One of the things I hear as a bipolar person that seriously makes me scratch my head is "mentally ill people stop taking their medicine because they feel better!"
....huh? Seriously folks, if any of this nonsense actually made me feel so good I decided I was cured, I'd be trying to mainline the stuff. It just doesn't work that way. Am I saying that nobody ever does this? Of course not. People do dumb shit all the time..but what I'm saying is that if it sounds ridiculous, as this does, it probably *is*.
Since I began treatment in approximately 2001 (when my bipolar bomb went off), I've been on more medicines that I can remember. At some point I stopped taking all of them, except for my current dose of Cymbalta, which is a whole other monster in itself. I'll try to start from the beginning:
Zoloft: I don't remember much about the night I decided I had a serious problem, but I remember I had been miserable and suicidal for awhile, and I had an episode where I started crying and couldn't stop. For hours. Hours of crying and overall acting like a ninny later, I drove myself to the ER and asked for help. I was promptly locked up in the wacky shack and pumped full of Zoloft. Three days later I was feeling great! A few days after that I was released from the hospital. A few more weeks and I was standing in my living room, shrieking nonsense, and throwing furniture like a chimp on PCP. Pro tip: if you are bipolar and you take Zoloft, YOU GO COMPLETELY BATSHIT CRAZY. Needless to say, that was the end of the Zoloft. I went back to the hospital for another stay at Hotel California. At no point did I think I was "better", I was just a new form of awful.
Wellburtin/Depakote combo: This worked a little better for me in that I didn't hurl large objects around the house or speak in tongues, but I got to learn a new fun phrase called "orthostatic hypotension." The is a technical term for "Sandi-go-boom." What could be more fun than cracking your head and face randomly on the floor without warning? I know! Trying to make a right turn in your car and ending up on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the street! When it got to the point where I couldn't walk across a room without face-to-the-floor, I called it quits. I have to give my doctor credit though, I was much less depressed while semi unconscious.
Lithium/Risperdal/Seroquel: Ohhhhh, THIS was fun...or something. The lithium made me stupid as a post to the point where I couldn't answer simple questions, I lost my sense of smell and I couldn't feel my hands. The risperdal gave me a wonderful condition known as tardive dyskinesia, which had me drooling, twitching, unable to chew or swallow, and I couldn't focus my eyes. I was also sleeping literally 15 hours or more a day- but again, I guess the logic is "you can't kill yourself in your sleep!" I still wanted to die all the time, I was just too busy twitching and drooling and sleeping to actually get around to it. After begging my doctor for help and getting "meh, you're stable for now", I had had enough. Does this sound "cured"? Not unless you're a moron. Oh, and did I mention I didn't have health insurance at the time, and risperdal and seroquel were each several hundred dollars for a month's supply? How much do you think I was able to work in this condition?
Elavil: I ate the whole bottle and woke up with tubes in my everywhere. This was just complete and total fail.
Neurontin: I forgot how to drive a car. While driving. I made it to the ER and by the time I got to the desk, I couldn't remember my name. Thank God I didn't kill anyone. It was like my entire brain shut off.
My current med, Cymbalta: I've been on and off Cymbalta for I think three years now. Besides for the insane withdrawl if I miss a pill, it's kept me the most "alive" out of all of them. The times I've had to do without it were either financial (it is NOT CHEAP), or when I was having surgery or other medical problems. One of the annoying factors about Cymbalta is that it interacts with EVERYTHING, so I couldn't take pain killers and a lot of other meds I needed while on it. Since I was having a hysterectomy, I said screw the cymbalta for awhile. I'm back on it and although I still have problems, I'm not crying all the time and thinking of ten million ways to die, so it's something. I want to say it has greatly increased my anxiety, though. But I'll take what I can get.
One of the things I wish people would understand is that a lot of us NEVER feel "good", we just feel "less bad." Telling me "Make sure you take you're meds even when you feel good!" is just so insulting and ridiculous.
You mean I'm not cured?!?! REALLY?!?!?! Thank you, random asshole! What would I ever have done without you....