“Am I going to die?”
I remember the E.M.T.’s face when I asked her as I laid on the gurney inside the ambulance. She didn’t know how to respond, her mouth open as she tried to find the words that weren’t coming because she was obviously unsure. My brother saw the whole thing. One second I was ready to play a game of basketball with him, the next I was being carted away in an ambulance with a serious head injury.
I arrived at the hospital, still unsure of my fate, throwing up profusely because of the concussion I suffered after my head bounced off the concrete. Besides my head throbbing, I couldn’t move my left arm. Turns out, my shoulder slammed against the concrete, separating it, before my head hit the ground. After I was taken to my room and finally able to walk without feeling nauseous, I got to see the damage to my face. The entire left side of my head protruded as if a softball had been implanted under the skin. Hair was missing from my temple area, my eye was swollen completely shut, the blood had mostly been wiped away, and the skin had already begun to bruise. I couldn’t believe what I saw in the mirror.
After the E.E.G.’s, E.K.G.’s, stress tests and a biopsy of my heart, doctors said that the seizure could have been caused by the medication I was taking at the time to treat the bipolar disorder.
With all that said, medications have proven to be a more complicated part of my treatment.
I’ve taken an array of them since I was seventeen in an attempt to correct the imbalance in my brain. I’ve also believed that, at times, I didn’t need medication and I’ve fallen to the lowest depths anyone can reach emotionally. I’ve stopped taking my medications because I believed that I was mentally strong enough to conquer the illness myself. I’ve stopped taking my medication because I was frustrated at myself for even needing to take them in the first place. I’ve stopped taking my medication because I just didn’t care what would happen to me. And I’ve stopped taking my medication believing that God would “fix” me, even though He created me the way I am.
It’s taken me multiple medications, multiple combinations of medications, sometimes weekly visits to a psychiatrist and/or therapist, and continual support from family and friends to manage the symptoms of my illness. Just as anyone being treated for a physical illness, the course of care for mental illness is very specific to the individual. Sometimes, those of us that have a mental illness feel like a walking experiment, having our meds tweaked and changed frequently in order to function as a “normal” human being.
Having patience during medication trial and error can be taxing, both mentally and physically. Sometimes, it can take weeks, months, even years. I’ve learned from over a decade and a half, you cannot lose faith in in this process, even when there seems to be no end in sight.