Mistaken Expressions of Freedom and Medication Compliance


Sabrina (Photo credit: joaoloureiro)

Sabrina is here with her sadness, anxiety and inattention in full swing. She is able to say that she knows she’ll get better. However, her body and expressions tell me she is bewildered. She doesn’t know. She wonders who she really is and how this can be. She is vulnerable. A little girl looking into such a great unknown, though wrapped up in a forty-something year-old body.

One and a half weeks ago, Sabrina ran out of her medication. She knew she was coming in to see me so she didn’t bother with it. She waited. One and a half weeks.

The number one reason for relapse is…? You remember. Medication noncompliance. Is it life stressors? There are so many. No. All those reasons for why we feel what we feel and do what we do, all those forces acting on us from the outside in, they aren’t the reasons we relapse most often.

There is something like a super-bug growing amongst us who take our meds on and off. We take them four or five days a week, not seven. We skip here and there and don’t “over-react” if we do. “They don’t control me, after-all.” We apperceive the situation. We think we, by not being consistent on medication, demonstrate our freedom. We are free when we take medication or when we don’t. We are free because we are human.

The super-bug in brain illness is a progression of disease process heightened and sharpened by medication noncompliance. A growing resistance to treatment and an acceleration of our falls, how long it takes for us to drop into a relapse and how hard and far we fall.

Sabrina and I are working together to take away barriers to consistent treatment.

What are your barriers? Do you mistake how to demonstrate your freedom? Or what is it? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip: Take medication consistently. Be a friend to yourself.

17 thoughts on “Mistaken Expressions of Freedom and Medication Compliance

  1. My barrier? When I’m on medications, pretty much of any kind, I am in such a fog that I don’t enjoy the day, the people around me, or anything I’m doing. Being in a serious depression was bad enough but I needed medications then. And I took them regularly. Now that depression is an off and on thing with me, I think (although I’m often not sure) that I feel better, and operate better, when I am not medicated. But, as I keep repeating here, I have Fibromyalgia and I have read that those of us who suffer with this disease react badly to most medications….not just antidepressants. If any med has an side effect, I can be pretty much certain that I’ll suffer from that side effect. Is this true about Fibromyalgia sufferers, Sana? Anyone out there who has it? Are medications more of an enemy than a friend? For over six months now I have been in an almost constant FibroFlare. I’d give just about anything to make the pain (and IBS and UTI’s and fogginess and total lack of energy and general malaise) go away because, yes, feeling like this every minute of every day IS depressing. But I’m in enough of a fog as it is. To take meds that make me more foggy (or groggy or dizzy) is absolutely NOT an option for me…unless there’s one out there that that gets rid of the symptoms without making me a zombie. God bless anyone who discovers that miracle drug!!!

    Glad we’re back at this, Sana. Thanks.

  2. I’ve gone off my Abilify a few times, and the result always seems to be the same: I sink into a suicidal depression. Last time, I came close to attempting suicide. Even with the Celexa, Wellbutrin, and lithium–nothing works without the Abilify to potentiate. And I know this. But it’s so difficult when life gives me so much to handle to remember to get the paperwork in on time and the financial documentation for the Patient Assistance Program (otherwise I’d have to pay I think $500 a month?) … When there are roadblocks to therapy, problems getting to the psychiatrist’s, complications with access to service, trouble scraping enough gas money to get around, sometimes I think, “Fuck it. I’ll just get by without the Abilify for a while. I’ll survive.” or “I’ll show them what happens when they make it difficult for me to get care! I’ll go off my meds and then they’ll see what I’m dealing with!” But without the Abilify, I may not survive. And they frankly don’t care much what happens to me without services. I have to take care of myself for myself. And it helps to think of how my sickness affects my loved ones too, at times.

    Anyway, I am very luck not to have any side effects except for a tremor from the lithium, so at least that’s not a barrier to compliance. And now that I’m situated with services in my new county, there’s a little more stability. I just have to remember– freedom from meds (just like freedom through alcohol) is a form of prison for me. It restricts my options in life, down to as little as nothing.

    • Hi Jeffrey. It’s taken me long enough to reply! I’m really sorry. Thank u for your response. I hear u and many of us out hear need your voice, so thanks thanks. keep talking. your view is pithy! “freedom from meds (just like freedom through alcohol) is a form of prison for me.”
      one of the reasons i didn’t respond right away is that i was so wowed by this, i kept thinking i needed space in time to make a worthy response. u blew me away. so articulate and truly what we need to hear. thank u. oh yah. said that! 😉 keep on.

  3. I was advised a long time ago that I would have to take psych meds of some kind for the rest of my life. WHAT!? Yeah, right! Meds? I don’t need no stinkin’ meds! I’ll beat whatever it is causing me to take these meds! After all, I was invincible. The doc just didn’t recognize me without my cape-lol. I took them compliantly for a while-until I felt better, then decided I knew better than my doc and quit, cold turkey. A few days later I felt physically horrible and was able to narrow it down to when I stopped taking my meds. I started taking them again and almost immedeatly felt better. Now, 16 years later, I take enough meds in the mornings that I have no room for breakfast. Not all are psych meds, but most are. After many attempts at quitting on my own, I’ve realized that a cooperative relationship with my doc regarding my meds, and my health in general, is in my best interest to staying healthy. Thank you, Dr. Q., for your patience, education, and respect.

  4. I take anxiety meds and have to take them prior to my therapy sessions. Not too long ago, I decided try a session medication-free. In my mind, I thought I could get though it, 100% me, no chemicals. Afterall, what could I possibly STILL be anxious about?? BAD IDEA! Never again will I do that. I couldn’t focus, hear, think or speak. I learned a lession that day: to stop fighting with myself over needing meds (was a semi-minor issue for me) and just let them (the meds) do their job. I accepted myself for who I am a little more that day.

  5. Reblogged this on essencelifeblog and commented:
    Medication – psychoactive drugs often makes people feel this way. Sabrina is reminicent of many clients that approach me, I advise her to keep asking herself those very same questions. She will one day find the answers – the fact is that she already knows.

  6. Pingback: Musical Medications and Patient Compliance « Bipolar Lessons

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