“I Don’t Want To Be Me Today”



Those were the words I whispered to my nurse in the shower this morning. I was in the midst of a panic attack which had started shortly after I woke up. Early on after my injury I had them all the time, but now I only get one or two a month. At the earliest signs I have learned to take the medication prescribed for them. Waiting, hoping it will go away only allows it to get more developed. Once the symptoms start, it’s just a matter of time. I’ve never been diagnosed with PTSD, but I have most of the symptoms. They usually begin with my legs. There is an overpowering, all-consuming urge to move them and at times, like today, that’s combined with the fact that they feel like solid cement. There are no words to convey the overpowering attitude that takes over my mind. These attacks are characterized by facial distortions, crying and the feeling of being totally out of control. Sometimes I thrash and want to throw myself out of bed, but it is impossible because of the quadriplegia. It scares the hell out of me.

At times like this I have seriously considered smoking marijuana in an effort to totally change the way I feel. I have never smoked it before and am anxious about my mind would react to it. Craig Hospital, where I did my rehabilitation, is strongly opposed to marijuana use by those who have been paralyzed.

This morning it took almost 3 hours for my medication to take effect. The peaceful calm that I feel when it kicks in is a welcome relief to the terrible anxiety I have been feeling. Usually, after I’m up I get tired and fall asleep for a while. The struggle one goes through can only be understood by one who has been through it. It’s all consuming.
The question at this point becomes what can one do about it? The feeling, while it is going on, is like being possessed and rational thought is impossible. Well-meaning intentions of others are irrelevant. It’s been over 17 years now and I have no idea or advice for dealing with these. The only good thing about them is that they always end.

7 responses to ““I Don’t Want To Be Me Today”

  1. Hi Rich, Thank you for your honest sharing about this. I cannot offer any meaningful words of comfort but to say thank God that there is medication that helps and people who accept the reality of what you experience and who love and support you.
    Best wishes, Gary Mantle

  2. I am curious why Craig hospital is against the use of medical marijuana for paralyzed individuals. I went through rehab with a para was also struggling with substance abuse issues. He mentioned that whenever he had drunk too much or gotten high, he had pretty severe AD. From your standpoint, that’s what I would be concerned about.

  3. Thank you for describing this so honestly and sharing your raw emotions with everyone. Few know about the private and personal feelings that happen inside the trapped minds of those who have paralyzed bodies. What you described is what my mom has told me she experiences, and it’s the thought of the desperate need to move while being encased in cement that I can relate to the most. I’ve always thought about how utterly scared people must be who have had tons of concrete fall on them after an earthquake or in a collapse from a bomb or after 9/11 and the helpless feeling they have of not being able to escape.

    I had a “block” done for rotator cuff surgery several years ago and when I got home I was changing into pjs to sleep that night so we let my arm out of the sling. The dead weight of my arm, and the fact that there was no ability to move it, none, panicked me, I had to really think and reason with myself about what was happening to calm my mind. Then I allowed myself to feel the sensation fully so I could understand what mom was feeling in her whole body all the time, I wanted to be able to remember what she was going through every day.

    I accept what you feel Richard, it’s overwhelming for your body to feel entrapped and impossible to move and sometimes the feelings overwhelm your logic and reason. You are generally an upbeat and positive person, but sometimes the enormity of the situation overcomes your brain. I’m glad there is medication for you to take that helps with the panic. Maybe you could talk with a psych doctor who could recommend another type of medication that would work more quickly to deal with the thoughts of panic and fear to help calm you. There may be newer or older meds to help you now that Craig hasn’t thought to suggest. Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences, I know it will help open the conversation for others.

  4. Your words really touch my heart, as God says, we rejoice together and feel each other’s pain too. I am not allowed to try medical marijuana
    here in FL where I live, but I feel as though we, anyone who wants to should be allowed to at least try it to see if it helps. As always you are an inspiration to me! You are in my heart and prayers! Much love to you!

  5. I’m sorry to hear that they’re against marijuana use in your situation. While cannabis is not a cure all, it can be effective against depression, as it was in my own situation. Rather than smoking it, however, I took the pill form. (I’m not sure smoking in general is good for anyone.)

    One thing to keep in mind should they relent their stance, cannabis does not work the same way other medications do. You can’t just take it and feel better. You have to want to be happy and it helps a lot to focus on breathing slowly and deeply. Meditation, basically. Meditation may help overall, but I was unable to make meditation work for me until after taking cannabis.

    I hope things get better for you. Best of wishes.

  6. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. The way you describe your legs feeling like cement, I think may be what I have been calling phantom pain in my legs.

    What medication are you taking that helps after a few hours? I have been prescribe pain pills, but they rarely do more than send my mind to La-La land. I do not smoke and never have, but would be willing to try cannibus in the pill form if the doctors thought it would help.

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