Most people who have drug problems have a problem with putting drugs in their body when they shouldn’t. I have the opposite problem. I hate hate hate taking drugs, even when (especially when) I really need them.
I’m not exactly sure why this is. Maybe it’s a pride thing? I want to be okay without these drugs. I don’t want to need them. The problem is, I do need them. I need them for a variety of things. I just hate taking them. I can’t be the first person in the world with this type of problem, right? The issue is, unfortunately, that this is a somewhat serious problem. I can’t just not take drugs when I’m supposed to. Theoretically.
It started eight and a half years ago with a brain tumor diagnosis. It was absolutely terrifying for a little while, but I eventually learned that it was non-cancerous and “easily manageable.” As long as, you know, by “easily manageable” doctors meant frequent blood tests, MRIs, so many endocrineologists that I should make a facebook group for them, and a daily cocktail of drugs that makes me feel like a ninety year old. I have to use those weird daily sorted pill boxes that you see casually strewn about in nursing homes. Oh, and now I also have a side dish of bipolar disorder.
I’m not going to go through the history of the past eight and a half years right now. If you follow this blog, I’m sure through pieces here and there you’ll eventually get the full story. It’s actually pretty fascinating. There are all the elements of a good read: true love, fake love, betrayal, near death experiences, secrets, loss, redemption, hope…you get the idea. It’s just that living it is a lot different than reading it in a novel. Living it is kind of a hot mess.
Which is why I need drugs. I need drugs to keep my brain tumor from growing, and I need drugs to keep my bipolar disorder from turning me into a version of myself that I hate. But… I hate them. I have this internal battle every time I open a pill bottle. It’s almost Shakesperean: “to take or not to take”?
Every time I have a good day, I wonder, “Do I really need these? Could I maybe be okay without them this time?” And every time I forget to take them (really forgetting or just “forgetting”), the answer I find is no. I am not okay without them. Yet.
Think about being a kid in school – the one message you heard over and over again was “be yourself.” Imagine a world where doctors tell you, “Take these drugs, because you can’t be yourself. You have to be this drugged up version of yourself, otherwise you’re completely nuts.” It’s strange. It’s scary. Who am I really? The crazy me or the me on drugs? WHO IS HAZEL HILLBORO?
Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder about the person staring back at me. She’s a stranger. It’s very weird.
My psychiatrist tried to make me think of mental illness as more normal by saying, “Think of it this way – if you were a diabetic, would you refuse to take your insulin?” I immediately said, “Yes, I probably would.” My husband laughed, and my psychiatrist looked at him, startled. I’m glad that he laughed, because it made me laugh. I realized I’d given the wrong answer, but at least I’d given an honest one. And if you can’t laugh at these kinds of things, you’re just going to cry.
I don’t know why I have such a mental block about putting foreign substances in my body. Surely in any other case, this would be a good thing. Unfortunately, for me it means that I make it more difficult for myself to get better. Chalk it up to another piece of my crazy. Hopefully another blog post down the road will explain how I got over this, and I now have no problem being in my mid-twenties and taking enough pills to fill a pharmacy.
That’s an exaggeration, but not as big of one as I’d like it to be.
Excuse me – I have to go take my 4:00 pills.
That one’s not an exaggeration.