“Take your meds” or “Have you taken your meds today?” These are two thoughts I get from other people all the time. It’s no secret I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I talk about it a lot not to mention anyone that has met me can pretty much figure it out. However the most frustrating thing is for people to make comments regarding whether or not I’ve taken my meds for the day. Let me explain.
I have mood swings. That is a part of bipolar disorder. The thing is, everyone gets mood swings especially transwomen on HRT. Nobody tells a transwomen have you taken your estradiol today if she goes off on a random crying tangent, do they? Of course not. The thing is being bipolar is only a small part of who I am. I have other diagnosis too but I don’t let those define me either.
I have a complicated history with medication. Before I was diagnosed bipolar my earliest diagnosis was border line personality disorder with social anxiety and general depression. At the time I was in counseling I was in a dark place buried under the depression. My doctor prescribed me a host of anti depressants, mostly SSRI’s, none of which helped me. The doctors were treating only the symptoms I had expressed at the time. Because I did eventually come out of the depression the SSRI’s stopped working as intended I was having suicidal thoughts, inability to feel anything at all and complete loss of libido. These things were not things I was okay with at that time.
Getting off the wrong medications was a good thing for me. It meant I was free to feel again. I never recognized the manic episodes as such partly because I didn’t have words for it, also because mine manifested mostly in the form of anger. I burned that anger as fuel for all the different life ventures I tried from my DJing to videos, breakdancing and everything else. It took me a whole other decade before I was diagnosed properly. It took a comprehensive testing session that dug deeper into my brain than any doctor ever had before. Once I had a word for my troubles, bipolar, nobody I told was surprised. Even my mom said she assumed as much.
I had a pretty terrible experience with meds being on the wrong ones. I tried to kill myself, I made threats that landed me in hot water with the police, I was even kicked out of college and thus the college owned apartment where I lived at the time. I nearly found myself homeless. If my aunt and her husband at the time hadn’t taken me in I might have been homeless.
Whenever someone suggests I should take my meds or asks me if I have it offends me deeply. It’s something I will handle in my own way, on my own time. What I mean by that is I know how my meds make me feel. It is my decision to take them as directed, or to skip a dose so I can trigger mania. Why would I want to do that? Because the way the meds make me feel. Sometimes I feel dead inside. There are times I would rather feel manic than feel dead inside.
The other reason it bothers me is because it’s not everything about who I am. Sometimes I just get full of energy. Just because I am happy and bubbly doesn’t mean I am manic. Sometimes I have high energy just because I am having a good day. I shouldn’t be judged for having a good day no different than I shouldn’t be judged for having a bad day. I can take my meds as directed and still act loopy for a day, I’m a big old dork after all sometimes I just wanna goof around.
There is another reason it upsets me whenever someone inquires into my meds, it’s none of your business! I take 12 pills a day. Some of my medications conflict with others. While I know what the instructions are, I also know I have had conversations with my doctor. Missing a dose can actually be a good thing if it helps balance me out. That’s between me and my doctor.
There is one final reason I despise this line of inquiry. I don’t like being told what to do. It sounds childish but it’s true. Whenever someone tells me to do something even if it is the right thing to do and I was going to anyways as soon as someone tells me to do it I shut down. I refuse to do it then. While my bipolar disorder gets a lot of attention from those who know me and are close to me, it’s not the whole picture. I also suffer from PTSD. I am constantly on edge. I am in fight or flight mode literally 24/7. Even when I am a sleep I am rolling around in bed hyper aware of my surroundings. Part of where my PTSD comes from is being bullied. Therefore I get defensive naturally whenever I feel attacked. This isn’t a symptom of bipolar disorder. This is a symptom of my PTSD, again something my doctor is aware of. I do not take medication for PTSD, nothing more than just anxiety meds.
I can’t calm down. I am never at rest. The quickest way to get me into defensive mode is to tell me to do something I already know I should, or sometimes decide I don’t want to do for whatever reason. At the end of the day it’s nobody’s business if or when I take my meds.
To be perfectly honest there are days I just forget. There are also days I miss a dose on purpose for my own reasons. There are also days I put it off but take them eventually because guess what being bipolar does make me kinda scatter brained. Sometimes I just forget. Even with reminders in my phone. Trust me I take them when I need to. If I forget or I chose not to, either way it’s my business not yours.