Ah, the dreaded “m-word”.
No, not molestation – medication.
My blogger buddy Megan over at “The War in my Brain: Megan Has OCD” loves her meds.
I fucking hate mine.
Now, before we continue, you should know that I always take them consistently. Every single night. I never miss a dose. A lot of people who have bipolar disorder struggle with taking their meds when they should. I am not one of them, nor have I ever been – for the most part. I struggle with taking medication in the morning, so I try to set an alarm on my phone or just make sure the medications I’m on need to be taken at night. I’ve been on medications consistently (with the exception of a five month period at the end of 2011) since I was twelve years old. It’s old hat by now.
When I’m on medications that are a good fit (and I’ve had three periods during my life, each lasting a few years or so, where the meds were truly a good fit), things go relatively smoothly. Granted, I struggle with anxiety and suicidal thoughts, but I have coping skills for that. I get stressed easily (very, very easily), but I try to take things slowly so the stress doesn’t become overwhelming. I’ve always seen a therapist while on meds, so I can talk through the issues that come up, because meds don’t make you happy 24/7. They just give you a baseline that’s closer to a neurotypical person.
For the five month period I was off meds in 2011, it’s difficult to say what worked and what didn’t. I was depressed, but it could have been more of a situational depression related to the fact that I had just quit my job and had to apply for disability, which absolutely mortified me. What prevented me from working was more anxiety (and I would come to later discover, possibly PTSD) symptoms – I would become triggered, have a panic attack, dissolve into tears, and have to leave work early or do something in a back room where the customers couldn’t see me crying. The stress of being a front end supervisor in a retail environment was getting to my sensitive psyche, and I couldn’t cope. I will say that, even though I was deeply depressed and rarely got out of bed, for the first time in years I didn’t feel suicidal. And had I had a social outlet (which I didn’t at the time – most of the friends I relied on lived out of state and I wasn’t regularly attending religious services), maybe I would have been more likely to get out of bed. The only reason I went back on meds was to help cope with the a) PTSD symptoms I was experiencing as the result of childhood trauma or b) the manic delusion I was experiencing that led me to believe I had been sexually abused as a child and repressed the memory. I tend to think it was the former; certain people believe the latter.
So now you know the background. And I bet you’re wondering, “But, Aurora, why do you hate your meds if they seem to help you?”
Because I feel like a piece-of-shit-terrible-excuse-for-a-human-being-damaged-lesser-than-person because I need medication to function.
I don’t know how to shake that mindset. I really don’t. I’ve heard the comparisons. Diabetes and insulin. Paralysis and wheelchairs. Whatever. I can’t get through my head that I’m not damaged just because I need medication.
What’s worse, is the fear that I will someday not have health insurance, or not have affordable enough health insurance, and I won’t be able to get my meds. The ones I supposedly need so badly. The ones that allow me to function. The ones that keep me from turning into the “And later on Boston News at 6, some random person with bipolar disorder who was off their meds commits a crime!”. Because apparently that’s what we do when we’re off meds – we completely fucking lose it and commit crimes (I swear, that excuse has been tossed around at least three times on the news tonight; I could cry).
I wish, so very badly, that I could be that person who is successful off meds. At least for a little while. And I wish, so very badly, that I had support in this endeavor. But I’m between therapists and the people in my life dance around whether or not they think it would be a good idea for me to go off meds so they don’t hurt my feelings.
But mostly I just wish,
so very badly,
that I was normal.
Or that I knew what
I think the fact that you even have medications available to you that helps your symptoms is a huge plus. It may not feel like it, but I’ve tried 15 medications in 3 years, all of which have made my symptoms worse or done nothing at all.
The problems I have is with the medication itself; it makes me more sick. I think most people who have fear around taking medication, the problem is with the reminder, the moment(s) every day where taking it points out to us that we’re different.
I felt broken for a long time too, but It wasn’t the medication that made me feel that way. It was the illness, it was my behavior, and it was the faith I had lost in myself (via manic decision making and toxic relationships). Even though I’ve come to acknowledge bipolar disorder and the fact that I work through it every day, sometimes I need a reminder that the people around me notice how hard I work and that none of them, not one, considers me broken or even flawed.
I don’t think you’re broken or flawed, I think you’re you. Our differences are what make us interesting and unique, and I can bet that even taking medication, you are an interesting, unique individual.
I have made a point to talk to my therapist and designate this year as the one I work on my confidence and self-worth. It took a while for me to realize it, but I’m the only one in my life who looks at me and sees something unworthy. Does that make it an irrational thought? Probably, and I really hope (with a little help) I can change my own point if view.
I actually am currently working on an Everyday Feminism course about confidence and self-worth (the “Everyday Self-Love” course) and I am hoping that if I use it in conjunction with therapy, it’ll help. So I hear you on that battlefront – it’s a lot of work when you’ve spent years internalizing negative messages about yourself! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Thank you so much for your input – I relate to a lot of what you said and I wanted to thank you for your kind words!