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.