Lamotri-gene

Lamotri-gene

An ode to my mood stabiliser.

Tanmoy Goswami

Content warning

Nothing here is meant to be medical advice. DO NOT self medicate. Please see a qualified mental health care professional if you need help. Also, I have used the words 'mad' and 'crazy' here purely self-reflexively.

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Asking for help can be a mortifying feeling. But I have learnt the hard way that you won't get if you don't ask. So here I am, asking you to help me keep Sanity alive.

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My psychiatrist writes down the new drug's name in his slow, deliberate handwriting while simultaneously whispering it syllable by syllable – la-mo-tri-gine – and all I can think of is why doctors do that. Do they feel that the pill would be easier to swallow if you broke it down into its component vowel sounds?

Doctors have terrible handwriting. In the US alone, sloppily scribbled prescriptions are said to be responsible for 7,000 deaths every year. A real weapon of mass destruction. Fortunately, my psychiatrist has nice handwriting. His letters are clear, like they are confident about their place in the world, and rounded, which handwriting experts say is a sign of creativity and artistic ability. I can easily picture the man living a secret life as a painter or a violinist. But perhaps the real reason he takes care that his handwriting is neat and coherent is that a psychiatrist's chamber has space for only so much chaos and incoherence, and he wants us, his patients, to have that.

The prescription booklet is brand new. The previous one is full and in a state of disintegration. I never travel without it in my backpack. In my last job, our whole team met at the headquarters in Amsterdam for orientation week. We were all asked to carry an object that meant something to us. Others displayed family photographs and dolls and books. I fished out the handwritten history of my mind.

The hospital sometimes issues single sheets for follow-up visits, which work fine when all that the doctor has to do is to repeat the same medication for a few more weeks. But I demanded a new booklet today because I had a hunch this is the day we finally begin the new regimen we have been discussing for months. What's the fun in moving up a class without fresh smelling notebooks?

I force my focus back on the prescription – and I am immediately disappointed by the spelling. I'd hoped it'd read lamotri-gene.

Shame on you, psychiatry. The least you could do is have a sense of humour.

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