An Uncertain Future
There is an uncertain future for The Bipolar Writer.
I wanted to preface this post with some background before we get to what I learned at my recent visit with my psychiatrist on Monday. Since my diagnosis, I have been a part of the California Adult Behavioral Health System of Care. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that being in the system can be tough because you are at the whims of the local government and things are always changing– and in my experience, it is never for the good of the patients.
Since 2012, when I had a stable psychiatrist in my life, it has been a revolving door of the psychiatrists. I have changed psych doctors at least twice a year since 2012. What is worse is their primary purpose is to maintain my medications. That was fine, I understood the process, and while it is not ideal, over the years, I have learned to go with it because I have great consistency in my therapist. What is worse is over the last two years the system is moving to see psychiatrists over the computer on a webcam. That is where I find myself in an uncertain future.
I went to my appointment on Monday with some level of comfort. Then my world changed. My “over the webcam’ psychiatrist told me that the county is not allowing him to prescribe my most crucial medication right now– Ativan. It is because I am not seeing him face-to-face (at least that was his answer. The whole thing was very sketchy.)
My first reaction was “what the f*ck!”
Sorry about the cussing but this is all bad. For those that don’t take Ativan, I will tell you why this is bad. Ativan is very addictive medication, and any psychiatrist worth their salt will tell you the only way to get off Ativan is a prolonged and steady process. If not, withdraw is a possibility (it is a controlled narcotic.) So there I was sitting there, lost again staring down at the possibility of going without the one medication that can have disastrous effects.
Now, there is hope. I will have to get an emergency appointment (hopefully) with a psychiatrist in the building (which what my psychiatrist said was necessary.) The first thing I did when hearing this news is finding my therapist, who is also my caseworker, and I put her on getting me that appointment. At this time she is working on it, and in the meantime, there is a real possibility of running out of Ativan by next week.
There is hope that I will get my prescription filled before I run out, but that is not the worst part of this situation. Every year it seems the government is cracking down and decreasing the amount of Ativan that people can have and take. This would be fine if there were a real alternative.
I have been on Ativan for almost eleven years now and not once has the answer been to lower my dosage then wholly getting rid of it. Instead, the response to my ever growing issues with social anxiety is to increase the dosage. What happens when the government decides that I can’t take my current dosage of 2mg twice a day, or completely take me off with no warning? It is a real possibility from what my doctors are telling me. Yet, there is nothing in place for that eventuality. I could realistically end up hospitalized in the psych ward again, which I fought since 2010 to stay out of that place entirely.
This is the problem with our mental health system in this country. It never works towards fixing the issues. When I was in the psych ward in 2007, when I was started on Ativan, I was not given a choice or told the realities of longterm usage.
I have been thinking a lot recently if my reliance on Ativan is making my social anxeity worse. I don’t leave my house without it, and I rely on it every second of my day. I can feel when the Ativan is out of my system. The anxiety rises to the point where I must take another pill. The way it makes me feel the worst way. I didn’t ask for this, and I have honestly asked over the many psychiatrists what can we do differently and never once got a solution. It is a double-edged sword.
I am curious to hear from the community. Is anyone else dealing with these issues? In your opinion, does the Ativan make my anxiety worse? Have you found a useful solution or alternatives? Have you gone off Ativan? Please leave your comments below.
I will keep you all updated during the week.
Always Keep Fighting