Thursday, June 28, 2007

Alexithymia

I think I've finally figured out what's wrong with me inside or I'm just on another one of my hypochondriac mind trips.

Well today was a pretty normal day. I woke up late, finished watching the animes that a friend had left me a couple of nights ago, when him and miz slept over. Went out and bought some black market fuel which I think messed up the fuel injection system in my car because I couldn't get the car to move faster than sixty kilometers per hour. I called up Nahida's brother who's going to end up fixing it about it. He said it might not necessarily be so but that if it was then the fuel would've been mixed with water and that he'd have to drain the injection system and the fuel tank.

My uncle had mentioned that there's a retired shrink in my neighbourhood that he visits. I told him that I'd be interested in visiting the man with him. And today he took me along with him. Nahida reminded me that I had met this shrink once before.

I remember that meeting vaguely. I remember it was in a different neighbourhood and that the man's house was nice. He had told me that the initial treatment that I got from my original shrink to deal with my hypomania was wrong. But I knew that by then and it was too late, the initial treatment I had received swung me from the greatest of highs to the most miserable of depressions. My original shrink who I continued with from the start till the end had given me what he considered the ideal substitute (carbamazebine I think it was), considering the correct treatment (lithium) wasn't available at the time. Well in the end to deal with depression I was given prozac and I don't know what else, none of it really worked. And I ended up satisfied with some intense acupuncture.

After the acupuncture, which was three summers ago, I felt a big chunk of my depression had finally been removed. I took my acupuncturist's advice and never sought any more anti-depressants. The fear became that all the headway I had made through acupuncture would go to waste if I tried to medicate myself again. But the memory of being hypomanic lingers, and so does the desire to return to such a state. It was great because when I was hypomanic I had feelings. But sure enough there were serious drawbacks to being hypomanic, I hallucinated a bit, spent money carelessly, I wasn't able to sit or sleep either. And there was a stage in between the hypomania and the depression that was great, I was able to feel emotions without all the drawbacks of hypomania, but that stage was short lived.

It'd been years since I've seen a shrink. And I thought maybe I could get some insight from this guy. I no longer consider myself depressed and I'm certain of that. But the lack of emotions, which I've compared to not being able to taste the food one eats, that renders life tasteless is something that still plagues me and something I could maybe take up with this shrink.

I was surprised to find the shrink living in a rundown house now, he sat in his patio wearing a dishdasha with three packets of cigarettes laid in front of him on the table. I don't have any memory of the man himself the last time I met him so I wasn't able to compare the memory of him to the old tired man that sat there. From talking to my uncle before meeting him, I understood that he no longer works as a professional but just enjoys the presence of people seeking advice from him, which I guess is all that such a man can do when life's become too rough for men of his age.

I told him about my lack of emotions and he went on about the specific chemical that brings about all the emotions and that it's a part of depression. At first he suggested I take some ludiomil and get back to him in a couple of weeks. I told him that I didn't consider myself depressed, and that I was reluctant to try any drugs but that I was enticed by the idea of amphetamines, and he began stressing that amphetamines are no good. And after chatting some more, he began to change his mind about my need to take drugs but that he'd still like to see me in a couple of weeks. I tried to get some tips on how to deal with my problem, when should I fake emotions and when shouldn't I. The answer being it's good most of the time, but I shouldn't tell a girl I love her if I don't mean it.

Later on in the evening I got searching on the net about the medication he suggested to see if it would be any different from prozac. And then I to check out buproprion, because I had told them there was an antidepressant that's used to quit smoking but at the time couldn't remember its name. It's one I always wanted to give a shot. He said he'd be delighted if such a drug existed to help him quit himself. And then I began to search for things like lack of emotions or something, which at first gave me some results on schizophrenia but after tweaking the search entry I stumbled upon alexithymia.

And at first, I didn't think it really applied to me... but the more I read the more I related with the symptoms and so on. And then I got to an msn group and a person had left a description of how they've been living their life and for the first time I felt that there was someone that I could relate to. What sucks is that it's not even considered a mental illness and there is no medical treatment for it.

I've yet to get deep into it, but one of the interesting things to note is that a person with Alexithymia is considered an 'Alex' where as normal people are considered 'feelers'. Right now I'm looking forward to reading more of people's experience and how they cope with it. But now it's six in the morning, I'm really tired and I'm going to the pool with my uncle tomorrow morning.

2 comments:

Don Cox said...

But from what you post, you have lots of feelings. Right now, you are worrying about your mental health. That's a feeling (and a very common one). If you are living in Baghdad, in the middle of a war, and you are studying hard, it is quite normal to be emotionally exhausted. It is also normal when reading medical pages on the web to think the symptoms apply to you exactly.

_______

I think you just need a rest, although how one gets a rest in Iraq I don't know. Of course I am not a psychiatrist, so don't take much notice of what I say.

Zappy Corleone said...

try relaxing by going to Al Habaniya have a swim in the lake and a nice cold beer at the Hotel bar...

wait..

that was back in the eighties.