Mental Health Medications: The Good The Bad

Saturday I attended my now weekly therapy appointment with my awesome therapist. I am a huge fan of Psychotherapy. I have had three therapist since 2012 and all three have been a tremendous asset to my treatment. It’s like paying for a friend. A friend to me is someone who not only supports you but also will let you know when you’re doing something that may not be the best thing for you and your well-being. They also give advice in how to better yourself. There’s nothing better than to have someone in your corner that is Team You.

We discussed a number of things but her concern was my cycling. I have been up and down for weeks now. Manic phases have been nothing short of consistent with some phases of depression. I’ve shared my relationship with depression in a previous post. To me depression is the state I attempt to avoid like an old boyfriend. However she shared with me how mania can also be a detriment to my recovery although it’s a phase that I tend to enjoy. She calls it me romanticizing with my mania. I liked that term because it is damn near an orgasmic feeling. I sort of understand where she was coming from as there is a huge difference in being in a manic state and in the moment of euphoria. The euphoria is what I like. It’s a natural high that I never want to come down from. I’m in total control and can manage any and everything that comes my way. The mania on the other hand I can’t really manage. I’m wired to the T like a gangster rap song mixed with some heavy metal. Just all over the place.

This cycling I have been experiencing has my therapist concerned and suggesting that I think about going back on my medication. I’ve been attempting to manage my condition without medication for probably about the last 3 to 4 months now. My last visit to the hospital had a lot to do with the medication I was on. The combination and dosage of Depakote (1500mg), Cymbalta (120mg), and Aderall (20mg) sent me into probably the worst episode of mania I have ever experienced with a new symptom of psychosis.

Prior to me going back on my medication in 2016, yeah this isn’t the first time I stopped taking it, I was off of it because I couldn’t afford it for lack of insurance. I had  researched how going off and on medication could possibly make your condition worse and who wants to be even more mentally unstable. That and the laundry list of all the side effects you read about. I already have mental health issues, I don’t want to find out I have issues with my kidneys because of the medication I was taking to treat my mental health. Like seriously, that’s just BS right there. I also wanted to deal with whatever was going on with me that was causing me to go into depression. In my opinion the medication was just masking the issue and wasn’t designed to ever cure it. And to be perfectly honest I kind of didn’t want to lose those experiences of euphoria I would get every couple of months. It was something that I found myself looking forward to although I knew that an episode of major depression would soon follow.

So when I decided to go back on my meds in 2016, I was trying to adjust to moving back to Texas and being around my family again. My anxiety was on 10 and I was becoming more and more irritable and depressed. I didn’t want to go back to the hospital so I went to see my psychiatrist. The family I was born into is the portrait of what a trigger is in mental health. They’re a whole other post. Anyways,  I was taking my medication as prescribed but the depression was getting worst and worst. I was experiencing hallucinations, voices, and I was constantly telling my husband to wash the sheets in the bed I couldn’t get out of because I felt like bugs were crawling on me. It’s hard to wrap my head around what the voices were telling me to do. I knew I needed help so I picked my kids up from school early, took them home, explained to them what I was doing, and I drove myself to the nearest E.R. where they later transported me to a psychiatric hospital. The doctors were good to me even while trying to stabilize my uncontrollable bout of tears and fear.

It took some time to bring me out of the depression but the staff at the hospital didn’t give up me. My husband and oldest two kids came to visit me almost everyday. I could tell seeing me in the hospital in the state I was in, my mental illness became real to my husband. He was quiet when he came to visit, mostly staring at me but at the same time attentive to my condition. He did such a remarkable job managing everything while I was away.

The hospital psychiatrist was shocked when he read the prescriptions I had been on. He’s the one who initially told me it was the medication that sent me into psychosis and had me manic. My primary psychiatrist reiterated that conclusion when I went to see him after my release. My diagnosis changed from Bipolar II to Bipolar mix with psychosis so therefore they changed my medications as well. They switched my depression medication from Cymbalta to Welbutrin and took me off of Aderall all together. My Depakote dosage was adjusted as they monitored my blood work for my dopamine levels and I was also prescribed Geodone for the psychosis. That took some getting used to being that I was experiencing terrible side effects of headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision. However, I was excited about being released and looking forward to really focusing on my mental health and staying healthy.

I was seeing my psychiatrist regularly and taking my medications as prescribed. It wasn’t until I went to visit my psychiatrist in June, I think, that I was informed my co-payments to see him had gone from $35 a visit to $75 visit. It doubled but I wasn’t too upset about it, but when I went to pick up my prescriptions I found out that my medication would now cost me over $200 a month compared to the $75 I was paying, I knew I had to make some changes. I could afford it, at the time, but what if I couldn’t afford it later on down the line. That’s a 300 and something dollar bill a month that we would have to budget no matter what came up. The medication had me stable but I didn’t want to take any chances on going off and on of the medication AGAIN so I decided to stop taking it all together.  That’s when I began researching how to managing bipolar disorder naturally.

So here I am, blogging, seeing a therapist once a week, trying to eat healthy, working out when I feel like it or better yet when I know I better because of how I am feeling, and staying as far away from my family as I possibly can. In this moment I am realizing that I just may need to be on medication. I’ll never forget how it made me feel to see the doctor write on a yellow medical form when I was first hospitalized “Life Long Diagnosis”. Who the (BLEEP) wants to be categorized has mentally ill and would need to be medicated for it FOR LIFE? Not me.

So this is where I am at. At a crossroads once again due to this mess. I’ve been assigned to create a list of Why’s and Why Not on taking medication and sharing it with my therapist this upcoming week. I have more Why Not’s than Why I know that right off bat, however it’s a matter of weight at this point. What holds more weight as opposed to the number of reasons. A state of depression brings about hopelessness and thoughts of suicide in my case. The whole purpose of me taking my mental health serious and not ignoring or making it out to be something that will just pass is that I want to live. Suicide isn’t something that is situational or you experience because of circumstance when you suffer from major depression. I hate when people talk about it as such. I am not suicidal because I go through a hard time in life, it’s quite the opposite. I’m very optimistic when life throws me challenges as I am capable of remembering what I have already been through and survived. It’s those times when the spirit of depression overtakes my will and I feel like the only way out is…

So I have some decisions to make.

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