Not Your Average Cocktail

drug-cocktailAs a teenager, I began going to therapy. Along with therapy came the psychiatrist appointments, evaluations, and medications. I started taking medication, mostly for depression at the time. Over time I was given medications for various things such as anxiety, mood stabilization, and sleep. I have been on more medications than I could count. I have had countless amounts of side effects due to various medications I was on. It was as if there was no middle ground for such a long, long time. I have had medication that has caused me to stop eating and I’ve taken some that have caused my appetite to shoot through the roof. Some medications kept me from sleeping much and others caused me to sleep for days. I dealt with years of various side effects. In the midst of all of the medication changes, came the dosage changes. 5mg may not be enough while 10mg would be way too much. When a middle ground couldn’t be found it was on to the next medication. Yet again, more changes, more adjustments. It didn’t stop for years and years. I lost count of all of the different brands of medicines that I have taken.

It wasn’t until I was older, probably in my late 20’s that I finally found two medications that seemed to agree with me, work together and help. But it was never just one or two medications though. I always seemed to be on a cocktail of medications, usually no less than 3/4 different ones. You take a medication that helps with your depression but now your anxiety is up, so you take another medication for that. Then you find that you are not sleeping well, so there’s another pill that the doctors want you to take. Your mood is way up or way down? Here’s another pill for that. It’s like a snowball effect. I’ve certainly been in that snowball that kept growing and growing up until I was on 7 different medications this past year. I was on medication for depression, for anxiety, for sleep, for nightmares, for mood stabilization, etc. Talk about a cocktail of medication!

I will admit that I was never the BEST at taking my medications for really long periods of time. I think different things played a factor in me not taking my meds as prescribed. For instance, I would start feeling okay and better and would “forget” to take my medications. I legitimately would just forget, I guess because I was feeling okay and it wasn’t clicking with me that I still needed to take the pills in order to stay feeling okay. I’d miss a few days and then my mood began going downhill, and quick. So I would pick up and begin taking my medications again. It became the norm for me. But that really isn’t and wasn’t the best way to take the medications. I would lie to my doctors and say I was taking them faithfully when in reality I wasn’t. When I finally began admitting that I wasn’t always 100% with my medications I then found out some things that could have happened as a result of going on and off of specific medicines. According to the doctor, there were medications I was on that could cause seizures if I suddenly stopped and started them again, at such high dosages no less. I’ve experienced many side effects from going on and off of medications. Still, I did the same thing which wasn’t very smart of me.

Being on 7 different medications seemed to be helping me but just for a while. At this point, I was faithfully taking them and had help from family members in doing so. I was being held accountable and I was doing the right thing according to the doctor. After a few months,  I began feeling bad again. I was on all of my medications at the time. In my pillsmind, I figured well if I felt bad anyway then why should I be taking them any longer? But I stuck with the medicine. At one point things began to get emotionally bad for me again. The suicidal ideation began again, the depression kicked in full force, the anxiety was up, and my sleep was down. I almost ended up being forced into a hospital because I felt so bad again. My therapist was worried, my family and friends were worried. I was worried at this point. Why weren’t these medications helping anymore?

At this point, I had felt I lost all hope and just didn’t want to bother anymore and simply wanted to give up. I wanted to give up the therapy, the medications, and the psychiatrist.  Fortunately, God had bigger plans for me. I met someone who changed my life from the very instant we met. (I’m pretty sure I will do a whole post on that at some point so I won’t get into too much detail with that just yet.) I was being guided in a much different direction, a spiritual direction. I felt that this was my last hope and although I hesitated I took a leap of faith and began working on my relationship with God. I made the choice to give my life to God and start walking that journey.

As far as my medications, I began praying about it. I ultimately felt led to stop taking all 7 of those medications and lean on the Lord instead. At first, I was unsure about it. I certainly wasn’t at a place where I was fully trusting God. To be honest I am still working on that. In my mind, I was going to end up worse than I was while on the medications. But I pushed myself to trust that this was a better step for me.

Fast forward to this moment in time. I am completely off all medications for my mental health and couldn’t be happier about that. I don’t rely on medications to “fix” me. I choose to put my energy into reading the Bible, attending church, Bible study and praying. I surround myself with more positive people and lean on my family, good friends and therapist when I need support. I choose to work hard on renewing my mind and take those negative thoughts and let them roll off my shoulders. It isn’t always easy and I find myself down and out at times, but those times are not nearly as bad as they used to be.

At the end of the day, there are things we need medications for and there is no shame in that. It took me a long time to get over being ashamed of having to take medications to help with my mental health. It bears repeating, there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to having to take medication for your mental health. It’s an illness that 6347-different_colored_pills_capsules-1200x628-FACEBOOK.jpgmedications help with. It’s just about finding the right medication and the right dosage of that medication. That part is far from easy and can be frustrating as well as discouraging.  You just have to choose to stick with that process. I did, even after so many years.

At this point, I feel as though I DID need those medications to help me manage my mental health issues. I believe that I can manage my mental health with the help from God as long as I stay faithful and trust in Him. I haven’t been on medications for roughly 4 months or so and even I am impressed with how well I have done. I used to think I would have to be on medications forever and that upset me a lot. That wasn’t something I wanted in my life. Right now, I am okay without the medicine. There’s always a chance that may change in the future and that’s okay. It certainly takes a lot of hard work on my part to be able to be off of medications. I have to make a conscious choice to keep myself together and not let myself run away with my thoughts, emotions, and feelings. That is what ultimately takes me way downhill.

I am not perfect, none of us are. I still struggle but I work on those struggles a bit differently now. I found different things that work for me during those struggles. That’s what others need to do, find what works best for you. I’m always learning and each time I struggle I find something new to do or am guided into taking a different approach than I am used to taking. I was afraid that I would begin self-harming regularly once stopping my meds and I haven’t. I have not allowed the enemy to win that battle. Some days I have to fight harder than others, but I am up for the challenge and the end result, of not self-harming, is so rewarding.

There is hope to be off medications. It just has to be done the right way and you have to be in a healthy enough place to make that choice. I still question if I was even in the right place emotionally to decide to stop taking my medications. But as I said, I felt led by God to stop taking them. That I could and would be better off of them. I trusted in him. That may or may not be the same way it would happen for you. So to anyone reading this, I urge you to stay on those medications if they are helping you, to work on changing them with a professional if they are not helping or seek other help if you are considering getting off of them. I didn’t do it perfectly and I should have tapered off of my medications and I didn’t. By the Grace of God, I was okay and didn’t experience horrible side effects of just stopping my medicines. I was not lucky, I was and am very blessed to have been able to get off of that many medications and be okay.

I, personally, trust in God and that is ultimately what gets me by and gets me through each day. I no longer need that cocktail of medication to get me by and for that, I am so thankful! There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Choose to keep hope alive.

Many blessings,
Lisa

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