Life Sentence

Sometimes it’s hard being a person who hates spending large amounts of money on necessities (means there’s less folding green to go shopping with 😦 ). I just left my friendly neighborhood pharmacy almost $200 poorer than when I went in, and that was for only two meds. I take a total of twelve prescription medications, plus a couple of PRNs and a few assorted supplements…..and not to put too fine a point on things, but my financial situation sucks right now. Thank you, Big Pharma.

I didn’t sign on for this. Then again, I didn’t ask for high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma either, but I’ve got ’em, and if I don’t take care of myself I’m gonna be driving a pine box home sooner than I’d prefer. So I shell out the cash every month and heave a big sigh, knowing I have no other choice because a) I’m currently without health insurance and b) I’m kind of dependent on these substances to live.

It used to make me so angry, having to take “drugs” to achieve normality. Not so much with the blood-pressure and diabetes medications because everybody in my family had hypertension, and my diabetes is so well controlled I could probably go off the metformin and my pancreas would never even notice. But I began hating psych meds with that first antidepressant I tried—it pissed me off that I needed medicine to feel even remotely like a functional human being, and the minute I was better I’d stop taking it.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have the foggiest notion of what I was setting myself up for. The on-again, off-again manner in which I used antidepressants was foolish, and of course I know now that I should never have been taking them without a mood stabilizer. But all I knew then was that they always pooped out after a year or so, and they made me alternately nutty or emotionally flattened. That should’ve been my first clue that all was not well, but since I have to learn absolutely everything the hard way, this lesson was no exception.

Now when I glance at the pills in my hand, I’m reminded yet again of the permanence of it all. I may be able to come off the diabetes pill soon, and maybe even some of the blood-pressure meds if I can continue to lose weight and keep my stress at manageable levels. But bipolar doesn’t care if I’m fat or thin, happy or sad—it’s always going to be there, and so will the need for meds to control it. A life sentence, as it were.

It’s still rather hard to imagine. I’m 54; though the odds are against it, I could live another thirty or forty years and still have to consume this chemical stew everyday. What a contrast with the various other ailments to which I’m prone: I catch a cold, get bronchitis or pneumonia, take medicine, and get well again. Easy-peasy.

But not this time. Not with this illness.

Now I know why I used to go off the antidepressants as soon as I wasn’t depressed anymore: I never saw the point of taking medication when I felt fine. But I’ve learned through bitter experience what happens when I miss even one or two scheduled doses—suddenly I don’t feel fine anymore. Instead I feel off-balance, shaky, and terrified of relapse.

Thus, I no longer have trouble staying on my medications, even when I’m feeling great and all’s right with the world. I feel great because the meds are working. DUH.

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

4 thoughts on “Life Sentence

    1. I also thank the scientists and inventors who put the chemical formulas together and figured out that the resulting substances might help people, and of course the wise physician who prescribes them for me. 🙂


  1. Yeah, I pay an arm and a leg every month for meds: 5 psych, plus for asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, chronic pain and a few for year-long seasonal allergies (oxymoron, I know). Every time I leave the pharmacy I can’t believe how much of my paycheck goes to better living through chemistry. My psych meds get tweaked every month too, and I’ve got my dr trained to write the scrip so that I only have to pay for one med, not multiple ones to make up the dose I need. I Hate Being On Meds. But I won’t go off them!


    1. Me neither!! All it takes to keep me compliant with my regimen is to remember what life was like before I started taking meds. Thank you for your comments. 🙂


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