I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder about six years ago. That seems like such a long time ago now. A different life, a different era.
During these years, as part of my medical treatment for this mental illness, I was directed by various psychiatrists to try various different types of prescription medication.
(Read: Trialling different medications, different dosages, different combinations, taken at different times, and all with different instructions).
As those of us who take any medication on the regular would know, having a lot of different pills that need to be taken at different times of the day can be tricky to successfully and consistently incorporate into a busy and unpredictable lifestyle.
And like many of us who have had to make the decision about medication and mental health can understand, initially, I was very uneasy about taking medication for my bipolar disorder. How would I know what was me and what was the medication?
I remember thinking that taking medication would blur the already shaky lines I had of my self-identity or maybe make me numb to my emotions when all I wanted to do was control the soaring highs and the catastrophic lows i.e. have all the high energy and good moods with none of the moodiness or depression (basically have my cake and eat it too).
Every time I had to take my medication, it was a constant unwelcome reminder that I had a mental illness. Two or three times a day.
I remember upon revealing my diagnosis to a close friend, I was embraced and made to feel like I was accepted. We had known each other for years and it didn’t change who I was, the experiences we had had, the love and respect that was there.
This same friend also happened to see my pill boxes at the time, which were split into morning and evening doses for each day of the week and labelled very simply with pieces of scrap paper.
Next thing I knew, my friend presented me with these custom-made personalised labels, for each day of the week, to fit into my pill boxes, each day with a special drawing of one of my beloved toys. See photos below.
As a bit of background, I had a number of plush toys scattered around my room; toys which I hugged to sleep, carried around the house, or sometimes even brought out with me into the outside world. Some were bought, some were gifts, all with many memories.
This may sound silly, but looking at these hand-drawn labels on my pill boxes every single day really made a difference in how I viewed taking my medication for my mental illness.
Yes, taking medication multiple times a day will be a constant reminder of my bipolar disorder, but it was also a constant reminder that I was loved, and that I was taking medication because I wanted to get better. That was the goal.
So, my suggestion to anyone out there with a generic pill box:
Customise it now! Make it yours!
Make your pill box a reminder that medication isn’t about being ill or abnormal,
it’s a conscious daily action towards positive mental health that we do because we want to get better and be a better version of ourselves. That is the goal.
Never forget that.
Thanks for reading.