Daily Life, Hope, Motherhood

3 small reasons why I stay on my medication

With charming side-effects like weight gain and hair loss, it’s pretty tempting to stop taking my mood-stabilising medication.  Each night, when I pop my pill out of its pack, something within me wants to rebel and throw it down the sink instead.

But I never do – for three small reasons.  As I write this, they’re sleeping in their beds upstairs.

As a mum with young children, I don’t have the luxury of  letting my Bipolar Disorder go unchecked.  While I might quite enjoy the feeling of hypomania – with the surges in creativity and energy and reduced need for sleep – for me this can lead to an acute manic episode, causing heartache and worry for my family.

After experiencing numerous episodes of acute mania  in my 20’s, staying on my medication and having a good relationship with my Psychiatrist means that I have avoided having an acute manic episode for over a decade.

The last time I was severely unwell was after the birth of my firstborn son – with days of insomnia following his birth culminating in me becoming seriously unwell. None of the midwives at my private maternity hospital knew what to do and sent me home.

My son was just six days old and cradled in his Daddy’s arms when l was led out of our house to a Police divvy van waiting outside – the unfortunate mode of transport to psychiatric hospitals for mentally unwell patients in Australia.

I worked hard to become well again after that traumatic episode and never want my now teenage son to witness his mum being taken to hospital again.

When my oldest son started primary school, during a very stressful time, I experienced acute depression for the first time.  I would find myself crying uncontrollably in the car on the way home from work, only to sit staring at my plate unable to speak during our family dinner.  Afterwards, instead of playing with the kids, I would curl up on my bed – while my husband spent hours patiently trying to talk me out of my anxiety.

Weekend were no longer a time for relaxation and fun.  Instead, I would be lost in my own dark world – dreading the thought of leaving the house to go back to work on Monday. Finally, I realised that what was happening wasn’t normal and went to my Psychiatrist for help.

I share this experience because – for me – modern day medicine has been life changing.

My medication may cause me to raid the pantry at night and gain oodles of weight.  It may have lowered my libido and even (one variety) caused my hair to fall out in handfuls.  

But finding the right medication for me – and staying on it – has also enabled me to live a full, happy life with my family. It meant that I could confidently go on to have two more wonderful children, even after the trauma following my eldest son’s birth.

It has given me the ability to live out my calling, working in the international aid sector.

And – as my husband has just kindly pointed out to me – being stable on my medication has also meant that he and my  family no longer have to tiptoe around my fluctuating moods, living in fear of another episode of depression or mania.

So when I hold that small yellow pill in the palm of my hand each night, I don’t throw it down the drain and hope for the best.

I take it as prescribed, in order to give my children and my family the best of me.

Mariska xx

2 thoughts on “3 small reasons why I stay on my medication”

  1. Beautiful post, Mariska! I couldn’t agree with you more on this. Tweeted it, of course!

    I hated meds for so long that I finally did a TON of research about living a stable life without bipolar meds. I spoke to many anti-med “experts” as well as some anti-med doctors with international reputations who also had bipolar disorder and led stable lives. “If they can do it, I have a chance” I thought. (I’ve read of one statistic that claimed that 10-15% of those with bipolar could be md-free but I forget where I saw that, or if it was even remotely credible.)

    I tapered slowly off my meds over six months….yes, months…we used a special scale that my scientist husband helped me use so that I could decrease the med dosage in minute amounts, in gelatin capsules, and before I was even completely off them, I relapsed.

    I almost died from bipolar mania/depression/suicidal ideation as a result of that choice.

    Sooooooo…when I look at the pills I take three times a day without fail, I am grateful to them. They have given me back my life. The side effects are livable. While I lost a little hair, I still have lots on my head. While my hands shake a bit sometimes, they shook before. I’m not a brain surgeon or a violinist like my Dad was. (he too had bipolar one and took lithium so of course that was a real problem.)

    I realize some people have far worse side effects (I’ve had those too on other meds, including becoming suicidal and needing immediate hospitalization) so I don’t mean to make light of anything here. But I don’t regard the pills as the enemy like I used to do. I am so glad to read this post and I hope all your followers read it and share! :)))))

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