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.