If you’ve read my other posts, you know that, though I’ve tried most forms of therapy, medication is the only thing that seems to keep the demons at bay. If you think that medication is ever a cop-out or the “easy way,” think again. Medication can be a terrifying road to go down.
First, there is the fact that you’ve turned some degree of control over to an external source. At 8 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and at 9 p.m., I take my OCD meds. I have an alarm set on my phone. I keep emergency pills with me at all times. I refill my prescription long before it runs out. If I don’t take my meds at those times, the effects set in within two to three hours. I get…cagey. I start feeling like a polar bear in a small enclosure–only that small enclosure is my own skin.
If I ever get sick, I can toss everything in my stomach EXCEPT my meds. Unfortunately, if I ever do have less in my stomach, it affects the dosing of my meds. So, if I’m dieting…the effects of my meds are stronger. If I’m eating less due to sickness…I get the double whammy of meds and being sick.
Being on time and that regular is that important to me. I can’t even take it once a day because of the high dose I’m on and the amount of time between doses when my mood drops savagely. I’m not typically depressed…unless I’m on meds and I’m not taking them on time or I’m going off them.
And if you think this level of control doesn’t burn, you’d be wrong. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is all about control. And, yet, I’m relying on these meds to keep me stable.
Secondly, there are the side effects. When we were first trying to find meds that’d work, I went through the whole list of scary side effects. If it was listed in “rare side effects,” I had it with one of the meds. We tried so many meds. We landed on three back then–only two of the three ended up having long-term side effects. So, I have one that I know I can take and the side effects aren’t AS bad.
The biggest problem with my core med is the memory loss. Obviously disrupting the obsessive thoughts is the goal, and my dark thoughts are some of the most disturbing aspects of OCD, so shorting out my memory accomplishes that. On the other hand, sometimes it gets to the point that I’m living in the day…like each day is an island in this washed-out fog of memories. I can’t always tell you what I did yesterday. I can’t remember what I’m meant to do tomorrow. I have today.
We’ve since tried a few other types. One caused severe migraines and weight gain. This additional med I’m on now seems ideal–if you don’t look too hard at it–or if I wasn’t a writer. Most of you know, I suffer from insomnia…or I did. This latest med makes me actually need sleep…like seven or eight hours of sleep. I fall asleep at around midnight–sometimes earlier. It sounds good, right? If you don’t know that I do most of my writing between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. and that’s when I’m most creative. Not to mention that I don’t seem to need much sleep off this med. I can get by on five hours of sleep for weeks. Sometimes, I can go down to two hours and function pretty normally. This medication is eating up my time. I should have finished the rough draft of this novel I’m working on, but I keep going to sleep during that time. Also, worst of all, I wake up feeling tired. I’m never getting enough sleep.
So, go off it, right? That’s the third thing that always factors in when I think of trade-offs: my family. I’m a better person when I’m medicated. Geez, it hurts every time to say that. This latest med has really taken more of the edge off my OCD. It’s bumped me from 30-40% symptom control to around 60%. Nothing is touching my Agoraphobia, but it is handling my OCD. So, is the dent to my writing life worth it for my family? Nothing is as important to me as my family. Nothing. But this issue with my ability to write…scares me.
Writing has always been somewhat magical to me. If I analyze it, I can’t figure out how I can write the things I write. Writing helps clear out the crowds in my head and is therapeutic in its own way. So, I’m always terrified that the meds will take that away. I feel like it’s enough of a mystery that it’s fragile. This med is doing that. It’s been insidious, and it’s mostly because it’s swallowing up my night time, but it’s happening. I started noticing it during NaNoWriMo and the suspicion has just grown. Now, I’m sure. But I still don’t know what to do.
The final trade-off is the expense. You have no idea how expensive meds can be. Our health coverage is much more forgiving currently, but there were years when paying for my meds cut into us deeply. Being sane…felt like a luxury we couldn’t afford. I felt apologetic for wanting it. In fact, I remember apologizing to my husband…who just blew it off like it was no big deal. He’s always treated it like medication for a sick person–I need it so I get it–end of story. He’s also let it be my choice whether or not I’m on meds or not, and I’ve gotten off meds because they’re so expensive.
Look at that…a list with four items. Wow, that makes me uncomfortable, but it is what it is.
So, if you know someone medicated for their mental health, and you’ve thought it was “easier” than therapy…it’s not, and many, like me, aren’t actually helped with therapy. If you’ve thought they’re not developing skills to cope in the future, there’s no way to develop those skills without some relief of symptoms. It’d be like learning how to shoot on the front lines.
If you’re currently medicated and making the trade-offs–dude, I know, but it’s probably worth it. Being healthy is worth it. There are people in your life who you need you as well as you can be…and they deserve it. You deserve it. *high-fives* If no one has ever told you, I recognize that you’re not taking an easy road, and I admire you for taking that step towards being a better you.
I can’t write this post without acknowledging that medication is NOT for everyone, and that therapy should always be considered due to the trade-offs of medication, and the long-term coping mechanisms that can be developed with therapy. I’m also not advocating you take any route of treatment without discussing it with a mental health professional or your doctor. This is just my story, and how I live. Do what is best for you.
If you haven’t read my other posts on OCD, they’re archived under the category of OCD.
Oh, for those wondering which paper doll person in my painting I identify most with–it’s the loner hanging next to the tape dispenser. Though I would always try to help someone from being trapped under the scissors too.