Merry Medication

24Dec12

So . . .  I’ve been blogging for some time now about mental health and parenting and I’ve never really addressed the issue of medication, and while I’m not afraid to talk about it, I’m not sure that I am the best voice to speak for or against the use of all the different drugs out there. I have some pretty strong opinions for/against different treatments, and ultimately, this is something that a person needs to decide and hopefully they have a good doctor/health care team that is supportive and resourceful.

I would like to write however about the issue of medications and holidays. I can think of arguments for and against taking meds over the holidays, and I think they are important to look at, in order to give us all a ‘big picture’ look at this. I am clearly on one side of the fence on this. I wonder if you can guess which way I think people should go. Should they take their meds? Should they play with the doses of their meds, or should they stop taking their meds over holidays?

I’m going to assume that if you are reading this that you understand that the common background of most medicated mental health patients = they take daily drugs that change their mental state/behaviour/thoughts/moods, and these meds often (usually?) come with side effects.

happyPills

So the first thought is that the holidays would be a nice time to not only drink some nog and give some gifts, but also to receive a short reprieve of any side effects you’ve been handling. I really like this line of thinking though it’s not very good. The temptation is that you can get off the meds and feel ‘like yourself again’, am I right? Well, this might happen. You might feel a little euphoric and free, but this could likely be a very short lived feeling as the symptoms of your disease come back with a vengeance. We have to remember that the holidays aren’t easy times – these are filled with pressured appointments with one family after another, parties you have to attend, people who have been waiting to see you, and all the things that you been putting off saying ‘Oh, I’ll do that on holiday’.

And this is just a great list for taking photos over the holidays!

And this is just a great list for taking photos over the holidays!

Holidays are no time to go off meds. I’ve gone off meds ‘out of the blue’ and it has never led to good things. I have however gone off meds with the support of my doctor – I simply told her that I wanted to take a month off to see if the way I was feeling was an effect of the side effects of the drugs, or if it was really the disease (it turns out that both things were happening and we created a better treatment plan). So, we can agree that the holidays are no time to go off meds right? OK

So maybe you are thinking that you’ll just lower your dose a bit? For us Bipolar folks this is always tempting since a little hypomania is always a welcome thing. But I stress(!) and beg you to remember a few things: 1) Once you start to play with the balance of drugs in your system, you are rocking an already shaky boat my friend, so stop it. 2) Hypomania gives you a little high, but that is almost always followed by a deep low, and people with BPII know that the low is never worth the high (even though, we sometimes let the high come anyway) since it is so strong, like a cold undertow that sucks you down . . . but now you’ve gone and messed with your meds and this undertow is even worse, so let’s not play with our meds OK?

I can’t even imagine facing the holidays without my meds, but let’s try to see if there is any argument for going off your meds during the holidays . . . hmmmm . . . if you can think of any, please let me know.

So it should be pretty clear what I think. I think that if you’ve established a treatment plan that includes medications, you need to stick to the plan over the holidays. The holidays are stressful and you need to keep things steady as you can. If you want to try to come off your meds, talk to a doctor. You don’t want your family seeing you locked in your room, laying in the ER, or worse, over the holidays.

Most drugs will cause side effects, sometimes sie effects tha tare hard to live with, but the love of family and friends will make that better for sure

I don;t know if this is a legit comic, but I don't overly care sine I love it so much

I don’t know if this is a legit comic, but I don’t overly care since I love it so much

So, take your meds.

They make you sleepy – Everyone is half hibernating at Christmas

They make you jittery – Everyone gets excited to enjoy the holidays

They mess with your stomach – a lot of people eat/drink a lot or try new things over the holidays

They make you irritable – OK, you should probably talk to a doctor about this

They make you want to hurt someone/yourself – You have to see a doctor right away. Call a distress line ASAP

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (Available in the United States and Canada)

Lifelinelogo.svg

There are enough tragedies that have happened recently. There will undoubtedly be more in the days to come. Don’t set yourself up to be a part of that. Hold strong. Soldier on. Talk to someone even if the only that that comes out are tears. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Just love.

Stay Safe

I took this chart from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines)

Country

Organization

Australia

Lifeline is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services http://www.lifeline.org.au/
Kids Help Line is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and counselling services for Australians aged 5-25http://www.kidshelp.com.au/grownups/about-this-site.php

Canada

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline based in the United States is also available nationwide in Canada it is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Default.aspxKids Help Phone is a nationwide 24-hour, toll-free, confidential crisis line and counselling service available to Canadians under the age of twenty http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/en

Ireland

Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout Ireland http://www.samaritans.org/

United Kingdom

Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom http://www.samaritans.org/Campaign Against Living Miserably is a registered charity based in England. It was launched in March 2006 as a campaign aimed at bringing the suicide rate down among men aged 15–35 http://www.thecalmzone.net/

United States

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I think you can go off meds if you want, just work with your doctor to make you and everyone around you safe. I’d love to hear from all of you that have stories regarding mental health and the holidays. Especially if they involve medicine changes.

Calvin-off-drugs

(*Update. A fantastic collection of resources were compiled by Kait at her blog ‘Weathering the Storm‘ – – – check out her great resource page Thanks Kait!) 

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3 Responses to “Merry Medication”

  1. I can’t see why not to take meds over xmas. My attitude is to take ’em all the time or not at all. At present I’m off my Seroquel monotherapy. Guess what I was depressed and had a suspicion that in stabilizing my mood the quetiapine had stabilized it into a horrible 😦 depressed state, that if I only stopped taking it, I’d start cycling again and cycle UP, which is precisely what happened. I’ve come down from that hypomania but am not severely depressed or psychotic so I’m gonna keep going to see what happens. I’ve heard that people on antipsychotics are less likely to fulfil important life goals than people with psychotic illness NOT on antipsychotics. Which doesn’t sound very good obviously, but kind of rings true…

    I hope you have a very merry xmas and if it can’t be merry 😉 then may it at least be tolerable 🙂 😉

    • Lol! Thanks. I agree with you about the Seroquel (Quietapine) – that drug definitely has some advantages and disadvantages. I’ve been on it a couple of times in the past and can say that it does numb you and if it is doing it’s job, it keeps your mood from moving in any way too much, which can be an awful or awesome change for bipolar folks. Good luck with the drug change. isn’t it always the case that we and the doctors are always toying and tinkering with the meds?
      Merry Christmas to you too! Looking forward to the new year for sure . . . 2012 needs to end 🙂

  2. This is a very good point you make here. I have never imagined to go off my meds during the holidays, due to the reasons you stated, but I could definitely see where someone would be tempted to do so. Have a good holiday!


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