I never gave much thought to my body in any sense, medications or otherwise, certainly not in the first decade since being diagnosed. It has been during this second, last decade that I have finally, slowly opened my eyes. Labeled “pro-medication” (thankfully meds solve my chemical malady) I encourage people to be aware, rather than ignore, and read, rather than toss the literature. This was not always my stance.
I used to throw caution to the wind. “Ignorance is bliss” was my mantra for nearly half my life. It certainly beat the reality of what was going on. Now, though, I cannot afford to and constantly assess how my body, not simply my mind, feels.
While some meds are fantastic, some are okay and still others may cause some major problems in our bodies. Our families and friends may quiet us down for fear we’ll go off our meds. “God no!” they think. “Not another trip to the hospital!” You can see the fear in their eyes as they beg and plead we stay on “X” medication, when we merely opened up a discussion about side effects.
Geez. Next time I’ll remember to talk only to my psychiatrist!
Has this ever happened to you?
When my psychiatrist puts me on a new medication I ask if there are any high-risk side effects, ones that could be severe or life-threatening. Of course he warns me of those anyway, but adds casually that only a few in a thousand could cause death and to call him if I see a rash, for example. Or, to watch for so-in-so effect. That’s fine, works for me doc! I scan the literature and that’s all I need to know. (Personally, I am more worried about becoming psychosomatic due to reading the literature!)
The bottom line is every medication has some side effect, the question is can I live with it? If I don’t notice it, apparently I can. Weight gain, for example, I can tolerate to an extent. Massive weight gain, as in thirty to forty pounds in a short period, I cannot, but have. This has happened several times in the past eight years and once was to try a mood stabilizer when no other was working. That one was life or death!
The other was a few years ago when I experienced the worst patch of depression I had in a decade. I mean patch as in months, not the year and a half abyss of death I survived in 2003 and 2004. That wasn’t in the same stratosphere. This was a bad few months and drug “Blob” was the only anti-depressant I had not tried in many years, a highly effective new one at that, and my psychiatrist duly warned me.
When you’re borderline suicidal though, curtain “A” gain weight, versus curtain “B” get suicidal and possibly die isn’t a tough decision. “I’ll take curtain ‘A’ Bob, for thirty pounds.”
Thirty pounds later (or was it thirty-five?) depression had packed a suitcase and today I still have no idea if it was because I found a job or if that med saved me. I do know once I was over the hump, I quickly sought other options.
Today, as always, if I experience a feeling, sensation, side effect(s) or anything that seems out of the ordinary, I do investigate. My partner always does. In fact, she reads the literature right away when she starts a new medication because she is extra sensitive to them. We are built differently…well of course we are!
What is the worst side effect you have ever experienced? Did you give it up or stick with it?
Wendy Williamson had her first manic episode while studying at Virginia Tech, eight weeks before graduation. It was then she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type I. After being downsized from corporate America, Wendy wrote her memoir of honesty and hope entitled I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar. She co-wrote her second book: Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living With Bipolar Disorder with author Honora Rose.
Wendy writes for BPHope.com and The The Huffington Post. She has written for: BP Magazine, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies: 2nd Edition and The Two River Times. Her book has been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and National Alliance on Mental Illness’ The Advocate. Wendy is the founder of The Red Bank Writers Group and has been interviewed on over forty radio stations worldwide. Catch up with Wendy on Twitter and at her website.
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