Silver Bullets

My friend, who is a professor of psychiatry, believes in the art of psychopharmacology.  It is not a cure.  She believes that the right combination and dosage of medications will alleviate the suffering of patients and their caretakers.  Her patients are not the standard dose SSRI consumers like myself.  Her art is to find optimal combination for the individual patient afflicted with deep sufferings.  She is not a drug dispenser like my shrink, who writes prescriptions away.  She is deeply compassionate.

A pharmaceutical company tweaked inactive ingredients of the drug her schizophrenic patient was taking.  As the active ingredient was the same, she kept him on that medication.  On the next visit, the patient begged her to make “them” stop staring from the air-conditioning unit.  “He was so scared,” she said.  “I was so sorry for him.  Who would know the inactive ingredients had an effect on his condition.  I changed his prescription to the one with that ingredient and no more staring eyes.”

There is no silver bullet that works for everybody.  If there were, there would be no suffering.  That’s why we keep on seeking for the right combination of measures for the particular condition for the particular individual at the particular time.

Meds won’t cure personality disorders, though.  My “difficult” 93 year old aunt is a patient of my friend.  She put my aunt on standard dose of SSRI.  My aunt stopped seeing creatures in the middle of night.  She doesn’t scream and wake up her aid anymore.  Now she is manageable for her caretakers.  “But Doctor S., she is still mean,” the caretaker and my mother, who accompanied her, said to my friend.  “Unfortunately, medication won’t change personality,” my friend said.  I believe my aunt, who loved me like a precious doll, has narcissistic personality disorder.  In her mind, everything is somebody else’s faults.

Because of complicated and fucked up family dynamics, I was diagnosed with a personality disorder unspecified (mainly for insurance coverage of therapy sessions.)   While I saw therapists for 20 years on and off, I explored and sought for the silver bullet.  I befriended my inner child.  My soul was retrieved, (oops I didn’t know I had lost one).  Death arrow was burnt at a fire ceremony.  I drummed and journeyed many times.  I was saged and cleansed.  I had my chakra balanced.  An entity was extracted.  I was gestalted and talked to a chair. I meditated and vipassanaed.  I saw channelers, a sound healer, psychic healers and energy healers.  While each worked in some way, there were no silver bullet.

It is the process of seeking, which led me where I am.

I’m still seeking, not for a silver bullet, but for something that would free my soul at this particular stage of my life, so that I could keep on seeking.

Beware of a healer bearing a gift of silver bullets, claiming it is the cure.  

My friend, who was diagnosed with ALS, told me that she bought “miracle healing water” from a random guy, who claimed it would cure her illness.  It was obvious that she was fooled.  I doubt that the guy even knew what ALS is.  But what can I say?  She was desperately seeking for the cure of one of the most cruel illnesses.

Since I was diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease and joined support groups, I’ve learned that everybody with this affliction is seeking for the silver bullet desperately.   However, a “cure” of one Ménière’s sufferer not necessarily works for others.  So we start to look for the right combination and dosage of whatever works for that particular individual sufferer at that particular stage of illness.

Also I realized when people found somebody had a chronic or incurable illness, they wanted to offer the silver bullet.  I happen to know many practitioners of physical and/or spiritual healing, and they offered to treat me.  It seems that people believe or want to believe they have some control over my condition, or at least they wish to mitigate my suffering.  Each of them did something and probably affected something, but nobody has “cured” my condition.   Then a woman with Hashimoto disease recommended me to use “Hydrogen Water.”   For a moment I thought of buying it.  Then I felt for my friend’s desperation.

I would say if it works for you, placebo or not, good for you.  But I don't believe in silver bullets.

Change of State of Being

Once in a blue moon, we encounter a situation that changes our state of being. Who I think I am won’t fit who I actually am now. The familiar labels ceases to describe what I am. It is disorienting.

Two versions of me are walking overlapping each other, with slight dissonance, which gradually becomes noticeable, as if we were a ghost of each other, trying to head to different direction, further and further apart from each other, while not being sure who is the past and who is the present. And most importantly, who is the future to be.

So I sit and stay still for a while to bring the present to the center. It’s not easy. My everyday routine is constructed based on who I was. My friends know me as a “powerhouse,” which I might not be anymore. The lifestyle I expected to pursue based on who I was might not be feasible.

I think of my friends who were forced to change their state of being. My once highly functional friend developed DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and has become immensely dysfunctional. It was a drastic change to her state of being. However, I became friends with her long after she had developed DID and for me it is how she always is. I couldn’t fathom her sense of loss. Another highly active friend developed ALS and was immobilized. I don’t have a word to describe her loss. Everyday, she had to adjust her expectation according to the function she lost that day. Time and time again she had lost her grasp of the present state of being and believed she could dance again.

I developed Ménière’s disease and had multiple attacks while I was working out of state. Lying in fetal position in the cold bathtub alone, vomiting, gagging and shaking, not knowing if I could go to work in the morning, I was afraid. I was afraid to be on board to go home. Then I was afraid to leave home. Several of my options for the future course of life were eliminated in that bathtub in a motel room in a strange city.

The highly functional, reliable powerhouse is no more. If the attack comes, I will become a puddle of vomit on the random floor.

The friend with DID and I exchange the notes over lunch and mourned for who we were together. She said my story was very familiar. She looked like she was comforted by the fact that I finally got at least part of how she felt. “I am not a kind of person who cancels appointment at the last minute,” I said. “Now, I have to if I have an attack.” “Neither did I,” she said. After the illness stroke, she, afflicted with multiple disorders, has been a constant no-show. That’s always been who she was to me.

While ALS, DID, Ménière’s, etc. induce drastic changes, aren’t we always changing? Probably I need to adjust my idea of who I am to my state of being every moment.

Sometimes, I see men and women walking with their ghosts. Old women dressed up in teenager appropriate garbs. I don’t judge how they dress. It’s their frozen look trapped in the ghost of who they were that gets me.

Our state of being is fluid. Let it flow and dance with life.

P.S. My dog, Simon, loves to play fetch. One day he broke his toes and had to walk on three legs while the broken one was in splints. After a couple of days, he was running on three legs as happy as he had been. Dogs adjust to the present reality so fluidly without dwelling on the loss. Dogs are amazing. They are my Zen teachers.