Chemical Changes To Behavior
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Thomas Franklin is new (11-17) to thefiresidepost.com. He has no experience with being published as an author. He has a fondness for reading and an appreciation of words. His curiosity is insatiable. He carries the burdens of his youth like Marley dragging his chains of bad deeds. The difference is that Marley's burdens were a result of his behavior. Life just happened to Mr. Franklin. These life burdens shall be the topic of Mr. Franklin's writing. Be kind for he is quite sensitive.

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Chemical Changes To Behavior

Mental health is a concern to many.  In our modern world we see acts of unstable mental wellness often.  These episodes come in the form of mass shootings, the killing of innocent children, tent cities of homeless people along river banks, road rage, and other acts of humanity that are less than humane.  Even so, these examples are not the norm of mental health faced every day by your neighbor and mine. There is a large population in America who rely on chemicals to balance their lives.  My personal experience of late is that these chemicals are life changers.

Psychotropic drugs for mental, emotional, and behavior first gained wide use in the 1950’s.  By the 1980’s the drugs were so effective that residential mental health hospitals across the country dropped nearly 80 percent of their clients.  These clients could live a more normal life with the support of medications.  My personal experience is much more recent.

I have noted on occasion that I have taken several mental health tests.  Most people never take a single mental health test – I have taken three in five year intervals.  There is, or has been, something wrong with me for a long time.  My behavior called public attention to my mental health.  In the 1980’s my employer sent me to my first inpatient mental health facility.  The testing was inconclusive.  Some say I am a good test taker.  Some say these tests absolve me.  The consequence is that I had no mental health diagnosis.  That must surely be a good thing? Right?

After that thirty day stay in the 80’s I sought outpatient counseling on my own – my employer paid for the counseling.  (As an aside, I am now a Senior citizen and have invested about $75,000 in mental health treatment in my lifetime.)  In 1994 I was discharged from Menninger’s Clinic with the tag of “No Diagnosis”.  I remember walking away feeling pretty good about myself – it felt as if they had counseled me through the trauma of my nurture.  I felt ‘normal’.

Sadly, behavioral problems persisted.  I have been menaced by cognitive distortions.  Often these distortions can be learned and thus unlearned.  My intellect is on the top side of average – I usually think pretty well – but I have been pestered by distortions.  When I say distortions in this case I mean those errant behaviors coming from a poor self esteem or post traumatic stress.  Moving along in my life I have come into the 21st Century plagued by outbursts of bad behavior.

I sometimes tell my primary health care giver what is happening in my life.  She listens intently.  Over the years the only medications prescribed were for getting a better night’s sleep.  Perhaps sleep was the problem.  I invested an overnight at the local hospital where I was tested for sleep disorders.  They told me to sleep on my side, not my back – no diagnosis.

Last year I was active as a volunteer in the homeless/mental health/addiction community.  A young man with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenic asked if I would take him to the hospital.  This is one of the volunteer activities that I do.  I took “Nate” to the ER and he was admitted for being a danger to himself or others”.  The Security Guards at the hospital forcefully took his arm and dragged him into the next room.  I protested.  I told them I brought Nate to the hospital so he would be safe.  – Butt out they said. They poked me right in the eye of my behavioral center.  I am forceful and even intimidating when aroused by injustice and dragging Nate away was deemed totally unjust.  More security Guards were called.  They surrounded me.  I openly mocked them as goofballs ganging up on an old man.  They escorted me out of the building.  I was steaming.

The next day I called my health care provider to report that, “I was escorted out of the hospital by Security”.  Surely being escorted out of the hospital is not within the bounds of normal behavior.

I am one of those borderline people.  Mental health exists on a continuum – it is not an on or off proposition.  Some are sicker than others.  Some are more well than others.  It is not as if we either have depression or not – it is to what degree.  Thus we ask, is talk therapy enough?  Are medications necessary to compliment the talk therapy? Will medication by itself be enough?  We try different things and then report on the outcomes.  Our health care provider is left to assist based on what we tell them.  There is no MRI or CAT Scan to diagnose with certainty.

We, my care giver and myself, decided to try medications normally prescribed for mood disorders.  I am a senior citizen who has had my foot in the door of mental health facilities for over forty years and this is the first time I have crossed the line.  Actually, I probably crossed the line many times but failed to recognize the line – or failed to report the line.

It has been a few months since I began the medicine treatment.  I have had the dosage raised one time.  My symptoms are anger, frustration, disgust, intolerance, and anger.  I become overbearing, intense, intimidating, controlling, and generally aggressive.  In the 1980’s I took an “Assertiveness Training” class.  It made perfectly good sense to me – be assertive rather than aggressive, passive, or passive aggressive.

Intellect itself cannot overcome mental illness.  I am smart and have done forty some years of training and still I lose control.  Now, after many years, I have a mood disorder diagnosis.  I now have several months experience with these medications.  I have a doctor appointment in early February (about three weeks from now).  I am going to ask that my dosage be increased. I am much more consciously aware of my emotions.  I can feel myself going off the rails.  I still go off the rails, but I no longer destroy fifty train cars in the process.

I am very conscious about the changes happening to my mental state.  That shall be my next post – awareness of changes.

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