My Story: Thoughts and Considerations (Part 1)

This story is the first installment in a 3-part series. Read Part 2 here, and stay tuned for Part 3, coming soon!

Hello. First of all, I would like to introduce myself: My name is Mark, and I am 24 years old.

I found out about these forums some time ago, when I began researching yet another time about RLS due to my symptoms worsening. I hope I can be helpful and we can share each other's experiences for good.

My story is below. You can take your time to read it, perhaps even take days, but I really wish to be comprehensive of everything and to express all of my opinions and thoughts and experiences; otherwise, I do not think it will be worth it to write anything.

When my trouble falling asleep began

I have to underline that by no means do I intend to attribute bad faith or blame specifically to the professionals of the psychiatric sector, who are very good people and human beings like all of us. But I feel that my RLS can undoubtedly be attributed to psychiatric pharmacy.

My problems began in August 2020. Before that, the only problems I've ever had, if we can call them that, were some problems falling asleep on a few occasions — maybe 6 or 7 in 2018 related to a period of stress, and in 2019, again on very few occasions.

But during the summer of 2020, I started to experience strange symptoms, like feeling a sort of sensation of detachment, and I was really "dull" and felt almost no emotions.

Seeking mental health treatment

I went to my local mental health department to seek psychological treatment, as it was something I wanted to do even before that. Immediately I was told that I had to go through a psychiatric examination before being able to gain access to psychological counseling. I had no problems with that, as I thought that could also be helpful. You have to consider that, at the time, I was really in a bad mood, and anything or anyone that could help would have been essential to me. But I have to say that, honestly, I did not and do not appreciate this sort of "enforced" protocol about having to go through a psychiatrist before going to therapy.

Anyway, it was confirmed what I had already thought, having done some research about my problems. I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and told that I needed to be treated pharmacologically also.

I was quite skeptical about the prospect of treating a problem that I believed and still believe to be purely psychological and mental with drugs that act organically; and probably, in a state of mental lucidity, I would have done more (a lot more) assessments.

However, I have to emphasise that during those weeks I was very desperate trying to understand what was going on and how to feel normal again. Anything that could bring my life back to how it was before, I would have done it. So, when I was offered medication, I accepted without worries, because if that pharmacological therapy could have cured me, it would have been worth it.

Had I known that hell would begin for me at that moment, I would have fled away without looking back.

My experience with psychiatric medication

But, as I said, I was down, and we come to the consequences of the therapy for me: I was prescribed antipsychotics (aripiprazole 10mg), and after 2 to 3 days, I started taking them. The only noticeable difference I could perceive was a slight stabilisation of my secondary symptoms, i.e. the anxiety and the feeling of loss of control that was derived from the condition. But, as I said, the stabilisation was slight and turned out to be sporadic. Maybe it could have also been a placebo effect — nobody knows.

Immediately after starting the "therapy," the side effects started. I was home, and at a certain point I began to experience tremors, which then gradually increased to involving the whole body. My teeth chattered as if I was cold, and by the end I was practically shaking from head to toes.

I was feeling really unwell, and I feared I was about to convulse. I went to the kitchen and made some hot chamomile tea, as I remembered that during the previous winter I had experienced shaking due to a cold and fever, and I managed to calm myself down in that same way.

Phoning my psychiatrist the day after, I was immediately advised to take anxiolytics and reassured that the side effects would generally decrease and then disappear after few days. If the thing kept going on, we would evaluate the therapy.

A castle of cards that can collapse

I must always mention the professionalism and care of professionals in the sector, of whom I can in no way question anything humanly and as individuals and professionals. But I already started recognizing the pattern of psychiatric medicine — the pattern of starting with a few or even a single medication, and then gradually adding new ones to counterbalance the adverse effects of the first ones. Then, perhaps it continues further into a sort of spiral towards the total conditioning of the individual who, at a certain point, finds himself overwhelmed and wonders how it happened.

Apparently, now, he's no longer able to feel good naturally like he did before the myriad of drugs he has to now take every day, or perhaps even hourly. He is deprived of the freedom to think through his day without the constraint of drugs that are apparently very easy to start but very difficult to stop. Drugs which, almost in a sort of pyramid of cards, now support each other, and none of them can be removed without collapsing the whole castle.

At least, this is the feeling one gets when having to deal with these kinds of life-ruining situations...

Part 2 of Mark's story can be found here.

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