Toss Me A Lettuce Leaf

 

Sometimes I think of myself as a primate guinea pig. New and improved medications. Fewer side effects. No weight gain. Perhaps even an iota of, dare I say it? Stirring of the ol’ libido. Hmmm. New side effects never heard of before. Must just be my chemical makeup. The Pdoc says “nobody else has ever had that reaction.”  Uh huh. May cause liver damage. Kidney damage. Heart problems. Great! I’ll take a double dose.

 

Of course I could just opt for the Stone Age method of “just sedate me till I can’t feel my feet”, theory. Imagine, sedated to the point you can’t lift your eyelids and then “someone” gets worried about your increasing depressive behavior. Forgive me for being passé, but DUH. “She doesn’t seem to have much energy.” “She’s so lethargic.” The fact I need a hydraulic lift to raise my eyelids couldn’t possibly have anything to do with my sudden lack of energy.

 

Take this one in the morning because it may cause some mania. Take this one at night because it will cause drowsiness. What? You say you can’t sleep at night? Well here, get this filled. These will make you sleep. What? You say you’re hung-over in the morning? Well get this filled and you will have your energy back. Let’s see now. Blue for morning wake-me-up. Pink for nighttime knock-me-out. Purple to keep me “up.” Green to make sure I’m not “too” up. Plaid to make me feel like a human. Striped to make me not give a damn that I’m human. Oh and let us not forget the tie-dyed pill to make me “nice” to all those people staring at me because I keep walking into trees and telephone poles.

 

I may as well stop shaving my legs and underarms grow my hair down to the floor, start nibbling on lettuce leaves and move into a human sized cage with an exercise wheel and wood chips on the bottom of the cage. Call me Gussie the guinea piglet.

 

Oh I’m sorry but we have to wean you off that drug you’ve been on since 1849 because studies have shown it really doesn’t do any good in treating your Bipolar Disorder symptoms. It doesn’t?” Hmmmm.

 

What’s more important . . . your mental health or your vanity? Well, listen up Doc. The 1,234,874 pounds I’ve gained on this med have done a hell of a lot in increasing my depression. So much for my mental health. You’ve just increased my depression to the nth degree. But that’s okay because I still have my “mental health.”  Hmmmm.

 

This drug makes me see things that aren’t there and I hear voices with no bodies. Just stop taking it, you say? Won’t I have withdrawal?  No? Good.

 

Well Doc, I told the people at the emergency room that I stopped taking a psychotropic medication cold turkey and they informed me that was very dangerous. But not to worry. I didn’t have any withdrawals.

 

It’s going to take me how long to wean off this drug? SIX MONTHS? Thanks a lot Doc. It only took six months for it to “kick in.”  Now it’s going to take six months for it to “kick out.” There’s a year of my life I’ll never get back.

 

What do you mean the doctor is sorry but he can’t make it to my appointment? Oh, he’ll be happy to reschedule? Great. I’ll take my nervous breakdown and go home and note that in my daily planner. “Hold off on falling apart until the Pdoc can manage to get to the office as per scheduled.”  There. That makes it all better.

 

I don’t want to “try” this new drug. Because I don’t want to. Because I’m sick and tired of paying out the whazoo for a drug that won’t kick in for at least 5 to 6 weeks and when it does I have to function as a semi-normal person while all sorts of nightmarish side effects ooze out of my pores not to mention my mouth. Then of course, six months down the road we’ll “have to wean me off this drug” too.  God, I drugs.

 

You take the drug and you tell me about those possible side effects. I don’t give a hoot what the books say or what all of your other patients say or those 80% you claim are “just like me.” They aren’t. The books don’t take the pills. And the hundreds of people who were the initial guinea pigs aren’t me either. Unless you can look me in the eye and tell me you have Bipolar Disorder and that you personally have been on this drug for 5 to 6 weeks and have survived the possible side effects without losing every friend and loved one in your life, not to mention your job, I do NOT want to hear the sales pitch!

 

I wrote all of the above because I desperately want all of you to know . . . it’s not just you. I’ve reached a point of high stabilization. And still, I go through the same ol same ol with my Pdoc now and then. It’s just part of the illness. They can’t fix it. They can’t cure it. We have to go through this because we never know when that perfect fit will appear.

 

Having said that, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping control of “you.” We aren’t the illness. We have the illness. We can’t sit around and stress out and obsess over the fact “we have it.”  The illness just feeds on that sort of thing and before you know it, you’re sucked down into this black pit from hell and the illness wins.

 

It’s not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve got enormous inner strength. The key is reaching down deep and pulling it out. I can’t tell you how to do that. Just as we are all alike in many ways, we are each unique. What works for me wouldn’t work for you and vice versa. The illness is a part of us just as diabetes is to the diabetic. Recognize that. Accept it. Fighting it is pointless and hampers your ability in reaching stability. Sure there will always be setbacks. Life deals the good and the bad and as we know, we certainly don’t deal with bad very well. Learn your triggers. Avoid as many as you can and if some aren’t avoidable then create your own coping tools to get through them.

 

Sometimes the easiest thing for me is to simply walk away. I know when my monster is peeking out. I know when to just shut the hell up and go get some fresh air. Or I know when I need to take a day or a few hours and leave the world outside and just hang by myself.

Many people with BP make the mistake of thinking they shouldn’t ever feel or show any emotion. They get frightened if they are sad or angry. Realize that we are human beings. ALL human beings come equipped with emotions. The issue with us is that we, along with the proper meds and therapy, don’t allow our emotions to snowball.

Even a bit of depression is normal. But we have the deeper version along with deeper mania. Don’t fight the medication. Let it work and do its job. It can’t do it if we are constantly obsessing and wallowing in our self-pity.

 

Cliché as it sounds; we could most assuredly have a more hellish illness. You may not think so but next time you’re in a busy environment teeming with people, look around. I’m certain you’ll see some handicapped persons.  Or visit a children’s cancer ward at the local hospital. The terminally ill ward. If you can still feel self-pity and live in a woe-is-me world, then you’ve got a bigger problem than Bipolar Disorder.

 

As always, take care of “you” and remember . . . share the lettuce.

 

 

 

 

**Disclaimer: any typos, grammatical errors should at the very least be overlooked mainly because I have no editor, spellchecker isn’t foolproof and as usual, my mind works much faster than my fingers. **

 

 

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