Posted on 19 March 2017 by Michael Dahl

when I forget to take my meds

As I’ve noted many times before, one of the reasons I post regarding my mental health is to help those who don’t experience it get at least one person’s perspective on Anxiety and Depression. Today’s post fits that category. In other words, I am not currently in the throes of a battle Anxiety would like to wage with me. I am simply recalling a particular experience I had a couple of days ago.

It was Friday; a floating spring break holiday staff get at the University. I was up for an awesome day. I got up a little later than usual (5 am) and took my meds in the usual 2-step process I navigate daily with rarely ever a problem. That being, I took two of my meds to get ahead of any Anxiety attack immediately upon getting up. After I eat a small breakfast I take one other mental health medication. And at night, right before getting into bed, I take my main mental health med — the one that fights off both Anxiety and Depression — along with the two meds I took right away in the morning.

At two points during the day (i.e. mid-morning and mid-afternoon), I have to take those two meds again, otherwise my Anxiety levels will creep up and up and up.

On Friday, I forgot to take my mid-morning (10 am) meds. I don’t find my reliance on these meds a bad thing, a sign of weakness. Other people suffering other ailments must also juggle drugs to make it through the day. Why would it be any different for someone — me — to have to do this for an illness of the brain?

Well, as I said, I forgot to take the mid-morning pills. I suppose around noon I started feeling agitated. But I chalked some poor service I had just received and a parking meter that was about to run out. A little while later, my agitation level rose some more, and I was getting physically jumpy. I, again, placed the blame on something else — the loud chattering coming at me from all sides in a coffeeshop I was trying to do some focused writing in.

A half an hour later and really cranky about the noise, I started to feel the physical aspects of Anxiety take over my body. All my nerves felt frayed and my throat was just beginning clench.

“Stupid me!” I said to myself. I quickly grabbed my meds out of my backpack and downed the pills I should have taken three hours earlier.

Now, some of you may be thinking: problem solved. Just wait for the meds to kick in and everything will be alright. However, that’s not how the story always goes. You see, if I had simply remembered to take my meds a little after I should have, there would have been no problem. If I had taken them at noon, I would have stayed agitated for about an hour before the meds would not only kick in, but also beat back the slow onset of Anxiety.

But if I don’t remember the drugs until the physical pains take over parts of my body, I’ve usually got to to accept where I am at at least until I take the mid-afternoon drugs (3 pm) and let them kick in. In fact, even after that point, I will usually stay agitated for much of the day. But, thankfully, the physical pains disappear.

The lack-of-meds-induced Anxiety feels quite similar to situational and trigger-induced Anxiety. But mentally it’s different. On the relief side, I know that the agitation and physicality of it all is temporary. That is a huge solace — if you can place agitation and solace in the brain at the same time. On the “I feel stupid” front, well, I feel stupid for bringing it upon myself. On the physical aspect, I know the pain will pass. And it’s really hard to describe what a huge comfort that is.

You see, when I forget to take my meds, and I get to the physical pain place, I remember that that is what life was almost constantly like when my meds had stopped working nearly two years ago. Nerves frayed, jostling to every loud sound, a chest and throat tightened, and a brain frequently either feeling like it was on fire or turning to cement — I haven’t a clue why my brain would feel one or the other.

Getting to this point and then taking the meds to bring me back to normal, there is a relief. But there is also a sense of how precarious things can be. Because as I’ve reported before, someday my current med cocktail will likely stop working. Some people are lucky; they don’t need to change meds much. I’ve had to do so many times since I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety well over a decade ago.

And I’ll admit it, I intensely fear when that may happen again to me. I write this not because I am in a bad place or that I constantly think about when my drugs could stop working. No, I bring it up because it is part of my existence, and likely the experience of many others who have to deal with these twin ailments.

I’ll end by just asking readers to be gentle and empathetic with one another. We all struggle in different ways. And when we struggle, it’s a relief to know those around us care for our well-being.