bi-polar, bipolar, health, medicine, mental disease, mental health, mental illness, side effects, truth
I like to complain. I like to feel that there are others out there that can understanding who I am and what I am going through. I don’t complain to be annoying, nor do I complain to find sympathy. I complain because I am desperately looking for that one person who not only will believe me but find a way to know me. And despite the fact that the general consensus is unfavorable towards complaining, I do it for a reason.
I am the first one to admit that there is really only one area in my life in which I can complain. My whole life isn’t a messed series of events that create great despair and hopelessness. And while the area in which I can complain is massive, the real truth is that no one cares beyond the initial moment; people go about their lives no matter what it is that I am complaining about. Every once in awhile I feel a little bad about only complaining, but I have come to recognize that while complaining is my outlet, I don’t need to alleviate the wonderful things I do have in my life. Complaining doesn’t help and nearly every time once the complaint is lodged those surrounding you are done with it.
Let me delve into what I am talking about so you can see it clearly. Most people know that I am bipolar. It is a fact of my life and there isn’t a single drug, or bedtime story, or comforting hug that is going to take that away. It is a disease of ups and downs. It is a disease of incredible pendulum swings. It is a disease that is unpredictable to the point that any activity scheduled beyond the next hour and a half will in some way be a problem for me. It is a disease that I write about in the hopes of not only helping myself but helping others. And it is a disease that no matter what your condition is, you simply can not understand; it changes too much. My parents can not understand, my husband and children can not understand, my doctors can not understand. And while there are many reasons for this, that isn’t the point of today’s writings.
Being mentally ill means that doctors and other medicinal individuals believe completely that there is one drug for every symptom. There is one medicine for every up and one for every down (sometimes two). There is a medicine for every side effect and then there are the medicines for the side effects. Everything has to be under medical care because no one knows what will happen when you aren’t on those medicines. And everyone fears what you will be off those medications. It sort of like people believe that I am a monster that can only be controlled by the strongest of medications. Think about that for a moment; I am a monster in the eyes of society and medicine and I have to be controlled. Imagine someone telling you those words; and then imagine what they feel like.
So I am bipolar and on a ton of medication. Most of the medication is a relatively modest cost so I don’t have the ability to complain about the financial costs. Most of the medication is divided up into nighttime and daytime pills so its pretty easy to sort. And most of the medication is carried by my local drug store so I don’t have to go through a lot of hoops there. I do have to go through hoops when the medicine runs out of refills but that is a whole other complaint and not germane to what I wish to talk about today.
If you have ever taken aspirin, or sinus medication, or even your basic antibody then you know that every pill that you take has side effects. Some of the side effects won’t affect your day to day life. Some of the side effects can be ignored or easily diminished by eating chicken soup. You know before you take these medicines what the side effects most likely are, and you probably make decisions on brand and strength based on the side effects. For instance, in my non-bipolar life I can tell you that Sudafed doesn’t do anything for me at all. I can tell you that Mucinex makes me puke, as does codeine. I know this because I have taken the medicines and had the reactions.
It doesn’t quite work that easily with mental health and the brain. Don’t get me wrong, there are drugs that I know I can’t take: they made me violently manic or the one that had me so nauseous I couldn’t move my head, much less my body, for two weeks. It was weird. So there are some medications that have side effects that are so vicious you can remember not to take them. But the rest of the medication is insidious. There is no clear cut way to know which side effect belongs to which pill. There is no clear way to determine if the drug that I am taking is the best one for me. There is no clear way to determine if I could have a better and healthy life if I took one or two of the pills out of the equation.
It’s important to try and describe to you the side effects I suffer from medications. I typically take seven to ten pills a day. So imagine there is at least two (I am being kind) side effects for each pill. Those side effects include: headaches, horrible tooth and gum problems, constipation, ugly behavior if I dare drink, acne, menstruation issues, weight loss, body temperature annoyances (I am ALWAYS cold), no sexual drive, and so much more. I am a mess; not because of the disease and not because I choose to be so. I am a mess because each part of society has determined that I need all these medications to control the supposed demons that live inside of me.
Not my choice; but I can’t just stop them. It has never been my choice to take medications. Never wanted to and before I had children I could get away with only taking one medicine at a time. I actually have a fantasy of a time when I am done with menopause and there are no children in the house and I can finally stop taking all these drugs. But unlike many drugs there is one especially important thing that must be known: you can’t just stop taking the medicine because you are over it. Trust me, I have tried and the results were messy, complicated, and not a little bit scary. I have children living in my home, therefore, I suck it up and take the drugs.
If I were to stop taking all my medications at once I would fall into a fathomless well of depression. I most likely would be highly suicidal. I would most likely be a slave to those suicidal thoughts until I would need to be watched closely. I would still have all the side effects for weeks and possibly years to continue. I would lose my temper for no reason. I could possibly lose my temper in such a way as to actually hit someone (although I believe that I would never hit my children). I would be scary in my mood swings and ultimately I would damage the relationships that keep me healthy. I can’t just stop taking the meds.
But I can complain. Oh man, can I complain. I can complain about having to take so many extra pills to handle the dangerous side effects. I can complain about not having a sex drive despite being at relatively young age. I can complain about my stomach and it keeping me from enjoying all the great possibilities that are out there. I can complain about being cold when it’s 115 degree outside. I can complain fully and loudly.
And maybe there will be a day when someone will come along, give me the strong and warm hug that I need and say the magic words, “Everything is going to be alright.” Until that person finds me, or I find them, I shall continue to complain knowing there isn’t a soul who really cares. Years of complaining have destroyed all moments of empathy.