There has been some lists and discussions started very recently about what they DON’T tell you about bipolar disorder when you get diagnosed. I found a pretty good list the other day, and meant to bookmark it so I could share and provide some commentary about it, but…. I didn’t bookmark it, and I can’t find it, no matter how long I searched google for it. So, I’m going to provide my own list. This could get lengthy, so if you are not one for long posts, scan it at your will, and browse what catches your fancy.
One doctor may not be enough to treat you. You will most likely have 2; a “pdoc” who is a psychiatrist, but only prescribes medication. You will most likely also have a therapist, at least in the beginning. This could be a psychologist, a psychiatrist,or maybe even a social worker. You may have to fill out a consent form so the two of them can discuss your case. Some take insurance, while many do not, so make sure you check with them before you make an appointment. Finding a doctor that you like can be a long arduous process. It is your patient right to fire a doctor and find a new one. Just remember, if you do find a new doctor, you are going to have to start all over, from the very beginning, re-hashing your history.
If you have insurance, check into what your mental health coverage is all about. ALL INSURANCES VARIES! Know that shit like the back of your hand so you don’t get screwed out of what you are entitled to. By the way, Insurance is the “be all end all” when it comes to medications. They like to do these things call “Pre-Apporvals” for some medications; usually the ones that are new to the market or super expensive. It is their way of asking the doctor “Are you sure this is what you want your patient to take? Couldn’t we interest you in something else?” These approvals can take weeks and up to a month. Insurance companies don’t care if you NEED them right away, they don’t care if your meds have run out. They simply don’t care.
You will be on medication… FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! This is a life long issue. You will probably be on various meds through your journey. You will change meds. Sometimes you will need lab work to be done, depending on what meds you are on. Meds work differently on everyone. This is what makes treating Bipolar Disorder so difficult. It is not a one size fits all. People will also tell you you don’t need medication, and big pharma is out to get your money, and all it is, is placebo affect. NOT TRUE. Well, most of it is not true. Big Pharma (drug companies) hold rights (patents) on (name-brand)medications, which allows them to charge an arm and a leg for medications. It’s called “supply and demand”. Most medications do come in generic form, which do cost less. If you are worried about drug costs, ask your doctor about cost effective drugs that you can try in place of name-brand, newer drugs. And yes, some doctors get kick-back for prescribing certain drugs. However, most are actually interested in your well being and will do their best to get you back to a healthy place, kick-backs or not.
Your pharmacist will be your best friend. They will get to know you on a first name basis. Much like a doctor, find a pharmacy that you like. If you don’t like to “people”, see if your insurance company offers medications through the mail. These programs are great; meds are cheaper and are given in 90 day increments. Best of all, they are delivered to your house. So, no need to go out and people when you are feeling like crap. If this is not an option for you, do a search on your med costs at various pharmacies, and go with the pharmacy that fits your financial needs.
If you choose to go the route of applying for Social Security, please know these things: It is not a sure thing. 97% of people are denied their first time. It usually takes a few times before you are approved. Please know, there is A LOT of paperwork and A LOT of pulling memories (dates, doctors, diagnosis), and it takes A LOT of time. IF you choose to have an attorney help you, KNOW that they will require you to pay them a certain percentage of your settlement. Please know, having an attorney does NOT better your chances of getting approved.
You have been diagnosed with a mental illness. You can choose to keep this private, or disclose it to those around you, including your school or workplace. There are benefits and downfalls of doing this. With so much stigma surrounding mental illnesses, a lot of people shy away from mentioning their illness. But there is this thing called the American Disability Act (ADA for short). If your illness requires certain things to make your work (school work or otherwise) easier to do, it would behoove you to discuss your illness with said entity. YOU CAN NOT BE FIRED LEGALLY for having a mental illness.
These are just things at the top of my head that no one ever told ME about. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but rather, I mean to PREPARE you for what lies ahead of your journey. It can be a lot to take in. Not only do we have to deal with day to day life, and our illness, but we also have to deal with extra stuff like I have listed here. Be strong on your journey. You’ve got this!