The box of pills has been sat on my desk, unopened, for about a week now: staring at me, tempting me, pulling me closer. I have no reason to resist; up to this point I haven’t taken any medication to regulate my mood swings despite having more than enough reason to, for I only have to look at the lingering scars to remind myself of that. But still I sit here in two minds about it.
I was given the option of two different drugs: Fluoxetine (otherwise known as Prozac), and Quetiapine. The main difference between the two is that Prozac is an antidepressant whereas Quetiapine is an antipsychotic, one more specifically targeted for such conditions as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For this, and a number of other reasons, I felt that the Quetiapine was far more suitable for what I was experiencing, and as a result, they are the drugs sitting so ominously on my desk.
Why do I keep hesitating then? What is it that I find so frightening?
Probably the most obvious barrier I face is that for a lot of the time I feel relatively normal. I have ups and downs comparable to everyone else, and can get through days without too much difficulty. Admittedly these days are getting fewer and fewer, but it’s so easy to forget how bad things can be when you’re just trying to focus on enjoying the good times. It seems so unnatural to be taking something every day when there are days I can certainly do without it. I understand that’s not how it works, nor do I feel ignorant as to the severity of the matter, I just find it difficult to accept that there’s something so fundamentally wrong with me that this is something I need to take in order to function like an ordinary human being.
There are elements of myself that I’m afraid of losing by starting the Quetiapine; little quirks and characteristics which I fear I will learn were only ever symptoms of a chemically imbalanced brain. There’s even parts of the disorder that I worry I’ll miss; I’ve come to love the spur of creativity and exhilarating spontaneity I become driven by during a manic episode, to the point where I almost yearn after it during long periods of normality. Deep down I know that it must be sacrificed in order to prevent the long episodes of depression that currently dominate my life, but still I’m struggling to let go.
For me, beginning the treatment is indisputable acknowledgement that I am bipolar, and I just don’t feel completely ready to admit that to myself yet. Regardless of this, I’ve decided that I can’t expect to improve without taking steps in the right direction, and this is undoubtedly one of them. I’ll be starting the course of pills shortly after finishing this post, and I will endeavour to keep a diary over the upcoming weeks to document how it affects me. The psychological hurdles are always the most troublesome to overcome, but I only hope that they will also prove to be the most rewarding.