Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Real Me

Sometimes we choose to put on a false front.  We pretend to be someone we aren't.  We've all done it at one time or another, I'd suppose.

But then there are other times.  Times when you just aren't yourself and it's not because you chose it.

I remember when my grandma was in the hospital the final time.  She was one of the sweetest women I've ever met, but they put her on some medication that totally altered her personality.  She was angry and mean; it was not good.  Luckily, they figured it out pretty quickly and changed her meds.  She was able to be her angelic self for a while before she passed away.  I'm grateful we got to remember her that way.

I've spent a lot of time wondering about the real me.  Who am I really?

For so many years I let others decide what I wanted.  I let others define who I was.  I still hear so many of those tapes in my head when I choose something for myself that I know would not be approved of.

When I let others tell me what to do and who to be I do not believe I was myself.  I believe I was an impersonator.  Pretending to be what they wanted.

The real me was buried inside all along.

I have found her in the last few years.  I have spent a lot of time trying to discern between the tapes in my head and the desires of my heart.  I believe I'm closer than I ever have been to knowing who I really am.

But then an interesting thing happened.  As part of the ongoing Russian roulette that my health has become, I tried a new medication.  Xanax.

A few positives.  Several negatives.  Not a good fit overall.  But an important lesson.

You see, it altered me.  I wasn't the true me.  It made me aggressive, yelling at my family for stupid little things.  That was bad enough.  But the true alteration was more subtle and I didn't realize it until I got off the medication.

It quieted my mind.

I always thought that would be a good thing.  My brain is always working, always pondering, usually processing many ideas at once.  It's difficult for me to sleep because I can't shut my brain down.  It gets really annoying sometimes because I have difficulty focusing on a single task.

I thought I hated it.  Until it went away.

Things were quiet.  There was only one thing at a time.  Nothing of much importance.  Nothing that inspired emotion or deep thought.  Everything was shallow, washed out, muted.

I couldn't process.  I couldn't analyze.  I couldn't think deeply.  I couldn't feel.  I couldn't write.

In short, I wasn't me.

As it turns out, I like thinking deeply.  I like seeing a bird and pondering its thoughts and its place in the universe.  I like wondering about others' motivations, about their psyches.  I like struggling through a difficult emotional problem.  I like deconstructing my past to understand my today.

Even with the noise that has resumed in my head, I am glad I chose to get off the meds.  They served an important purpose and I may need them again someday.  But right now they just aren't worth the cost.  I'm not willing to sacrifice myself -- not when I've just figured out who that is.


Heather Jo said...

I am currently struggling with
the need to be put back on Welbutrin. The mommy monster has been rearing her ugly head far too much. Whereas I like the weight loss and ability to get things done and let go of my OCD's that comes with the medication... I am terrified of the inability to feel emotion that Welbutrin causes in me. Thank you for your post, it helps me know I am not alone. I want to not scream at the people I love, but I also want to feel that I still love them.

Debbie said...

What a fascinating look at what is going on inside us! I have to agree that for better or worse, I really want to be just myself!

MaggieJo said...

Thanks again for another post that helps me with myself. I often find myself hating all the constant thinking, but you're right, that is me. That is my spirit and I couldn't stand the quiet.

Sherri said...

I love this post... self-discovery is an awesome thing... and it's something that most all of us go through.

I too have one of those reels in my head.... I spent many years trying to live up to the expectations of others, trying to be what they thought I should be. That just doesn't work.

Now I am me... and I am considered the "rebel" or the black sheep. That is okay... I actually take pride in it!

My mind races all the time. I think in much the way you have described here.... millions of things going on at the same time, and those things tend to branch off to other things... it gets to be so much sometimes.

I learned to meditate. This has helped me so much! It gives me a bit of quiet time, a time for my brain to relax but without altering who I am. As soon as I am done with a session, I am back to my usual thinking with but with a sense of rejuvenation.

It took me a long time to learn how to do it, but I can now voluntarily stop thinking. I can take a break when needed without using any thing other than my mind and will-power.

Anonymous said...

This is a tad unrelated, but we had an embroidered carousel horse on a piece of black velvet that we hung in the guard room. It's eyes were accidentally programmed to be red, so it was quite a frightening display. We named him "Xanax" without even knowing the existence of that med...

We still hide him in my drawer to keep the voices away...

Anyways, random. :) Robin, I love knowing you and talking with you. I always find encouragement from your posts and I love getting to know you better--in whatever ways I can. Good luck, as always!

Bonnie said...

It was interesting to watch my mother on Celebrex. She entered menopause and cried all the time, probably because she had a lot of things to grieve that she had never addressed. However she became completely unfeeling, and it was very disconcerting to be around her. Her reactions were almost sociopathic and her thought processes and reasoning were unaffected by emotion. That's a little unsettling. She finally decided to try winging it without, and found that she could train herself to focus and allow herself to cry. I can understand using the meds to temporarily get control of an out of control situation, but you're right, they come at quite a price.

Lisa said...

Mmmm... this is a really great post and has a lot to do with what I'm going through right now. To medicate or not to medicate... that is the question. (for me)

Kelly Latour said...

I think the voices, although annoying at times, are a good thing.
My mother in law is on Xanax. I am not a fan of it. They don't alter her overall personality that much, but she doesn't process anything properly. She seems like she is just floating around. Her Mom passed around this summer and it didn't affect her at all. Even when we flew there for the funeral she was fine.
I also don't sleep because the reel is constantly running. I find that reading before bed stops it a bit, I think about the story instead of day to day stuff.
I am so glad that you are here writing, your inputs and perspectives help me so much with my growth.

From Tracie said...

In the past, I was on medication that changed my moods, and quieted my mind. It really was torture. I'm so glad that you were able to see the link with the medicine and be able to go off of them.

The best thing is that you have come to the place where you know who you are. That is such a beautiful thing.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I really like the you that is you. I'm glad nothing is changing that.

You have such a wonderful, strong perspective. I really envy that. I feel like I have the self-confidence of a cocker spaniel. I need to not only SAY i am okay with who I am, but really BELIEVE it. (the latter is the harder part, for sure!)

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I ponder too. I think I understand.

I was happy to find you again! Lost you in my links. :)

The Dutch Girl said...

It must be a frightening thing to realize your personality has changed. I am happy and proud, even though I don't know you, you chose the real thing, despite the consequences.

Thanks for the peek inside your head.
Popping in from SITS.


Anonymous said...

My 30s were a turning point for me. It was a period where confidence in myself emerged. I got hold of a book, "Discover your Spiritual Gifts" that let me see my personality traits as gifts instead of something that needed to be overcome. It was liberating. Of course, it would help if more people told us, "You are amazing. Beautiful. So thoughtful." At least the process you went through allowed you to see more clearly what is valuable within you - ultimately, only you can determine your self-value - and once I found that God put amazing things in me and created me valuable - it was much easier to discard people tearing me down:)

Be blessed! I so love stopping by your blog!Meaningful; beautiful!