The Argument I Have With Myself Every Time I Take My Psych Meds
Every day, multiple times, I have to take psychotropic medication.
In my personal opinion, despite what many therapists and doctors say, there can be a difference between taking meds for mental illness and taking meds when you’re sick with, for example, the flu.
There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding psychiatric medication. But, there also shouldn’t be a million side effects that screw with your mood, your mind and your body. There shouldn’t be millions of highs and lows that add to your normal millions of highs and lows. There shouldn’t be so many things that come with taking medicine that helps keep you alive.
And I am not saying that these issues only come with psychiatric meds. For some people, prescription medication in general can be rough to take for your entire life, and the tweaking process for any illness is never fun (to say the absolute least). But I only have the personal experience to speak about the meds I take and have taken — and that’s a lot.
I once had a psychiatrist say to me: “The reason no one wants this job is because it’s so hard. I can’t just look at an X-ray or an MRI and tell you what’s wrong. I can’t draw blood and know exactly what medicine you need. That’s why it takes so long and it’s so miserable figuring things out. It isn’t easy. And it isn’t easy to look at your patient and not always know what to do. It isn’t easy to be the patient either and I know that. This is something we need to do together and be patient with the process.”
I have never appreciated a psychiatrist more than I appreciate my current psychiatrist, the one who told me that. The one who is finally being honest with me.
But he’s right. This journey isn’t easy. The journey where I am accompanied by four mental illnesses. The journey I take daily. The journey that requires medication to be sustained.
But daily, when it comes time to pop those tiny pills, I argue. Every time. It is an argument I have with myself. It goes a little like this:
“Time to take meds!”
“But I don’t want to take them. Why do I have to take them?”
“You have to take them to be able to function.”
“But am I really able to function when I take them? Is that really me? I feel fine.”
“You feel fine because you take your meds. So keep doing it.”
“But I don’t like taking meds. I don’t like having to remember. I don’t like the things people say. I don’t like how I feel.”
“You don’t like how you feel when you don’t take meds either. And who cares what they say? Do you like the hospital?”
“I just don’t like them!”
“You sound like a child. You need to keep taking your meds. What would the doctor say? If you want to get better and stay better, you need your medicine.”
And on and on it goes. A daily struggle. I tell myself I should be able to do this life thing without “chemical” help. I tell myself I just need to work out more. I tell myself I just need to chill out. I need to do this, or this…
Some days I give in. I don’t take the meds. I listen to the mania side of my bipolar disorder. The side that says if I work harder and create more art that things will magically be OK again. The side that hears the scorn in other’s voices when they hear I see a psychiatrist. The side that hears their criticism. The side that hears them say, “As long as it’s just for a bit until you get yourself figured out.” The side that believes their lies that I am taking the easy way out.
That side has gotten me in all kinds of trouble.
I struggle daily to listen to the other side. The side that says it’s OK to need medicine. The side that doesn’t hear the voices of the people who just don’t get it. The side that understands the rise and fall of life and that meds help stabilize me. The side that knows that mental illness isn’t an easy road, no matter what path you take. The side that knows reality and truth. The side that hears the words and comfort of people who care about me saying that medicine is OK. The side that sees the real me is only there when I can focus and stabilize.
If you also struggle to take your meds, I hope today you were able to listen to the other side. I hope you heard that medicine is OK; that medicine is hard, but it makes life possible some days. That medicine can be figured out.
You can feel right again, I promise. I know a lot of days it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like it’s over. But it isn’t, I promise. You can be yourself and be on meds. You can feel and be on meds. You can be creative and be on meds. You can live your best life and be on meds.
I hope today you can live your best life while on your meds. And I hope you can recognize how your meds helped you get to where you are now. I hope I realize that today too.
Getty Images: Oleh_Kucheriavyi