I like my psychiatrist. He’s a little quirky, but he is kind and very good at what he does. He doesn’t just prescribe my medication, he is also interested in how I’m doing on a larger scale. I see him every four months, so a lot can happen in my life in between my appointments.
Last fall I was seeing a guy I met online, and I shared this with my psychiatrist. Since his primary job is to make sure I am properly medicated, he immediately told me that if I were to get pregnant, “Do not stop taking your medicine.”
I said, “Uuh, okay. I’m not going to get pregnant.” I was a little confused as to why he went that direction with my news, but I wanted to stand up for myself.
“I know you probably aren’t planning to,” he said, “but if you do get pregnant, just make an appointment, and we can figure out your medicine.”
Man, he is really harping this….
“I’m not going to get pregnant because I am not going to have sex before I’m married,” I said. Now completely embarrassed about the turn of the conversation.
“Okay,” he said. “If that changes, just make sure you use protection.”
“Will do,” I said, internally rolling my eyes. My first reaction was annoyance, but on my way back to work, I realized why he was so concerned.
Sexually promiscuity is a common characteristic in people who have bipolar disorder. Obviously there are exceptions, but I am sure my psychiatrist has seen his fair share of patients with this trait. I’ve read several books by people with bipolar disorder, and a lot of them have this struggle.
I cannot cast judgment; when I was sick, I acted like an eight year old. Sex wasn’t on my radar. I was also lucky: I wasn’t out in the wind very long while I was sick. I was under my parent’s wing quickly after my break, and they kept me close as I fought to get well.
It probably doesn’t hurt that I took a vow of abstinence at a young age, but if the circumstances during those first days of my episode had been different, there’s no telling what I could have done. Mania doesn’t lend itself to rational thought or keeping former promises.
After my doctor drove home the if-you-get-pregnant-don’t-stop-taking-your-medicine speech, he went on to say that when and if I do want kids, there are definitely options where my medicine is concerned. The medicine I’m on now wouldn’t be ideal if I were to get pregnant, but there’s a plethora of other bipolar medication I could try.
Then he surprised by saying there may come a time when he will wean me off medication altogether, which I didn’t know was a possibility. I’m not sure how I feel about it, either.
I’ve been taking the medicine for almost seven years, and I honestly cannot imagine not taking it. There are too many what-ifs for me. I’m superstitious by nature, so if something is going well, why change it? Also, I am allergic to change, so I have some misgivings about doing something different where my medicine is concerned.
If and when I do get married and decide to have kids, I have no problem discussing substitute medications, but I do not think I will ever be comfortable being unmedicated. I do not enjoy having to take medicine every day, but it beats being unmedicated and in a facility.
However, not being on medicine (particularly an anti-psychotic) would definitely give my bank account a break (as long as I wasn’t hospitalized thereafter).