‘Stop taking your meds,’ said my mentally ill brain

by Jon FarrowThis is a story all about how my life got flipped and turned upside down when my brain told me to toss my meds.

I’d like to tell you how I became the prince of a town called unstable.

I made a mistake I swore I would never make. I stopped taking one of my most important medications. I was prescribed Seroquel nine months ago. Before Seroquel, I was having a really hard time managing my thoughts and emotions. I would experience disturbing nightmares every night. I also had issues with hallucinations.

I’m not a hundred percent sure what I experience is technically hallucinations. Despite the appropriate term to describe these anomalies. I was tired of seeing illusions make their way into my every day life. These featureless figures would manifest in my peripheral vision. Then when I would look to see if anything was there, they would disappear.

For those who aren’t familiar with medications designed to treat mental illnesses, Seroquel is a part of a class of medications called antipsychotics. Antipsychotics are primarily used to manage psychosis, principally in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These medications help to prevent psychosis, which is a very difficult condition to navigate through without. Psychosis is when thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

Before, medication psychosis isolated me from the world. I couldn’t hold a job to save my life. Any relationship I would form would be unsustainable. I was unable to control negative thoughts and emotions. Over time my behavior fueled by psychosis would destroy all personal and professional relationships I had.

When I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and started a medication regimen, my life took a complete one eighty. For the first time I was able to fully rationalize my thoughts and feelings. I developed and maintained relationships. I was able to maintain a job. Why would I make the mistake of stopping my medication? Why would I roll the dice and take the chance of throwing away all of my progress? Stress, my biggest and hardest trigger to overcome.

My family is currently going through a very stressful time, full of constant court dates. Seroquel from time to time would cause me to be groggy as well as unable to really focus. I felt as if that grogginess was holding me back from being the parent and husband I needed to be during this stressful time.

When I first stopped taking Seroquel, I didn’t really notice much of a difference. After a few days my energy level shot through the roof. I could sleep four hours and wake up feeling like I got a full night’s sleep. That extra boost of energy leaked into my work as well. My manager took notice of how exuberant I had become. My productivity statistics began to sky rocket. I was on track to start receiving a weekly bonus, which I have never been able to hit. I kept thinking to myself, I never needed Seroquel, I’m perfectly fine.

I was on cloud nine sailing through an ocean of success. Then just like that, small holes began poking through my new found way of life. Blinded by the beginning of psychosis. I was unable to notice the ship I sailed into success, had begun to take on water. I became increasingly irritable and withdrawn. I became increasingly paranoid to other’s motives. I began going on extremely inappropriate rants on Facebook, to the point where I was pushing people away and hurting those that I care most about.

My family reached out to my wife to try and understand what was going on. Even though I told my wife that I was going to stop, she never supported the idea. I hid my symptoms from her so she wouldn’t worry. Because for the first time in a long time I felt like the head of household my family deserves.

The night after my family reached out my wife sat me down to talk

She laid it out on the line that my behavior was getting out of control. In the state I was in, I didn’t receive criticism very well. I stormed out of the house, jumped in the car, and took off. I had no idea where I was going. In my mind at that moment I thought leaving was the best decision.

I finally stopped the car in a vacant parking lot. Underneath a solitary street lamp that shined a frail glow in an infinite blanket of darkness. I thought about everything that had been said to me. I went back to look at my Facebook posts that my wife had mentioned. I was ashamed at the spew of loathsome discourse I had shared publicly. In that moment, I had my mistake staring me in the face. I saw that I was regressing back into the former self I was, the self that made me embarrassed and ashamed to look in the mirror. I realized what I needed to do. I drove back home and told my wife that I would start my medication again.

I am glad to say I am back on the road to stability. I hope my story will make anyone considering stopping their medications rethink that decision. It is very imperative that you keep your doctor informed about all of your concerns. Never, I mean never, stop taking your medications cold turkey. Always consult with your doctor about your desire to be taken off of a medication. Despite who you think you should be or the self image you think you need to live up to, the best you is the healthy and stable version of yourself.

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