On Side Effects and Self-Medication

As my dose of mood stabilizer has increased, the side effects have evolved. At first, the main side effect was a very dry throat and mouth and a little numbness in my lips and tongue. Those are still there, but have either improved or I've adjusted to them. As my dose increased, I found myself… Continue reading On Side Effects and Self-Medication

On Moods and Self-Identity

I recognize that my moods follow a predictable pattern. There's the high, during which every cloud has a silver lining, every goal seems within my reach, and everything on the Internet seems worth purchasing. That lasts a few days before it gives way to a short but dramatic period of explosive tantrums, stomping, throwing things,… Continue reading On Moods and Self-Identity

On the Decision to Disclose a Diagnosis (or Not)

  I feel conflicted about telling people about my diagnosis. On the one hand, I feel a responsibility to disclose to help reduce the stigma of mental illness, especially serious mental illness. On the other hand, I feel like keeping it to myself because I don't want to be the object of the stigma against… Continue reading On the Decision to Disclose a Diagnosis (or Not)

On Medication Dependency, or You Get What You Get and You Don’t Throw a Fit

Recently a woman I know told a group of people about her decision to taper down her depression and anxiety medications. She explained that she'd needed them when she was working because her job was so stressful, but now that she's retired, she doesn't feel like she needs them anymore. "I've come to the realization… Continue reading On Medication Dependency, or You Get What You Get and You Don’t Throw a Fit

On Joining the Ranks of the “Seriously Mentally Ill”

In a previous life, I worked on clinical trials for bipolar depression. On clinical trials, actually, of the very drug I am now taking as a mood stabilizer. Is that irony or just coincidence? Alanis Morissette and I always have trouble telling the difference. Working on those trials, the closest I got to working with… Continue reading On Joining the Ranks of the “Seriously Mentally Ill”

On the Difficulty of Accessing Mental Health Care

  I've seen therapists off and on for the past twenty years, nearly always feeling disappointed, nearly always feeling like they didn't quite get what I was trying to tell them, always irritated when they'd ask, "How are you feeling?" meaning "How are you feeling emotionally?" If anything, I felt angry, but my anger didn't seem to… Continue reading On the Difficulty of Accessing Mental Health Care

On Receiving a Diagnosis

  When the psychiatrist first said the words, I couldn't get my head around them. It's not that the diagnosis was a surprise, exactly. I'd considered it before. The mood swings have plagued me for nearly as long as I can remember. The elation and confidence that would carry me along but which I couldn't… Continue reading On Receiving a Diagnosis