I felt compelled today, following my own experience, to talk to whomever may be reading *waves* about the dangers of going cold turkey in regards to medication.
This is a lesson I seem to have a problem learning myself so I'm hoping, as with every mental health post before it, this post may go some way towards instilling it into my subconscious.
You'll have seen me talk about agoraphobia on these pages but what I don't tend to give a lot of blog space to is my bipolar diagnosis. That one feels distinctly more personal. Because it directly affects the way I function and process life in general it's something I guard to an extent. There is a taboo. Nobody can deny it really. In 2012, I'm horrified to say that stigma still exists around any type of depression. People still come out with ridiculous sentences like ''snap out of it''. Bipolar can be described as manic depression or a chemical imbalance. There is no snapping out of it. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that one day the agoraphobia will lift. Whatever way I get there I will very much get there. The bipolar however, is there for life. We have no choice but to get used to each other. Much as though someone can maybe talk about these things it doesn't mean they've actually accepted the situation. About 14 years after my diagnosis, I'm only starting to fully accept and understand it now.
I have been on many medications throughout the years; beta blockers, antidepressants, mood suppressants, sleeping tablets and anti psychotics. I was on the majority of these at the time of falling pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant my initial thought was about all the medication I was taking so I visited my GP at the time who told me to stop taking them. No advice on how I should stop taking them. At the time I hadn't expected any to be fair. I now know different.
The next day I took no medication. And the day after that and the day after that... for a week or so I was absolutely fine. Trundling along as usual. Then I had a breakdown. My world (my ''in my head'' world) completely caved in. I had been weepy throughout the day and by 9pm that night I blew. Something in me completely snapped. I was hot yet cold, shaking, panicking, paranoid and quite frankly, a complete mess. I was hyperventilating and honestly thought I would never catch my breath again. And I had no idea what on earth was going on. On top of all that? I was incredibly concerned the state I was in would affect the baby I was carrying. So we rang through to the Dr on Call who told my husband to bring me to the hospital immediately.
Turns out stopping medication and going cold turkey, especially when you're taking high dosages on a regular basis, is not a smart idea. I had suffered a nervous breakdown. With help I got through it. I got through it enough to cope with preparing to be a mum. I was very lucky.
In this scenario the Dr should have lowered the dose to a safer level and referred me for extra counselling or, if the medication was not safe on any level, an alternative should have been sought out. At the very least all of this should have been made clear to me. Instead it wasn't even mentioned.
Another scenario this situation has occurred is when I go through a ''burying stage'' of bipolar. These times are what I call my lows. I bury everything. Including my head. I'll be down in the mouth, I won't talk on the phone, I won't text and I find I tweet too much and it can seem manic. During some of these times it's very easy to genuinely forget you even take medication in the first place. Luckily my husband is a great support but there have been occasions where a week or two will pass and it's only because I have a ''break'' (not quite a breakdown) that I remember my medication.
The moral of the story is this. Simply. Consult a Dr and ask questions when it comes to medication. The same applies when you're coming off prescription medication for any reason, be it you want to stop taking it or you fall pregnant. Consult your GP and work with them in finding out the best way for you to do this.
Don't make the journey impossible before you even begin.
I hope you've found this even slightly helpful. I'd be interested to hear if any of you have been through similar experiences. If so, let me know? You can remain as anonymous as you need to. I understand how difficult it is to speak out loud about these things but I'm here, in my own little way, to tell you it shouldn't be that way and it doesn't have to be.
*leaves door open a crack*