Thought of the Week: Don’t Stop the Meds

All right, confession time: about four weeks ago I stopped taking my medications.

I didn’t actually intend to – it just sort of happened. It was all very complicated and messy, to be honest with you; a while back I got too much of one prescription, which meant I still had some when it came time to renew the other ones, and suddenly I wasn’t able to keep track of which ones were current, which ones needed refilling and which ones had no refills left. I got scared of going to the pharmacist to find out, and worse, I had to cancel my psychiatrist appointment, and with the mess of drugs I never got the courage to pick up the phone and make another appointment.

Eventually the meds ran out, and I just stopped taking them. I suppose I have to admit that there was also a part of me that wondered if they were actually having an effect anyway. And for a while, there was really little effect.

Then I got sick, and it everything got screwy. I can’t honestly say whether not being on the meds contributed to it, but I came down with a fever, and it didn’t break for seven days. I had to call out of work, I felt completely delirious, I spent all day in bed alternating between shivering chills and drenching sweats. I suppose I’m lucky that I didn’t get a gastrointestinal bug and actually could stay in bed all day, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. I would wake up and be completely unaware of what time it was, or even what day it was. I would dream that I was late for work, and believe it when I woke up. I felt like I was permanently eating metal (does anyone else get that weird feeling in their mouth when they have a fever?).

Eventually it started to fade, and I was able to watch TV or go for a walk. It wasn’t another week fully before I was feeling myself again. Except, I wasn’t myself, because by then, the effects of going cold turkey on my medications were starting to kick in.

Believe me when I say it was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had. The heat that had begun during my fever didn’t abate, and I would drip sweat sitting around in my underwear with the air conditioning on. I don’t think I started shaking (or rather, it didn’t get any worse – I was already shaking from the meds in the first place), but I know that my mood and temper went suddenly out of whack. I got angry at the weirdest things. I don’t mean things that wouldn’t normally upset me, but things that wouldn’t normally upset anyone. I remember freaking out driving down a road because the branches of the trees on either side of the street weren’t the same height.

And with all of this came a sudden drop in mood, a depression that I of course didn’t recognize. I stopped writing; I stopped caring. It was a classic return to form for me, and it was a place I hadn’t been in for a long time. It was a place I hadn’t really wanted to return to, and mainly because once I’m there, I don’t want to leave. Depression is an addiction for me, and something I need to stay away from, for my own good.

In the end, it all came out that I wasn’t taking my medication again, and with help I was able to go to the pharmacist and find out that I did, in fact, have renewals for almost all of my prescriptions. I got them; I got back on the drugs. And the result?

I’ve written three chapters of The Redemption of Erâth, Book Two: Exile in less than two weeks, something that is quite a feat for me (I’m a comparatively slow writer). I noticed a bounce in my step the other day (I kid you not – I was highly embarrassed). And things aren’t bothering my anymore.

And well, really that’s it. I went off the meds, suffered the consequences, and went back on them. I suppose if anything, it proved to me that I really do need them. I still don’t know if I need all of them, but at this point I’m not willing to risk the consequences again.

So lesson learned: don’t stop taking the meds.


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5 thoughts on “Thought of the Week: Don’t Stop the Meds

  1. Would it maybe be easier to just get rid of the depression instead of using the psych meds to cover it up?

    • I’m actually going to psychotherapy as well; the depression itself is a long, complicated battle for me. The biggest problem is that I *like* being depressed. The medications are primarily mood stabilizers – the depression is a battle of its own.

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