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Anosognosia Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) October 17, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Hearing Voices, Insanity, mental illness.
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Anosognosia is the term for the most dangerous symptom of mental illness. It’s the belief that you’re not mentally ill and don’t need your meds.  I have been suffering  from this symptom a lot lately.  I have almost convinced myself that my diagnosis is a big mistake and that I don’t need my meds.  If I go off them, my memory and reasoning ability will return, as will my ability to get up at a reasonable hour. I will be employable once again, and because I’m so good at my job, I will easily find a position as a project manager and be back to my beloved profession, building buildings.  All of this is not possible while I’m on my meds.

I know consciously that going off my meds would be a bad idea, but because of this symptom, the concept seems perfectly reasonable.

Unlike many others, I have the sense to discuss my plan with my loved ones.

My sister, when confronted via phone with my idea, told me to open my copy of An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It’s a book where Jamison details out what it’s like to have a mental illness. My sister pointed out that Jamison, like me, convinced herself  that she’s the exception to the rule of needing her meds. In her book, she goes off them and repeats her cycle of mental illness, finally coming to terms with it and returning to her meds.  Reading that passage gave me doubts about going off my meds. Maybe that wasn’t the answer, but maybe it was.

If I stop taking my meds, the voice will probably- but not necessarily-return. But I’ve been hearing that voice for years, so it’s not a big deal. In my mind, it doesn’t mean I’m psychotic. I can manage to keep living in the “real” world without my medication as long as I can put up with a voice. My backup plan would be a return to the mental hospital if my psychotic state returned.

Bouncing this idea off my husband brought up a little problem.  If I went off my meds, and a voice returned, wouldn’t this mean I was psychotic again? he asked.  I disagreed. One voice doesn’t make you psychotic. But  if the definition of psychotic excludes hearing one voice, then how do I know when I’ve crossed the threshold into my definition of psychotic again?  How many voices and delusions does it take to be psychotic?  And would I recognize it if it was happening? Therein lies the problem.

Between my sister and my husband, I gave in to their logic and stayed on my meds.  But the battle never ceases.