Every Saturday morning I trudge down to the local pharmacy where my Pharmacist doles out my medication for the week. If I don’t take my medication or, presumably, don’t show up, my mental health team are called. At nearly thirty years old, as a mother and PhD candidate I can’t be trusted to take my own medication. There is an interesting story about that.
When I was first released from the hospital I had a team of mental health nurses visiting daily. One of the nurses, Lynda, was a middle aged, extremely chatty woman who said “fuck” a lot. You couldn’t help but like her. After two weeks I knew everything from the miscarriages she suffered as a young mother to the details of her menopausal symptoms. Her chattiness suited me as it meant I didn’t need to talk much.
One day she asked to take a look at my medication. Obediently, I went and got The Box: a large metal container housing all of my medications, which the Hubster occasionally took it upon himself to lock if I was in a particularly dour mood.
“Hubster. Seriously. I’m having a bad day – I’m hardly going to kill myself.”
“Yeah well. This makes me feel better about things.”
“You know if I REALLY wanted to top myself I could just go and buy a load of painkillers, right?” I tried to reason with him.
“You can’t drive at the moment.”
“Ok. Well. You know if I REALLY wanted to kill myself I wouldn’t take pills.” I tried again.
“Because overdose is a particularly risky….Gah! Why are we even having this morbid conversation?! The point is, I am allowed to be sad sometimes. I am allowed to cry. It doesn’t mean I am suicidal. And I don’t need to be treated like a child.”
“Ok. But I’m still locking the box.”
So it seems I have some trust to build.
Anyway, Hubster wasn’t the only one mistrustful of my intentions. Back to The Box. Lynda was half impressed, half horrified by the contents of The Box. My seventeen or so medications where in there, neatly organised by Hubster according to dosage and coded by expiration date.
“I’ve never seen anything like this! This is…shit…this is ORGANISED!” she exclaimed, pawing through my stocks.
“Yeah…Hubster did it because of the ECT…I kept forgetting what to take.”
“You have FOUR packets of Oxycontin in here”.
“Do I? Well at least I won’t need any more in a hurry…”
“Bloody hell. You must RATTLE,” She interjected.
“Drake will have to see this!”
Now Drake I had heard a lot about. He was the head pharmacist at the State Psychiatric Facility, and the nurses tended to swoon about him. “Drake is so NICE”. “Drake is a LOVELY man.” Yes. I had to meet the famous Drake.
So the next day Lynda appeared with Drake and what appeared to be his small entourage. I was a little confused as to why the head pharmacist of the state wide psychiatric institution was sitting in my living room commenting on my medication, but hey, he seemed impressed with The Box, telling me he was going to tell his other patients to organise their medications in a similar fashion. Hubster would be chuffed.
But suddenly there was some sort of intervention.
“You know we can’t let you keep all of this in your house, Rachael.” Drake said.
“Erm. Well. I’ve paid for it so -”
“It’s too much of a risk.” Lynda joined in. The rest of the entourage nodded.
“A risk? Well. I’m not suicidal. And besides,” I said, pointing at the lock, “Hubster can always lock it if needed.”
“We just don’t feel comfortable with you having this amount of pharmaceuticals in your home. You’re a smart girl. If you wanted to get in there you could.” Lynda pointed out.
“l hardly think so…I need Hubster to get the lids off jars for me. Besides, I’m not planning on being suicidal, so I really don’t’ think it’s an issue -” It would be far easier to just buy some more rather than getting all super sleuth and picking locks, I thought. But I didn’t say that as it would be marked down as “has a plan”.
“I’m sorry. But we really think it is best if we take this all to the pharmacy. They can give you your meds on a weekly basis.” Drake said.
“Hang on a sec! You were just saying how good and organised it was, and how you were going to tell your clients to manage their meds.”
“Yes, but most people don’t have the sheer amount of medication you do. And they don’t usually have multiple packs of high schedule painkillers and boxes and boxes of sleeping pills…aside from anything this is all highly addictive stuff Rachael.”
Well you were the ones who put me on it! I felt like shouting. But I didn’t. Because that would be marked down as “being unreasonable.”
So, obediently, I went down to the local Pharmacy with Lynda and handed over all of my medication bar my weekly doses and a few PRN, to be doled out every Saturday.
“I’m proud of you Rachael.” Lynda told me as we left. “Many people feel anxious about giving up their stockpile…their “emergency stash” Do you want a PRN Lorazapam to take the edge off?”
Bang. Head. Against. Wall. It wasn’t a stockpile. It wasn’t my “emergency stash”. I wasn’t intentionally collecting the medication that was prescribed to me. It’s not my fault that I am on seventeen different frigging medications. I am NOT suicidal. I CAN be trusted.
I didn’t say any of that though. Because that would be marked down as being “emotional.”
So instead I said. “Yeah. Well I guess it’s for the best. Lorazapam? Why the hell not.”
So every Saturday I show up to collect my weekly supply. I can’t take too many, I can’t take too few. The medication police are surely on my case.
I know my past. I know people want to protect me. I know there is probably some “Cover Your Arse” legalities out there that prevented me from keeping the medication. I know Hubster is scared of losing me.
But I hope that I will be able to gain back the trust of others some day.
This is enough to induce paranoia. You must be basically healthy!
I’ve never heard of medication being doled out to you on a weekly basis like that. I’d be very upset that people believed I couldn’t be trusted. On the other-hand, before getting balanced, my husband handled the pills for me and I’m grateful for it. It was nearly impossible for me to take them as prescribed. I’d either take too many doses in a day, or take none at all.
Wow! I would go nuts being so micromanaged, but everyone is different and everyone’s needs vary (and I take and have at my disposal far fewer meds). No doubt the fact that you had a large quantity of painkillers and sleep meds alarmed your treatment team. Honestly, what impressed me the most about your medication box story was the number of people who cared enough to intervene. Wherever it is that you live, you have great mental health resources (people) devoted to helping you stay well and alive. Incredible. Honestly, my hats go off to you for going along with their plan and to them for caring and responding.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Kitt! I do have a fantastic mental health team – even if they do drive me a little crazy (no pun intended) sometimes 🙂
LikeLiked by 2 people