I was so proud of her

I saw a patient the other night with a ton of psych meds in the ER for something unrelated. She was neither young nor old.

(Incidentally – definition of “a ton of psych meds” = more psych meds than me.)

And she was totally normal. If I hadn’t read the list of meds, I never would have known by how she looked, how she presented her pain, how she talked or reacted in conversation, how she was dressed, how she handled the interactions with everyone. No anger, no speech impairment, not slow through a drug haze, not hostile, not overly passive. Nice. Normal. I never would have known.

I always worry that psych patients are always so obvious to doctors after a few minutes, even if they function well or are only mildly ill, that I must be too, that it must be obvious to anyone who treats me. But she wasn’t. She gave me hope. And I was so proud of her.

But of course, I couldn’t say anything.



  1. Hi Sara,
    A few things popped into my head when I read your post, because I could so easily be that patient:

    > First off, I almost always present, everywhere, as pulled together and “normal”, but often inside I am struggl]ing terribly
    > I am on “Tons” of psychmeds…800-1000 mgsTegretol, 40-60 mgsProzac, 200 mgs Trazadone and periodically 10-20 mgs Dexedrine.
    > I don’t feel I have anything to feel proud about when I pull it together…often it is a defense mechanism for me…I am terrified others will think I’m weird, or know I have a mental illness…to the point I am ashamed and afraid to tell other doctors the meds I am on…even if it might be an emergency. I am a great “faker” of being well.
    > Right now I am feeling really well and I attribute it all to being on a combo and doses of medication that actually works for me. Sure I am doing lots of positive things, but I never was able to do lots of these things until I found medicine that allowed me a certain amount of strength.

    There is hope for you, and for everyone. It may take a lot of self care pdoc care and the right medications and actions, but I now believe we can become well, even if, like me, it takes years to figure out how.

  2. I take 6 medications for my disorders and you can’t tell by looking at me. For all the world I am just an average ordinary middle aged woman who has all of her wits about her and a charming personality. I function very well and there is not one thing that gives away that I take so much medication. I’m as normal as normal can be. Which is saying a lot, because some of these medicines, I take high doses of. Less doesn’t work. The only thing that gives me away is that I still get hypomanic sometimes, but that is not a side effect of the medicines. An increase of the dosage of one of them usually takes care of that. I’m a great believer in the benefits of medication. They have helped me tremendously, and not turned me into a walking zombie.

  3. Sara, are you good gorgeous? i have sooo missed you and your writings.
    keep well beautiful.
    love from Milo xxxxooooooo

  4. I’ve gotten off all my psych meds except one. I’m a great faker. You’d never know that I have obsessive thoughts all day, and wake up at night with panic attacks. And I self medicate with wine or liquor. I’m a perfectly functional middle aged woman. But I certainly don’t feel proud of myself – I’m always worried that people will find out I’m a fraud and a loser.

  5. There are those who are very high functioning, and you wouldn’t know. Despite taking large amounts of morphine, plus close to the max dose of Lyrica, not to mention a muscle relaxer and Neurontin, I sound normal. I’m sure you are doing a lot better than how you perceive yourself.

  6. While yes, sometimes it’s easy to spot the crazy, there’s also a group of mentally ill folks out there who seem “perfectly normal” on the outside. I believe I am included in this group (expect for when I[m in the middle of a psychotic episodde) and I believe you are too.

  7. I always find it amusing when I first meet a new mental health professional and they ask the basic questions (1) what meds are you on – there are 4 of them (2) what are you diagnosed with – again there are four of them. Each and every time they give me this look like you are crazy but you do not seem crazy or appear to be crazy. At one point this use to bother me but now it is just amusing. take care

  8. I’m proud of her, too. Thanks for sharing this!

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