bi-polar, bipolar, body, health, life, medicine, mental disease, mental health, mental illness, side effects, truth
I recognize that when certain people read the words, “done”, written by a mentally ill patient, there is some fear as to the possibilities those words could mean. Let me immediately correct any assumptions being made: “done” does not mean that I am ready for suicide. It doesn’t mean that I am going to retreat into the devastating world of silence, temper and the sheer desire to be left alone. These words by themselves are meant to give the impression that something is changing in my life; but I am not sure that it is fair to say that it has anything to do with my mental disease.
I have been told that I have a pretty severe case of mental illness; although, as I have said before, how do you measure such a thing. But because the doctors believe that my level of sanity is not stable or otherwise healthy they have given me numerous pills to take in the hopes that some sort of control can be pushed upon me. Red pills, long white pills, purple pills, little, tiny orange pills. You name it, I have probably have tried the drug, or at least tried one of the drugs in the extended family these pills come with. I have had drugs that made me so manic that I fell below the 100 pound mark in a week. I have had drugs that made me so nauseous that I literally could not move my head for a week in order to prevent what I knew was going to happen. I have had pills that made me sleep and pills that made me feel wide awake. It is the nature of the game when one is talking about a chronic disease; the pills are just part of my daily routine, like showering, eating, writing.
But while there are some pills that give you quite the trip and often make you think that certain reactions may be worth it, most pills, if not all pills, come with devastating side effects. It isn’t something the doctor talks about. It isn’t something that we brag about. It isn’t something that should be tolerated while taking these powerful drugs. But tolerate we have to, because the health of ourselves and the life that we imagine that one day we can have depends on those pills. And changing those pills once they are established opens everyone to new and dangerous experiences that no doctor in the world can control. Taking medicine routinely so that you can stand up and work to be healthy requires the assumption and the recognition that you have to deal with the side effects that come with those pills.
For me, I deal with a wide variety of side effects. I deal with side effects that make me believe that throwing up my hands and saying I am done is a viable alternative. My side effects can be so severe as to destroy the world I am trying and fighting to have. My side effects can be so small that pinpointing what is causing me to drown is hard to pin down. Because of my pills, which I take each and every day, in order to appease those in my life who can not understand my world, I have migraines, acne, memory loss, missing teeth, the inability to keep a healthy weight on my frame, incredible digestive issues including constant constipation, tiredness and more that I can’t think about right now but will probably kick myself for not mentioning it later.
I am tired of all these side effects. And while there would have been a time in my life when I just wouldn’t have taken the pills so that I could find some elusive peace, those juvenile thoughts simply don’t work in my life anymore. Going to doctors to ask for help in the relief of these symptoms have become a yin and yang proposition; either they will take away the side effect and make sure I have something worse, or they will shrug their shoulders and look me dead in the eye and say that is the price for my health. I have to take the pills but there are two distinct reasons why this is so, 1. my family/children need me to be at my best and unfortunately for me, those horrible pills are as close as I can get and 2. the doctors have no understanding of how to make it better.
I tend to become very frustrated with doctors despite the fact that I know, without a shadow of doubt, that they have no idea what I am going through and what I am fighting. They don’t know how to help, despite their pretense, because they don’t know what mental illness feels like. They don’t know how to be less condescending but more decisive because they have never fallen down in a world that consists of very few people who can pick you up. Doctors are like the rest of the world, despite their egos that tell them differently. Doctors can’t understand the very real and oftentimes unmitigated pain that mental illness cause because they don’t have the disease. One more pill is always the answer. One more week of taking the pill is their answer. Dismissing the agony of side effects because they don’t know how to fix it, doesn’t just destroy their patient but makes it so much harder for said patient to ever return. I know, in my case, I have walked away from more doctors than I have lovers. Sometimes the realization that someone you are supposed to trust can’t help you, is as devastating as the realization that they don’t want to.
I don’t have any magical solutions to fixing doctors’ egos and their inability to understand much less help those of us who are begging for just that. There isn’t a doctor out there without a mental illness that can even hope to find answers for those with these mental illnesses. There isn’t a way to teach them, or show them, or even reach them, so that they can finally see what those of us with these diseases have known all along.
But I have learned that for brief periods of my life I have had joy and an ease of some of these devastating side effects. I do recognize that the solutions are often trails of pain, discomfort, and potential destruction. I recognize that just because I did something in the pass to make myself feel better, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work this time around. For example, about three years ago I worked out for thirty minutes everyday while making and drinking juices from fresh fruit and vegetables. This combination helped me with the constipation, the hemorrhoids, and the overwhelming fear that I can’t leave the house because my stomach isn’t stable enough. I remember working on it, finding ways to make it work; but I have no idea why I stopped. However, these things worked and ultimately that is probably the only thing that counts.
So I decided to begin working out everyday, concentrating on my abs, and juicing the same recipe that I once used so successfully. The result after a couple of days: pain, pain, and ridiculous pain. It is like my bowels are cleaning out three years of junk. It is like my body is recognizing that something is changing but it isn’t too sure that it is a good thing. I am going back to something that worked not because I have high hopes that it will work again, but more because I am so tired of listening to people who can take the side effects away. I am tired of living a life that is almost destructive with the apathy that I have towards my own health.
How long is this exercising and juicing going to happen? No idea. Is the exercising and juicing eventually going to even itself out and give my poor digestive system a break? No idea. Do I have any other option than to score through my past and try and find homemade solutions? Nope. This new phase of mine won’t last forever. But maybe it can last long enough to give me a little bit of a break and give me a reminder that sometimes there is more to this life than the knowledge of doctors who are a waste of my time and money. Here’s to once again hoping for more.