The area in South Africa where the half marathon was held a few weeks ago, as well as my subsequent backpacking trip, was in a malaria region. Accordingly, I was outfitted with the proper medication to keep me safe. Well I suppose I should say "free from malaria" since the possible side effects are extremely threatening. The warnings run the full gamut from hair loss to convulsions with the long time favorites loose stool and nausea also making an appearance. The most intriguing, possibly frightening, side effect though is its potential brand upon the brain. The infamous warning label reads:
"Mefloquine may cause psychiatric symptoms in some patients ranging from anxiety, paranoia and depression to more serious hallucinations and psychotic behavior."
Now that's what I'm taking about! I want my malaria prophylaxis to have some oomph as well as a possible element of mental damage!
While the majority Of people do not experience these symptoms (I would think), I had heard anecdotally that most people do have abnormal dreams. This is what really piqued my curiosity in the medication. Unfortunately, I do not normally remember my dreams and I was hoping that some vivid nightmares or even a powerful night terror might have a little more staying power.
Well, today was my last dose of the drug and all I experienced was its chalky taste. At least I'm pretty sure I'm no more psychotic than my normal level but I can't be sure. I know I have said to myself "am I going insane or did that really just happen" before because such instances are common in my village. Now that I may actually be taking crazy pills my baseline to judge my day to day experience is unreliable. Most importantly, there haven't been any dreams to speak of. Ultimately, I am disappointed in the drug. Sure it may have shielded me from malaria but these were my dreams at stake. My sweet, sweet, terrifying dreams.