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My Meds, My Self

June 3, 2013

And now, a few words about the wide, wild world of bipolar medications.

Now, I am in awe of the few BPers I know who manage their illness with nothing more than a healthy lifestyle. Yes, they still have their ups and downs, and some I quietly suspect would do better if they’d take at least a mood stabilizer. But after 15 months of tweaking, adjusting, discontinuing, adding, and otherwise messing with some very powerful drugs, I often wish I had the grit (to say nothing of the self-discipline) to take bipolar in my own hands and tell it, once and for all, to go to hell.

Alas, my version of the disorder is serious enough that it requires multiple medications to wrestle it under some sort of control. Four, to be exact, unless you count the over-the-counter melatonin tablets my psychiatrist recommended to help me sleep better. I’ve got ’em all—a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, an anxiolytic, and even an antipsychotic, which is really only to prevent mania, and the dose gets increased when I have a breakthrough episode.

Not that I’ve ever been psychotic. Well…OK, I have been. Once. But only when Wellbutrin (a different kind of antidepressant) made me bat-shit crazy a couple of years ago and I threatened to kill a co-worker’s abusive boyfriend…among other illegal and despicable acts. That damned drug is the ONLY reason the term psychosis is noted on the same page as my name and date of birth, and it looks terrible there. And that pisses me off.

Fortunately, my current regimen seems to be working well. It took me a long time to accept that I have to take pills—several of them—just to be normal. In the beginning I really resented this and fought it tooth and nails. But then, I’m still having trouble accepting the fact that I am, and will always be “mentally ill”, though there are nice periods of stability in between episodes when I’m not sick at all. It’s a great feeling to not be actively battling the disorder…..Big Ugly, as I call it, and I have simply called a truce.

And it’s times like this that I find myself absurdly grateful for the handful of sanity I gulp down every morning and night. I’m grateful for the scientists who invented them, the wise physician who prescribes them for me, and the fact that they pretty much keep me from hunting for the snub-nosed .38 I asked my husband to hide from me during my last bout with suicidal ideation.

I’ll talk more about my love/hate relationship with bipolar medications some other time, but right now, it’s time for my ‘nightcap’ of Lamictal, Geodon, and Klonopin. Sweet dreams!

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