Earlier today I was reading the webpage of another bipolar woman. This webpage has won some acclaim and while I don't read it routinely I do check in from time to time.
The author has reached a point of having tried everything and has had a number of rounds of ECT. She is bordering on stable on a list-ditch drug attempt. I have always assumed that like me she has been totally unable to tolerate the various meds in the past.
When I say unable to tolerate I mean that I have had rashes, toxicity, no response, hypertension, severe edema, extrapyramidal syndrome, etc. I've never really just refused a med because of not liking a side effect. If something was unpleasant we've always tried to push until we were sure I couldn't tolerate it and that nothing else was going to reduce the bad effect.
I've gained 80some pounds. Size 6 to 18, all because of meds. (Presumably; I have a very small build and my family are all small people, so I assume I would have stayed small). But I never would think of refusing any of my meds over this or any side effect that isn't potentially seriously harmful. If a med works I take it.
I don't love the side effects. I miss my thyroid gland. Diabetes insipidus turns out to not be a lot of fun. I wish I felt small and pretty again. But small and pretty doesn't matter one bit in comparision to not feeling suicidal, to having my mania controlled.
I'm not referring to what happens if the first thing offered fails. I'm talking about what happens if you have been on some drug, lithium for example since it's one I fight with a lot, and you know it works but you don't like the weight gain. You also know nothing else has worked like that for you. Do you continue to refuse to take lithium?
I just can't imagine that. Whether it is because I've convinced myself that some medicine magically works or because I just can't imagine choosing to feel like I do when my meds aren't right, I am horrified at the thought of refusing a med that works for a non-life-threatening reason and then facing life.
What do you think?