The Buck Stops Here

Man distraught and crying
What Having A ‘Manic Break’ Is Like
January 31, 2018

The Buck Stops Here

Feeling the effects of withdrawal

I want to share some words of hard earned wisdom; Be responsible and always monitor your medication. Making sure you take it regularly isn't enough and you can't rely solely on what you're told at the pharmacy. Mistakes can be made and situations can be misunderstood, but you are responsible for what you introduce into your body. That is not to say mistakes shouldn't be made, or situations shouldn't be misunderstood, or trusted professionals such as your doctor or pharmacist shouldn't be held accountable for their actions, it's just to say, in the end, it's your life and and no one has more responsibility for it than you.

I could compare it to my views regarding the age old struggle between men, women, and the default setting of a toilet seat. I myself always return it to the horizontal position, but I would argue that if it were my bottom at risk of being wedged into the cold water of an unsanitary porcelain bowl, I might want to do a situation check before I start to squat. Is it a courtesy for others to lower the toilet seat once they've completed their business? Most certainly. Is it their responsibility that your backside never touches toilet water. Not in the least. It's your backside, your responsibility.

Of course there is a difference between the general populace performing acts of courtesy and the responsibility of professionals entrusted with matters of your health, but the reality is the same. The buck stops with you.

Recently my pharmacy has had difficulty supplying me with one of my medications at my prescribed dose. I'm tempted to speculate as to the circumstances which would lead to a shortage of only one particular sized dose across multiple brands, but it would quickly lead off topic, so I won't. Whatever the cause, the result is they occasionally have to substitute my standard dose for a larger one, requiring me to adjust the number of pills I take in a day. This leads me to the circumstances surrounding my latest ordeal and the catalyst for this article (I realize the amount of dedication and patience it must have taken for you to stick with me while I get to the heart of the matter - and we still have a ways to go - but please be assured that I appreciate and value your time and willingness to listen, so thanks for hanging in there. You're the best, and I mean that).

When the time came for my latest refill, my usual dose was once again not available, but rather than allow me to go without, the pharmacy informed me they would be replacing my usual 0.5mg pills with 2mg pills. As I take two 0.5mg pills each morning and the same again each night for a total of 2mg a day (I know you could have figure that one out on your own, but I thought I'd save you the time. You're welcome.), I would need to alter my routine by splitting each pill and take one half in the morning and one half at night. Not a problem. Except when I picked up my prescription, no one informed me that a supply of my usual dose had been located and I was no longer receiving the 2mg substitution. In my defence, the pills were from another manufacturer so they looked different in colour and size, and they had a groove down the middle where they could be evenly split. I never bothered to look at the label or even the dose stamped on the pills. It was the pharmacy's failure to communicate the new circumstances with me, but it was my fault for not taking responsibility for my own health that lead to the unfortunate consequences.

Clonazepam is a medication used to prevent and treat multiple conditions including panic disorder, and a key part of my everyday regimen for managing my bipolar symptoms. This morning I discovered for over a week now I have been splitting 0.5mg pills and taking only one pill a day. That is a quarter of my regular required dose and the effects have been overwhelming. Once again I've been struggling with anxiety, paranoia, difficulty concentrating, self loathing, and dark, obtrusive, and even dangerous thoughts. I haven't showered or left my apartment, even though I have errands and responsibilities that need to be addressed, and I am existing on a couple hours of restless sleep a night. This time though, it all could most likely been avoided if I had just been more attentive. My condition is one that requires vigilance and unfortunately, over time it becomes easy to grow lax.

I contacted the pharmacy and shared my circumstances and disappointment over the way the situation was handled on their part, but it happened and there is nothing that can be done about it now so all I can do is return to my regular dose, learn my lesson, and try to get back on track. Unfortunately, the after effects of such drastic changes in medication are often felt for a long period after they are corrected, but I'm hopeful many of my current symptoms will ease up enough to give me some much needed relief.

If you haven't guessed the moral of my story then I suppose I'm a terrible communicator and perhaps should re-evaluate my chosen future profession as a writer, but in a nutshell, it's this; It's your life and the only one you have so protect it and look after it. Pay attention to the things that matter and don't take anything for granted. Take responsibility. It may only be a buck, but it stops with you. Spend it wisely.

Christopher Muggridge
Christopher Muggridge
Christopher Muggridge is a creative writer based in London, Canada. He engages in a wide range of writing styles including poetry, personal essays, articles, short stories, novels; as well as whatever else may float his boat or tickle his fancy. He is not adverse to drawing on personal experience to write about mental health issues or his perspectives on human interaction.

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