I have been burdened with side effects since the day I took my first psychotropic medication some 13 years ago. At that time the medication I was on made it impossible for me to be awake, pretty much ever. I had no idea how much hell I was in for and my doctor didn’t seem to believe me when I told him about it. So I did the responsible thing – I just kept taking the medication, hoped it would work and that the side effects would go away.
But that’s mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing. Today I know that severe side effects are something that we choose and are not something that is thrust upon us. We choose what we can live with, even tacitly, always have, always will.
Tolerable Side Effects
Today I still suffer with a range of side effects. Nothing quite so debilitating as not being able to wake up, but other things like headaches, cramps, fogginess, fatigue and body temperature dysregulation. But I have chosen these side effects. Which is to say that I prefer the side effects to not being on the medication. But that’s me.
Intolerable Side Effects
On the other hand, I have stopped medication because the side effects were not tolerable. Some medications make me feel so ill physically that their payoff (or lack thereof) doesn’t compensate for it. One that made me collapse in the kitchen at work comes to mind. (Although I even stuck with that one for months. I’m what you might call a trooper.)
Yes, We Choose Our Side Effects
But no matter how bad side effects are, I know that I can end them at any time by going off the medication. That is always my choice. I’m not “stuck” with them. I’ve chosen them. Because I feel that life, however imperfect, is better on the medication than off.
Well people tend not to understand this. Non-sick people don’t seem to fathom a disease that is so bad that you would rather have headaches, nausea, cold hands, dizziness and so on than have to deal with the disease symptoms. I cannot tell you the number of people who have asked me, “If it’s so bad, why do you stay on the drugs?”
Because. The drugs are better than no drugs. I’m not saying this is true in every case, I’m saying this is true in my case. In my case I know that without the drugs I would be dead. You can go through a lot of pain when the alternative is dead, trust me.
So yes, meds are a bitch. But bipolar is infinitely worse. I have chosen these side effects on purpose. I have chosen them because they are the best of all bad worlds.