Sometimes, I don’t want to take my medicine.
Day in and day out, I take my pills. Five pills in the morning and one at night to help me manage my bipolar and anxiety disorders. It’s a routine I have had for years. The medications have changed, developed, and settled into their current concoction, but the action has been the same. I take my pills every day.
Sometimes, though, I don’t want to. In fact, there is a part of me that never wants to take my medicine. There is a part of me that fights against it, argues about it, and is stubborn in its persistence. I don’t want to take this hand full of drugs that mess with my serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine.
But why? Why would part of my broken brain not want what seems to be making it better?
Here’s the thing, that part of me that doesn’t want to take the drugs is convinced that maybe I’m not really sick. It is a constant thought in my messed up head. Maybe I don’t really have bipolar. Maybe my anxiety disorder is just me not wanting to deal with life. Maybe I’m just making it all up and I’m really “normal”. Maybe I’m not crazy after all.
It’s an attractive thought. It would be nice to not have to live with the reality of mental illness, the panic attacks, the mania, the depression. It would be nice to hold down a decent 40 hours a week job. It would be nice to not feel my emotions without them overwhelming me. There is a real attraction to the thought that I’m just making this all up.
Somedays that lie is believable. I mean I’m not having manic episodes, I’m don’t struggle with psychosis, and there haven’t been any dips into the abyss of depression in a while. In short, my symptoms are well managed right now. Because my symptoms are under control for the time being, it is easy to begin to convince myself that I’m really not sick, that I don’t need my medications.
But, I know that’s a lie. I’m only okay because of the drugs. The fact that I’m not experiencing many symptoms of my illness is because I am receiving the right treatment, and a large part of that treatment for me is medication. It’s good that I’m not having panic attacks. It’s good that I’m not oscillating between dangerous mania and devastating depression. It’s good that my symptoms are in check, and it’s because I take my medicine every day.
So, I have learned to combat that part of me that wants to lie and say I don’t need my medicine. I combat it with the memories of the days spent cowering from the world because of depression, memories of the agitation and panic of anxiety attacks, memories of the irrational anger and unbalanced feelings of mania. I remember these things, and they keep me grounded in the fact that I am in need of my treatment, in need of my medicine. I have learned to combat the lies that I am just making up these disorders, the lies that I’m really okay without the drugs, the lies that I can stop taking my medicine.
There is another thing I have to fight, though. That part of me that doesn’t want to take the medicine remembers vividly the euphoria of mania.
Mania is a dangerous thing because it feels so good. Full of energy, mind sharp and quick, needing only minimal sleep if any. My emotions were up, optimistic, full of life and hope. For a creative type like me, mania meant writing. Words came and went, sometimes faster than I could capture them. This was my sweet spot. Who wouldn’t want this? I mean Mania feels like your best day ever. You feel like you can do anything, like the world belongs to you.
At least, that’s how it felt.
The reality of mania is far different than the euphoria the one going through the manic episode feels. Mania is marked by bouts of irritability and anger. It impairs judgment, causing the person to make choices that are harmful to themselves and to the people around them. If someone goes too far into mania, psychosis is inevitable. Mania is a destructive fire, no matter how good it feels.
I won’t lie to you. There is a part of me that doesn’t care about the trouble, problems, and destruction mania brings about. I just want that feeling again. I want to feel that high, that euphoric, that good. Part of what my medications do is keep my emotions regulated within a normal, healthy range. They keep me from going too far up or down. I know that without them I would swerve into manic episodes.
I would also crash into depression. There is nothing quite like being on top of the world one day and then falling so far into a depressive episode that you can’t get out of bed the next. With the highs of mania come the lows of depression. My medications prevent that. Still, part of my brain craves the cycles, the greatness of mania and yes even the crushing defeat of depression.
My brain is broken.
This part of me that wants me to stop taking my pills, I don’t know if it will always be with me or not. I don’t know if my counseling can get rid of that nagging voice and lingering thoughts. I do know that I know how to fight that voice. I know how to rationalize away the feeling of desiring the mania. I know how to logically tell myself that the pills are working which is why I’m not having symptoms. I know how to speak to myself with truthful words. And I know how to listen to those words, to that truth.
So, every day I take my medicine. I will continue this as long as I need to, which is probably going to be my lifetime. This is something I need for health, wellness, and wholeness. I need drugs to help out this broken brain. No matter what that voice of destruction and lies tells me, I am going to choose to take my medicine like a prayer each day.