I have been ill for the past few days with a nasty stomach bug or something of that kind. Thankfully I’m feeling a lot better today. I’m not feeling any better about clomipramine though. While I was ill I either couldn’t take it or, I can only imagine, it was not absorbed when I did take it. When I started again last night I did so with a heavy heart. My motivations were fear of the withdrawal syndrome and guilt about all the NHS resources I have wasted if I abandon treatment. All the same, I’m thinking about doing what I did before and calling to cancel my appointment, not refilling my prescription and tapering myself off clomipramine as best as I can with whatever I have left. I know that’s horrendously irresponsible and I’m really not being a good role model for anyone who may be reading this. But that’s the honest truth.
I have been thinking over lyrics of songs I wrote in the distant past and I see so many patterns of behaviour repeating. The song I am thinking of at the moment, which I probably wrote when I was about 16, has the following lyrics:
I looked in the mirror yesterday
And I knew that I’d be okay
I no longer care what you say
Because it doesn’t help me
I looked at an old photograph
And it doesn’t make me laugh
But I know that I’ll find myself
Where I left me
And I thought
And I decided
If I want to change, it’s got to be for me
‘Cos I’m the only one who should determine
How I want to be
And I won’t do it so you’ll love me
And I won’t do it so you’ll be jealous of me
And I won’t do it for something to do
I won’t do it ‘cos I’m afraid of you
No no no no
These principles served me quite well once upon a time. I realised that I was being an idiot in trying to starve myself, which is pretty classic teenage girl stuff (I have never suffered from an actual eating disorder and this doesn’t reflect my opinions about eating disorders in any way). The real realisation was not, however, that there was anything wrong with starving myself but that my reasons for doing it meant it could only lead to misery: to be loved, to make people jealous, for something to do, out of fear of judgment. I also realised that all external influences or “help” could never truly help me and that it was all simply a question of me, myself and I reconciling past, present and future. When I sung that “If I want to change, it’s got to be for me” I was not declaring that I should not starve myself to fit into someone else’s ideal. No. I was declaring that if I wanted to stop doing what I was doing, it had to be for me and not because of what someone else judged to be healthy or unhealthy.
Looking back, I stand by all of that and I can apply it to myself right now. The things that clomipramine is offering to change are not things that I want to change. To me, it’s not truly a problem that I can spend three hours editing a sentence and that when I can’t get it right I might punch a wall until my knuckles bleed. That’s just who I am and I love myself with all my heart. I wouldn’t change that for the world. What I would change is the periodic depressions that cause everything to fall apart. Apparently they are borne out of the tendency to edit sentences for too long etc. That may or may not be so. Assuming that the doctors are right and that it is so, would I rather live obsession- and depression-free or keep the obsessions and bear the depressions that come with them? I think I would rather live with both. If no doctor is able to offer me a solution that purely eliminates the depression, then I guess I must simply accept that no doctor is able to offer me a solution. If I want to change, it must be for me.
Secondly, I will not change so that anyone will love me. Ex-boyfriend, case in point. Thirdly, if being an obsessed, depressed person means I never reach my potential vis career etc. that is totally fine too. Those goals actually are, one some level, about making people jealous, and that’s a temptation I should resist at all costs. Thirdly, I won’t aspire to be cured simply because that is a thing that you do. It is just a “something to do”; it has no substance. Finally, I won’t do anything out of fear. I certainly won’t keep taking clomipramine because I’m afraid of withdrawal. I won’t keep taking because I’m afraid of losing the clomipramine buzz. More importantly, I won’t seek treatment because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. The episodes of misery could get worse and worse, that’s true. But I have plenty of faith that God, the universe, whoever is out there, will take care of me, as it always has done, and send help right to me in my very darkest, darkest hour.
So I think that means that I should start tapering off clomipramine.
I want to emphasise, though, that I still believe in mental illness now as much as I have done in the past. I still believe that it is a biological thing more than it is an emotional thing. I still believe that it has a strong genetic basis. It’s just that I no longer want to see what I have as an illness that ought to be cured. I also don’t want to see it as a character trait, because often it is an alien force that goes against what I feel to be my character. I just want to radically redefine it. I am basing it on a template of developmental disability that is commonly understood to deserve to be acknowledged and catered for rather than to be treated or made to go away. To try to change it is an act of violence.
I also think that people ought to be able to define what they have in any way that is helpful for them. I think that it is entirely legitimate that someone else who has the same thing as I do thinks of it as an problem that is primarily emotional and that should be treated with a lifelong course of antidepressants, or any other combination of beliefs you care to pull together. They are not wrong. I am not wrong. It often angers me that no doctor is willing to get on my page and see things from my point of view. However, doctors are trained to see things according to a single model and so it is hardly surprising that that’s what they do. I have no medical training, however, so I don’t have to.
From now on it will be up to me to come up with a new way to think about what I have. I don’t have OCD. I completely reject that title as I don’t believe it has been useful since was 10 years old. It’s still psychosomatic, but it is not OCD. I disidentify with OCD. I don’t have it.
Crikey, this has turned into a manifesto! Don’t take it too seriously though. It’s only how I feel today.