Along with music and memories, I’ve chosen the third “M” word for Monday’s themed posts to be medication. It’s the largest reason I am still alive today, still breathing, and functioning enough to write here.
I have to spend a chunk of this week making sure I have enough medication to take with me on my upcoming travels. My psychiatrist wrote me a note this morning to explain my many bottles of pills (they all have to be in their original containers) in case they get me held up at the airport.
Medication is a huge topic which I would like to introduce merely with a quote today. It is from The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon, the very best book I’ve read on depression.
“Since I am writing a book about depression, I am often asked in social situations to describe my own experiences, and I usually end by saying that I am on medication.
“Still?” people ask. “But you seem fine!” To which I invariably reply that I seem fine because I am fine, and that I am fine in part because of medication.
“So how long do you expect to go on taking this stuff?” people ask. When I say that I will be on medication indefinitely, people who have dealt calmly and sympathetically with the news of suicide attempts, catatonia, missed years of work, significant loss of body weight, and so on stare at me with alarm.
“But it’s really bad to be on medicine that way,” they say. “Surely now you are strong enough to be able to phase out some of these drugs!” If you say to them that this is like phasing the carburetor out of your car or the buttresses out of Notre Dame, they laugh.
“So maybe you’ll stay on a really low maintenance dose?” They ask. You explain that the level of medication you take was chosen because it normalizes the systems that can go haywire, and that a low dose of medication would be like removing half of your carburetor. You add that you have experienced almost no side effects from the medication you are taking, and that there is no evidence of negative effects of long-term medication. You say that you really don’t want to get sick again. But wellness is still, in this area, associated not with achieving control of your problem, but with discontinuation of medication.
“Well, I sure hope you get off it sometime soon,” they say.
So as I travel to visit family and a best friend over the next two weeks, I will take my medications with me. I will take them everywhere with me until the day I die because they simply keep me alive. I am very grateful.