Day eleven #powerrehab: Predictable.

It’s about time in this cycle for this thought to come up, and I’m just going to let it.

I don’t want to take medicine.

This isn’t particularly special snowflake of me, most people don’t want to take medicine, unless it comes in the form of Hanna Barbera characters or they’ve been in labor for more than X number of hours.

I am currently taking the most medication I have ever taken outside of a hospital setting.

The side effects are beginning to add up.  The problem with having a chronic disease that requires daily medication is that the side effects are constant, even though the symptoms of the actual disease were not.

When I did not take an anti-psychotic, a mood stabilizer, an anti-anxiety medication, a migraine prophylactic, and a nerve pain medication, I did not have constant tremors, persistent nausea, all day exhaustion, dizziness, and a general longing to just lay down on any flat surface. Now I do.  If I were actually mood swing, anxiety, migraine, and nerve pain free, I would probably be slightly less irritated by this fact.  At the moment, it doesn’t feel worth it.

I managed my moods and migraines without medication for 8 years.  I just had a major episode — I should be careful with the language, I AM HAVING a major episode, what goes up must come down– that definitely benefited from pharmaceutical intervention.  Though the other medications are disappointing me, the anti-psychotic has worked.  I am no longer manic.  My purse has ceased to levitate, the tarantulas have left my desk, my familiar disdain for the mall has returned, and I have regained my composure in front of the pastry case.  For these things I am grateful.

But I cannot help but wonder what progress I am making with the rest. More than I make with my notebooks and star charts? More than I make with my meal plans and medium chain triglycerides?

When I sat in my psychiatrist’s office with my first baby, a barely beating heart in my belly, he told me there were no guarantees, lithium or no, that the bus of bipolar wouldn’t plow me down one day.  “I’ve had patients go unmedicated for 30 years without a single episode.  I’ve had other patients who take their medication every day and are hospitalized every year.  I have others that go a decade just fine and then BOOM!  They get hit.  There is no way to know, medicated or not.”  It felt like he was telling me the horrible, dark secret of psychiatry.  This man who had fed me nearly toxic doses of heavy metal since I was a teenager had just told me that it may not have ever done a single thing for me other than label me as compliant and destroy my thyroid.

That experience, combined with the fact that I have had more stability in the 8 years since that day than in the 10 medicated years prior, and the unpleasant cocktail of side effects I’m experiencing now leaves me understandably skeptical about the handful of pills I swallow everyday.

If they are working, if they are preserving my life, if they are protecting my family, then I will gratefully take every last one of them.  But if they are making me sick under the illusion of keeping me sane, if they make everyday a bad day instead of limiting them to seasons we have built liturgy to support, I do not want them.

16 thoughts on “Day eleven #powerrehab: Predictable.

  1. I’m in a very similar place right now and decided to ween off my meds. I’m sick of being numb, fat, having not flashes, not being able to wake in the mornings, and all the other nasty side effects that go along with them! It may not be my smartest move, but I can only try!

  2. I’d love off my meds. But oh my god, there comes mania,and I could lose my friends, family, and life savings. I can’t risk those relationships. I ‘n not saying that would happen for everyone though. lily

    1. My issue is that medication has not ever prevented mania or depression. Anti-psychotics work when I need them, but “maintenance” meds and mood stabilizers don’t do anything but give me side effects. I’m just questioning my choice to come back to them again after so many successful years away.

  3. I’m not sure what to say except this makes perfect sense to me: “If they are working, if they are preserving my life, if they are protecting my family, then I will gratefully take every last one of them. But if they are making me sick under the illusion of keeping me sane, if they make everyday a bad day instead of limiting them to seasons we have built liturgy to support, I do not want them.”

    And I’m praying for you.

  4. Trying to get through hopeless days, remain strong, only show weakness to those who know and love me, and who will not leave me( maybe) takes so much strength, doesn’t it? I applaud you for allowing the world to know your struggle… And your hope.

    What us your first thought when someone says, “I am praying for you.” Comfort? Hope? Thanks but that is not enough? Other?

    1. Pushing through the hard days is completely exhausting. That’s why sharing the struggle helps so much. I am grateful that being vulnerable here has is an option for me. The response has been nothing but gracious, loving, and encouraging. And it gives me something to do — forward motion!

      It took three kids and my back injury for me to finally figure out what to do about the prayer issue. When people tell me they are praying for me, I genuinely thank them then ask them to hold the baby for just a second and let me go to the bathroom alone. Or I take the moment to give them something specific to pray for — people are surprisingly grateful to be invited into real, substantial prayer for others. It makes them feel important. If you say to someone, “Thank you so much for praying for me. I really need it this week. I’ve been struggling with depression and I’m having a hard time shaking it, it’s interfering with my work. Will you continue to pray for me?” I guarantee the courtesy, “I’m praying for you” will instantly turn into real intercession.

      Granted, that takes a lot of courage, but after you do it one time, the seal is broken and you feel better. (It took EIGHT YEARS for me to agree to just let my name be on the prayer list at church, so I get it.)

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