Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Most people would prefer to choose a certain special someone or an object to contain all of their affections. Though my relationship with this is troubled, I have found it to be impossible to live without it. Even if it’s so hard to live with it.
I have made the attempt several times in my life to live without psychiatric medication. My first was a psychiatric evaluation when I was thirteen, and I refused treatment. What thirteen year old has the intense desire for repeated therapy visits and pesky medicine? As a direct result, my symptoms progressed, and I wound up my own cutting board. When it became concerning, no one was willing to take me back for actual treatment. Instead, I unnecessarily suffered until I humiliatingly revealed myself and my wounds to an outsider.
The next time was in my late teens. After being medicated for nearly five years with no result, I was ready to give up on $60 co-pays for a medication that just gave me heroin-like withdrawal symptoms when I forgot to take it. (That was also the first time I became strongly inclined to start carrying medication on me in clever, cute containers). I spent a gratuitous amount of time on weekends in a different county, an hour away from my home. The bus services were shoddy at best, and if I forgot to take my medicine on Friday, then by Sunday morning, I was violently shaking and vomiting in front of my relatively new boyfriend.
This new boyfriend, Avi, convinced me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. The medication was doing more damage to me than good. It was a waste of time and money. Psychiatry was a joke and a con for cash. It would be in my best interest to get off of the medication.
The funniest thing about that was the fact that I became irreconcilably depressed when I weaned myself from the Lexapro, an SSRI. I required way more than my typical six hours of sleep. I could no longer party until dawn. And mostly, my only desire was to scream and cry my eyes out. After you’ve been hypomanic for so many years, having a crash like that was epic. Coincidentally, it coincided with the very first cliff fall in our torturous relationship.
And resulting in that choice, I developed functional alcoholism prior to the legal drinking age in the United States. It took several abusers, victimization, abject poverty, and becoming an abuser to take me down into the depths of a bottle.
I found that I had even given up on self-medication. When Xan and I got together, it became obvious that he suspected I suffered from addiction. Though our relationship was certainly not new, our courtship was brand new. In order to not put him off, and make a show of my own self-control, I slowly ditched the bottle. I was so addicted that I found I had to be intoxicated to make love to him. At least a little.
A few years later, I started treatment. I had managed to remain sober, however, I had completely lost control of myself. Several months into treatment, I ran into every medicated person’s greatest fear. My medical coverage was eliminated. Every pharmacy reported the same thing; Lamictal costs a fortune, and if I can’t afford COBRA, then I sure as hell cannot pay for it from pocket. I found myself soliciting every pharmacy within a 10 mile radius for assistance. Finally, one came through for me. But, not before I suffered cruel withdrawal symptoms.
A similar withdrawal happened over a holiday. I was unable to see my Pdoc before Christmas, and he had taken vacation through the New Year. The office had a policy not to call in medications, so I had to make an appointment to go in. Catch 22. For four days, I laid there writhing in bed. Xan took charge, and I had a refill that same day.
The very last time was one of my own poor choices. That is exactly what mania does – it gets your hooks into you and tells you dirty little lies. I had decided to attempt to wean myself from medication slowly so that I could prepare to attempt pregnancy. I did so alone. Instead of consulting a doctor, I went ahead. And instead of getting off of medications, I had psychotic breaks the likes of which I have never been remotely acquainted with. The result was more medication and a lesser likelihood of having a second child.
I have been without by force, by accident, by coercion, and of my own volition. Like it or not, I cannot live without medication.