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By ELAINA J. MARTIN

medication compliance

Now, there are those of us who swear by our psychiatric medications and those that don’t believe in taking anything. It’s your life, your body, your choice. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the aid of psychiatric medications. That is my choice.

The goal of medication is to grant you stability, at least that is the way I view it. It should keep you from the extremes of bipolar disorder, allow you to live a somewhat “normal” life.

But here is what happens: You are diagnosed and your moods are out of control and your life is chaotic and a psychiatrist prescribes some mood stabilizers, maybe an anti-psychotic, maybe an anti-depressant, maybe a sedative for anxiety. Pills. And you take these pills and for a few weeks it doesn’t seem like anything is changing except for the side effects you incur. Then you start to feel a bit better, more clear headed, less on edge. The side effects lessen – the annoying nausea goes away. Your doctor makes some adjustments and after a while, life is a little bit better, easier.

And you hum along at this frequency for some time. Living your life. You are “better.” Pay attention, this is the important bit. You will start to believe that you are not sick. You will start to believe that you don’t need your medication, that it is YOU that has made you better, not those tiny pills you swallow. You will want to come off your meds.

Be very careful at this point. Try to remember what it was like before you got help. Try to remember how long it took those pills to make a difference. Most importantly, talk to your psychiatrist.

Maybe he can decrease your dose or even omit a medication, but only your doctor knows the safest way to go about this. Stopping cold turkey would be a nightmare.

I know of which I speak. I have been at that point before – where I thought I was “better,” that I wasn’t sick anymore, that it was just a temporary hiccup and I was right as rain, thank you very much. I didn’t need the meds.

But that just isn’t the case for me. I need my mood stabilizers. I need my anti-psychotics. I need my anti-depressants. I need my anxiety meds. I know the difference they make in my life. I wish I was med free. I wish I could do it on my own. I wish I wasn’t ill, but I am.

Taking medication isn’t a sign of weakness. I believe it is a sign of strength to seek help and to comply to a medication regimen. Finding the right meds takes time and the crazy thing is, once they are working, you will think you don’t need them. Don’t fall into that trap – and if you do, talk to your psychiatrist before making any med changes.