Sick of being treated this way…
I have bipolar with a tendency towards depression. I was first treated for depression when I was 16 and haphazardly took antidepressants whenever I felt the need to (maybe two to three times a year for a week or two).
As a result of insignificant treatment, I found myself in hospital after my second failed IVF treatment and due to the pressures I had put on myself as a new business owner. This was one of the worst times of my life – for me and the hubster. I tried to take my life (unsuccessfully) twice and took to cutting myself even after treatment. This was not a cry for help – it was a way to handle the immense pain I felt in my head. It quieted the negative voices in my head as I focussed on the pain I felt when slicing my arms.
I underwent two straight weeks of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and walked out of the hospital feeling pretty confident. That was until my fourth failed IVF (three years later) and the stresses of holding one of the biggest events in our local community. The difference with this slide down to despair was that for the first time, the antidepressants did not work. Two weeks later, I was finding myself cycling from high highs to low lows in a matter of hours. It was all very scary and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
I eventually called my psychiatrist who diagnosed me with bipolar. This all made sense! Finally, I was put on Lamotrigine for my bipolar and within a week I was feeling ‘normal.’ I have never looked back. I have a renewed sense of self and a confidence about myself which I have never had before.
Now, after my fifth failed IVF I was determined not to ‘fall’. I went back onto my Lamotrigine and went about focussing on living a ‘normal’ life. One of the things I used to do, was donate blood. This always used to give me a sense of giving back. But, the Red Cross would not take my blood, due to the fact that I am on Lamotrigine. This medication has shown to cause cleft palettes in newborns and as such, they would not take my blood. Fair enough – though surely there could be a note that my blood is not to be given to pregnant women?
Not one to let small things get to me (too often), I decided to focus on what I love doing best, my scuba diving. One of the things that would help me get back into living life, is scuba diving. After five years of recreational diving, I have started my Dive Master qualification in Perth, but recently had this transferred to Abu Dhabi, where I am now living. As a result of this transfer, the scuba diving school has required a medical clearance for me to dive. This medical clearance asks if I am on any prescribed medication and if so, what it is for. It also has a clause whereby you need to state that the information you have provided is accurate to the best of your knowledge.
So, I stated that I was on Lamotrigine and it was for bipolar. There is NO regulation which states that you can not clear a diver because they are on Lamotrigine, however, I acknowledge that this comes with some risks. It is up to the doctor’s discretion. In fact, I have attached an article on this from the Divers Alert Network!
Today, my doctor declined my medical clearance – “because she had to follow protocol.” Protocol? What protocol? Apparently, they knocked back a patient in the past, and therefore, she was knocking me back to. There was no question about what dosage I was on (which is the lowest possible) – just a no – sorry.
Sorry? Sorry for what? For making it more difficult to live a joyful life after five failed IVF’s? For contributing to my lack of self-esteem? For knocking some of that confidence out of me or for hampering yet another dream of mine?
I am not going to give up. I am sure that I will be able to get a medical clearance from another doctor, but I am sick and tired of so-called ‘doctors’ playing God with my life. Surely, I could just acknowledge that I have had the risks of taking this medication while diving explained to me, and that I am fully responsible for my actions should I wish to continue diving.
Now, I must find another doctor in Abu Dhabi who has the qualification to certify a scuba diver – not easy – let me tell you.
So, please, when I state that I am tired of constantly struggling to fulfil my dreams, please at least acknowledge what I must go through regularly because I am not considered ‘normal’. Yes, I have bipolar – but for goodness sake – I am a person too – not a frickin label. Take note doctors, you are only contributing to a person’s depression every time you follow so-called protocol instead of really taking into consideration the circumstances of each individual.
I can not give blood, adoption is made more difficult, I can not get a diving medical clearance….. I may as well go off the medication and then life would supposedly be better for me!!!