A Day without Medication

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about SELF-HARM and SUICIDAL THOUGHTS which may be triggering to those who struggle with suicidal ideation, cutting and other forms of self-harm.

I take five different medications every night to help me manage my mental illness. That’s 14 pills every single night. I strongly dislike taking my medication. In fact, most nights, as I sit and wrestle with myself trying to take them, I often wonder how on earth I’ve managed to take my medication nearly every night for the past two years. I shake and shiver, and get goosebumps all over. Usually, the fear of having to spend a day without my medication scares me enough that I end up taking my medication, but there are some nights I either forget, fall asleep before I can take them and on some nights I lose the wrestling match to take my meds. That’s when things get interesting.

3:00 am: I’m most likely still awake. Two of my medications have sedating qualities to help me go to sleep. Without them (especially when I’m in my manic phase of bipolar), I usually can’t get to sleep. I’m also terrified of sleep due to the number of PTSD-induced nightmares, which doesn’t help my case.

5:00 am: Okay, I can’t put off sleeping any longer. I put on some relaxing music or an audiobook, and snuggle up under the covers. My mind freezes up as if I’m in fight or flight mode. I can’t lay still. I’m tossing and turning, shaking all the while.

6:00 am: Okay, seriously? I just need a few hours of sleep! Otherwise, this day is going to be 100x worse.

10:00 am: Hey! would you look at that? I finally must have fallen asleep! But that nightmare I just had scared the bejeebers out of me. No way am I risking another nightmare for ANY more sleep… wait, what was that banging? IT’s a robber, in the house. He’s going to come steal from my room and… oh wait, that’s just grandma preparing her breakfast.

12:00 pm: Wow, I’ve been switching between Instagram and Facebook for two hours… I would keep going but no one is posting anything new anymore. Man, I really don’t feel like doing anything else. I’m craving a muffin for breakfast.  But that means I have to get dressed and go to the store… ugh. I really want to, but I’m feeling really anxious. I’m kinda shaky, and going to the store requires people looking at me. I’d be a lot easier if I went with someone else, but I don’t want to risk scaring one of my friends.

12:34 pm: I have officially overthought going to the grocery store. I’m shaking at the thought and feel like I’m going to have a panic attack if I go to the store. Maybe I’ll just ride this feeling out and then go to the store. Feelings don’t last forever… how bad can it be?

1:15 pm: Okay. That was a bad idea. I’m thrashing and my head hurts so bad I’m on the verge of tears. My mental energy is slowly disappearing. At this point, I’m definitely considering cutting myself because the endorphins my body will release will help me out a lot. But I’m almost a year clean! Why would I risk my clean streak?

3:00 pm: I’m watching TV, coloring, and messaging with some friends. I’m starting to have suicidal thoughts, so all my energy is focused on coping in a healthy manner. I feel like I’m barely able to contain the harmful urges. Like I’m hanging on by my fingertips and it just takes one little slip to plummet into the darkness.

5:00 pm: I think I need to call someone for help. I’ve been feeling like this for hours and I’ve had no relief. So I pick up my cell and call my psychiatrist. I’m told I’ll get a call back from the psychiatrist on call as soon as they’re able.

5:28 pm: FINALLY. My phone rings. I explain what’s been going on. The psychiatrist recommends that I try to take my meds since that’s what caused this in the first place. And she tells me to call immediately if I become unsafe.

7:45 pm: I’ve been staring at my meds for hours. I try everything to get myself to take them. I’ve made a game out of it. I’ve tried focusing on one at a time. But no matter what, when it comes time to take them, my body just freaks out! I start kicking and groaning. I call the psychiatrist back. After we talk, I’m given two options: go to the ER or just ride everything out and take my meds tonight. Usually, I decide to stay home. Going to the ER can be a very trying time for mental health patients (I’ll explain in a post sometime in the future).

A day without my medication is usually the scariest and the hardest day I face in my recovery. Without my medication, I become very unstable and more often than not, become a serious risk to myself. I go into the darkest parts of my mind. I have really scary and disturbing thoughts that I have no control over. Those 14 pills keep me safe and stable.

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