I came across this post on the Being Beautifully Bipolar blog this weekend and I thought it really served as a reminder for many folks who are currently taking medication, or in therapy, for a mental health issue.
In the post, Elaina talks about getting angry at her situation, and deciding to simply stop taking her medication.
She then goes on the talk about the bad results of that decision, which I appreciate her for doing. It takes a lot of courage to come out to the online world and admit that you made a mistake, and she does a good job of admitting it, and encouraging others to not make the same mistake.
I will second that advice. During the time that I was being medicated there were two different times where I simply got frustrated with what was going on, that things were not progressing well, and I was simply tired of all the work I had to put in just to stay healthy. So I decided, on my own, to simply stop going to see my therapist, and stop taking my anti-depressants.
The first time, I suffered my second dissociative episode less than a week later. Without the anti-depressants to act as my safety net, when things got stressful, I went back into being that child who “zoned out” during the abuse, only I lost a week of time before my then-wife and her family found me and brought me home.
The second time, I was already in the process of getting divorced so there was no one to find me, and while I do not believe I suffered any fugue states, I did fall into a deep depression, stopped even trying to take care of myself and got to spend a lovely 9 days in a hospital followed by months of bed rest to recover from the physical ailments I managed to get myself into by not taking care of myself. Sickness that was complicated by living on the streets and making no attempt to access healthcare for myself. In fact, had someone else not found me lying passed out in front of an abandoned building and called an ambulance, I’m sure I would not have even made it to the hospital. (104F temperature, irregular heartbeat, severe dehydration, viral infection, etc.)
The point I’m trying to make in reveling you with my own tales of woe is not to make you feel sorry for me. It’s to point out how very dangerous it was for me to simply stop going to therapy and stop taking medication that was in place to protect me from exactly these sorts of reactions. It’s not a good idea.
If you want to make a change, talk to your doctor, and your therapist about having an exit strategy. Eventually, I was able to stop taking medication. I was even able to stop going to therapy. It does happen. People do get better. But it needs to happen as a part of treatment, with the proper supervision, and the proper procedures in place. When I went through that with my therapist I was able to take all of the healing, and the new skills I had learned to avoid the pitfalls without my old safety net. Deciding for myself that I didn’t want the safety net, did not work. It was disastrous.
So take your meds. There’s a reason that you have them, and talk to your doctor about what that reason is and what has to happen to stop taking them. And if you never get to stop because they are what keeps you healthy, so be it. A healthy you taking medication is better than the alternative. No different than people ho have to take blood pressure medication, or thyroid medication. They aren’t “weak” for needing mediation, and neither are you.