My parents have always been against me being medicated. When I was 17 my dad refused to sign for me to have medication, so I had to wait till I was 18. And then I had to be financially supported by them, but my mom reluctantly agreed after a GI specialist told her I needed to see a psychiatrist (that’s a long story for another time)
Whenever I would say I feel [insert negative feeling here]. My mom would always reply, “Are you sure it’s not the medication.”
Well one night I came home from a support group. I didn’t have the willpower to eat with the group afterwards. I told my mom this as I shaking. I was stuttering. I leaned against a chair and told her I needed to eat because I hadn’t eaten all day (and plus, I only ate a couple grapes and stuff the day before).
I was having really bad anxiety, and anxiety doesn’t let me eat. It doesn’t let me eat until I feel sick and weak. It doesn’t let me eat until I am seeking professional help for the extreme weight loss. It doesn’t let me eat because when I try, I will vomit.
My mom started suggesting foods, I looked in the cabinet. And it came over me. Just the thought.
I ran into the bathroom and my mom got up and followed me, “Oh Quinn.” It was her disapproving tone. It was as if she was saying, “Why are you letting yourself get so worked up over literally nothing?”
I thought she would understand because my dad has anxiety. But as it turns out, our anxiety is very different. He gets mad and he might overeat. I get withdrawn and I might vomit.
My stomach was empty, so I was spitting up bits of stomach acid. I was crying.
My mom held my hair back and asks me, “Do you think it could be the medicine you’re on?”
I laughed. In between my gagging and spitting, I laughed at her.
I bitterly spat some bile into the toilet and told her, “No, it couldn’t be.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I quit the meds.”
That was a changing point for her. When I was done, we sat down, and she gave me a piece of toast to munch on. I couldn’t eat the whole thing. But I told her the truth- I thought the medication (Zyprexa) was making me depressed- so I quit it. But as it turns out, the medication was the only thing holding my anxiety back. And quitting it cold turkey without a doctor’s supervision was very dumb of me.
It turned out to be a very symbolic moment. After I explained all this, she offered to go get the medicine for me, so I could take it right now. I nodded, told her where it was, and took it when she returned.
My anxiety levels went back to normal over the next day or so. But there was another occasion where she showed that maybe medication isn’t the worst thing for me.
During my recent manic episode, I told my mom I just could not take the increased dose of Zyprexa, I just couldn’t make myself do it (because part of me wanted to stay manic). I told her the doctor suggested I give the pills to her, and she could dose them out to me. But I hate when other people have control over my medications, as I feel I know better than they do, so I didn’t give her the meds. As a result, I only took the increased dose on two different occasions, and it made me very depressed. I felt bad walking into the psychiatrist’s office and explaining that I just couldn’t take that dose, I was manic (but I was unable to explain that part of me wanted to stay manic), and it made me too depressed to handle. Ultimately, I asked my psychiatrist just to put me on something new. And she did. And that’s what I’m working with right now.
Medication compliance is difficult for some people struggling with bipolar. Sometimes we think we are all better and quit them because, “We don’t need them anymore.” When in fact, it probably means the meds are working, and quitting them will just cause problems. In other cases, we are annoyed by a side effect or some other problem. We think we know better, but do we really?
I think it’s a lesson a lot of us learn the hard way.