Sunday, August 08, 2010

Rage Reaction Part III

Every time I’ve come close in therapy to getting to the bottom of my problems, I’ve sabotaged it somehow. I’m not sure what’s down there, but I know I’m afraid to face it. A big part of me hopes that it’s from another lifetime because if it’s what the docs all think it is, I don’t want to think of anyone in my family doing it. They think that I was severely physically or sexually abused when I was a child. I admit I’ve always been afraid of pain—of hurting myself or getting hurt. I was a very cautious child. But then, I also fell down a flight of stairs in my walker a week before my first birthday and they asked if I’d ever lost consciousness for any length of time. I don’t know if I did that day.

I remember being two or three watching my mother take down the laundry in the back yard and being scared because I had wet my pants and I knew she was going to spank me. I remember crying when she spanked me and her saying, “I’ll give you something to cry about,” and spanking me longer and harder. I don’t recall if she ever spanked me anywhere besides my butt or if she used anything other than her hand. I seem to recall her letting me touch the iron to see how hot it was, and burning my finger. I also remember watching my sister hit my nephews with various implements from leather belts to wooden spoons and since she has told me that she was angry that my parents adopted me when she was fifteen and left her to babysit me, I can’t help but wonder if I haven’t been looking in the wrong direction all this time and leaving out a major suspect. I see her as a parent figure, but I’ve never seen her as a disciplinary figure. Yet she must have been when she babysat in those early years before she graduated from high school, got a job and got her own apartment. Food for thought…

As I said, the docs here at the North Chicago VA (which is in the process of merging with the Great Lakes Naval Hospital and becoming the James Lovell Federal Health Care Center) all wondered why I was on so many meds for bi-polar disorder and all asked what my rage reactions had to do with it. One of my doctors thought it might be a seizure disorder, so she arranged an appointment for me with a neurologist. I met this doctor on Wednesday, August 4, 2010. She questioned me about my rage reactions and then explained what is happening.

Apparently, I react to some trivial threats as though I was in a life and death situation. The emotional part of my brain goes into full panic mode. And once it’s there, the intellectual part of my brain cannot stop it. She said that it’s like getting on a rollercoaster. You go up that first hill and once you reach the top you have to scream your way through the whole ride. And that’s exactly what I do. She said that the voice I hear is the rational, intellectual part of my brain trying to control the emotional part of my brain which, of course, is on the roller coaster screaming for my life.

Celexa, the medication that I’m on for the depressive part of my bi-polar disorder, is good for controlling the emotional part of my brain. Gabapentin or Neurontin, the med I’ve been begging the docs to take me off of slows the intellectual part of my brain making it ineffectual against the emotional whirlwind and suppressing my higher functions to the extent of causing dementia. I’m weaning off of that. Buproprion or Wellbutrin, the last med my Danville docs added, actually makes the emotional part of my brain more sensitive to fight-or-flight stimulation (so we’re weaning off of that next), and topiramate or Topramaz [sp?] suppresses the irritability of the emotional brain, and we’re increasing that. The latter med is what my new shrink here chose to replace my gabapentin and she was slowly increasing the dosage of one as she weaned me off the other.

Well, that’s the scoop. At least now I know what's happening and why I can't stop it. I guess now the real work starts again. We have to get down to the bottom of what makes me perceive trivial threats as life-or-death and react to them accordingly. I really, truly hope it comes from a past life, although I believe my mother was beaten and sexually abused. Her father sexually abused my sister when she was young and he babysat her. I don't know if he was ever alone with me since he died when I was two.

At any rate, how can anger management, the Twelve Steps, Rational Emotive Therapy or any other form of Behavioral therapy work when I'm fighting for my life and the rational part of my brain is right there trying to stop it but is unable to do so? I guess we need to uncover and face whatever causes these extreme panic attacks.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:20 PM

    We should talk some day. Soon.