I have come across some variations of this as of late: “I don’t know why I take these medications, they don’t work.”
I have to say, this really gets under my skin, but I also understand the sentiments behind such statements.
First and foremost, we really need to understand that medications is NOT A CURE! You can not cure bipolar disorder, just like you can’t cure cancer or heart disease or arthritis, or diabetes. But what CAN happen is learning how to live with it and MANAGING it.
So many times, when we are in the throws of diagnosis, somehow we believe that medication is going to cure it all. No one tells us this, we just assume or maybe even hope. We just feel so miserable and helpless, that we grasp at straws hoping to get some relief.
Because Bipolar is not completely understood, there are many, many, different ways to treat it. This means that it is not a one size fits all treatment plan. What might work for you, probably won’t work for someone else. It can also take a long time to find the right cocktail of medications to fit your particular treatment plan. I know it is easier said than done, but… DON’T GIVE UP. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
You WILL get to a point of feeling better and like a normal functioning human being. But it can take a lot of time, and a lot of trial and error.
However, you also have to learn how to be your own advocate. What I mean is, if you feel like what you are taking is not working/helping, you need to SPEAK UP. You can’t be afraid of your doctor. You have to be able to tell them HONESTLY how things are going, in order to get the proper treatment. After all, your doctor is not a mind reader. They can’t scan you with their eyes to see how your meds are working. You have to actually COMMUNICATE!
There ARE a handful of people who happen to be drug resistant. They HAVE tried everything under the sun, and they HAVE communicated with their doctor, but they can find no relief. BUT…. you DON’T KNOW IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE IF YOU DON’T FIRST TRY EVERYTHING OR STAY ON YOUR TREATMENT PLAN!
Many of these meds need to be and remain at a certain level in our bodies in order to work properly. That means taking your medication as prescribed. NEVER take less or more without the direction of your doctor.
Another thing that frustrates me is when people say things like “You must not have bipolar if you are taking anti depressants. Anti depressants make people with Bipolar MANIC!” Or my other favorite “Your doctor is stupid for giving you an anti depressant, don’t they know that is going to cause you to go manic!?!?!”
Remember when I said, this is not a one size fits all treatment plan? Yes, SOME people with bipolar can NOT take anti depressants. They are mostly diagnosed with BP Type 1. On the other hand, there are people who NEED anti depressants or else they are in a perpetual state of depression (like me). YES, those people still have the propensity of hitting a manic cycle. But 99% of the time, they are also prescribed anti-psychotics to keep the mania away.
SO, this is just a reminder that even within our community there is stigma. We need to stop that. We need to remember that each one of us is different. We need to stop telling people their treatment plan is wrong. We need to stop telling them their doctors are full of shit because they are not getting a treatment plan exactly like ours. Just because we have Bipolar, doesn’t make us experts. Yeah, we know a lot, and can share our EXPERIENCES, but lets try not to give people self doubt or doubt about their treatment.
In closing, for the love of all that is holy, take your meds as they are prescribed. Never break your pills in half unless you have been told to do so by your doctor (Some meds should NOT be broken in half because they get absorbed too quickly into your system) try not to skip a dose. If you feel your meds are not working, TELL YOUR DOCTOR! They are not mind readers. They can only treat you properly if you tell them how things are going and what you are feeling.