Why I don’t want to take my bipolar meds, and why I do anyway

I’m seeking treatment for the first time since 2012, and I usually hate it.

Photo by Hannah Gullixson on Unsplash

From 2010 to 2012, I tried my fair share of psychiatric medications

Lithium. Depakote.

Xanax. Klonopin.

Abilify. Zyprexa. Haldol. Seroqul. Risperdal.

Prozac. Celexa.

One after another, they either failed to offer stability or caused side effects I couldn’t manage. Though, admittedly, I was drinking a lot, keeping inconsistent sleeping habits, and eating very little.

It’s hard to care for yourself when you know people are watching you at the library, and you’ll certainly float away if you don’t sit on your hands.

I spent 8 years certain I just suffer from seasonal depression. And I fought a hard fight. Crystals, oils, yoga, meditation, a good diet, obsessive routines, journaling, supplements, etc. etc. Unsurprisingly, nothing worked. Not long-term anyways.

Now, in 2021, I’m back on meds. And I don’t like it.

Currently, I’m on 250 mg of Lamictal. I don’t know if it’s doing anything. I’m still cycling. This past week I have 3 nights of no sleep, sold my apple products to buy android replacements, and drank more than I usually do in 3 months.

Nonetheless, I revolt against the medications constantly.

I’m often convinced that I’m not sick.

This sentiment is pretty common in Bipolar people who’re stable. But I feel this way regardless of my current episode. I’m not experiencing bipolar depression, I’m tired and overthinking. Sewing would fix me once I have the energy.

I’m not manic. I’m just happy and free and the medical community is conspiring me to affect public opinion and get me drugged up on expensive antipsychotics. Or to dulled my superior intellect and ability to “see beyond the veil.” Hello.

I’m healthily happy and it’s because I’m not actively trying to make myself sick.

Medicating mania feels like subduing a God

This one bounced around in my brain last night as I made tortellini soup, cinnamon donut muffins, and apple cobbler. I peeled and diced apples. I measured flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I ran my stand mixer through every speed level and dutifully scraped the sides of the bowl.

Mostly to take my mind off my desire to drink and the lack of alcohol in the house.

I thought about how my “running at full capacity” makes my husband’s best look like child’s play. Come spring, this may kick into overdrive. As the sun returns, so do my powers. I become a worshipper of the glory of mother nature and all that she provides. The sun speaks to me. It shines on me through the windows and makes me feel special because I am special.

The bees in my brain will busily buzz and remind me. They’ll whisper, “your mania is a superpower, and the imminent crash is only meant to allow you to rest up and regain your strength.”

And I’ll think of flushing my meds. I’ve been there in the past week, during a surprisingly mild episode. My husband will ask if I’ve taken my medication. I’ll contemplate lying. I might flush them to make the numbers make sense.

The thought of stability sounds boring.

Well, this one feels generic, but it’s true. I tend to associate stability with a dull, directionless existance. I associate passion, drive, motivation with a heightened state of living. Lithium would steal that, right? Antipsychotics are expensive pill that does the same thing, right?

In fact, I wrote the following quote on a day when I FELT stable, but clearly wasn’t:

I’m feeling a longing and a loss. I’m missing something that I’ve only just, willingly, abandoned.

With every dose of Vraylar, I separate myself from who I am. With every dose of Lamictal, I build a brick between myself and the world. With every dose of Trazadone, I push away my creativity and drive.

I believe I’m wrapping my head around the unimaginable emptiness of being treated. I’m letting them snip my wings and I subject myself to this torture every morning.

I have, within me, an incredible capacity. I am able to fly high into the glorious blue sky. I soar past the clouds. I absorb the power and the destruction of the sun. The warmth that comforts life. I radiate joy and passion. But with the promise that, without gentle tending, I can burn down swathes of land leaving a trail of devastation behind me.

Clearly, unstable me is sometimes terrified by the idea of stability.

Why I take the meds anyway

There are really only two reasons that compel me: my kids and husband.

If I was single and childless I would lean into my episodes. I’d never leave bed during the depression. I’d let empty mugs and dirty plates surround me. My laundry would pile up and my hair would become a rat’s nest.

During mania, I would lean into the destructive impulses. I’d get blackout drunk as often as possible. I’d chain-smoke, blow my money, and dig myself into a hole of debt.

Fortunately, every decision I make impacts someone I love far too much.

I watched my own unmedicated mom fall apart.

When I was 7, my mom battled her own manic episode with a total psychotic break. She kidnapped me. She was arrested and I was taken to a foster home while my dad petitioned the court to release us into his custody.

I watched her cheat on my dad. Talk about the hell hounds. Tell me I had the eyes of the devil. Physically attack my dad. Hurl a chunk of concrete at the windshield of the van I was in.

I love my mom, but she was ill and she should have gotten help.

Deep down, I believe she loved me. But the truth is that she hurt me a lot. There are times when I think she hated me. Perhaps I was the only thing keeping her from giving up. I was her cage.

But if she loved me as I think she did, she didn’t want to do the things she did. This begs the question, could I hurt my husband and kids the way she hurt me? Could I “snap”, as she described it? Could I traumatize my kids?

Am I already toeing the line?

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