I finally feel like I am on the right medication combination for my mental health disorders. It took 20 years of trial and error and getting prescribed more medications than I can even remember to get where I am today. I honestly felt like I’d never get to the point where I am okay on all my meds without any major side effects.
Finally! The Right Combination…
The trial and error part almost killed me once because my Lithium levels were sky high and started to shut down my kidneys. I was hospitalized and told I would need dialysis but thank my lucky stars that I recovered faster than anticipated and didn’t need it. My body can’t tolerate Lithium or anything in the Lithium family. A few of the ones I tried in the Lithium family would cause me to swell really bad in my legs and would lock my leg muscles so I could hardly walk and it was just horrible.
My current psychiatric med regimen consists of Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), Trazodone, Quetiapine (Seroquel), Buspar, and Prazosin (Mini Press). Ritalin is for my ADD, Prolixin is for my Bipolar Disorder, Trazodone is for my insomnia, Seroquel is for my bipolar, anxiety, and insomnia, Buspar is for my anxiety, and the Mini Press is for my nighttime PTSD flashbacks.
[I am by no means telling people to try the medications that I am on because everyone is different and medications affect different people differently. What works for you might not work for me, and what works for me might not work for you. I just wanted to share the combination of meds that finally tackled and helped with my rapid cycling and anxiety because it’s finally a step in the right direction for me.]
If You Are Struggling With the Med Game…
To anyone that is currently struggling with their psychiatric medication roller coaster ride and feels like they can’t do it anymore and wishes they could just stop with the med game, please don’t give up hope. I am living proof that things can and will eventually work out when it comes to finding the right medication combination.
I know 20 years is a long time, but since I am still alive and breathing I am grateful for being able to finally feel okay and content more often than not. It’s better late than never, as they say. I can’t lie though, as happy as I am that I am finally on the right med combo, I still have this nagging worry that it’s not going to last long. But that is probably only because I have felt like I was on the right meds in the past but ended up either having an adverse reaction to the med after some time or it just outright doesn’t help. I worry that the past is going to repeat itself or that I will build a tolerance to the meds that decrease its effectiveness over time.
I try not to worry too much about that though, but the thought pops up randomly. I just want to enjoy the feelings of being okay and content at where I am at and how I am feeling. It’s taken a long time to find something that helps control my rapid cycling. It’s wonderful to be at my baseline more than before.
I think the only downfall to these meds is that I am completely groggy in the morning from the Trazodone and Seroquel and it takes me a while to fully wake up. Plus, sometimes during the day I will get waves of drowsiness and I even sometimes fall asleep at work accidentally. I don’t think I have gotten caught so far but, honestly, it’s only a matter of time with how much it happens.
Losing a Friendship
I have lost a friendship recently with someone who said they considered me to be like their best friend. It’s over something incredibly stupid too that made her decide to stop talking to me. The situation was that one day when she was supposed to come over and hang out after not seeing each other for a while, she bailed on me and I was disappointed in her and told her so.
That same day, there was a water main break close to my apartment that caused my water to become undrinkable and unusable. So, I had also planned to go to my mom’s to eat and shower since our water was dirty after she left. Had she told me that she wasn’t going to make it instead of waiting until 15 minutes after she was supposed to be here, I could have gone to my mom’s earlier to get everything done so I wouldn’t have to stay out so late. I tried explaining that to her but she didn’t seem to get it or she just didn’t care.
Then the next time she was supposed to hang out with me another situation popped up for her and she bailed again. I told her that I didn’t know when we’d ever be able to hang out because it never seems to work out and that sentence right there is what supposedly pushed her over the edge and made her stop talking to me. I just don’t get it and she never seems to want to talk about it. If she really thought of me as her best friend she wouldn’t cut contact over something like that. Instead, she’d try to talk it out.
We haven’t talked for a few weeks. I text her today and just said, “Hey, it’s been awhile,” and hours later there is still no reply back. Even though I am frustrated with her for claiming to be a best friend but yet she can block me out over something dumb and petty, I feel like this happens way too often. Which makes me take a look at myself and try to figure out why people just bail on me out of the blue.
Does this ever happen to other people too, where friends or loved ones walk away from you over something petty and it’s happened more than once in their lifetime? I sometimes feel like maybe I am a little too mean and moody towards my loved ones at times. But isn’t that normal? Doesn’t everyone get in a mood once in a while and get snappy toward the people you care for? Maybe it’s a tad bit more frequent for me because of my mental health issues but after I calm down I always apologize if I feel like I was in the wrong.
Sometimes when I am arguing with friends and I know I am right or have valid points I will still apologize anyway just to end the fight. Sometimes I will also apologize and tell the person it’s because I saw where I fucked up on my side of the street, but ask them if they are able to be an adult and see their part too. When I apologize with the last part, that can sometimes set people off if they aren’t able to look at the whole picture and see where they were wrong too.
Losing this friend frustrates me, like I said, but I am not really all that sad and depressed over the loss of her friendship like I thought I would be. I just feel a little lonelier at times when the main people I talk to are busy and I need to talk to someone.
I don’t want to trash her. That’s not my point. She was there for me a lot. She was even one of the two people who were waiting for me in my hospital room while I was having the ectopic pregnancy surgery. I am forever grateful for that. She bailed me out of some tough spaces sometimes too.
I honestly thought we had built a strong friendship that would last like my friendship with my bestie of 22 years, Jazmine. So when she cut me out of her life, I think it shocked me more than anything. I was hurt at first, but then the anger and frustration kicked in when I started to realize that I must not have meant that much to her if she can walk away over bullshit.
I am still not sure if I should keep trying to reach out and try to fix this or if I should walk away and leave it as it is. I am mixed about this. It’s almost like she ghosted me. I really thought she was more mature than this too. You can never really know a person completely no matter how close you think you are to them.
On a more positive note, I feel like the current relationships in my life (love, family, friends, and professional relationships) are doing really well. I have been trying to watch my temper around people. I try not to argue and try to avoid conflict. I try to listen to the other person’s side of the story and see things from their point of view as well as mine. (I may not be in AA anymore but one thing it has taught me is how to look at my side of the street. That means that I look at the situation and see where I was wrong and work on fixing it when the other person allows.) I am trying to help build up my loved ones by showing them support and being there for them when they need me.
My boyfriend and I are doing well and haven’t been bumping heads as much as we used to. My bestie and I are doing great and I feel closer to her than ever and even plan on getting together this weekend. My mom and I are getting along well. My siblings and I are getting along even though we don’t really get to talk much because of our schedules. I would like to spend more time with them. My professional relationships are also doing well right now. And right now, these are the main relationships in my life that I want to hold on to.
After having a bad week at work not too long ago that had me questioning whether or not I can handle this job, things really turned around this week to my surprise. I learned some new things and was given more responsibility. I was put in charge of monitoring employee clock-ins and clock-outs. And the system is so confusing and most of the staff don’t understand how to use it properly and are always messing up their times which I have to go in and correct.
The only thing with this responsibility is that it’s now state mandated for employees to use this screwey system to punch in and out and after having to correct it too many times the state gets involved. So far, every day this week I have had to correct most of the staffs times.
What sucks is that there isn’t a training or testing system to use so that I could actually try to use the system to see how it works so that I could better help the employees. I know everyone is frustrated with it. The state probably mandated it to better track employee hours to avoid people lying on their paper time sheets and to make sure clients are getting billed properly.
I am actually proud of myself for how I handled work today. It’s a weird feeling to be proud of myself because it doesn’t happen all that often. My boss was out of town and I, being the only other person in there, ran the office and handled all the situations like a pro. I handled everything smoothly. My anxiety didn’t even spike during difficult or confusing tasks. Today made me feel like maybe I can handle this job after all. I just hope next wee goes as smoothly.
This week actually flew by. It was Friday before I realized it. Now I get the next two days off.
Abandonment Issues & Friendships When You Have a Mental Illness
I think the one good thing about losing this friend is that it made me want to take a better look at how I treat people. Not necessarily because of the specific circumstances that ended the friendship but more because she’s not the first person to disappear on me. I have serious abandonment issues that started when I was really young when my dad first walked out of my life. After that, it feels like everyone is always leaving me and it makes me feel like it’s my fault for everyone bailing on me.
After so many losses it makes you feel like your defective or like something is wrong with you. I know for me, my bipolar disorder and anxiety cause a lot of strain in my relationships at times because I sometimes feel like I can’t control myself. Like someone else is behind the wheel and I am in the trunk totally unaware of what’s going on. But I do think my new med combination is helping with this.
When I am mean to my loved ones, they don’t realize that I totally beat myself up for it afterwards. I start to regret shit I’ve said and wish someone would have put soap in my mouth to shut me up. It’s happened more times than I can count.
Sustaining relationships when you are bipolar adds a major challenge at times. Keeping relationships healthy for “normal” people can be hard at times so imagine throwing in mental health issues that cause you to have mood swings and outbursts and that can cause your mind to lie to you and twist the truth.
When I am having a bad day, being cordial can become challenging and I sometimes take things out on innocent bystanders. I don’t mean to but it just happens. I end up blurting out whatever is on my mind no matter how hurtful it can be. I speak before I think sometimes and that really tends to get me in trouble.
I have really been trying to be mindful of all my downfalls so that I can build healthier relationships with people. To be honest, my bestie and I used to fight regularly for a while there but lately things have been great and I have been working on how I treat her and talk to her.
I even seen this adorable keychain that says, “I am thankful for you, bitch.” and immediately thought of my bestie and ordered it for her, I was able to give it to her today and she loved it. She is always doing little things for me that means the world to me and she always thinks about me when she goes shopping and sees unicorn things because I am obsessed with unicorns. I want to do more little things for her to show her that I care about her and think about her.
I don’t have many people in my life anymore. But I love and cherish the people who are in my life.
I have an amazing friend that I met through the My Bipolar Mind Facebook Group who I’ve become really close to and we plan on visiting each other in the future after the whole pandemic has subsided… whenever that might be. I am so excited to meet this girl in person, she’s like my soul sister that I can tell anything to.
I have another good friend that I can go some time without talking to and then when we talk it’s like nothing has changed and we are still good friends. It’s like we reconnect automatically and she and I have been talking more often lately too.
I have my best friend of 22 years and I love her to death. We are so close that when I was originally supposed to marry my boyfriend, her dad was going to be the one to walk me down the aisle. We’ve had so many ups and downs but we always come back to each other and build up a stronger relationship. We have been through it all together. We met in 6th grade in Mrs. Salters class. She was 11 and I was 12.
The crazy thing about our friendship is that we would’ve never met if I hadn’t failed first grade when I was younger. I would have been a grade above her. We’ve joked that I failed because she and I were just destined to be friends. We’ve been through hell and back together and I would do anything for her and her kids.
I have a lot of people who claimed to be my friend that faded into just acquaintances over time. After a while, you get tired of being the person who always has to reach out to someone since they never seem to reach out to you first. Friendship is a two-way street. If I start to feel like a person stopped putting effort into the friendship I start to put my wall back up and distance myself. Real friendship should be equal and not one-sided. After a while, I finally get the point that maybe the person doesn’t really want me in their life.
I Won’t Be Returning to AA
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Alcoholics Anonymous. While some of their principles and beliefs are great to know because some things can really help you in your everyday life and they can help you better your relationships, I just couldn’t shake the cultish feeling vibe that I got from AA. I don’t believe it’s right for people in AA to tell others who are in recovery that isn’t in a program that they will never make it without the program. Many people claim people trying to get sober will “die” without the program. But not everyone needs AA or a program to get and stay sober. Some people can use other means.
Not everyone feels comfortable with the program because it is highly God-oriented and not everyone believes in God or a Higher Power but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get and stay sober. In AA, I struggled a lot with the Higher Power portion which can easily throw off the whole program for you because in the end you’re supposed to have a spiritual awakening.
But, in all honesty, I don’t know what I believe in. My mind is at war between wanting to believe in religion but also wanting to go with science since some things just don’t seem realistic or make logical sense. I believe that there is something out there that’s greater than me but I just don’t know what that entity is and it’s confusing for me. For all I know, it could be aliens.
After months of not going to AA meetings or working on steps, I feel like I am doing better than I was in the program. I know that because I am saying this stuff that if any of my AA acquaintances read this, I’ll probably be blocked in their phone before this entry is even finished. I’ve had people bail on me after my relapse even when I went right back to the program.
I gave AA my full try and a couple of years. I’ve seen how judgemental some people in the program can be. Some people form like cliques and if you’re not in with them then they don’t even want to acknowledge you. The women can especially be like that. That is why I always hated going to the women’s meetings. They form groups and I was never good enough to be in any of them.
I feel like while in AA I always had to point out my flaws more often than I’d like which made my low self-esteem even lower while working the steps. My first year sober was like the worst of my life and I feel like my mental health crashed down a hill and took years to climb back up. My old therapist even had me pause my step work because going over all my traumas and resentments caused me to sink into a depression and feel stuck in the past. It retraumatized me.
There are also some people in the program who consider taking any medication as using drugs especially if they are psych meds because they “alter your mood.” That alone isn’t right and telling someone with a medical condition that they shouldn’t take their medications is absurd and detrimental to some people’s health when they agree to stop their meds because their sponsor told them to.
I feel like AA is great for some people and it has really helped many people get and stay sober but it isn’t for everyone. I am not trying to knock the program, I am just telling my experience with it which will be a different experience for someone else.
When I was active in AA I felt like I had so many people who understood me and that I could talk to and that had my back but as when I slowed on being active most of those people stopped talking to me. I feel like I lost every single friend I had in AA, even those who I got extremely close to and thought would stick around. It’s like if your not in the program to the fullest people want nothing to do with you and they cast you out. Why can’t some of those people try to still keep friendships even with people who have fallen out of the program? It’s like they flip a switch and you no longer exist to them. It’s pretty hurtful actually.
My Mental Health
I feel like despite some minor setbacks like losing a friend, I am in a good place and like I will be okay. I still have moments where I will fall into an episode of either mania or depression but they are more manageable lately and don’t make me feel like my life is over every time my mood shifts. I don’t know how long this will last but with the right meds it’s definitely gotten easier to manage my symptoms.
I have had a few anxiety flare ups but they didn’t progress into panic attacks. I was able to try some easy coping techniques to get me through the flare ups. Sometimes little things will still set me off but I am able to manage them without having a total breakdown. I have been handling work stress well this week and sometimes just need to walk away, go smoke a cig, and then come back and deal with the situation a bit calmer and more collected.
It feels great to not be swinging all over the place contanstaly with my emotions and moods. Part of me feels like this is too good to be true. What’s the catch? I want to enjoy this feeling to the fullest but like I said earlier, I have some worries and doubts. My mind is trying to justify how it took me 20 years to get here and have had so many complications with meds that I am just waiting for something to go wrong because that is what has always happened in the past.
When history has repeated itself quite a few times you pretty much start to expect it to happen again. It’s going to take time to see where this goes but I hate waiting. I need to work on my patience because I have none.
My thoughts sometimes run wild and start to create problems or worries out of nothing. I need to work on countering negative thoughts but its hard for me because my mind will counter every positive thought that I try to think and make it into a negative and it just repeats over and over. Negative thought, counter to a positive, re-counter to a negative, back to a positive and so on. This can go on for a while and the negative thoughts usually win. I don’t know how to stop this cycle.
I know if I could control my thoughts better that I’d be happier and less anxious and worried all the time but I just don’t know how. My mind is what brings me down most of the time. I question everything. There’s always some type of war going on in my in mind because I can’t decide on something and half of me will feel and think one way and the other half thinks and feels the opposite. I’m divided on things a lot more than I should be.
I am also scared of so much and I am usually always worried about someone I care about for whatever reason. I am a worrier. It drives me and the people around me insane. When someone leaves me house I always ask them to call me when they get home so that I know that got home okay. I am always telling people to drive safe because I worry that they could get into an accident.
It is possible to be okay and content in life and still worry a lot, which is something that I am learning. And being okay and content doesn’t mean that you won’t have bad days. It just means that you are learning how to deal with them better.
My mental state can change at any time and I am fully aware of that since I have been dealing with my mental health issues for about 20 years. But at least right now I am trying to do the best that I can and just make it through every day. I have to always keep in mind that I am sick and now weak.
I know this post is another long read, and this might be repeating myself but if you are struggling right now, don’t give up. The bad days will eventually fade into some good days. I understand that the good days don’t last forever so you have to cherish them and make the best of them when they happen. And when the bad days start to return, hold on to the hope that you know things can get better because they have before. You are not alone in your struggle.
When I am really struggling and just want to give up, I try to find at least one thing to hold onto that keeps me grounded and alive. Sometimes all you need is that one thing.
Stay safe everyone!
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.