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How Being on Medication for Bipolar Makes Me Question Who I Am

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Usually I’m pretty positive about my mental health. I can see the bright side and appreciate all the hard work I have put in over the years to stay stable. But some days I just feel exhausted from this illness. Sometimes I just want to yell, “Why me?!” and complain about it. I know there are people who have it much worse than I do … but bipolar is still tough.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

The thing about being on antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers is I don’t know what my true personality is. I’ve been on medications for so many years, I don’t really know what I’m like when I’m off them. There’s this disconnect, and sometimes it can be a little scary. How are these medications changing who I am?

It can be interesting when I accidentally miss a dose because I can feel a change in my mental status. I’m just a bit different than my medicated self. It’s a little scary how missing just one dose can be noticeable. It’s hard to imagine what I would be like if a missed a week, or even a month. How different would I be? The only time I would even think to go off medication is if I wasn’t working and had no commitments, no calendar and absolutely no stress. Super realistic, right? Well, since that will never be the case, I would much rather be medicated.

Even though I get these moments of wondering who the real “natural” me is … I know deep down, that person is very unstable. She’s a bomb waiting to go off at any instant. She’s most likely unable to handle stress without unstable moods and energies. She probably cries all the time. It would be hard to stay stable in her relationships and work life. The thought of mania being around the corner at all times would create an anxiety-filled existence. There are so many things “wrong” with me being off medication, that it makes me never want to explore the option of going off.

I know this is an incurable chronic illness, and I will struggle with it for the rest of my life. I would be a completely different person without bipolar, but I’m happy with who I have become, so there’s no need to explore that thought path. Bipolar is a huge part of who I am, and I never wish to change.

Unsplash image by Chaz McGregor

Originally published: March 4, 2020
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