Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Why I'm reducing my Bipolar medication

13 years ago, there or there about I gave birth to my beautiful Looby by C-Section, no sooner was she born than I was handed a box of medication to control my Bipolar ll disorder and several months later I eventually found a medication that worked for me and my life was changed forever, I still have slight hypomania and I still have times of depression but for the most part the very extremes don't happen which mean I can live, love and function and for 12 years without any change in my meds this is the way it's been.

Here's the thing though, whilst controlling the most extreme effects of my psyche what this medication has also done has robbed me of some fundamental emotions that most people need to get by and function with, for 12 or so years I never felt real emotional pain and I also lacked empathy and lost the ability to laugh at the most simple of things, for all intents and purposes I became a high-functioning robot, that doesn't mean I didn't feel happiness because I did but it's just not like a normal person would, there were still times I would cry but it would be all too short before I just got on with life.  The impact of this was mostly good, it's amazing what you can do without being controlled by emotions but as time has drawn on Robot Mandy has become more and more noticeable.

Around 6 weeks ago I started a program to reduce my medication to half of the dose, it was felt that it was the right time in my life, I was in a good place, have great friends, amazing kids and I know myself inside and out and practice self care so well that I would notice instantly if something was wrong and could revert to the top dose.  I told my good friends and also my daughters so that if I didn't notice something but they did they could come to me and talk to me about it, I trust those close to me enough to know when my behaviours are different from the norm.

So what has happened in a month has completely blown me away, I have emotions now, I have my empathy back and I am able to laugh, get excited and all of the things many people would take for granted, however, the double-edged sword of emotions is that I'm also now feeling absolutely whacked by sorrow, pain, loss and loneliness, all of the emotions I should have experienced when Paul left but didn't, I never grieved at all, I just got on with life and at the time I spoke about it with friends because I was worried with the numbness.

Right now, life is hard and messy, being flooded with emotions is unexplainable unless you've been through something like it yourself, the nearest thing I can equate it to is when you become a teenager and you're hormone flooded body doesn't know what the hell is going on, I have no choice but to sit it out until everything levels off or I could just make the decision not to bother and go back to the medicated level I was at, I've had definite moments when I've considered it because my heart aches but that's the cowards way out and I know if I can just make it through the next few weeks and months then I should be ok in the end, everything will settle, I'll let go of all of the pain and to all intents and purposes I'll be pretty bloody normal (ish) for the first time in years, I might even be able to read books again.

So why am I writing this all down, well I firmly believe we need to talk about this stuff, there's little enough information out there for people and actual experiences from real people are still in the minority, we misunderstand mental health because we lump each part of it together, even within Bipolar there are many many different presenting symptoms and whilst some people will need heavy medication there are plenty of high functioning individuals who take no medication at all, I don't feel no medication is an option for me just yet and it may never be but for some self-care, diet, exercise and therapy alleviate the need and that's good.

Whilst I may write about amazing shoes, or a fabulous autumn coat, at the heart of everything I write is me, slightly eccentric, mostly happy, smiley, bipolar me, I'll always be Bipolar but I'm also a business owner, mum, friend, advocate, mentor and I believe that mental health shouldn't stop people doing anything, you just have to do things on your own terms and the more we go out there and talk about our health just as we would if we had asthma or diabetes the more understanding and tolerance there would be.  Bipolar is just a label, I'm actually defined only by my own actions.

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