It’s been 18 months. 18 months of drowsily popping three pills every morning out of one of those translucent, labeled packages old people use for their various medications, making me feel about 60 years older than I am. It’s been 18 months of sporadic panic attacks on days where I think I’ve forgotten to take them, fearing the inevitable nausea and vertigo that always ensues. It’s been 18 months. Finally, finally I’m reducing them and I should be filled with relief, with liberation.
Only I’m not. I’m beyond petrified, living in fear of relapse. I’m chalking every bad day, every reaction to normal, everyday occurrences as side effects of reducing my meds. Anything that goes wrong I blame on the change, I feel weaker because of it. However, it isn’t all bad. I’ve learned a lot over the past two years and become stronger than I ever knew possible. That includes learning not to trust the voice in my head whispering thoughts of self-doubt, dangerous temptations which would allow me to slip back into old habits. Yes, it’s scary but I know I can get through it.
I’m learning to trust myself again and those instincts I’ve been told so long that I need to question- is it the illness or an actual thought. I’ve learned to roll with the punches and take things as they come. I’ve dealt with criticism, pity and blatant insults.
I’ve heard it all. I’ve been told I’m poisoning my body, subscribing to a system based around benefitting the pharmaceutical industry with little concern for the actual health of a patient. I’ve been told I’m addicted and that’s what causes the nausea and the vertigo when I don’t take it. I’ve been told I’m weak for not trying to ‘get over it’ myself, without the help of medicine and likewise, I’ve been told I’m brave and strong for deciding to come off it (despite the fact that it’s at the advice of my doctor who supposedly benefits from my ‘addiction’). Despite all of this (and whilst it may anger half the population who subscribe to such conspiracy theories) I believe that for me personally, it was the right decision.
I was in a dark place for a lot of the year I turned 16. I couldn’t leave the house, couldn’t motivate myself to do anything and isolated myself from everyone around me who cared about me. I spent more nights than I can count lying in bed or on my floor tearing my hair out, tears running down my face with my chest heaving, desperately hating every inch of myself. I spent mornings in front of the mirror, tearing myself down for both my physical appearance and who I was as a person, who this illness had made me become. After the worst night of my life, it was decided that I’d change my medication and I have honestly never felt better. It took time for me to recover and whilst medication wasn’t the only thing that helped- I had to learn a lot myself. At the time it was what I needed to keep me out of a facility and for that, I am forever grateful.
So yes, I am not weak or lazy for being on medication and I do not in the least regret it. By the same token, this fear I feel at coming off them is natural but I finally understand that I am strong enough to get through it. I’ve been through worse and I am finally at a point where I’m ready to face the world without my brace, without the net. I feel more empowered than ever before and the world had better be ready.