The end of May marked my eighteenth month of being med free. Considering I have spent a large chunk of my life medicated, this has been quite an achievement. Paroxetine, Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Amitriptyline, Venlafaxine and Quetiapine have all played their part in keeping me afloat in times of trouble and casting them aside was never a decision I took lightly. Getting clean, as it were, was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do and having managed my condition fairly well without them for so long, the last few weeks have posed quite the dilemma for me.
May was both a spectacularly brilliant month and a spectacularly shit one. My boyfriend’s birthday, our one year anniversary, a positive encounter with the Psychiatrist, good grades at college and a place on next year’s course have all given me great cause for celebration. Yet I have spent much of the month depressed, dissociative, somewhat suicidal and engaging in self-harming activities that I’d genuinely believed were a thing of the past. More fool me and my Borderline ass.
My relationship with medication
I want to believe that these feelings are temporary. I want to believe that I will manage to regain my balance before too long and revert to being the complete badass that the break from pharmaceuticals has allowed me to become. However, my self-confidence is currently far beyond waning and the lure of that old devil that is anti-psychotic medication, is becoming harder and harder to resist. The many arguments I gave against taking such drugs are currently falling flat on their face in light of recent events, and I’m beginning to wonder if I really have the energy to continue fighting my own self without some kind of back-up. This shit is tiring.
Mood swings, depressive episodes, brief spurts of hypomania followed by the need to sleep for twelve hours straight. Being hyper sensitive. Feeling worthless. Wishing I were dead. Hating myself. Hating my face. Hating my body. Hating everybody else. Cutting. Dissociating. Eyeing up packets of pills and wondering if I have enough to OD…
“Battling against your own self-destructive urges day in, day out gets real old real fucking quick. And I find myself constantly asking if it’s really worth it.”
So, do I keep on struggling and hope I can reel it in before my brain hits full on Borderline “I’m going to destroy everything in my wake” mode? Or do I stop being so goddamn stubborn and discuss the possibility of medication with my Doctor?
Much as I cursed being sedated to fuck, we had some fun times together, my meds and I. I slept, I ate, I had a healthy level of self-esteem. I didn’t fly off the handle at every little thing. I didn’t wallow in self-pity for weeks on end. I gained weight. I gained confidence. I held down a job. I ran my own fucking business. I was successful, productive, driven and actually fun to be around. Was it really as bad as I previously made it out to be, or was my newfound independence clouding my judgement? Because right now it all sounds pretty fucking amazing to me.
So, what’s stopping me?
The complications of using medication
Well, for those of you that are unfamiliar with psychiatric medications, there are many complications. Particularly for those of us that suffer from Personality Disorders. Mostly, that there aren’t really any drugs that work for BPD specifically. There are drugs that will lessen symptoms, stabilize moods, alleviate depression, limit psychosis or help you sleep, but they won’t really do a lot to get you better in the true sense of the word. We’re not talking about a course of antibiotics for a chest infection here. Side effects are also of great concern. Drowsiness, irritability, sexual dysfunction, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, increased risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviour, serotonin syndrome… the list is endless and more than a little terrifying.
[What are the different types of personality disorder? Mind.org.uk]
There’s also the fact that despite all the shittiness my disorder may wreak on me, I actually quite like being me. One of the reasons I came off my meds in the first place was that I was sick of hiding who I was for the sake of others and that I wasn’t entirely sure who I was anymore anyway. Turns out that’s more to do with having a personality disorder than any side effect of the meds though so… yeah.
I suppose the real worry for me is that I’m being lazy and pussying out on a battle I’m more than capable of winning if I can just take my head out of my arse. But if I can’t get my head out of my arse long enough to regain some traction, who knows how far down that slippery slope to rock bottom I’ll end up? Being medicated for such an extended period made me feel that I was a slave to pharmaceuticals, that so long as I was reliant on them I would never truly be free to know myself and to explore my true potential. That as long as I was wrapped up in that drug-induced comforter, I would never really overcome the many challenges that having a Personality Disorder can entail, because there’d never be the need. At this present moment in time though, it’s not a head full of haze that’s holding me back, it’s me.
The return to medication
Eighteen months has given me more than enough time to become familiar with my symptoms. Eighteen months has given me more than enough time to see that although I do have the ability to fight a good fight, sometimes I just don’t have the energy. And I miss that energy the most. Perseverance is one thing, but killing yourself in the process because you were too damn proud to ask for a leg up is just plain silly.
Which beggars the question; Am I really giving up my psychological independence in resorting to sedation? Or am I finally granting myself freedom from the very chains that bind me?
I guess there’s really only one way to find out…