Me, You, And My Medication….
I slammed my bedroom door shut and pounded my firsts into my thighs repeatedly. Till finally my legs went numb and some sort of calm had come over me. I was 7 years old and had no idea this would be the first of many outbursts I would have before finally getting a diagnosis at age 27.
I have never been able to control my emotions; I have always struggled with extreme highs and lows my entire life. My depression was a huge part in both my divorces. I had to be medicated throughout pregnancy and post-partum with all three of my children. I spent years of my life in therapy chairs looking for answers. It was blamed on my mother abandoning me at an early age, being molested, and divorce trauma. But I knew deep down something more was at play. It wasn’t until I met a doctor at age 27, I finally had answer.
Such a scary word to hear. I sat numb in the doctor’s office for awhile before finally asking.. Will I have to take medicine forever? The doctor smiled weakly and said its recommended you stay on medication. I spent 6 months working with my doctor to find the perfect dose and perfect medicine to stabilize me and it was exhausting, I never thought I was going to feel a normal for myself and that’s all I wanted was a sense of normal. Bipolar explained a lot of my behavior but it didn’t excuse any of it. I made serious mistakes in my bipolar episodes I couldn’t just write off because I had a diagnosis. I had to learn how to live my life on medication and navigate the world. I ruined a lot of relationships during my bipolar episodes including an engagement to what I believe was the love of my life.
How could I fix that? How do I start over fresh?
I reached out. I reached out to family, I reached out to friends, I even reached out to my ex fiancé in hopes of making amends for what I done unmedicated. I had to learn it was okay to accept my mistakes and those around me forgave me for my behavior. Oddly enough my Dad told me he suspected all along I was bipolar. It was about learning a new life balanced out by an anti-psychotic. I take three medications now once daily for my bipolar, one once daily for anxiety and one I take as needed up to three times a day for my anxiety and they both help along with my monthly sometimes bi-weekly therapy sessions. There may come a day where I can overcome my anxiety but there’s not going to come a day where I don’t deal with my bipolar, and I’m learning to be okay with that.
There are times I miss being off my medication. The days I would feel high, on top of the world and get so much accomplished were amazing. I once redid an entire bathroom on one of my “good days”. But the lows were incredibly painful. I would go days without running a brush through my hair or even showering because I was so depressed. Being on medication has made me successful, I firmly believe I have gotten so far ahead in life being stabilized with medications. I may not experience the highs, but I no longer suffer the extreme lows.
I feel normal and that’s something I never thought I would say. I feel like I can accomplish things. I have learned to manage my emotions and control them better. I’ve been promoted at my job and I’m successful and I never though that would be possible unmedicated. I’ve learned that there’s no harm in being honest when you’re struggling with mental illness there’s a whole community out there of people who are ready and willing to be there for you, including me.
I’m not an addict but addiction has changed me.
I worked hard, as my parents did, and earned my way to my independence as a young adult. By the time I was 26, I purchased my own home, had a new car in the driveway, my bills were paid. I was gainfully employed and was well respected in my career. I did not live a life of luxury but I did not want for anything either. I had accomplished some goals in my life sooner than others and I was confident in my abilities. I was happy.
I grew up in a structured family environment, full of love and support. I was a successful adult, still, I found that I was ill prepared for some of what life had in store for me, most of which revolved around my failed relationships; more specifically, conflicts within those relationships. There was never any conflict in my childhood home – NONE. I never saw my parents fight. I only saw respect and honor and dignity.
After I married and began my own family, I would soon find out, however, that I had absolutely no idea how to deal with conflict. Furthermore, I had not the first notion about addiction and its cunning ability to destroy whatever it touched.
Addiction stole my independence in the physical form of my home, my car, my job, my financial freedom, and so much more. And it momentarily buried the strong, driven woman my parents did such a fine job creating. Addiction affected my life by kicking the door in like a thief in the night, pillaging everything sacred inside me, cheating me out of my peace of mind and my ability to trust.
One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou; “I may be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” I tell myself that everyday. Where my self-esteem had dropped drastically in my marriage, I have been able to rebuild that self-image since my separation. Though I may seem hard to some now, those that know me well, and the home from which I came, can see beyond my protective layers. I am happy again and impervious to projections. That strength and purpose in character coupled with my unconditional love is what my daughter will benefit from most.
Addiction holds no bias. It knows no boundaries. It affects all races, classes, sexes, ages, sexual preferences, religious preferences, and so on. Addiction, at its best, will destroy families, jobs, incomes, and the physical and mental health of both the addict and that of their loved ones. At its worst, addiction is fatal. At its best, it destroys.
Addiction is a very real societal issue that requires understanding, consistency, and perseverance through the face of some individuals’ worst evils. It must be recognized and treated as such with as-necessary intervention and medical supervision.
But if you ask me how to treat addiction, you have to treat its root cause. No, I’m not an addict, but addiction has changed me.
Mental health matters.