Firstly, I just want to make this clear that not only am I not a medical professional, this is not advice. This post is me being fully honest, with myself and anyone who cares to read on, about my struggle with medication.
Secondly, this was a topic I was never going to touch. I always wanted to be able to help people with the parts of this disorder that I feel I do understand or have gotten to grips with. Medication is different for everyone and needs to be overseen by a professional. I do not recommend repeating my actions.
Initially, when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I had previously been misdiagnosed with borderline and this meant I was prescribed some medication which did not suit me well and made me an awful lot worse. When I finally reached the diagnosis that I had known for so long to be true, it felt like everything was valid and everything made sense to me. Finally, I understood why I was certain ways, why I had done certain things, why I always felt different.
I was given an antipsychotic and a mood stabiliser, and this initial combination once I found the right dose worked perfectly for me with no side effects. I was completely stable.
As I say, I was stable. completely stable. I was bored. I have lived my entire life on a roller-coaster, my mood swings are how I know myself. As a Bipolar, I have learnt to use my episodes to my advantage. In mania, I get myself ahead, I work hard, I play hard, I enjoy life. In depression, I rest, I slow down and I take time to appreciate the beauties in life as they are re-presented to me as the depression lifts. In Bipolar, it always lifts.
I started to get bored. I missed mania, I even missed depression. I stopped writing for a very long time, I didn’t feel Bipolar any more, so how do I talk about it when I barely remember any of it? I felt lost, I did not know this version of me.
Coming Off Meds
So I took the decision to come off of my medication, and for a very long time, around a year or maybe longer, I didn’t experience an episode. With Bipolar, it’s not always constant. We can go ages with nothing, just a few break-through symptoms which are usually mild and we usually have coping mechanisms in place for these.
Then things started to get rough. The episodes started, and I noticed that they were very uniform to the diagnostic criteria, in terms of on-set and length, which before was not the case for me in my teens and early twenties.
I experienced mania, and I felt amazing and I never wanted it to go away. It went way to far, I made bad decisions that could have cost me my job, as well as my possessions and friends. I was out of control with no intention to stop.
As with all mania, however, it did stop. It came to a grinding halt when the depression hit. However intense and long a manic episode is, is how intense and long the depression after will be.
Messing With My Medication
I was never going to talk about this part, but that was wrong of me. I want this place to be somewhere I can not only be honest, but to show the sometimes ugly truth of this disorder.
So when I initially was building up to my meds, I noticed a hypomanic spike on a low dose of one of them. I mentioned this to the psychiatrist and he said this was normal and would go away on a higher dose. So I decided to lower my dose, but keep my other medication the same to prevent depression. In theory, this would allow me to be hypomanic and not crash… right?
Well, it worked.
For as long as I wish, I can induce and prolong hypomania. However, my body cannot keep up. With hypomania comes awful quality sleep, a few disrupted hours a night filled with vivid nightmares, violence, and fear. It becomes exhausting.
The moment I stop taking this exact dose, depression hits. IF I have been messing around for a long time, this depression is life inhibiting. I have to take time off my job, away from people, it is a devastating blow.
Not worth it, by the way, if you are Bipolar and thinking of doing this. But I understand, you may still want to. We like that feeling, as long as it doesn’t go too far it can, for some of us, be fun. Being at 100% all the time can be useful… but as I say, you will crash. Hard.
This leaves me torn. I want to be stable, but when I am I don’t want it any more. It’s actually pretty much a thing that Bipolar’s struggle to stay on meds. Our brains just don’t want them any more.
I can sit and stare at them, beg myself to take them, and go another week before I do.
If I don’t take them, I’m risking so much. Destructive mania, a mixed episode, depression, but yet I am always tempted. Always.
Hypomania is like a drug, in a way, having felt that high before, without any substances, and knowing you can again… it’s hard to choose to be sensible and safe. I really wish it wasn’t
So I cycle, take them a few days, don’t a few weeks… I’ve been diagnosed for years now and I still haven’t worked this all out.
Not sure if I ever will. Not sure if I want to.