For many of us in the mental health community, medication compliance is a real issue. I’ve heard in recent days from different sources that some people have no problem taking their medication at the same time every day, not miss, and are very strict about their regime; that there are people (like me) who basically take their meds at the same time every day, yet miss occasionally and still keep to their regime; people who know they have to take their medication but tend to forget to do it unless reminded; people who know they have to take their medication but hate it, sometimes having to be forced to take it; those people who don’t necessarily know that they have to take medication but understand why when given it; ones to don’t know why they have to take medication and don’t know why when given it; the people who refuse medication because it changes them; people who refuse medication because they don’t believe they are sick. The range is stunning. And of course, those who stop taking meds because they are “better.”
It took me years to get where I am with my medication. Firstly, I didn’t think it was necessary. Then I thought it wasn’t working. Then there was the time that I was given the wrong medication. The time when I took myself off meds, flew into a mania, stopped going to one of my jobs, and spent all of my money on drugs. When I was under-medicated. When I was over-medicated. I could go on.
I’ve been with my current psychiatrist for almost 6 years now. We saw each other after lithium toxicity put me in the hospital for almost 2 weeks. 2 weeks that I don’t remember. In these 6 years, I’ve been on so many different medications than I can count, trying to find the right balance for my own specific needs. Each visit gets better. For awhile there were no changes (this was recent). My last visit 2 weeks ago I had to have a dose of one of my pills added at night to prevent very distressing symptoms which I lovingly called “crazy brain.” It’s helped tremendously, and I’m calling him back up tomorrow to get it changed to a higher dose to correct it completely (he told me I might need a higher dose because of what was happening to me and to try it if I didn’t think the smaller dose was doing it. He was right.).
Anyway, the basis of this is that other than those who can’t be convinced that they’re even sick, medication is a terrible game of ups and downs until you can find a balance where you feel “normal” (whatever that is… there’s a different normal for all of us, I suppose). I often don’t talk about meds I’m on necessarily unless someone else divulges or someone is taking one of the same meds I take. Mostly this is because the amount of medication I’m on. There are times, of course, when ignorant people tell me I’m being lazy by not going to work or that I can’t possibly have the disorder I “claim” to have. Those times I want to throw my pill box at them and tell them how many meds I take, what each one of them is for… that there are TWO anti-psychotics, one which has an extended release and a standard release and that I take both. Where I want to scream and tell these people that I wouldn’t take all this shit unless I HAD to. It’s very frustrating.
So for those still in the dance (I’m still on the dance floor, just standing a little stiller) of medication trials, I want to say there is hope. There are medications out there for you. Don’t count out adding or switching meds… it might help more than you think. And if you think you’re on too much or that the side effects are too great, tell your doctor. It will get better.