When I was first diagnosed as bipolar, I was not happy about having to take medicine. I didn’t exactly refuse to take it, but I did bitch and moan about it for a while.
My sister is also bipolar, and she’d been on some medicine for several years that worked really well for her.
My hospital-assigned psychiatrist immediately put on Geodon, one of the medications my sister is on, though I do not know what my dosage was at first. Geodon is an antipsychotic, and it was originally used for schizophrenia. I’ve always taken it at night with dinner.
I went to an out-patient hospital for a few weeks after my psychotic break, and I remember being on some other medicines besides Geodon.
I could not sit still for the life of me. If music was playing, I’d be tapping my fingers and feet. I paced a lot, too. Constant movement.
I didn’t like sitting still, but I also had the attention span of a gnat on crack, so I couldn’t focus long enough to exercise for significant amounts of time.
I had a crap ton of energy and really no sure way of releasing it. Mornings were the worst. I had to take a medicine to help with my restlessness. I don’t remember what it was called, but I remember I nicknamed it propane.
Taking propane—which my parents made me do every morning—made me feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t take good, deep breaths. I’ve never been claustrophobic, but that medicine made me feel panicky and closed-in.
I remember making concerted efforts to sit still to prove to my parents I didn’t need to take it. I hated it and how it made me feel. I complained enough to my parents and I got better about sitting still, so I was able to stop taking it.
I went to the out-patient hospital for a few weeks, but my psychiatrist discharged me somewhat unexpectedly. The guy was a jerkface. I was nineteen, but I knew I needed my parents in the room with me when he talked about medications and everything. He did not respect my wishes.
When I was discharged, he made an appointment for me with his office. However, my parents made me see a psychologist almost right away, and she recommended a psychiatrist to me. I jumped at the chance to see someone else because I disdained the guy I saw at the hospital.
I was well on my way down from my manic episode by the time I saw my new psychiatrist, and he decided to put me on another medication my sister is on. It’s called Lamictal (or at least that is the brand name—I cannot spell the generic name, and I’m too lazy to go look at a bottle).
Whereas Geodon (also the brand name) is an antipsychotic, Lamictal is a mood lifter.
In my first appointment with my psychiatrist, he explained the objective of both my medications to me. Since bipolar is a mood disorder, my medicine’s job is to keep my moods within a normal range. Everyone has mood swings, but people with bipolar are prone to flying to the extremes of mania and depression.
Geodon keeps me from flying into the dangerous state of mania, and Lamictal helps buoy my moods away from depression. My moods still fall outside of a normal person’s, but I’d be lost without my medication.
It was hard to come to grips with the idea of taking medicine for the rest of my life, but my psychiatrist is amazing and he quickly squelched any ideas about ever going off of it.
He told me in our first appointment that if I stopped taking my medicine, I’d end up where my last psychotic break left off. There wouldn’t be any buildup. And then it’d only get worse.
By the first time I saw him, I’d realized how deplorable psychotic breaks are. I recognized it was hellacious and not something to repeat. His stern warning about my medicine struck a chord, and I’ve never seriously considered going off of it.
It helps, too, that my medications have zero adverse side effects. Geodon will knock me out if I’m not careful about what I eat for dinner, which is mildly annoying. Food high in fat tends to make me metabolize the medicine extremely fast, and it makes me tired. I’ve been taking it for so long, though, that I know how to avoid this altogether or at least how to accommodate it.
I could write about my medicine and my psychiatrist for a long time because I am so appreciative for both.
When I was first diagnosed, I would have laughed if someone told me I’d actually grow to love my medicine.
Now, I am almost certain I’d be completely lost without it.