I have written before about the big things mental illness has stolen from me. I have told you before how due to stigma I lost a career I had worked hard for and was qualified to Post Graduate level for, I have told before how mental illness removed people from my life that I had previously classed as friends because they didn’t understand. I have shared many times of the months and months mental illness has stolen from me when I have been admitted to hospital and of the periods of time which are missing from my memory as ECT took them away with the depression I was so thankful to lose. The main one being that it has stolen any hope of more children for me; I am thankful for the one I am blessed to have but I because of her I can’t risk becoming that poorly again. This was the hardest theft to accept.
There are probably many more examples of the sly thief that is mental illness creeping in and stealing from me but today it was nothing major which got me thinking, no career loss, all friendships intact, it was a small thing. One of the little moments that make life worth living, a family barbecue on a rare sunny day. “It stole her barbecue” I hear you smirk?
No it didn’t actually steal my barbecue but it did steal some of the good bits that go with that sort of afternoon. Or rather not this afternoon it didn’t because I looked the thief in the eye and said no but I am paying for it now.
I changed medication a couple of weeks ago due to the previous meds leaving me so sedated I began to wonder if I actually had a life at all as I was barely functioning. I was thrilled to change meds, hopeful of my personality returning from its slumber and for the most part they are lots better comparatively speaking but I have barely slept since taking them which is getting a bit annoying now.
Back to the barbecue though I knew my medication leaflet told me I should avoid direct sunlight and avoid alcohol but surely that is just excessive? I know better than that yeah?
So I sat myself in the sunshine absorbing its rays onto my skin, allowing the vitamin D to penetrate through to my bones and poured a lovely gin and pink grapefruit (hmmmm just writing this I wonder if grapefruit is allowed too?!?!?)… bliss. We had a lovely time chatting and laughing as we shared food and drink, we whooped and shouted as my daughter as practicing her bike riding up and down the street. Just fabulous.
I was warm though, wearing jeans wasn’t ideal but I have very little to fit at the moment after weight gain from medication. I feel utterly crappy about how I look at the moment, I have never been this colossal size before, the irony being that all I want to do is hide away so no one else sees me. Best way to cool down? pour another drink of course.
So I had a couple more drinks, enjoyed the sunshine and had a great afternoon. Then I came home and fell asleep annoyingly for two and a half hours which is the longest I have slept for since changing meds two weeks ago which I bet impacts on my sleep tonight aaaargh (or maybe I just need to increase my gin intake?)
My skin is now blotchy and my stomach is not feeling so great; I have learned my lesson, avoid direct sunshine (worrying when going to Morocco in a couple of months) and avoid alcohol. So you see something else it has stolen. I am furious, furious that as if living with Bipolar disorder is not bad enough I have to live with the side effects of medication too. I want to stamp my feet like a petulant child and shout about how unfair this is. I won’t though, I will just get on with it because I don’t have a choice to do otherwise but please don’t minimize these things and tell me they aren’t the end of the world or that people go through worse. I know that and the guilt just makes this worse in fact. I am trying to validate these feelings for myself so those around me doing the same is imperative.
I have too much to lose not to manage my illness with medication but I do appreciate why so many people choose to stop taking prescribed medication because some days dependent on how I am feeling I wonder which is worse the illness or the treatment? Even right now I could cry at the pain in my calves where my muscles spasm virtually 24/7. I google whether I can manage it on exercise and a diet of Kale – I can’t so please don’t suggest this to me.
So Bipolar Disorder prepare for a ‘Home Alone’ type scenario because I am boobie trapping my life, you are not stealing more from me. I refuse to cower in the wardrobe whilst you help yourself to my life, I know I can’t get back what you have taken but I can safeguard my own future.