Sunday, June 12, 2005

Part Two: The Beginning of The End

By April of 2002 I'd had my first breakdown, what the doctor called "exhaustion" from working too hard. The dosages of the medications were increased and more of them were added. I began to feel easily confused and disoriented. I was tired all the time. I slept an average of 16 to 20 hours a day. I was conscious for no more than a couple of hours at a time, and then only partially aware of my surroundings. I'd had to drop out of college and by June I was barely able to function at all. I'd been calling the doctor (whom I was unable to reach directly) and asked a friend who lived in my apartment complex for help. I wasn't entirely sure even what help I needed, only that I needed for someone to listen.

The neighbor was someone that I'd also considered on of my closest friends. She told me to go home and get some rest. Not to worry, she'd told me, it would all work out. The next night, another neighbor mentioned she had an air conditioner she'd give to me.

Our apartments had windows on only one side and were like brick ovens in hot weather. The unbearable heat was taking its toll on the baby and my other children. I agreed to meet her at her apartment to help bring it to mine. Meanwhile, the friend who'd been my confidant had seen me leave my apartment to go to the neighbors about 100 feet adjacent to where I lived.

It was about 10:30 pm and the children were asleep. It never occurred to me to wait until morning. In my fogged mind I reasoned that the morning heat could be avoided if the new air conditioning unit were installed that night, and I'd only be gone for a few minutes. I had no idea that the woman next door whom I'd considered such a good friend was watching me leave and would call the police, saying that I'd left my children alone. It was a choice I'd regret for the rest of my life.

I remember being told by the officers who arrived that I could be arrested for abandonment if I refused to cooperate with the social workers who were taking my children into custody. The house was unkempt and a general mess. I was asked to get some things together for the children, and told they would be in foster care for an unknown period of time while social workers worked with me to ensure it was "safe" to return them. As I dropped to the floor sobbing, an officer asked a neighbor to keep me at her home in case I became suicidal.

Over the course of the next three weeks, I did everything I could to comply with the system so my children could be returned. I kept up the house and finally got through to my doctor, who reduced one of the six medications I was taking and removed another entirely. My children were returned, with the stipulation that social services stay involved for the next year, and I keep up with my doctor appointments and medications.

Things seemed to get better for a few months, and my medications were adjusted several times for everything from nervous problems and anxiety to my continued problems with fatigue and exhaustion. For one of these medications, my prescription was to take nine 300 mg capsules a day - 2700 mg in total at my highest prescribed dosage. I later found out that I was prescribed one-and-a-half times the FDA approved dosage, and in combination with my other medications I was on a highly depressive med-cocktail. There is currently on-going litigation involving that particular medication (against the pharmaceutical company), which I am also involved in. Unfortunately for me at the time, this was the medication which was increased - and actually tripled.

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