The Madness of Medication

“You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.” ~Julian Seifter

Ugh. I threw my back out this week. You never realize how important your back muscles are until they are no longer working. It has interrupted my sleep and every other basic movement that my body makes. Had I known this was going to happen I would have shaved my legs sooner. My poor chiropractor yesterday LOL.

I’ve had to take a muscle relaxer to help with the pain and discomfort. Another med added to the already long list throughout the day. I sometimes feel that each med I take is just to help the side effects of a previous one. I don’t know about you but taking my meds and managing symptoms is a full-time job. One that I hate! I totally get why some people quit taking their medications. I get tired of setting alarms on my watch to take this one, or that. Taking meds first thing in the morning and last thing at night before bed. Are they helping? Would anyone notice if I stopped taking them? The short answer … yes.

Over the years I have tested and stopped 100s of medications to manage my bipolar. Some made me fat, some made me angry, some increased my depression, some increased my mania.  A few made my leg shake uncontrollably or made my mouth taste like a rusty metal pipe. Almost all affected my sleep in one way or the other.  Medication management is exhausting and time consuming. I have started an Excel worksheet that lists everything I have been given and if it worked, etc. That way when a new manic or depressive episode sneaks up, I can tell my doctor if it was successful, or what side effects it had. This list along with the timer on my phone to remind me to take my meds, have become invaluable management resources.  I’ve tracked my moods on a chart, in a journal, on a number scale. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. Medication management has by far been one of my hardest challenges on this bipolar journey. I don’t even want to talk about financial hurdles associated with medication trials.

One thing I have learned over the years is to be honest about how or what I’m feeling. Not only with my doctors and counselor but my family as well. Sharing openly about what I am experiencing helps them to understand and cope more effectively with the swings too. It has taken many long years to build my phenomenal support team. I tried many different doctors, many different counselors, and said good bye to many people that were not a positive factor for my mental health.

In the end medication is a necessary part of my quality of life. Not just my life, but those around me too. Without my meds I would be a destructive mess of a person to be around.  That’s not fair to me, or anyone else. So, I set the timer, I write in the journal, I go to weekly appointments, I track the moods. Because I owe it to myself to be as happy and stable as I can be. Hang in there. The road is long and bumpy, but it’s an amazing trip.