Sunday, July 20, 2008

Drug-Induced Psychosis

In my mind, I came into my room through the back door, the one behind the head of my bed, and saw my brother and my friend J sitting at my table, waiting to see me (in reality, I had simply woken up). I was pleased to see them, no offense Deane but particularly J because I hadn't guessed he would come. (Deane, I and the nurses appreciate every visit of yours and all your treats). After saying hello, though, Deane said "You need to put your mask back on."

Now, I had just come in from somewhere where I was clearly fine (dreamland), and I did not want to put my mask on. This was my hi-flow oxygen mask, and was keeping me alive basically, but for some reason I had taken it off (probably while I slept), and decided that I didn't need it any longer. So I said "No, I don't want to put it on," pretty matter-of-factly, I thought.

"Beth says you really have to put it on, though, to get enough oxygen," Deane said, cajoling me a little.

I suddenly got angry, and paranoid, and wondered why the hell Beth, who was just my "nurse"—this category suddenly had no meaning for me, carried no weight at all—had any authority over me.

"Look, I don't need the mask anymore, no matter what Beth says. I'm not putting it on again." Deane looked nervous, and suddenly my cousin Stacey appeared next to my bed, having come, as I thought, from the door behind my head (she was not actually there at all at this time—I was repopulating with an image of her from a previous visit). "Hey cuz," she said, about the same time Beth came in from the front (only) door of my room "hey Beth! Calin, you've really got to put on your oxygen mask, you know. Beth really wants you to."

At this point I started to get scared, and paranoid. I did not want to wear my mask, I didn't believe I had to wear it, and it seemed to me that all these people, who were supposed to be my support and my friends, were instead banding together to do something sinister to me—I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone and everyone suddenly had evil intentions. I started to get panicky, and probably a little belligerent.

Deane finally said "Look. I don't feel comfortable with you making the decision to go off your oxygen without Ian knowing about it."

"Okay, fine," I said. "Can someone call Ian?"

"And," said Deane, "would you please wear the mask until he gets here?"

And I put it on, although reluctantly.

Beth called Ian, who arrived within 10 minutes, and brought with him a complete calming succor. I cannot truly describe how much he soothed me. But it turns out I trust him, completely, with my life and with my mind. His presence and explanations were all I needed—and were the only thing that would help—to see what I had been misinterpreting, what irrational fears I'd had.

These fears and hallucinations were for me the result of withdrawal from the main intubation drugs (the names of which I can't remember), but they gave me a new insight into mental illness. There are people whose own brains have the chemical balance (or imbalance) to induce hallucinations, or paranoia, or strong feelings of "me against the world." My heart goes out to them, and I deeply wish help for them, a drug to calm and soothe and support, the way Ian calmed and soothed and supported me.


Stacey said...

As I read, the incredibly active sympathetic/empathetic butterflies in my stomach were in a little bit of a competition with my sense of pride that I made it into the picture :-). I'm so glad you and Ian have each other (and so sorry that my image helped provoke the scary things you were feeling).

Love like crazy,

Cousin S.

Andrienne said...

Calin, the most important piece of your hallucination was the door behind your head. That is 7th chakra - or actually higher - 8th or 9th. Direct message from the universe/creation (keep the mask on). The Lakota tradition says that the dreams that wake us up are a lie. They set our day off on the hero's journey of discovering the truth.

While the drugs were inducing the paranoia, the path was still the same. Finding your source of strength (the truth) in the middle of fear (paranoia/anger). BRILLIANT!

Robert said...

What an interesting and bizarre experience . . . Thanks for sharing it!

-- Robert V.

Anonymous said...

Let's parse and pickle Ian, and sell the succor on the Ave.
Love u both!

Matching Socks Laura said...

I have warm, calm feelings : )

I want you to write a book and include all of the beautiful aspects about your relationship because it is a wonderful gift to us all. Thank you for sharing your story and your life with us.


MS Laura

wendy said...

Ian, you are a saint. And I would add that Deane did a remarkable job of "talking you through" the situation, Calin. Even though he is your younger brother and all (and I can certainly relate to having a younger brother!) - he too, had your best interests at heart and he was there, as he has been. I am glad you have such love and support as you "travel" through all this.



PS: we happy to have the dogs for a sleep-over in the very near future!