Don’t tell me to stop taking my meds

I am bipolar. It’s a fact of my life, and I’m trying to come to terms with it. It hasn’t been easy – it initially felt like a life sentence. Slowly I began to realise that it did explain some of the crazy things I’ve done in the past, and unless I get it under control and keep it there, I’m going to repeat some of those crazy things.

I’m doing my best to learn how to manage this. It’s a combination approach – meds, thinking, and lifestyle changes. Each of these elements is important, and I need to stick to them.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, everyone thinks that a healthy lifestyle is great, and encourages me to pursue that. They also accept that talk therapy to help modify my thinking is a great idea. But when it comes to meds? Not so much.

I don’t know why, but people really push back at the idea of taking psych medications. The blunt fact is that without them I’m not functional. I may be going through hell on them, and they’re really affecting my ability to function – but since I started the great medication experiment, I’m up off the couch. I spent more than a month not moving unless I absolutely had to, in the depths of depression. That’s not living – at least now I may be sub-par in the functionality department, but I get up and do things. I write. I study. I cook. I spend time with my kids.

My manic episodes are scary – I get out of control. I’ve up and disappeared. I’ve ended up dancing the night away with complete strangers and ended up alone in apartments with men I don’t know. I’ve spent more money than I have. And I can’t control these things.

I need the meds as an essential ingredient in keeping me stable. But over and over again, well-meaning people question my need for them, suggest ‘natural’ ways to treat myself, tell me that they’re dangerous and destroying me.

Don’t. Just don’t. I’m trying to live a healthy life, and that means treating my body well, going to therapy, AND the meds. I hate them, but they give me enough of a stable base line to build on.

Medication is a fact of my life. Don’t try and tempt me to not take them. It’s not in my best interests, nor in anyone’s who know me. I want to be well, and I’m doing everything in my power to be that way. Meds included.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t tell me to stop taking my meds

  1. Carrie Lange

    Absolutely! I hear you and agree! My daughter, I believe, might very well be DEAD if it wasn’t for her medication. My blood absolutely boils when people make comments about how I should get her off the meds, how she doesn’t need the meds, how I can only cure her by digging down and uncovering the root cause of her depression. FRACK! The root cause is that she has Clinical Depression. She has a freakin’ chemical imbalance in her brain.

    My former fiance, Dan, refused to take medication after his first attempt at suicide. He said he didn’t need it, he could fight it himself. Three weeks later, he shot himself in the head and died.

    You don’t tell someone with Altheimer’s to “get to the root cause”. You don’t tell someone with cancel to “get to the root cause”.

    I relate mental illness to diabetes. There ARE some diabetes patients who can manage it with diet alone. But there are a vast majority who can not. Without medication, THEY WILL DIE. They still manage their diets, to aid the medication. But they MUST also take the meds.

    Some people, with mild depression disorders may very well be able to manage their symptoms with therapy and self help. But a huge percent of people with severe and real mental health issues need their medicine, or they will die. Therapy, self-help, positive thinking, all that IS great and vital to them. It aids them, makes them more able to deal with their symptoms, help them take control of their disease. But they also NEED their meds. And they don’t need a society discouraging them or looking down their noses at them!

    hugs to you! 😉

    Reply
  2. Emma

    I have suffered from depression since my teens, I have done some stupid crazy things because of it. I have been an angry and broken person. I used to be unable to cope with even the tiniest bit of stress, the smallest little thing would have me either crying on my bed and moping for hours on end or raging and yelling, angry to the point where I would break things and I was honestly afraid of the kind of damage I could do and I just had no control, it was like the sane part of me would be trapped inside my mind watching and unable to do anything to stop the madness. That was until I finally got the courage to say enough was enough and speak to my doctor. I have been on meds now for about 6 months and I will NEVER look back. My whole world has changed. Not more angry outbursts, no more periods of moroseness or crying half my day away over nothing. I used to wear only black, not a shred of colour in my wardrobe, like I was in mourning for my life, now my wardrobe is full of beautiful colour just like my life is. I finally see that I am so lucky and that I have nothing to be depressed about, I have a wonderful husband who dotes on me and while we may not be rich my any stretch of the imagination we have enough for simple luxuries on occasion and a roof over our heads. The change those meds have made in my life… well I just cant even begin to describe it but its amazing and everyone around me has noticed that I am a new person with a new lease on life.

    Before those meds I had been regularly attending counselling for years (which helped but did not fix the issues). I was eating well, exercising etc. I had even tried all the usual herbal remedies, fish oil and st johns wart to name a few. Nothing has had this much of a positive effect. People need to learn to just accept that if meds work for a person leave them to it. Its better than the alternative I assure you.

    I think that a lot of people are still stuck in this mindset of “only really crazy people need meds” they don’t want to think that their friend or family member has a real problem, they want to gloss over it and make it go away. Its pretty much just a negative stigma still attached to it. I have to admit that I myself avoided going on medication for nearly 15 years because of that negative stigma. I had the mind set of taking meds meant that I was really crazy and I didn’t want to “that crazy chick who needs meds”. Now I am just sad that I let so many years go by wasted that could have been so much happier times had I just been more open minded, had I just looked at the statistics out there. Depression and other mental health issues are actually really quite common, granted the actual figures vary from country to country the fact still remains that the numbers are far greater than many people realise. Those who are brave enough to make the decision to take those meds and actually try to do something to help themselves should be praised and not discouraged.

    Reply
    1. Wombat Post author

      The number quoted to us in NZ is one in five. One in five people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. The ‘harden up’ attitude that prevails here makes it so hard for people to reach out, to ask for help, and to accept that their treatment might entail medication. I wish I knew how to fight that stigma. All I can do is be open about what’s happening to me and be supportive of anyone I know who’s having problems. It feels like it’s not enough.

      Reply
  3. Emma

    I know what you mean about NZ, its where I am from too. I think with all the TV ads we’ve had (not sure if they still run as I don’t watch TV often) and especially the ones with high profile people like former all blacks, clothing designers TV personalities stepping up and saying they’ve had problems, it has helped a little. I hope those awareness ads are still running and continue to run. We need people to understand how common it is and that when the numbers are so big there is no point having that stigma attached to it any more, its not something odd or unusual that needs to be swept under the rug its something that could happen to any one of us and we need to support those people when they try to do something to help themselves weather that be natural remedies or medical ones. People need to understand that just taking that step to actually do something when you have a problem is a huge thing and also a very difficult one and when we take that step we need support with it not to be told that our choice is wrong because it is most certainly better than having done nothing.

    Reply

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