Sunday, May 31, 2015

"I Feel Fine!"

When you first begin taking medication for bipolar disorder, people will tell you a lot of things. They will tell you that you might start to feel like a guinea pig or a lab rat, constantly being experimented on with different dosages and different medications and combinations of medications. They will tell you that the side effects can be pretty severe, but that you can mitigate these with further treatments. They will tell you that at some point you will start to feel better, and will be tempted to go off the medication, but that you must never ever do so without first consulting your doctor.

What they don't say about this last bit is that it's not merely temptation. It's not as simple as feeling fine and thinking you probably don't need the meds anymore. Your brain may actively fight you on this. It knows all of the rationalizations. It reminds you of how much easier it was to deal with yourself when you knew the rabble-rabble rage and the deathy-deathy despair were right around the corner. And don't you miss the euphoria of a manic episode, when you're fifty feet tall and can repel bullets, and the world-- no, the universe-- exists solely for your pleasure?

You can't be creative unless you feel too much, your brain informs you. Until you are utterly stupefied with emotional overload, you cannot truly create brilliant work. You feel fine, but are you fine? Are you really? Those side effects aren't particularly mitigated, are they? Why, your panic attacks are even more frequent now you've gone on these pills. You only used to have one every few months. Now you have at least three per week, if not more. And you look fat. You're probably gaining weight again.

The meds are not really helping you. It's you doing the things, not the pills. All you have to do is go off them, and keep doing as you're doing, but doing it better because you are yourself. You're not yourself without the mood swings and the destructive behavior. You're not yourself without seventeen elaborate scenarios in your head about how this day will go wrong. You're definitely not yourself without a death fantasy for everything that does go wrong.

You don't need the pills anymore, says your brain. You never needed them in the first place.

These are the lies and half-truths you will tell yourself after a month on crazy pills, and no one ever said a word of warning to me about it. Don't listen to your jerkbrain. Stay on your meds. Adjust them if necessary. Talk to your people. Your people are there to help you, and they want you to be well. Your brain is fighting you because it's terrified. Keep fighting back. Show it that a pill or two isn't going to best you; it's going to better you.

I'm telling you this because I need to be told this. Maybe you do, too. Maybe when it gets to that dark place, we can tell each other.

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