To medicate or not to medicate, seriously that’s a big question.

I just read a post by Normal for Norfolk in which the choice to medicate, or not medicate, for Bipolar disorder is discussed and it made me want to talk about my decisions regarding medications.

Now, as with any very personal decision, my decision is not necessarily the “right” one. And even if it works for me (occasionally, let’s be honest here it’s not all sunshine and posies) does not mean it will work for you, or anyone else.

Please don’t read this post and go off your meds, or read this post and magically decide your friend doesn’t need the medications they are using. Oh let me tell you the thousands of ways that could be dangerous.

Seriously, there’s more than I can list, but withdrawal, increase in suicidal thoughts, and physical pain should be sufficient.

Despite this being my decision, admittedly it hasn’t always worked out so well. I have lost my shit and overdosed twice. Chilling on the couch with a bucket in your lap, convulsing, while everyone watches you trying to decide if it’s time to head to the ER was NOT a highlight of my life. It sucked balls; the sweaty hairy kind with that smell that makes you wonder when was the last time he showered, kind. It’s something deeply embarrassing, but something that happened.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I am not medicated for my issues. I was on small doses of different medications before that would target my anxiety and beat it into a pulp.

They did do that. Beat it to a bloody pulp. But they didn’t stop the depression at all. And they inadvertently caused an increase in other things.

One of the ways you can tell if I’m seriously depressed, like totally sympathizing with Rose as she dangles off the front of the Titanic depressed, is if I suddenly morph into a cold-hearted bitch.

When I sink down as low as I can go I don’t get the kind of depressed where you sit on the couch sobbing. No…that’s pretty much a mid-level depression for me.  The real full-blown deal is when I start to pretty much go numb emotionally. I don’t feel happy, or sad. I just simply stop caring.

About everything.

I don’t care about work, school, my friends, my family. I start snapping at people or just flat ignoring them when they talk to me. Instead of looking at someone I love and doing my best to be kind to them, I just give up.

And that’s what I was like on the medicine. And I didn’t like it. I would have moments of clarity where I realized how hurtful and cold I’d been to people I love, and that would throw me into a guilt/depression combo so damn dizzying I could barely breathe. I’d lay in bed at night crying over how I could be so callous to those who cared about me, then wake up in the morning even deeper into the numbness than before.

Not to mention if you have a seriously anxious and depressed person, and all you take away is the anxiety, what you have left is a calm and calculatingly suicidal depressed person.

And that’s really not good.

I kept a journal during that time period and I wrote things in it that are physically painful to read now, when I’m in a more “right” state of mind. Pages of information on which medications would do what if I took X amount. It’s disturbing.

So I don’t take them. So far I have been lucky in that my lapses in sanity have been short-lived and reversible.

My mania’s are not such that damage my life. I don’t go on drug or alcohol binges. For the most part I just start a bajillion projects in my house then look at them later, when my energy as leveled, and go “WTF Abby.” Then proceed to, oh so slowly, complete them.

My lows are manageable for the most part. Sure, they are rough and there are days when getting out of bed takes an hour of mental preparation, but I get through them.

I’ve been lucky so far. I may reach a point some day where I don’t have a choice anymore, and I have to take something to stabilize me. Maybe by then the medications won’t have so many unpleasant side effects.

There’s a reason so many people talk about feeling like a zombie on those pills.

You may go, well you just want to keep the mania. Or why won’t you just FIX THE PROBLEM.  Well, sure, sometimes those manias are nice. And being Bipolar is definitely a problem. But let me point something out to you.

Despite mania and lows being tough to manage, despite the downsides of them and the risks, those are a part of our personality. They add things to our being that wouldn’t be there otherwise. That sense of humor that makes you alternately laugh and stand there gaping because “did she really just say that” ? I developed that for a reason.

The strength that lets me hold it together when it feels like I’m ripping at the seems? Yeah…that started somewhere. All that came from somewhere. I sympathize with people in pain because I’ve been there. I know that mental pain is fucking real, dude, because I’ve experience it.

I’ve never met a person with an I Don’t Give A Fuck, witty, sarcastic attitude who didn’t develop it because…well shit. You can’t deal with that stuff day to day and NOT develop a sense of humor about it. It’ll fucking kill you if you don’t.

Bad as it may be, this shit shaped us. It definitely shaped me. In some ways bad. In some ways good. It’s a part of who you are, even if you curse it some days. This shits been there too long to pretend it isn’t.

And you want me to take a pill and erase it. And let me be clear…those medications don’t just erase the bad parts. They dampen it all for me. You’re asking me to take a pill that removes huge sections of my personality. Yes, some of those sections are bad and dangerous to me. BUT IT’S ME.  Even if, technically, that could be the wise decision, why would it be easy to pop a pill I know is going to, sure help a little, but also steal something in me that I value?

Now you’re going…chemical imbalance blah blah. Sure they are caused by something happening inside our body, but so is just about everything else about you.

I learned to write because when I was younger that’s the only way I could get it out of me.

I learned to draw comics because it was the only thing that could make me laugh when I was in that hole.

I learned to sympathize when someone appears to be overly emotional about something because I know there’s probably more going on than I’m seeing.

If I hadn’t been socially anxious and depressed and nervous I probably would’ve gone out for sports, or clubs, instead of entering writing contests and painting. If I’d been more confident I wouldn’t have gotten into Drama and Theater at all, because that was the only social activity that let me skulk around in the dark with other socially awkward people. People who looked at me and went you’re weird. But then followed it up with…and it’s kinda cool.

It’s hard to entirely hate something you know shaped who you are in a HUGE way. And most days I’m kinda happy with who I am.

Some days it sucks.

I guess what I’m saying here, in a long winded soap-box sorta way, is that it’s all so personal. Nobody’s struggle is exactly the same, and no one thing can fix it for everyone. For some people those medications are a God send. For me, not so much right now.

So next time you notice I’m having a hard time, please, don’t harp on me about medications. If someone who struggles with depression isn’t already on them, I guarantee you there’s a reason. It may not be the best reason, but it’s probably one that’s big enough that overcoming it isn’t as simple as taking a stroll to the pharmacy.

Just pointing it out.

 

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. normalfornorfolkblog
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 11:33:45

    Thanks for the mention. I sometimes find it hard to understand why people think they are qualified to comment on mental illness and tell us that we should be on medication. They don’t do the same when it’s a disability you can ‘see’.

    Reply

    • psychofab
      Dec 13, 2012 @ 12:01:10

      No they don’t. And why would anyone assume that a medication which basically re-hardwires your BRAIN would be an easy solution I will never understand. Those medications have serious side effects. It’s not like Tylenol.

      Reply

      • normalfornorfolkblog
        Dec 14, 2012 @ 01:19:45

        Absolutely! I think they just all buy into the old thing that just because you may be a bit different, you must therfore by default be dangerous and need to take tablets to stop you killing someone…That’s another thing…Why do they so often assume that muderers are mad? I bet they’re not….I bet they’re just plain evil fuckers who know exactly what they are doing..

      • psychofab
        Dec 14, 2012 @ 08:59:21

        I agree, but I guess saying they are “crazy” makes people feel better, because then there isn’t just plain evil. There’s always a cause. People feel better when they can pin point why something happened.

  2. newbie
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 16:29:30

    Even better than meds has been getting taught DBT skills. If you don’t know it; google it. It has helped much more than meds alone. Plus, if everyone used them maybe more of us would be able to function without meds. Then again, Avenue Q lyrics can fix any dark mood for me-schadenfreude anyone?

    Reply

    • psychofab
      Dec 14, 2012 @ 08:57:18

      It’s hard not to laugh while listening to Avenue Q. I find that music in general can really alter my mood. It’s not a miracle worker, but if I’m just down, or heading down, a good beat pumping song can get me going again.

      Reply

  3. nosleepandcrazy
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 05:47:05

    I know exactly how you feel. I am 100% sure that if I were not on my meds, I would not be breathing. And my lack of breath would absolutely be self inflicted. But, people that knew me before the meds would not recognize me now. I do not draw, I do not write (aside from the blogs I write on here) and I do not paint, I do not craft things out of nothing. It is just gone. I love blogging because it gives me an outlet I am capable of having on all my meds. It is actually easier to blog than to talk to people in real life. I miss it though. I miss it all. I used to walk in to a store and say, I can make that. Or I would see something ugly and I would know in 2 seconds how to make it funky or weird or beautiful. I am plain and boring now. But I do not want to slit my wrist on a minute to minute basis. But why can’t they make me feel better and want all those things I just had to have when I was a teenager? Meds are for me, but they are not for everyone. But she is RIGHT, do NOT stop all at once. It can throw you off the deep end, it can make you feel like your skin doesn’t fit and it can also make you feel great for a few days… but then those days are over and it is too late to get a quick fix. I used to take all my meds, have a few good days and think I was cured and didn’t need them anymore. So I would stop cold turkey and then I would not be able to get out of bed.

    Reply

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