It's been a while since I posted an entry to this blog and to be honest, if it weren't for my friend Carol encouraging me to continue, I was seriously thinking about giving it up.
Why? Because there's something in me that says it's not all that healthy to write constantly about your illness. This could be interpreted two ways: First, as avoidance or second, as a sign of health. After all, if you're really mentally healthy, why would you want to keep dredging up the subject?
It would seem that a number of people have benefited by my discussion. And maybe I've benefited, too. So I'll keep writing, when the spirit moves me. It may not be on a regular basis but if nothing else, people use the links.
One of the last comments asked a few pertinent questions that I'll try to answer:
Mar tell us what it feels like when you take your meds. Does it makes you feel sedated? antsy? Why is it so common to stop taking them when a person does so much better on them. How long after you stop taking them do you begin to once again slip back into manic or depression. If you had a teenager would you sit on top of them until they took their medication for the day? Will you listen to someone telling you that you're not on your meds, or do you resent someone trying to direct your?
When I take the right combination of medication, I feel OK. When I went back on medication more than a year ago, it was a bitch. I had terrible tremors, I would fall asleep at any time, which made driving very dicey, and I couldn't focus on my work at all. It took a bit of doing and adjusting but now I'm fine. The anxiety is gone, the depression and mania are kept at bay, and I can still write, knit, spin, whatever.
People generally stop taking medication because they feel good. Duh. It's the medication that makes it so. I stopped my medication only once, in June of 2001. And it was not because I really wanted to or felt that I was "cured." It was a financial decision. My psychiatrist no longer took insurance at all, so I had to leave her. I couldn't afford the $180 a session. My primary care physician refused to continue my medication. So I went off meds. And stayed off for more than three years. During that time, my husband became ill and died, leaving me with no money and a big mortgage. I had to sell the house we built together and move. And still, I managed to stay balanced. I have no idea how.
However, in November of 2004, I again became extremely dysphoric, as is my tendency at this time in my life. Bad crying jags, extreme irritiblity accompanied by anxiety. It's sometimes hard to differentiate between dysphoria, a type of mania, and depression. However, with a true depression, it's very difficult to do anything. With dysphoria, you can still function, get up, go to work and so on. So back I went on meds. I was fortunate to find out that UMDNJ had a center not too far from my work that would take insurance. I didn't need anyone to tell me I needed to go back on meds. I know that better than anyone else.
Slipping back into depression or mania or both happen quickly or, in my case, slowly. It's a crapshoot. Everyone's different. The thing is, you are playing Russian Roulette if you go off your medication. Sure, you might not feel anything right away. But depression and mania are insidious and they can sneak up on ya before you know it.
As far as kids taking their meds, that's one I've never had to deal with. I think that rather than making medication a point of contention, I would work with my child so that they understood exactly how important medication is. And that's not easy either, especially with teenagers. The bottom line: You can't force anyone to take anything, be they adults or teenagers. It has to come from within. And if you force the issue, it becomes worse. Bipolar children are a special case, one that warrants specialized handling.
I do listen if someone says I need to be back on meds. Actually, I know it before it's apparent to my family. In fact, generally they don't have a clue because I tend to keep my behavior steady in public. It's in private that I don't do too well.
I think it's a good thing to feel someone out before suggesting that they need medication. Rather than say, "You need some drugs, your behavior is ridiculous," I think a better approach would be "Don't you think you'd feel better if you saw the doctor and see what s/he can do for you?" People with mental illness respond badly to demands, especially manic depressives.
However, everyone responds to love and caring. No matter how off the wall they are.