Since I’m on vacation, my schedule’s a little thrown-off. I’m sleeping later, which is nice, but I’m so accustomed to getting up early, making coffee and grabbing a bite to eat, and taking my medicine. If I don’t take my medicine my medicine at a certain time and in order, I’ll forget if I’ve taken it or not. There’s nothing wrong with taking an extra pill (which I’m sure I’ve done), but skipping one isn’t good. I’m also careful not to exhibit what the psychiatrist at my rehab called “addict behavior.” When he first prescribed Depakote, a mood stabilizer, to me, I reported back to him that I’d taken the recommended dosage. I think I even brought in the pill bottle and gave them to the nurse during my out-patient session.
“What kind of addict are you?” he asked, half-joking. I guess he expected to down a handful of pills to see what the effect would be.
“I’m an addict who’s trying to do better,” I said, and we moved on. He might have been kidding around, but I was deadly serious. Since Depakote is often prescribed to people with bipolar II (the good doctor didn’t diagnose me as such, but many of the symptoms I experienced in early recovery seemed to fit), I didn’t want to mess around with it. I wanted it to work because, drinking or not, I’ve suffered from massive mood swings for most of my life. Depakote, along with Lexapro, seems to work quite well. My moods are mostly stable, and when I get down, it’s not that hopeless, suffocating feeling that I’d often drink over in hopes of pulling myself out of the darkness. Drinking worked until it didn’t, as we’ve all probably heard before, but by then, it was too late. I was going to drink regardless. I stopped that pattern last January, thank God.
As happy as I am with my progress and sobriety, I found myself looking at my medicine bottles the other day and thinking Well, what if I just went off these for a while? Just to see what happens? In that moment, I found myself missing the bursts of energy and creativity when I was on an upswing (which I don’t believe qualified as mania). Sure, it was awful coming down, but those golden moments of feeling confident and awake and ready to get writing and music projects under way made the depression worth it…right?
Wrong. Because even when I was on a mood upswing, I still drank. Sometimes I drank to calm myself down. How many times did I start feeling positive about life and my talents and think, Whoa, now, this is out of character. Better tone it down some. Alcohol, being a depressant, did that and then some. It eventually rendered me unable to feel good things, too. I drank automatically and figured I’d deal with the wreckage another time in the distant future.
I took my pills and haven’t missed a day. I’ll admit, I hesitated again this morning, but like with exercising, I just forced myself to do it. Perhaps one day in later recovery I can see about cutting down my meds, but now isn’t the time. Now is the time for self-care and following my primary care doctor’s advice, which is to continue taking my prescriptions. And so I will.
I just have to keep ignoring that voice in my head that says I know better than my doctor, my addiction counselors, therapist, people in my home group, and you all.
Happy sober Thursday.