A Bad Day: Why Medication Is NOT a Weakness

Wile E Coyote

I forgot to take my Lamictil last night. I feel like shit today. I took it this morning when I remembered but then I forgot to take my Prozac. I was dragging all day and nearly in tears because it was horrible.

I didn’t feel half as bad as I did before medication. I’m surprised I lasted all those years without it. I should be dead and somehow, I’ve clawed my way through to the other side.

Yesterday, I listened to a woman cry out her frustration on the phone. She has fibromyalgia, which is basically your body telling you to go-fuck-yourself. It’s mistaken for Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis and is often misdiagnosed for years.

No one believes her pain is real because they can’t see it, but it destroys her days and nights. She battles through every moment of pain and knows very little relief. A single mom and facing the indifference of her employer, she works until she drops. And the vicious cycle repeats.

Fibromyalgia’s physical pain is probably the best analogy I can make to how Bipolar feels in the mind. Both have something to do with the nervous system but the damage occurs in different ways. One is physical, one is “psychological,” and the people who carry these illnesses suffer in silence.

I do not want to be that person again, suffering and scaring my loved ones. The medication helps so much because when I forgot to take it today, when my routine was interrupted, the aftermath reminded me that I am very ill. I will not get better without my meds. I’ll fight this battle for life.

I talked to one of my friends about how down I felt, how hard it was to accept that I had Bipolar, and how hard it was to accept that it wasn’t my fault. I’m angry at society and the people who hurt me when I couldn’t defend myself. I’m angry at the people who made fun of me and shamed me for being different.

I rage for the broken, little girl that I found in a broom closet, beneath the stairs, in the basement of my subconscious. There is so much anger and all it does is poison me.

I cried to my friend on the phone, and instead of telling me it was going to be all right, he said, “I’m here.” His words lifted a burden from my chest. There was no “advice.” He has no idea what my illness is like and he acknowledges that he can’t fix it no matter what he does.

It took a while for him to get to this place where he stopped trying to fix me, but only after seven years of friendship. He watched me deteriorate. His frustration was as unhelpful as his advice but he’s a true friend. He kept trying until he figured out the equation.

I can’t think of anything that anyone has ever done to make me feel as safe as his two words. He didn’t promise a better future because that’s up to me. Fragile as I was, his understanding filled in some of the slash marks the illness leaves now and then, soothing the wound like a balm of Comfrey.

I told him my deepest fear, that I would age into this lonely, old lady who kept forgetting to take her medication. I’d end up wandering through Target in my dressing gown only to have a melt-down because corn pads were no longer in stock. This is a viable reality for me. Jail time could be an option.

He didn’t laugh, though there was a dark humor to the scenario. Instead, he offered to remind me to take my medication. In that moment, he not only comforted me, but my acceptance of his help comforted him. It’s not easy for anyone to walk this tightrope of well-being or to watch from the ground.

Just because I feel better doesn’t allow me to deny that I have an illness or that medication is the reason I’m okay. For nine years, I denied that I had asthma or that I needed medication to manage it. After semi-annual bouts of bronchitis and increasing allergic reactions that set off moments of terror as I fought for breath, I broke down. I take my medication daily and if I don’t, I pay.

I will do my civic duty. I won’t let my family and friends worry needlessly. I won’t grumble at my friend when he tells me to take my meds. I’ll swallow the damn pills and remind myself that I may be ill, but I don’t have to be miserable.

©2017 I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

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