I open the box and withdraw the contents. I slowly and carefully read the guidance leaflet, turning the small packet over and over in my hands as I do so. I take a deep breath and push the tablet out of the little plastic blister, popping the foil. I neaten the tear, tidying the edges up as a delaying tactic. I can’t put it off any longer. I pop the tablet in my mouth and swallow it down. It’s such a small tablet I don’t have any trouble with it but I still pour a glass of water down after it to be sure.
I shouldn’t complain: I’ve had some sort of working diagnosis for over 20 years and this is the first time I’ve had to take the mood stabilising medication so common to others. Actually I say it is the first, I’m sure I’ve needed it other times but over the years a combination of alcohol, other poor coping strategies and occasional bouts of counselling have seen off the worst of it until my body somehow resets.
In recent years I’ve started to properly track my mood and also to reflect back over the past. I’ve noticed about a three-year cycle where I reach crisis point. This time I’d not recovered from the late 2011/ early 2012 crisis (a long term depressive episode) before I could feel a huge upswing. Normally I become relatively stable for a while but this time I’ve felt like a pinball, flung forward and bouncing off the world.
I was aware of this in late 2014 and I asked for more help with the racing in my mind. The clinicians agreed that help would be forthcoming, indeed I was offered a therapist in February. However he had no flexibility on available days and it would have left me unable to deliver a two day course, something which is a key part of how I earn my money so it was back to the waiting list. When that offer of therapy came about only two months after requesting help I was optimistic that I would be close to the top of the list for the next therapist. I was wrong.
Which left me at the Community Mental Health Team last week talking to a kindly locum psychiatrist who was willing to enact something I had discussed at the start of the year – starting mood stabilising medication.
In all honesty I’m ok about starting the medication. Yes it feels like a big step but also it is an essential step. As the psychiatrist put it, “you can pin your hopes on therapy but what will the wait do to you? We have something which may help you in the interim and we can start today.” I talked to him about the yoga, the cycling and the self care I do. He nodded and said, “well with all that effort and your symptoms still aren’t shifting then maybe you need some extra help”.
He’s right. I know he is right so this is where you find me, accepting the help.