It’s been eight weeks now since I started on my new medication. I had high hopes for it; my Consultant said he was confident that I could achieve “complete remission of symptoms”, and having never tried this group of drugs over an extended period before, I was open to his enthusiasm. I came off the medication I’d taken for 7 years with surprisingly little difficulty, and rushed around to get all the necessary blood tests and the required ECG and other health checks, so I’d be ready and able to get going at my next outpatients appointment. What a pleasure, exclaimed my Consultant, to have such a compliant patient!
I might not have been quite as compliant as I appeared. In fact, at the start of treatment I was really quite reluctant to give up the mania I was experiencing. Although I knew it was a part of my sickness, I mourned the passing of the soaring elation, the generous love for all humankind, the extra intensity of tastes and colours, the increased energy and productivity levels, the sensation that the universe was sending be beautiful and important messages, and believing that I could do or be whatever I wanted. People pay drug dealers to achieve those kind of experiences, while I was paying prescription charges to get rid of them. Of course, I knew I was living on borrowed time; my body was becoming exhausted from my mind’s refusal to shut up and sleep, and at any point the mania might suddenly stall and I would free-fall into acute depression.
But I kept taking the drugs exactly as directed. I accepted the many side effects. The sleepiness had by far the biggest impact on my life (see my post Yawn of the Meds), but there were other, freakish things that, Gentle Reader, I shall spare you. I saw it as all worth putting up with, if it bought me sanity and ability to function normally again.
Now I have reluctantly concluded – as has my partner – that the drugs don’t work. Not these ones, not for me. Three months after the start of my sick leave, I feel like I have come full circle in terms of my mood. Since starting the medication, I’ve experienced a period of near-normality, then an unexpected hypomanic phase, and now the pendulum’s swung back and I am depressed again – but now I’m sleepy with it. All the old feelings of worthlessness and stupidity are beginning to return, with an added layer of self-hatred for failing to respond to the drugs, and mounting anxiety than I might never feel “normal” again.