Or not to medicate?
That is the question.
I was diagnosed with Bi-polar II Disorder about a year ago. In the several years leading up to my diagnosis, I had a self-inflicted injury addiction, and had very rapid and volatile mood swings, suicide attempts, and general not-healthy behaviors. I sought help though life coaching, then therapy, and finally I turned to medication. I was put on a low dose of Abilify first. This seemed to make my energy level rise, which was good, but my manic periods became more frequent/intense, so I was switched to Lithium Carbonate. On the Lithium Carbonate, in addition to having some super lame side effects, like the constant gut-wrenching nausea, I was very depressed and low. I thought the two might work together well, so, for a period of around 9-12 months, I took the two, and felt better.
I am currently off both medications, against the advise of my doctor, though I did consult him and express my wish to do so. My motive in this was to settle the nagging questions that had formed in my mind - Did I really need medication? Is it better feeling like you have to puke for the whole day, than feeling a tad unstable? Was I really that unstable to begin with? Do I want to keep taking 4-6 pills a day, every day of my life? I decided to go a month without medication, and here I am, day 16 and still kicking.
Here is what I have noticed so far…
1. It’s not as scary as I thought it might be. On one hand, I was very optimistic going into this whole endeavor, thinking that I could prove myself strong enough to manage my mind on my own. On the other hand, I was scared to death that some of the awful, terrifying, nightmarish…insane thoughts and feelings that I had experienced in the past might return, or even take over. Both were kind of right, but mostly, it’s not nearly as hard or scary as I thought it might be. *A little background - when I was first taken off Abilify, I was on vacation, so the doctors waited for my return before prescribing the Lithium. That transition off of medication for that short amount of time made my visit to my dear sweet Grandmother’s house kind of crazy for me internally. I was either believing in my ability to do magic (I even thought I might be a witch), or I was contemplating suicide. Kinda spooky. Anyways, my experience now is nothing near as dramatic as that.
2. I am finding myself puzzled by even more questions than I went into this with. Am I doing the right thing? Do I feel better Physically? (As far as the nausea, hell yeah, but the stress on my mind/body threw me into a harsh bout of illnesses, and now my sleeping problems are back. I am ALWAYS TIRED. Some of this fatigue I experienced when I was on the medication, too, however, so it may be another stress reaction.) Do I feel better mentally? (Well, I am definitely more emotional. I can cry pretty easily now, or have my day turn from GREAT to ****** in just a few event changes. I get more stressed out and more anxious, but I can’t help but feeling I am thinking more clearly, and being more present, aware, and alive in the moment.) What on Earth am I going to tell my Doctor next month? Will I even continue this experiment a whole month? Will I continue it further? Until I break down, or something goes horribly wrong? Or did I just need medication to make it though a phase, and now I can be pill-free indefinitely?
3. The final variable that I think I should note is my fiance. He has been so loving and supportive of me, from the moment we met, to the beginnings of our relationship, to my struggle with the medication decision. I have a good relationship with my mom, a decent relationship with the rest of my family and my doctor, some really valuable friends, but he is the core and the foundation of my support system. I worry that maybe now that I am less emotionally “stable” (restricted?) now, I may be adding unnecessary stress and angst to his life, but at the same time, I am assured that our communication can resolve if that is the case or not, or to what extent. When I ask what he thinks about my dilemma, he responds that he just want me to be happy. :) Now if only I knew which road the happiness is on. :P
I sometimes think that maybe now that I have him, and now that I have experienced medication, I am better equipped to manage and handle my bi-polar without chemical assistance. But I am also known for being given to a ho9peless optimism, occasionally, so I’m not sure as to the reality of that logic. On a final note - I know this decision will be hard, which is why I would LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOUR ADVICE SO SO MUCH! I also know, however, that whichever path I choose, both with medication and every decision I make, I am the one in charge of creating my own joy in life. So I think I’ll be okay. :)
Since writing this post r.thegrea may have helped people, but has not within the last 4 days. r.thegrea is a verified member, has been around for 2 years, 9 months and has 5 posts and 21 replies to their name.
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