Me, Myself and Medication

I am in a relationship. It has been almost 7 years now since the relationship began. It wasn’t love at first sight – it started as a blind date. We hooked up one day on a recommendation and for a few weeks the relationship was quite rocky as we didn’t quite get along immediately. It was a couple of month before I came to the conclusion that the relationship was worth committing to and since them it has been a rare occurrence that we have spent a day apart.

I had many previous relationships, some were good but didn’t last long, some were bad, so bad that I was on the verge of suicide. I would say I had a lot more bad relationships than good relationships. I remember one in particular, 4 months into the relationship and I had gained 40% additional body weight but I felt bloody brilliant. I ended that relationship quite dramatically. How many relationships have I had in the last 15 years? I would say about a dozen or more.

I am bipolar and all these relationships were with medication, whether a single medication or a combination of medications. It was always a kind of lottery, some of them had intolerable side effects, some of them appeared to work for a short while but then I would become depressed or manic (Sometimes both together) again. Each one I gave my best shot, never gave up on a medication or combination of medications unless I was on it at least 2-3 months.

What is that wonderful combination that I am on now that has proved so successful? Well, there is no point in telling you that. You could try the same medication and find it intolerable or it could totally not work for you. I never discuss my medication with anyone, other than my pharmacist, doctor and wife (She picks up my prescription and checks its correct). I have one close friend who has bipolar and we did discuss our medications and to our surprise (NOT) we had both tried and failed with each other’s medication in one form or combination over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, the medication I am on has some undesirable effects on me. However, I have learned to live with these because without the medication, life could be intolerable. Intolerable not just for me but my family, friends and career. Whereas before my depression and mania could swing on a scale of -10 to +10, with this medication I never swing more than about -3 to +3. That for me is success and I can live with that quite happily. Long may it continue!!!!

So here are a few tips from me for those of you who regularly take medication for your mental health:

  •        I have an 18 year old son, I am too young to be a grandparent so like me with my medication, he never goes anywhere without a spare condom.Keep spare medication in your car, handbag, manbag, wallet. If you suddenly find yourself staying over at some-ones home without planning, then you should have some spare meds to reach.
  • If you have a repeat prescription, always get your next prescription as soon as your last repeat is dispensed from the pharmacy. Time runs away and suddenly you find that you only have a few days medication left and it’s a Bank Holiday weekend.
  • Last week I went away for 3 nights and when unpacking in my destination, realised I had not packed my medication. I rang a local chemist and explained the situation, they said to ring my Doctor and get a prescription faxed to them. I said it would be quicker for them to ring my chemist who knows me and validate my details and a copy of my prescription. No problem, 20 minutes later I arrived at the chemist and 3 days supply were waiting for me. It has happened to me in Bulgaria once as well, the Chemist there was great as well.
  • Medication can be very expensive and chemists are just like any other retailer. Shop around and while you are at it, try find a chemist that also opens on Saturday and Sunday or evenings.
  • You must be faithful to your medication, never forget it, don’t get drunk and fall into bed unless you have taken your medication (should you even be drinking with those meds?). Taking your meds should be like breathing, you do it without thinking. Who hasn’t got a smartphone these days – well set a calendar reminder for you to take your meds.
  • If you are in the process of changing meds or even dosage of meds, remember that it takes a while to build up a good relationship.
  • Finally, get to know your medication really well, discuss it with your doctor regularly and just like the stock market, doses may rise and fall (in conjunction with you and your doctor).

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