of reality. Never again shall I condemn myself for your crimes. Does it bother you at all that you rode on the shoulders of another and when you deemed yourself fit to place your tender feet upon the Earth, bare, that their shoulders slumped and heaved until they fell dead a step behind you? Does anything get through that spell of self-absorption you’ve cloaked yourself in to shrug off the rain? Each drop falling from the cheeks that loved you selflessly when you couldn’t even love yourself. I shouldn’t have apologized for holding you accountable for your actions. I should have held your feet to the flames and shown you how much it hurts when you lash out at the people trying to help you. None of you were worth the cost. You have all merged into a singular frame of anguish behind my eyes. One of you wasn’t worth the cost.

To all the others that heard my words and cherished them; know that I love you. I love you for accepting that you have to change to get better. I love you for taking your recovery into your own hands. I love you for being strong when your own mind seeks to sabotage you at every turn. I love you for fighting off all of the negativity that bombards us from the media, faceless strangers, and even friends and family without a clue of what we are going through. Thank you for all times you thanked me. Thank you for appreciating my attempts even when I’m bumbling through my words, unsure of what helps and what triggers you. Thank you for still being alive and showing me that I am not alone.

You != Me

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness | Sunday, August 4th, 2013

It is important for all of us in treatment to remember that everyone can react differently to the same chemicals. The same patient may also have totally different reactions to a single medication based on what mindset they have at that point in their life. For example: If they are currently suffering from mania or psychosis then medications with even mild stimulation (some anti-depressants supposedly do this) can put them over the edge despite what other positive effects it has. I suffered terribly from treatment with the stimulant Dexedrine because it exacerbated the anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations of my other illnesses. It wasn’t worth staying on it for my ADHD and I only wish I had known well enough then to quit it a lot sooner. If it works for someone else with ADHD that doesn’t have all the comorbid disorders I do, then good for them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum I have stopped taking many medications over the years because of the sedation they caused. In this case even when they were specifically prescribed to help with my depression they actually made it worse. Having too little energy left over to do household chores or any hobbies I enjoy just made me feel more useless to my family and made my life seem more pointless than before. Throughout my life I have known people with so much energy that they can take exorbitant amounts of medication that would keep me in bed for 18 hours straight, yet they still managed to work a full day and get through life. It is not my place to tell them what they should be taking and neither is it yours.

Not all doctors are created equal. Some of my past psychiatrists didn’t have their shit together when it came to understanding that I wasn’t benefiting from what they prescribed. All together the, “Just try it for another few months…”, wasted years of my life. Other psychiatrists are much more flexible and after the initial two to three months or so will ask you if you want to try a different medication until you find one that works for you. Stand up for yourself if you don’t think your doctor is listening to your concerns and complaints about side effects! Likewise, you have a responsibility to adequately weigh the pros and cons yourself in a relatively clear state of mind so that you don’t throw in the towel too early. Does gaining five pounds from a medication make you fat? No, it doesn’t. If it coincided with a drastic improvement in your outlook then your newfound positivity will do more to make you attractive than those five pounds ever would.

I wanted to get this out there and make people think. I’ve seen some potentially unhelpful ‘advice’ biased by personal experiences with medications and doctors. Discussions along the lines of, “Your doctor is an idiot. Don’t take that… I tried it for six months and I just felt awful.” can swing both ways between helpful and hurtful. Let them try the medication themselves without feeling like they are doing something wrong from the very beginning. And most importantly, don’t ever tell someone that all psychiatry is a joke and that they shouldn’t take medication at all. Pursuing homeopathic or other alternative therapies is totally fine and should be encouraged. Telling people that those are the only solutions isn’t okay. It’s really no different from someone letting their religious beliefs interfere with seeking medical treatment. Recovery is a mind and body process but don’t ever forget that the brain is also a physical organ. Our spiritual manifestations of what we consider the mind to be does not eliminate the very real fact that some people need medication to alter their physical balance so that their mental balance has a chance to breathe. Unlike many other organs though, it is still so much of a mystery that you may have to weather a lengthy trial and error process tailored specifically to your needs. Your needs, and no others.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Family | Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

We ate dinner two hours late because I was tearing the room apart trying to help my cats catch a loose mouse. I don’t know how we ended up with the three worst mousers ever. Fortunately, I was just about to put the spaghetti in the boiling water when I heard all the commotion so I was able to shut the stove off and chase the critter around. Plus my sauce got an extra two hours for the herbs to steep in so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. Oh and I should say that we gave up before we caught it. Rascally little bastard. :/

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness | Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

I am getting better at not showing it, but I still get incredibly pissed off at all the people that whine to me about how they “have no friends”. Yet they still hang out with people all the time; they just don’t consider them friends. I haven’t hung out with anyone since 2003. I haven’t had a hug from someone outside my family since 2002. Honestly think about that for a minute folks. Are you really that lonely or are you just wasting your time with people you don’t enjoy being around? Would you rather trade your life for mine because you get so annoyed by all your “fake friends”? Who is more responsible, you, or the people that don’t know how annoying they are because you’re too much of a pussy to call them out on their bullshit?

I would feel so much better if I could just accept it. I need to give up trying to find someone that understands me yet won’t use it against me to bleed me dry and then disappear.

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