(First published: Sometime during 07-08)
I’m not against medication for bipolar disorder per se.
But I’m against ignorance.
And if you think medication is your only route to relief from bipolar then you may be ignorant of your other options.
If you learn of those options from someone with proof that they work and don’t investigate further? Well, now you’re just being plain ignorant.
My symptoms worsened every year for almost eight years. I ate medications like I was being paid to do so. They did not work well, or at all, depending on the scenario.
Desperation drove me to find other answers outside of the accepted norm.
I learned to address what the medication does not.
This brings me to the issues surrounding medication that bipolar people can come up against:
You hate how your meds make you feel
I personally took so many combinations and types of meds that I think I got to experience every single side effect there is to be had.
I was lethargic, numb, emotionless, impotent, groggy, too hungry, too thirsty, tired and my body malfunctioned physically from reactions to some of the meds.
I dealt with all of that. I met many others who said they felt the same things over time. We all hated the side effects.
That hatred then leads you to stop taking your meds out of pain and disgust.
You don’t know whether you feel worse from the illness or the drugs you take to fight it.
But once you stop, your really bad symptoms return with a vengeance; the symptoms that compel you to do life altering evil things.
You go from lethargic to feeling shattered, frayed. You act like a disaster and you feel like one. So you go back on your meds.
The whole crappy cycle repeats.
(17 Mar, 2018 UPDATE):
Years after I wrote this, a documentary came out called, “Take Your Pills”
I found it very interesting. It didn’t mirror what I’ve written here, but it backed up some of it and provided some other angles to consider.
The focus was om, well, “focus”, as it pertained to the use of Adderall and Ritalin.
The main question seemed to be, “Are we using these drugs to fix the problem of inattention, or is the entire world one of inattentiveness, requiring all of us to have to take these drugs, by default, in order to remain competitive.”
This is a main focus of mine, as well. How much of mental illness, like bipolar disorder, is really just the case of not knowing how to function as you are in a world that has no easily identifiable place for you in it?
Maybe you’re exactly fine as you are but trying to fit in is turning your gifts into sources of pain, instead.
Of course, that doesn’t account for all the things mental illness encompasses. But still, it’s a valid point, and it’s the main point of Outsiders Journey.
Here are some viewpoints for a well rounded consideration:
- “Side Effects of Netflix’s New Doc ‘Take Your Pills’ Include Rage and Misinformation” at Thrillist
- SXSW Film Review: ‘Take Your Pills’ at Variety
- A New Documentary About Adults On Adderall — And Not Just For ADHD at NPR
- ‘Take Your Pills’: Film Review | SXSW 2018 at Hollywood Reporter
- Take Your Pills at IMDb
(Original Article Continues):
You stop taking your meds out of a false sense of “I’m cured!”
This is the flip side to the above point.
Your meds are actually doing just what they’re intended to do and you feel fine. So fine in fact, that you trick yourself into thinking the illness has passed.
You actually believe such a thought is valid. It’s proof in itself that you are NOT healed!
Quite the load of irony this disease.
I did it more than once.
It’s as simple as it sounds. I felt fine. No need to further medicate. No amount of talking from my family or friends could convince me otherwise.
A few hours, days, weeks later, I’d hear the air horn blowing on that log truck full of returning symptoms, right before it psychically slammed back into my mind.
I would then perform just the absolute worst show of mental breakdown that you’d ever care to see.
Life would then become ER visits and desperate calls to doctors, maybe some cops, who knows?
I used to get pretty creative in these moments.
It’s painfully common for the ill to fall for their own lies this way.
Can’t afford meds
This I can’t even imagine. I will say that when a Force Ten panic attack hit, it was nice to have a large jar of tranqs of some sort on hand.
To not even have that safety net? I can’t imagine the horror.
I suffered so badly WITH medication that it’s beyond me to try to envision having no help whatsoever.
But that’s the sad reality for many bipolar people. They’re too whacked to hold a job, so no insurance.
From there many have no family or if they do, the family has no money. They just tough it out.
That, all by itself, can go straight to full blown insanity or suicide.
I never was without access to meds but I experienced something similar.
When I finally discovered what would ultimately become the first step in my system for getting well again, I only had enough money to cover a few months of care.
I had weaned off my meds and was feeling health and wellness slowly returning to me, like I hadn’t felt in many years.
My head was clearing; my symptoms were weakening; I was becoming human again.
Then I ran out of cash.
In desperation, I returned to taking meds, as they were covered by the Veteran’s Administration (I’m a Marine Gulf War vet), and I had to have something in there to do battle with.
All my symptoms came back or returned to full strength!
I was broke and on meds for six months, and mentally I was a wreck like nothing had changed.
My family said the transformation was a nightmare and happened almost the moment I went back on meds.
But in month seven, I became flush again and returned to the more healthy practices and weaned off my meds.
Almost immediately I began to improve.
And from that point on I just got better and better in measurable fashion.
Do NOT just stop taking your meds!
That is a train wreck of an idea.
Unless…you have an option that replaces them.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: freestocks.org