I’m not going to write about any specific medication. I’m not going to tell you that one type of medication is better than another. I’m not even going to mention any medications by name. I want to share my thoughts on why. Why should someone take medication for their illness? It is a personal decision. You are right. It is, and I’d respect any decision anyone made around their own health management. I feel that if I share my experiences about my medication trials I could help someone make decisions about their medication.
Here are some of the lessons I learned:
1. Unless directed by your physician it is NOT a good idea to stop taking your medication.
Within a year after first being prescribed medication I felt better. In my mind, you take medication until you feel better, then you stop. I stopped taking my medication, cold turkey. I was better. I was better until the day I wasn’t. It didn’t take long, weeks perhaps, for me to have a major meltdown. I returned to my family doctor who put me back on medication. The problem was, it no longer worked like it did before. Double the dose (as directed by physician), was better, but still not the same.
2. Don’t assume the “natural” route is better than the prescribed options.
I tried that. I had gone a year or so with no medications. Some symptoms started rearing their ugly heads. (And denial, of course!) A natural option seemed like a great place to start. This lasted about 6 months. And it wasn’t just a meltdown that prompted the need for a doctor’s visit. It was depression and agoraphobia. I told my doctor what I had been taking and proudly added, “It’s all natural!” I will NEVER forget his reply, “So is cyanide.”
3. Medication is NOT a sign of weakness.
Another great conversation I had with my doctor went something like this.
Me, “How long do I have to take this for?”
My eyes teared and I just looked at him like he had given me the worse possible news.
He looked at me and said, “You have an illness. Diabetes is an illness, diabetics needs insulin to survive. You need this.”
Suddenly, it made sense. The depression cycles I had previously experienced were not one-offs. It was an illness. It was something I “had”. There was NO cure. There was management of symptoms.
4. Research, research and research. And if still in doubt, ask lots of questions.
Find out all you can about the medication you are prescribed. Know it’s symptoms. Know it’s side effects. Understand the dosage options. What dosage are you starting at? Is there room for increases (as directed by a physician), if needed? Part of owning your illness, is being aware of all the components.
A few points. Nothing major or earth shattering. Just a few things that I’ve learned along the way. Next week’s appointment may address a change in my medications. I will try to learn as much as I can. I will ask lots of questions. I will do my best to know that this may be exactly what I need for my current condition. And I will know that even when I feel better, I keep taking what has been prescribed.