I have been thinking a lot about medication these days. Largely because I have switched medications several times this fall. Partly because I have been combing through the archives to determine my medication history.
Partly because I was contacted by a friend who is doing a blog and podcast about his experiences going off meds for his bipolar disorder and asked if he could read my post Drug Addict on his podcast. I said yes.
And oh, the lure of zero meds is so... alluring. I found references to so many times that I had a mental health crises that was brought on by medications.
(Imma use the brand names here since that's what more people know. Usually I don't advertise for the drug companies, but I'll make an exception here.)
-nearly drowning due to rage induced by reaction to Celexa
-first manic episode due to being on high doses of Effexor
-nearly driving off a bridge due to reaction of reducing Effexor
-sleep disturbances caused by Lexapro (resulting in zombie afternoons and WIDE AWAKE 3:00 am)
And then later when Wellbutrin was not helping with my Depression well enough, I let them put me back on Effexor! Which in retrospect I cannot believe. As far as I am concerned is the Medicine of Death.
What was I like before medication? I know I struggled with Depression, but was it this much of a struggle? I know I had bouts of hypomania, but how bad were they, really? Didn't they just get worse once I was put on anti-depressants?
The extreme productivity during and after my pregnancies (painting all the walls, redoing the floors, staying up all night to write short stories, novels and memoirs...) were all done while on anti-depressants.
I know there must have been a reason I went on the anti-depressants. So there must have been a problem.
And apparently this whole doubting thing is pretty common for Bipolar People.
But I feel like especially with Bipolar II (which is a newer diagnosis) might turn out to be fake. And they just don't know as much about it. And the medications don't work for people the same way. And they don't always work. And there might need to be different combinations.
Really it feels like my approach to treating difficult stains in clothing. Because not all stain removers work the same on different fabrics and different stains... I do some research on what is supposed to work the best for the specific stain (because research)
and then I end up just throwing everything at the problem in an attempt to get something that works. And in the end I don't know what worked because I did EVERYTHING.
On meds right now I am not doing a good job of self care that I know is important to control my bipolar symptoms. I am not exercising. I am doing an okay job of eating well, but not nearly enough fruits and veggies. I don't see my therapist. I don't get enough sleep. Or I do but at the wrong time.
So I am concerned that going off meds I would not be any more compliant in these things. And if there is any chance that going off meds would spark a mood episode... ugh.
If I were independently wealthy and didn't have a job and maybe didn't have kids and had a personal trainer who came to my home gym... and a chef... and a therapist who made house calls that were scheduled by my Personal Assistant... then I feel like I could reasonably consider going off meds.
But it is sooooo alluring. What if I am not who I am supposed to be while on medication. What if I am meant to have wider moods. What if I am just supposed to figure out how to deal with those. Fatalism.
After all, I have lived with this condition into my forties without being properly treated. If in fact this is proper treatment.
What would be nice is if I could take a brief "meds holiday" in which I could dip my toe in the waters of not being medicated at all just to see what I am like. And to see if I would be okay.
But the word is that Bipolar People can have really long stretches of being OKAY between mood episodes and so are supposed to keep on taking their medications. Which would nicely mean that my meds holiday would prove nothing.
I can see why so many Bipolar People decide that marijuana (to lessen mood swings) cocaine (to blunt depression) and alcohol (to cool mania) are preferable treatments that can just be applied as necessary for specific symptoms.
"The journal Current Psychiatry publishes that as many as 60 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar I disorder also suffer from a substance use disorder at some point in their lives." (from this)
Oh, don't worry. I haven't started yet. It is unlikely to become a problem for my rule-bound self. Remember: never been drunk, never had a drink until I was legal age, never used any sort of "recreational drugs." Because control freak. And laws. And just because.
I love meds
I hate meds
I am grateful for meds
I am indentured to meds
What if all my meds were illegal? What would I do then? Or if I couldn't afford them? Just some thoughts.
I am writing so much because I am avoiding getting ready for a craft show I am in this evening and tomorrow afternoon.
Quaker, teacher, parent,