Medication: Lessons lived and learned

Yesterday, as part of the Zero-to-Hero 30 day challenge, we were asked to comment on other bloggers posts. I found a great new-to-me blog named Shep’s Mental Universe and commented on the post, “Things can only get better”. There was one paragraph that made me think of my own experiences:

“If I learnt anything from that day at the hospital, it was that I can’t cope without my meds, which brought up its own issues. I always feel like I’m a failure because I need meds to function. I don’t feel like that when other people tell me they need meds, but I beat myself up for it.”

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I think most people with a mental illness, at one time or another, get tired of their medication for whatever reason and attempt to stop taking it. I’ve lost count of the number of times I quit taking my pills without a doctor’s consent.


One of the recent times I tried was when I was moving from the States to Paradise, about 2 years ago. I’d met a wonderful woman over the internet, and I was moving to marry her and settle down in Paradise. I was in a good place in my life. I wasn’t depressed, in fact, I was happy to be changing my life for the better. I remember I only took one month’s worth of medication with me, because I planned to quit all of my medication when it ran out.

You see, I had been alone with my condition for 6 years after my first wife kicked me to the curb. To say those years were difficult is an understatement. But when I met F I knew my life was changing for the better. We talked and video-chatted for about 8 months before I picked up my life and moved to a place I didn’t know. I was making a new chapter in my life, and medication had no part in it. I was going to survive on love.

After I ran out of pills, I was excited to finally live my life without the medication monkey on my back. The previous month had been many moments of blissful happiness and I couldn’t wait to see what my life would be like when I wasn’t fighting side-effects from my meds. The time came for me to quit and I remember looking at myself in the mirror with a smile on my face, liking this new person I had become.

It took a week of battling withdrawals before I finally crashed.

I remember waking up one day and not being able to get out of bed. My will had left me and no amount of effort was going to pry me out from underneath those blankets. I was hopelessly depressed, and anxiety was gibbering in my head, mangling my thought processes. Days without an anti-psychotic had left me with voices in my head and racing thoughts. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get my mind and body under control.

My wife had never experienced anything like this before, and she didn’t know what to do. The next couple of days she watched me tossing and turning in bed, hoping that my mental fever would break, and I would be the person she married again. She wasn’t prepared to deal with a situation like this and finally talked with my parents in the States about what was going on. My parents had been through this before with me, so they knew I needed to contact a doctor and get back on my medications as soon as possible. F finally found a doctor a few days later and she somehow got me out of bed to my appointment.

It didn’t take the doctor very long to decide what to do with me. I thought for sure I had earned myself another hospital stay, but she just prescribed me my meds and sent me home to get better. There is no health insurance in Paradise, so I had to pay for my pills and it took a substantial bite out of my budget. But there was nothing else I could do, I needed those pills.

After a few days, I started to feel better. I had weathered the storm. My wife was relieved to see me get out of bed to eat, something I hadn’t done since I hit rock-bottom. I was still depressed, in part because I knew I would have to pay the money every month to buy my medications. It was hard to admit I had failed. I had to realize that I would probably be on medication for the rest of my life. I thought I could close the chapter of my life where I was mentally ill and live in happiness like a “normal” person.

I quit taking my medication two more times in the last two years, mostly because they cost too much and I didn’t have the money to buy them. Both cases ended in disaster. Deep down I knew they would.

After living through these episodes, my wife has learned a lot more about me that I never told her in our pre-marriage chat sessions. She has become my rock to lean on in times of distress. But, I don’t think she ever envisioned herself in this position. I think she saw a different life for herself. In some ways we have become closer, in others, very far apart. I love my wife very much and I hope she is able to come to terms with her feelings and continue to be strong for not just me, but for her.

Have you ever stopped taking your medication? Please leave a comment and tell me your story, I would love to hear it.


15 thoughts on “Medication: Lessons lived and learned

  1. Wow, what you’ve written rings home so true to me. I’m currently in your situation. My boyfriend lives in the States and I live in the UK, we also met on the internet we do the same things you did, video chatting etc. In a way, I wish I could survive on love, that it would be enough to kick me from whatever this head thing is, because this relationship is everything I’ve ever wanted. I worry about the fact this – my mental state – isn’t what he signed up for, and what if I get real sick someday? I know though, that these negative thoughts aren’t my own, but it doesn’t stop me feeling that way.

    Relating to your question, I have, in the past played with my meds. Not taking them causes manic type symptoms, and I don’t sleep, so I haven’t taken them on purpose to make me more alert. Then a day later I feel like absolute crap with withdrawal. I haven’t done that for a long time, but there are times when the side effects are so horribly frustrating. Zombie brain I call it, sat there every morning waiting to “wake up” which sometimes doesn’t even happen. I can’t use my brain like I once did, it used to be super powerful at learning – I’ve studied physics, now I’m forgetful and struggle to concentrate and equations seem like a different language to me. I guess like I said in that post though, that I’ve learnt that I can’t deal with the me without meds, but I don’t blame anyone for getting frustrated with the side effects from time to time.

    • Thank you for the visit and comment, and thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me.

      I was afraid when my wife and I were dating to tell her too much about my condition, and it really backfired on me, so if I could give you some advice, be honest with your boyfriend. It will only help you in the long run.

      “Zombie brain”? I like that.

      See you around!

  2. I actually just stopped taking my medication for the first time after being on meds for about a year. I haven’t experienced any withdrawls it doesn’t seem like, and I actually think I feel a little bit LESS depressed than when I was on the meds. I think I am going to wait a while and see what happens before I make another appointment.

      • I’m so sorry Schizo. I know what that feels like to go off meds and not be under medical supervision. It’s so dangerous. It’s so unfortunate that you live in a place where you can’t get the medical care / meds you need. Trying to “manage” on your own, as I found, can be life threatening. I hope you can find the help you need. I feel helpless wishing I could help.

  3. Not a very funny or light story, but I was laughing as I read – thinking of the times that I decided that I was better and didn’t need medication any more! Doctor’s may be annoying but they probably (hopefully) know what they are doing!!!

    I can also totally relate to the worry of having to pay for medication, it’s not much in the UK but enough to enter me into a vicous circle!

    Best of luck!

    • It happens so often to people like us, I knew it would strike a cord. It’s okay to laugh, not the emotion I was going for, but I am glad I entertained you.

      By the way, I read your blog every time you post. I haven’t had time to dig in the archives, but I will one day.

      Thanks for coming by! Happy blogging!

      • Thanks for reading, just working my way through some of your archives (work is slow so it is a welcome distraction!) Loving your stuff!

        Thanks and happy blogging to you to (there should be a card for this!)

  4. This cracked me up: “I was going to survive on love.”
    Ha! I love that.

    Yeah, been there, done that, got the tee shirt! Just as you’re tight lipped about your Paradise (understandably), I’m tight-lipped about my “self-medicating regimen”. I haven’t done the doctor/therapist/med thing in years now and I’ve never been better. Of course, that didn’t come without extensive research and a handful of trials and errors, but finally, I’ve found what works for me. Medication is medication- no matter the type or source. We have to find what works for us! I bet we could go neck to neck with the meds that we’ve been prescribed over the years though. I’ll start. Here’s just a few: Ambien (love my Ambien), Ativan, Depakote, Geodon, Klonopin, Risperdal (worst medication ever), Seroquel, Thorazine (yeah! wasn’t THAT one fun?). Notice it’s alphabetized. ;0) There were lots more but I can’t list them all- shoot. I’m supposed to be reading and studying my schoolwork.

    But back to the meds. I now take [insert controversial, all natural homeopathic cure-all] once per day and I’m good. Everything else I do and take is equally healthy: green tea, cayenne pepper, vitamins- and I rarely drink. I became my own therapist, doctor, and guinea pig-patient. It worked!

    I hope that they’ve been able to find an effective and successful combination for you. I remember the awful feeling of “having to take my meds” simply “to exist”, and what a burden it can be, but hey, stick with the program that works for you, you know? Whatever that may be.

    You’re a great writer, by the way. :0)
    Back to my [Netflix Donald Trump video] schoolwork!
    Have a good one. ;0)

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