I have been silent lately.
Not just on this blog. In general. With my friends, with my family, with myself. And on the inside. All of my inner and outer dialogue has been muted for some strange reason.
I haven’t felt like myself this year.
After missing one of my medications for a little while, I noticed some changes. After missing a different medication for a little while, I noticed additional changes.
Then I stopped taking three of my medications. I’ve stopped my anti-depressant, my mood stabilizer and the hardcore sleep medication I take for Narcolepsy. (Just on that note, I’ve been sleeping better off the Xyrem! I think I developed a tolerance)
I’ve been off the mood meds for 2 and 3 weeks. This might sound dangerous but while I initially made these choices subconsciously, there is a good reason for it.
I have been medicated for bipolar disorder since I was 19 years old. I turn 35 next month. I have been almost constantly medicated during that time except for 4 years when I was either pregnant or nursing my children. For over a decade and a half, I have lived as my medicated (or hormonally super powered) self. These lapses in medication have given me some glimpses that there may be more to myself under this medicated facade than I have realized.
The first time I missed my meds at the beginning of January, I got really depressed. I also woke up to the fact that I had been numbed to certain situations and aspects of my life that deep down I was very unsatisfied with. But that dissatisfaction was mollified by my mood stabilizer. So I let things slide. A lot of things did a lot of sliding. I just let things be. That sounds like it might be a good thing but in reality, you can only spackle over the cracks so long before the wall falls apart.
I started the mood stabilizer again. I felt the muffling slide back over my dissatisfaction and, to my surprise and dismay, the joy and insight and inspiration that I had found during my depression. My well of creativity was drying up and I was succumbing to my silently uncomfortable existence. I did not like it.
So I stopped the mood stabilizer again. To be quite frank, I don’t recall now, what made me choose to quit my antidepressant as well. I recall making the decision and not putting it into my weekly pill box but I’m not quite sure why. When you have cognitive impairment, you learn to respect the you that was making the decisions and trust that you had good reasons for it.
For about 10 days, things were really bad. I was sick. I was in pain. I was fucking empty. I had no words. I had no thoughts outside of “what am I going to focus my eyes on right now” and “what is going to keep my hands busy so I don’t pull out my hair or peel off my skin.”. A lot of it is blank because that’s what I was. Blank.
Which leads me back to why I’m not taking my meds. I want to know who I am when I’m not medicated. I want to know how much of my pain and several diagnoses can be attributed to a decade plus on SSRIs. anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics. I want to know what my non-medicated baseline is so I can make informed decisions on what a new medication regimen might look like. I want to differentiate my physical symptoms from my mental symptoms to get a fresh perspective on the treatment, pharmaceutical and otherwise, that I need to care for myself.
But mostly, I want to know who I am again. I’ve spent 9 years working hard to keep my current relationship going. I’ve spent 8 years pregnant, nursing, or raising young children. I have spent 7 years suffering from, struggling through, learning about and coping with my disabilities. I have spent 4 years putting my life on hold waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.
I have spent 2 months focused on me. On who I am, what I feel, what I have to say. I want to do more of that. I want to know more. I want to feel more.
Today was a really good day. I woke up early with my daughter. We went to her Muffins and Moms(parents) activity before school where she read to me Junie B. Jones while I drank orange juice. I smiled. I laughed. I hugged her and kissed her before the bell rang.
I cuddled with my son to get him to fall asleep for his afternoon nap. He was tired and resistant. He was crawling around on my lap and he hurt me. I was irritated and then exasperated. I got angry. And then I reined it in. I felt it and controlled it. I changed tactics, and he sweetly fell asleep. I nuzzled his warm pink cheeks when he woke up a happy boy again.
I drove to a doctor’s appointment. I drank a Dr. Pepper. It made me happy and gave me energy. The sun was warm and I listened to happy music and sang along and danced in my seat a little while I was driving. I was not bothered when there was nowhere to sit in the waiting room. I was not irritated when they told me I was going to have the invasive procedure instead of the noninvasive. I was fine.
I drove to my therapy appointment tonight. Everything was not fine. I was irritable. I scrolled through my playlists trying to find something to match my mood. It was not happy music. It was screaming angry music. I blasted it on the way to therapy and didn’t turn it down at the red lights because I gave not a single fuck.
I talked to my therapist. We discussed my no-medication strategy. We came up with a new treatment plan and discussed my support system in case of emergency. We talked a lot about pizza for some reason. I like my therapist.
On the drive home I wanted to sing. So I listened to two of my all-time favorite songs, and I belted them out with abandon. The second song I hadn’t listened to in a long time. Every line hit me like I was hearing it for the first time and had been written just for me today. By the third verse I was crying. It felt great.
I felt more today, and more powerfully than I have for a long time. I told my therapist that I felt like I was a kinked hose finally let loose. Everything comes rushing out.
Yesterday I still had no words. Today, I have many.
It is worth mentioning that I am a huge advocate of safe preventative mental health treatment and maintenance. Medications are often an important and effective way to prevent unhealthy behaviors. I have chosen this path for myself because I have a partner, a therapist and a support system to turn to for help when needed. It’s better to risk the high wires when you have a safety net to catch you.