Some people have a hard time taking medications, some people take them no problems, some people have opinions on what other people should be doing with their medications – and I don’t mean doctors.
I believe that, along with the stigma of mental health, there is a medication stigma. It’s like, God forbid you need to take meds to keep your moods in check or something.
Here’s a picture of my mental health medications… the first one is my emergency pills, which I had to rely on heavily over the last two weeks. The next two are mood stabilizers, they also help control my appetite. Next, is the new one I got last week, an antidepressant that’s supposed to help with the anxiety. I’m only taking half of the full dose right now, but I’m already feeling better. Then, we have an anti-psychotic, for the bipolar disorder. And finally, a sleeping pill, because I just wasn’t sleeping. I’ve been on that one about a month now and can finally say that I’m getting used to it and getting the sleep that I need.
— Now, this list would be a little different. When I first started this post, this was a list of my medications. But they’ve changed, and I’m not ashamed. I am now taking Lorazepam (for emergencies), Topiramate 100 & 50 mg (have to be two separate prescriptions because they don’t make just one pill), Zoloft 100 mg, Rexolti 2 mg, Lunesta 3 mg, and Trazadone 50 mg. All of these help me stay stable. I don’t like the amount of pills that I’m taking. But if it keeps me sane, it’s a good thing. It keeps me going. It keeps me able to go to work and live my hectic life and not break down like I should have done by now.
I’ve heard several people’s opinion about what I should be doing about my meds. I need to get off of them. I need to not take so many. Why don’t I try something holistic? Try meditation. Try prayer. Try just being happy. You know, the usual, your mental health doesn’t require medication. And I can understand some of it. Because I want to have a baby. And I know that to have a baby I can’t be on all of these medications, or that I seriously need to talk to my doctor. I’ve already talked to one doctor, and he said that he’s delivered healthy babies to bipolar mothers who were on medications, but I need to talk to my psych doctor to see what we can do about the medications and what the risks are.
I don’t want you to be ashamed of taking your meds, no matter how many you have to take. As long as they keep you functioning, you need them. And maybe you won’t need them forever, but that’s a conversation for you and your doctor.
What about you? How many medications do you take? Do you have a hard time with them? What do you do when people have opinions about what you should be taking.
I don’t speak well…
I know the words I want to tell you.
Words in my head that trip over my tongue.
I don’t speak well.
I know you need words.
Words of comfort and peace.
Words that will make you feel at ease.
They are there in my heart and mind.
But the path to my mouth is polluted.
My mind, it goes in a million different directions at one time.
The words get lost.
I don’t speak well.
I’m a writer.
I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.
And I know that doesn’t help you right now.
Because you need to hear the right words from me.
Words of peace and love and safety from my tongue.
But they are gone, they are lost.
Just to write this takes a while.
My mind drifts.
I don’t speak well.
I wish I could be the voice of reason for you.
I wish I could be the calm in your storm.
But I don’t speak well.
And as I’m writing this, I know you need me to say words.
But I don’t speak well.
To remind you, or let you in on what I’m talking about, I work in a hospital. And where I work, we don’t have a mental health unit, we don’t have mental health doctors. In fact, in this area, we barely have anyone who treats mental health cases. We have MHMR, one private doctor, and a mental hospital that, apparently/supposedly, releases people before they are stable.
So with that little bit of knowledge, when we have patients that have a mental health diagnosis, some nurses seem to think that they are more difficult because of their diagnosis. Or that they are crazy, or something. But bipolar, that’s the one that always gets whispered.
I don’t really understand it. I know that some bipolar patients can be difficult to work with because of our swinging moods, but that doesn’t mean that we’re crazy or trying to be difficult.
Understand, too, that there are people in the hospital that just aren’t all there in their mind, regardless of their mental health diagnosis. And this particular patient was talking out of her head, kind of like she wasn’t all there. I was being kind and trying to help as much as I could. But she said that she wanted to report a couple of nurses. So I went to talk to the charge nurses, who was giving report to the night charge. They were both very understanding of the situation. They knew that she wasn’t all there mentally and that she “says things that just aren’t true.” But then the night charge goes and says, “Well, you know she’s bipolar.” By this time I had been closing the door, thinking the conversation had been over, but when I heard that, I said excuse me and he repeated his statement. To which I replied, “Well so am I but you don’t see me talking out of my head!” They both just looked at me for a moment. Unsure of what to do or say. And then he was saying something about her being severely bipolar. I was walking away already.
How is it that in a hospital setting, we have such a stigma on mental health? Shouldn’t there be less stigma in a hospital setting, you see these kind of people every day. People who are sick and dying or whatever, needing life saving medical attention who happen to have depression or bipolar disorder, it shouldn’t change the way we approach them, how we treat them.
The stigma is everywhere. And I want to change that. If it takes standing up to one nurse at a time who thinks that bipolar is something to be whispered and is something that is scary or makes someone difficult, then that’s what I’ll do.
So I had a bad panic attack today. You know the kind… the shaking, can’t breathe, crying, feels like your heart is going to explode, all of it.
I would have been fine, maybe, if I had been able to distract myself, or if I had my emergency medicine. But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. So I felt like I was dying. To make matters worse, I was at work. I was on my lunch break. I should have been fine.
Those of us who deal with panic attacks on a daily basis know that they can come from nowhere, can be triggered by anything, even when you are doing nothing at all. Including sitting outside on your lunch break.
Personally, even though I know all of this, panic attacks make me mad. I know that it’s a system misfiring, my fight or flight system going off when there is no apparent danger to me, I know this. I know I have panic attacks. I know that I have a panic disorder. But they make me mad. Because, in the end of it all, I feel stupid. I feel like I should be able to handle myself at work, even with the stress, because I do work a stressful job that likes to throw me some curve balls. I feel like I should have a good reason to be triggered. And sitting outside on my lunch break before I have to go back to work should not be a trigger. Work should not be a trigger.
It takes so much out of me when I have a panic attack, especially ones like today. With the shaking and everything, I’m just worn out. And of course, all I wanted to do was go home. So I did the only rational thing I could do, ask to go home. Well… that only got some raised eyebrows. Why? Because I couldn’t find the DSO, the one in charge that would tell me if I could go home or not, and when someone finally got ahold of them all I got was “Go to the ER”. So this nurse puts me in a wheelchair and is wheeling me down to the ER, and I’m just trying to remember to breathe and not bawl my eyes out while saying I don’t want to go to the ER, I just need to go home. We get there, and they all look at me to check in. Another nurse from the ER comes up and asks me what’s wrong and I tell her that I’m having a panic attack and that the DSO sent me down here. And she said something about me not having chest pain or being short of breath. Well, duh. So I calm down enough to call the DSO, she’s still telling me to go to the ER. I say fine and I call my husband to come and get me. I go and grab my things from the 4th floor. And tell them that I’m leaving, noticing that they are making a call to the DSO too. So this is just turning into a mess and a half.
I finally clock out and just leave the building. And while I’m waiting on my husband, my boss texts me and asks not so politely why I’m leaving in the middle of my shift. And lo and behold, there she is, pulling up next to me. “You, I need to talk to you. Walk over here.” So I follow her. And she’s got her hands on her hips and asking me what’s going on. I explain again, and start crying again, because I’m still having a panic attack and she’s only making it worse. “Well I don’t understand how you can have a panic attack while you’re on your lunch break.” Well aren’t you lucky that you don’t have to know how it feels?
So I’m probably going to be written up for sure this time, because she told me this counts as an absence. And she’s telling me that I’m not dependable and she needs dependable people she can trust to do their job. And I totally get it. And I’m trying to be that person. But I couldn’t be that person today. Because when I’m having a panic attack, it’s not safe for my patients. I can’t focus like that. She tells me that I need to see a doctor and suggested that I go to the ER. The thing with going to the ER is that nothing is going to be done there. It’s a panic attack, not a heart attack. They will send me home.
But this got me to thinking, how many people truly don’t understand how debilitating a panic attack can be? And instead of being so hard on someone about it, why wouldn’t you want to help them? I understand she’s a boss, and it’s her job to be tough and get things done. I get it, I really do. But when you have an employee crying in the parking lot, I would imagine a little compassion can go a lot further.
Panic attacks are weird things. People experience them in different ways. Whether they are being silent and staring off into the distance, or making a scene (like I did today). Panic does things to people. And I doubt that any two people go through them the exact same way. I shake, my face turns red, my heart beats fast, I hyperventilate. But there are times, too, when I have a panic attack and I simply get sick to my stomach, or stare off into space.
For those who need a little further explaination:
“A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time – when you’re driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occsional panica attacks or they may occur frequently.
Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.
Panic attacks typically include some of these symptoms:
- sense of impending doom or danger
- fear of loss of control or dying
- rapid, pounding heart rate
- trembling, shaking
- shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- hot flashes
- abdominal cramping
- dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- numbness or tingling sensation
- feeling of unreality or detachment”
So a lot goes into a panic attack. And if you have panic attacks and face each day the best way you can, you’re a bad ass. Just saying.
I’m doing better now. Just resting. I hope everyone has a great day.