I have been struggling with feeling that regardless of how much I want to feel better, how pro-active I am. I am resistant. Yes resistant is a new word in my bipolar vocabulary and one that I haven’t really considered. Broken, bent, crazy, frustrated, beaten, angry, dark, sick, disappointed, hurt, confused, stressed, lethargic, weird, devious, anxious, bitchy, indifferent, grateful, moody, annoyed, happy, manic, determined, high, bittersweet, trusted, cheerful, restless, needy, accomplished, calm, curious…… my vocabulary massive but this is a word that threw me into a mini meltdown. How can I be resistant? Geezus I have been open to all treatments, all medications, alternative therapies, I even tried ‘Tapping’ (yes as ridiculous as it sounds.)But I have never been resistant, until now.
I have been struggling to get my words out over the last couple of months, quietly trying to come off my medication as my new doctor has asked. He described me as medication resistant, which I find to be a frustrating and a logical term. A term gifted to me after so many years of trying to find the right medication balance, after opting for ECT as a ‘semi-last resort’ to help me beat down and control this bitch of an illness that has tormented my soul for such a long time. I have been trying for years to get it under control or at least manage my Bipolar Disorder and then I am punched in the face with this term: treatment/medication resistant depression. Generally the definition of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is failure to respond appropriately to at least 2 antidepressants. Bahh hah ha… I have been on a multitude of antidepressants, SSRIs, Mood stabilisers and had ECT in 3 different ‘batches’. After my Last ECT in August I didn’t get the uplift that would normally come after the treatment. It did pull me out of my suicidal ideation but with the reintroduction of Seroquel and Effexor XR I was still very depressed and have struggled with my thinking until I was re-connected with a Doctor who had gone private after my 2nd lot of ECT. He gave me this new diagnosis. This new term ‘medication resistant’ and as per his instruction we have weened me off both the Seroquel, which was easy compared to the Effexor XR which is one of the most awful drugs to withdraw from.
I was managing quite well for the first month dropping my Seroquel dosage at night and not really noticing withdraws from the Effexor. Being me, I thought it was going very well and I decided I could handle the pace so I thought I would speed it up, so after the first month of slow, instructed discontinuation. I dropped my meds hard and in just over a week I had pushed so hard that I spent five days in a self inflicted yet unintentional broken mess. In waiting for the nurse at the medical practice where the DR works to call me back with any advice on what to do to help, I contacted the afterhours DR come to the house he gave me an anti-nausea injection and some Valium to help me through the sweats, the physical pain and the vomiting and suggested I call the DR again. I had an unbelievable headache and my body was shaking so bad that MC cut short his weekend away and went into the surgery to demand advice on how to help with the withdrawals as I was too stubborn to go to the hospital. The advice seemed ridiculous yet the most simple; take the medication again. My body had become so reliant on the medication it was searching every cell in my body for it, so adding the small dosage gave me relief within 4 hours and then we had to spend another month going from the 37.5 mg over two weeks to one tablet every other day until the new prescription was prescribed.
I learnt a few things from this. Nothing to do with my illness will ever be easy. Not to think I know better when it comes to my medication (really I have no medical knowledge). That MC does really care about me (I know this but my bipolar mind often tells me I am not worthy of his love). These drugs really do, DO something to the body and the brain and it wasn’t until I experienced these withdrawals that I fully felt the impact they have on the body.
I don’t know how I feel about this new diagnosis. I don’t know if beginning this process again is worth the pain and heart ache. If dealing with my thoughts as low as they get when waiting for the new meds to kick in is the safest option for me, in all honesty I don’t know if I can stay safe in these moments. I guess I just have to have faith the DR can help me, keep trying until we can find something that I just can’t resist, something so irresistible to my bipolarity that even the smallest change for the better should make it worth it.