It’s medication day.
I was hoping to start this blog off with the detailed story of how I got here. Which is apparently too detailed. As in, I’m 12000 words into the story and I’m still got callouts of MORE DETAIL NEEDED and THIS SECTION NOT COMPLETE peppered throughout. So, that will have to come later. How I got here is important and I want to finish writing that, but if working on it (or not, as the case may be) keeps me back from actually maintaining this blog, maybe it’s better left for later.
So, we’ll start in the middle of the beginning of the story. Vonnegut would approve, I think.
It’s medication day. I have 25mg of Lamotrogine (or whatever the generic version is) coursing through my bloodstream, blocking sodium channels in my brain, potentially kickstarting a fatal rash or a bout of aseptic meningitis as I type. Or, you know, maybe it’s working to stave off the next bout of suicidal mania or suicidal depression (some of us are lucky enough to have both!), like it’s supposed to do.
I feel “normal”. Maybe a little wired. Weird taste in my mouth.
The appointment with my doctor was a lot less scary than I thought it would be. I joke that he’s been trying to medicate me for years and this is finally his chance and I’m doing this as much for him as I am for me (in retrospect, it’s probably a really good thing that I didn’t let him give me antidepressants any of the times he’s offered them, recommended them, and expressed great disapproval for my unwillingness to consider them. Bipolar and antidepressants on their own are apparently A Very Bad Thing), but he’s a good man and a good fit for me. I can talk to him and argue with him and he actually listens to me. Once we agreed to go ahead with the medication, we spent a good five minutes of his very busy schedule just bitching about the arrogance of certain medical professionals. He apparently has Very Strong Feelings about Surgeons and I rather hated the shrink he sent me to. It was a bright point in an otherwise heavy moment.
Here’s what I hope for:
-peace; or my excuse for suicidal ideation all these years. My brain is an asshole and sometimes I feel like it’s out of my control and the places it sends me to can be terrible and the aftermath of these journeys can fuck me up for days. Stability by another word, and it is a mood stabilizer, so if it works as advertised this is attainable. I’ll still be me, with all of the damage and work to do, but maybe the desperation for peace and calm won’t be so urgent that death seems like the best possible option to achieve it.
-productivity. I’m reading Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed right now and this particular piece of advice resonated with me: “You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done.” Yes. This. I want to make art and write again when I’m not too scattered to finish something or too apathetic to even start. I know I can do this, I have done this, and I fucking want it back.
-intimacy. (I have now erased this and rewritten this point
three four times. Oh, my issues, so nice to see you still intact) I want to love and be loved. I’ve been a shitty friend in a lot of ways over the years because of my tendency to turtle when I’m depressed and because I often find social interaction to be exhausting. I want to be connected to people again. I want to maintain the relationships I still have and develop new ones. I’ve been at the point where I’m afraid to meet new people because I’m so ashamed of how ugly my inner landscape is that I don’t feel like I have anything offer for years now. This is bullshit. I know this is bullshit. I want the strength and resources to fight past this bullshit idea and have a fucking life again.
That’s not so terribly much to ask, now is it? (Even if it sounds like a lot of work)
How the medication is supposed to help:
-it will stabilize my highs and lows so I can be in the productive sweet spot long enough to actually do this work
-it will help control the destructive impulses when I encounter frustrations along this path; at least enough to give me the perspective to realize that getting in my car and driving across the country to live in a small maritime community and work at a Tim Horton’s isn’t a particularly useful or practical response to a bad day at work, and convincing myself that I am alone and that I will always be alone and nobody actually cares about me isn’t the way to handle disagreements with my friends.
-it will even things out so that I am no longer experiencing the world through a distorted lens of grief, guilt, anger, distraction. I will be able to trust my perceptions of what is actually happening. I will be able to be more present.
How I will know it’s not working and I need to try something else:
After the 6-8 weeks when I’m leveling up to the magical Therapeutic Dose:
-if I still feel overwhelmingly apathetic about the future
-if the thought of booting up my art programs makes me want to cry or panic
-if it makes me feel stupid and worthless
-if I’m still eying the bottle of sleeping pills and doing the math in my head with a sense of longing
-if even thinking about doing the mundane, tedious, menial tasks of life still makes me want to weep with exhaustion instead of completely understandable boredom
Things I need to be mindful of:
-The drugs are not a cure. They are a tool.
-Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong illness, but it does not have to be a life sentence. I am not being punished for past misdeeds. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. It sucks, but it is survivable.
-I should probably work on upgrading survivable to manageable.
-Even with the work I need to put in, this will not be a quick and painless process. This will suck. There will be setbacks. The world will not end.
-I am not my mother. What she did is not what I will do, no matter our similarities. I must not let her example hold me back from trying to heal.
-I do not actually want to die. No matter what ugly thoughts run through my mind. I am still here. I am strong enough to do this.
Day one. Now I need to take another dose of those fuckawful fish oil supplements.