I was high as a kite throughout the first half of January.
Whilst others were commiserating Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, I was excitable, full of prospects and had taken on at least 20 new years resolutions. I was fun, happy, bouncy and stimulating.
Because I wasn’t taking my pills.
In December I decided to self medicate and my prescription to myself was… no pills. I hated the things. They are fiddly to get out of the packet, they are tasteless and odourless, they are boring white colours and they have stupidly complicated names!
But not listening to the experts had its consequences.
I had taken too much on. I had to write an essay for my Masters but my mind was too busy to focus. I was about to start a new job but I had signed up to a load of volunteering. I spent money on expensive courses that I couldn’t afford. I was hypomanic.
Mid January appointment at Hove Polyclinic. I spotted straight away the technique my psychiatrist was using to try to get me to take my pills. Motivational interviewing… talking at me about my previous suicidal thoughts and delusions that someone was coming to kill my family. It stirred emotions in me that I hadn’t felt for half a year, as well as new ones of utter despair and desperation. I knew I had lost the battle.
There was a medical student in the room- I had been in that situation once- sitting idly looking in on a discussion you are not part of, trying hard to demonstrate empathy whilst the patient (me) has an anguished expression with tears pouring down her face. I felt sorry for the medical student.
I felt more sorry for myself.
I decided to do what I normally do when I don’t know what to do: I document my situation with a selfie video. I filmed myself taking my pills morning and evening, day in day out for a month. And it worked- it made me take them, as you’re about to see.
At the same time I attended one of my first Bipolar UK support group meetings and met a wonderful woman. On the topic of medicines, she forcefully recommended that if you are well on them, then do not stop. The reason she attends the meetings is in memory of her daughter, who had stopped her medication and took her life last February. It was for this reason that I carried on taking my meds.
Now I have come to terms with the fact I will need these medicines for the rest of my life, in the same way a Type 1 diabetic needs insulin. I do not depend on them entirely, they are only a part of my treatment.
Complying with my medication has been an important step in the acceptance of my condition. And today I want to show you the daily pill taking activity for someone with bipolar. Its my scariest video so far but I feel it is crucial in reducing the fear and the stigma around having to take medication for a mental illness. Here goes:
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2018. I will be posting daily blogs and videos. Please “like” and “follow” my blog and subscribe to my YouTube channel for vlogs. Help end the stigma by wearing a green ribbon and start up the conversation around stress and mental illness. Happy MHAW2018! @ali_blatcher