This is the second of 2 parts for this particular piece. I know there’s alot here but for the people who are dealing with loved ones with bi-polar understanding the battle to stay medicated is one of the toughest ones to face. Part 1 can be found here
Run-of-the-mill SSRI. I did some quick research, and knew it would take a few weeks to become completely affective, and was ware of the side affects. 2 months later and a quick check with the Doc and it all seemed to be working as expected except for a few minor dosage adjustments.
And so it continued for about 2 years. I’ve been asked numerous times by every single doctor, social worker, case worker, and therapist to try and pinpoint when the changes really began to happen. I can’t really do that. A good portion of those with bi-polar can’t. Here’s why. (And this will explain why I felt it important to describe my previous energy and extroverted nature a few paragraphs above.) For some many people with bi-polar they are misdiagnosed for months and many times, as in my case, years. I went to the doctor and told them about my depressions and my anxiety. I didn’t tell them about the mania that I had started experiencing around that same time. Why on god’s green earth would I? The manias were what I lived for. The energy, the excitement, the creativity. It was all so amazing. It was all so beautiful and right and things seemed perfect in the world at that time. And if they weren’t perfect, I felt like I had to ability to make them so. So I never complained to my doctor about it. It never even occurred to me that it could be an indicator of something larger gone awry.
It changed me. It changed everything. I was different to my friends and in social settings. They didn’t quite seem to know how they were supposed to interact with me anymore. My role in the group no longer fit my characteristics. As people began to treat me differently I started to notice that I no longer knew how to maneuver with my newly calibrated brain chemistry. It was like reliving every awkward, coming-of-age experience you had growing up where you had to fumble your way through, feeling lost and humiliated. Only this time my hands were tied. I had always been the out going one. I was the funny, fat girl. I had my role. I wasn’t that anymore. While logically I could look back at the depressive episodes and know how dismal and horrid that place was that they took me, I still missed the person I once was.
The loss of that person that you once knew creates a grief that is indescribable. I cannot think of a more complex concept than to mourn the loss of yourself. At this point, every coping skill that you have learned up until this point in your life has been altered and the environment that you are trying to learn this new skill set in has also been altered and you are thrown blindfolded into the deep end. While, everyone who has been watching your spiral is cheering saying that this is the break you have been looking for in life. How the hell is this a break?
Learning these new techniques and skills are not a quick process. They take time and adjustment, and pain and work. These are all things that human nature will tell you to try to avoid if there is an alternate means available. Then it occurs to you. There is. Stop taking the meds. You’ve had sometime on them, you’ve reflected on what your poor decisions were and where you need to make changes and you can do that now without the meds. You’ll go back to having all of the benefits without all the risks and fears and complications. It was a great break for you to take and get yourself recentered, but now that’s all done.
You do that. You stop. It’s your body and your life so it’s your decision. Then it doesn’t take long, I can’t say exactly how long, but not long, and the old patterns start to show again. At first your theory holds true, you can use your new knowledge to control things. Gradually the escalation begins. Now you’re back to the place of agony once again. You’ve broken promises, or ruined business deals. You’ve betrayed friendships or emptied every bank account you had access to. Standing there you can see it all. It’s all in fragments right now but it’s there. Pieces from every important thing in your life and they are all damaged by you. Your life has once again collided with that of those you love and they are still left asking why you wouldn’t just get help. Why couldn’t you just stay on the meds. Was is really that hard?