8 things you’ll only understand if you take medication for your mental health

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Hattie Gladwell

I’m not ashamed to have to take medication – because, that’s just that – I have to take it to enable me to live a ‘normal’ life. Seeing as though my mental illness is a mood disorder, I need to take certain things to stable it out. And so, I take Lithium to stabilise my mood, and Chlorpromazine, an anti-psychotic, to control any bouts of mania or psychotic episodes. I don’t hide the fact I need to take medication, but as anyone who takes medication for an illness that is not physical will know, sometimes you feel you have to out of fear of judgement. And it can really suck. Here are 8 things you’ll only understand if you take medication for your mental health.

1. People sometimes look at you as though you’re a junkie

Be that doctors, pharmacists or even passing strangers – walking into the chemist with a piece of paper full of prescriptions often sparks some confused looks. When you look just fine, people won’t understand your need for a whole bunch of pills – instead, they’ll look you up and down and question whether you ‘really need’ all this medication. To which you always think: ‘Why do you think I’ve been prescribed it?’

2. Or it seems as though you’re not taking enough

People don’t realise that, unlike Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, medications such as Lithium come in doses. So yes, while I am only taking three tablets, I am taking the top recommended dose. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked: ‘So how many tablets do you have to take?’ only for them to say after I’ve responded: ‘Oh, is that all?

3. If you take your pills at night, you’re forever feeling groggy in the morning

It seems almost impossible to wake up in the morning when you’ve taken your pills the night before. Especially when you’ve forgotten about them and taken them later than normal, so that the following morning, they’re still strongly in your system when you desperately need to focus. Cue always taking your pills extra early when you need to be up before sunrise.

4. But taking them in the day is just too much to remember

The best way to go about taking your pills throughout the day? A pill organiser. Because, when you have to take a different pill every other hour, it becomes confusing and you end up questioning whether you’ve even taken something that you almost definitely have. Nobody likes accidentally double-dosing.

5. The side effects can be awful

Nobody ever actually stops to think about the side effects of mental health medication, I feel this is mainly because again, it’s an invisible illness and therefore people forget that it can affect you physically. But, for instance, should your Lithium levels become too high, it can turn toxic in your system. This can lead to swelling, diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms and even more dire consequences if not seen to immediately.

6. You can feel seriously uncomfortable taking your medication

The bottom line is, the medication HAS to be taken. But when someone doesn’t know about your mental health situation, you never quite know how to go about taking the pills without someone asking you what they’re for. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself, and so you wait until you can get a little privacy – but, when at a family party, for instance, that can seem almost impossible.

7. Some nights out have to be surrendered

Drinking and taking medication can have dire consequences. But when you have to take the medication every single day, you at least want to make some exceptions. I don’t really drink, simply because I take my medication at night and I’ll be drunk after two drinks if I take the medication before drinking. So normally, if I’m going out, I’ll take it when I get home. But that’s usually quite late, and, as mentioned above, when I take it too late, I feel extra awful in the morning.

So, when New Year’s came about, I decided to take my medication extra early – around 5 pm – and begin drinking at 8 pm. It turns out, that was entirely the wrong decision, and I was at home drunk as anything by 11 pm, in tears because I felt I’d ruined the night. I’d had two single gin and tonics. Yes, really.

8. Something is comforting about seeing other people take medication for their own mental health

Of course, I’d never wish mental illness on anyone – but there’s something comforting about seeing someone else looking after theirs with medication. Medication does not make you weak, it means you’re taking control of your illness and you’re fighting. And to see others facing up to what they’re struggling with and helping themselves instead of feeling too stigmatised to act is truly empowering.

 

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/28/8-things-youll-only-understand-if-you-take-medication-for-your-mental-health-6478419/?ito=cbshare

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