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How I Took Initiative in My Treatment Plan for Schizoaffective Disorder

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Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Since my mental health diagnosis, I have been deeply aware of taking my prescribed medication. In order to manage the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, it is crucial that I stay on the regimen my doctor and I have worked out together. One of my medications has to be prescribed by the pharmacy after I have blood drawn. The timing of having my blood drawn, getting the report to my doctor, his studying the report, confirming next month’s meds, and getting my monthly prescription mailed to me is a tightrope of timing. Because of a move to a new state and a new psychiatrist, I recently found myself running right up to the night when I took my last pill for the month, however, my prescription for the next month had not arrived. As a result, I began to fixate on not having enough medication to get me from month to month.

The following day, I knew I did not have medication to take… I had run out of the medication I must have to manage my symptoms. Anxiety and fear took over my life. I tried to distract myself using music, exercising, and listening to books on tape, but nothing seemed to work. I called my parents, and they tried to reassure me that I would be fine, and the meds had to be on the way. I tried messaging my psychiatrist to let him know the medication for the new month had not arrived. His assurance that the medication was en route did not relieve my stress. What if the meds got lost in the mail? What if someone took them? What if they went to another address? With all these questions flooding my brain, I began to have delusions and other symptoms of my schizophrenia. I was stressed. I was paranoid, and I was exhausted from fear.

The next morning, I woke up early to have my coffee. In the twilight of the morning, I saw a UPS truck enter my street. It stopped in front of my apartment building, and I just knew there was a package for me. The driver went to the back of his truck, got a package, and began walking up my stairs. He handed me the package and I said thank you. He had no idea how much I needed what was in the package. The medication had arrived… down to the wire, but it had arrived.

I trust my doctor, so on my next teleconference visit with him, I brought up how stressed I had become when waiting for my medication to arrive each month. We talked about the timing of my blood draw, and based on my concerns, he came up with a better solution. It was decided that beginning with that month, I would go to my local veteran’s clinic and get my blood drawn earlier in the month. By doing so, there would be plenty of time for him to receive the report and prescribe my medication before the end of the month. My medication would arrive before I was close to running out. It turned out to be a simple solution, after all.

I felt such relief knowing that there was a good solution to my fear of running low on medication. But I was also proud of myself for taking the initiative and getting the help I needed with this problem. I made a choice not to wallow in fear and anxiety, but to take control and work out the problem with my doctor. My doctor is a very understanding person, and he recognized that the previous plan was not working effectively, and he was willing to resolve this situation that was causing me so much anxiety. I know he does not want me to fall through the cracks, and he will do what is needed to help me continue my successful mental health journey.

I also came away from this experience with a new sense of my own responsibility in my treatment plan. I had to learn to speak up to improve my situation. I could have easily gone on worrying at the end of every month when my medication was running low, but I did not have to do that. I am now an active participant in my treatment plan. I can make a difference in my own life by not allowing fear and anxiety to control me.

Getty image by PixelsEffect

Originally published: May 15, 2022
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