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When Your Mental Illness Medication Makes You Feel Like a Zombie


Several months after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is great to be able to say, “I found meds that work for me.” It means all that time of trying new medication combinations, the frustrations when none of them worked, the side effects — all of it — was worth it. All the struggle with medications in the past had led to this — to stabilization. Would these meds work forever? Maybe, maybe not, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that there was no more rapid cycling through mania and depression every few weeks. However, there was a trade off: in exchange for not feeling these extreme emotions, I also am not feeling anything.

The medications that work for me have lowered my blood pressure to make me tired and sluggish. That mixed with the emotional numbness the medications also mix and you essentially get a “zombification” cure of bipolar. The cure that wipes out emotions and feeling in order to control the extreme ones. What does this mean for my everyday life?

It means that things that used to give me joy and happiness now are dull and generate little to no reaction. It means that my desire to do anything I enjoy has disappeared. It means that holding my boyfriend’s hand no longer gives me the happy jolt of energy it used to. It means that food I once enjoyed might as well be dust in my mouth.

It means that my emotions feel as if they’ve been electrocuted and now lie dormant, dead. Like I’ve lost the capacity to feel anything anymore, ever. And that makes me sick to think about.

Will this numbness last forever? Likely not, but no one is for sure. For the time being, sadness and joy will no longer have much of an effect on me. Depression and mania will not visit me, but neither will happiness, disgust, fear or anger. These things have not been felt since my medication schedule was stabilized, and I expect I will not feel them again until the next change.

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Unsplash photo via Pina Messina