A couple of weeks ago I started lithium. I’ve never taken it before and I have to admit I was terrified to take that first pill. I actually avoided it for a few days after I got the prescription. I’ve been on mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics for a few years now, but lithium just scares me…still. Listening to my doctor tell me about the risk of dehydration, that I can’t take NSAIDs (did I mention I get headaches?), and that I now need to get regular blood work just seems overwhelming. Plus starting a new drug means weaning from an old one, and I so hate that. Like want to pull out my hair and scream, hate it.
Weaning is evil.
My emotions are sitting right at the surface.
My sleep has been unstable.
My patience is non-existent.
My confidence level is shot.
And my typical “I’m open about my mental illness” self is not so fearless anymore. I’m afraid of stigma for one of the first times in a long time. I realize that as I’ve progressed from stay at home mom to a work at home mom, my “I need to be professional” radar is up. Just writing this post is making me anxious and emotional.
The other day, we had our board meeting for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There I was in a room with others passionate about suicide prevention; who have all lost loved ones to suicide; who do what they can every day for this cause so closely related to mental illness…and I was afraid to tell them about my med change for fear they’d think me unprofessional. I know that in this case it was completely self-imposed. These are people not ignorant to mental illness.
But I still felt the pressure.
And it shocked me.
I don’t want to be “that girl” who the team needs to walk on egg shells around. I am not that person, but I’m afraid they may think I am.
Now imagine how I feel when I’m working with a team that is not mental health related. Its happening more and more as I try to contribute financially to my family. The fear is so overpowering that some days I want to give up the mental health stuff…stop writing about it, stop volunteering, stop fundraising and focus my time on me, my husband, my kids and the financial stability of our family.
Maybe all of these fears are coming to the surface because of my medication change. Maybe my illness is lying to me. But I can’t help but listen.