A large part of treatment for Bipolar Disorder is the use of medication to regulate and stabilize moods. Many people who are in treatment for the condition take a “cocktail” of medication including mood stabilizers, antidepressants and at times anti-consultants (which happen to work very well for people with the disorder). It is also quite common for people to go off their medication due to side effects and the cost associated with treatment.
Taking the cocktail that is prescribed to me is part of my routine. I have a dose at night and one in the morning. In the evening, I retreat from the living room and grab my refilled water bottle. In my bathroom I set down the bottle on the counter, crowded with an array of makeup and hair product containers. I open the medicine cabinet, while taking a quick glance in the mirror. I look at the bottles, all standing in a row and tell myself, “I need to take these. These help me stay stable. My life is better when I am stable. This is non-negotiable!” I open each of the four pill bottles and take the prescribed dose. When finished, I brush my teeth, then wash my face and get into bed.
When I wake in the morning, I remove my CPAP machine mask and take a deep breath. As I get out of bed, I am again thinking about my medication. I go back to that same mirrored cabinet and open it. I look at the third shelf that contains my morning medications and I take a deep breath. I say to myself, “I need to take these. These help me stay stable. My life is better when I am stable. This is non-negotiable!” I swallow the two pills and look in the mirror. I remind myself again that my life is better on medication. That my brain does not operate as efficiently as it should, and the medication helps it to do so.
I leave the bathroom and head to the kitchen with my boy cat leading the way (I often think that he thinks I may get lost if he did not guide me to my destination). I pour a hot cup of coffee and grab creamer from the refrigerator. I carefully walk from the coffee pot over to the chair that is on the right side of the table, the one with the broken ties that is always falling off the chair. I sit and scrunch my legs up under me and sip the amazing, light brown concoction. I check my emails, social media accounts and text messages, responding to those that require a timely response.
Over the next hour, I am ready to head to work listening to an audio book or singing along to music. The commute is between 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. Most days have similar components, while others are more filled with spontaneity. At 4 PM I get in my car and commute back home.
I arrive home, put down my things, greet my cats, my children and remove my shoes. Before you know it, it’s time to make dinner. Dinner leads to family time, then to bedtime and we start things all over again.
Recently, I have felt like I am on autopilot. The same things happen every day. It gets monotonous and my brain gets dull. Prior to being medicated, each day was unpredictable. I would be fine one day and a hysterical mess another. I would be happy in the morning and then so incredibly pissed off I could punch a hole in a brick wall. I was nothing close to routine. There was not predicting what each day would bring, and which Michelle would be present.
Much like the self-talk that I engage in when I take my medication, I still need to remind myself that having a routine life is a good thing. That when I was pinging between depression and mania, that those were times of sickness. And that my goal is to maintain my stability and with stability comes normalcy.
Am I considering going off my medication? No, it is working, and I have far too much to lose if I make a drastic decision like that. But, I am looking for ways to change things up, so I don’t self-sabotage. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, I love the people in my life, but when you spend most of your life be bopping along to the beat of your own Bipolar drum, when you achieve recovery, it can feel unnatural and uncomfortable.
I am a better me right now. But, there are times, when you get to romanticizing about the past and it is hard not to long for the way it used to be.
Being in recovery with any mental illness has its drawbacks. For those that do not personally suffer, but have family or friends that do, it seems like the most logical choice is to choose stability, but it is far more complicated than that for us. Be patient with us. Speak positives to us. Let us share how we are feeling. Try to understand that at times we can not process things as rationally as others can. Love us for who we are.
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