If You Are Bipolar Stay On Your Meds
Are You a Psychiatrist?
If the answer is "no," then you are categorically unqualified to make the decision to take yourself off your bipolar medications.
And yet, it's very, very common for bipolars to exclaim, "I'm off my meds!!" or "I'm going off my meds!" Interestingly, you rarely hear of patients deciding to simply stop treating their blood pressure, ulcers or asthma.
Hmmm. Think this could be mental illness at work???
Your Brain Is the Patient
Hubber Escobana Proves Bipolar "Cocktails" are Lifesavers
How Are You Feeling Right Now?
It's no easy trick to manage the ups and downs of a bipolar brain. The treatment goal is to help you function within a normal range -- not too up, not too down, but just right.
If you're feeling pretty good, pretty balanced, congratulations! That means your meds are working!!! It means your doctor has gotten your cocktail of mood stabilizer/antidepressant/antipsychotic/anti-manic/anti-anxiety just so for your particular symptoms.
Lots of treatment choices
- Bipolar Drug Information
Find information on bipolar disorder medications including seroquel, lamictal, abilify and more.
Charlie Sheen: Our #1 Unmedicated Celebrity
- Charlie Sheen Suffers from DIGFAST (mania)
Are you sick of Charlie Sheen? Charlie isn't sick of Charlie Sheen -- not by a long shot. But Charlie Sheen is sick. The question is, what exactly does he suffer from? In the wee hours of the morning I found...
What Are You Trying to Achieve?
A word about side effects
It's true that some medications come with some rather unpleasant side effects. Some, like Thorazine, are notorious for being pretty hard to swallow.
But with the vast array of meds available today, there's undoubtedly a substitute you'll be better able to tolerate. Talk to your psychiatrist about alternatives.
So, I bet you miss being manic, don't you?
Some patients complain that they miss the energy rush and wild exhilaration of their "high highs" once they're medicated. But I can't say I've heard of anyone nostalgizing the "low lows" of their depressive moods!
What's at Risk if you Self-Medicate?
As a bipolar, your brain suffers from a major chemical imbalance. One way or another, it needs to be rebalanced, it craves to be rebalanced. This is why, without even knowing they're doing it, so many bipolars turn to "self-medicating" with alcohol and drugs. They are naturally obeying their brain's command to please, please stop this roller coaster and give me some peace!
How common is substance abuse in bipolars? According to some sources, 50- 60% of bipolar disorder patients abuse alcohol and drugs at some point during their illness.
If you used alcohol or drugs before you got diagnosed, it's highly likely you will turn back to what "worked" for you in the past. But alcohol and other depressants will only make depressive episodes worse. Cocaine and other stimulants can also produce abnormal mood swings. And withdrawal can produce symptoms of mania or severe depression -- so really, you're going "out of the mental frying pan into the fire" if you give up prescribed drugs and try to medicate yourself.
Think Hard Before You Quit
Assuming your meds are effective, there are two concerns specifically about quitting them.
1. If you're hell bent on experimenting, make sure you read the literature that came with your meds. These are not aspirins we're talking about. They are serious psychotropic drugs. If you're supposed to taper off and you stop abruptly, you risk going into seizures. (And obviously, this would be 1000x worse than any side effect you might be experiencing now.)
2. Once the drugs are out of your system, you're a blank canvass. Getting back on them may not be a simple matter of refilling your old prescriptions. There's a good chance your old scrips won't work. You can become immune to them (at least that's how it was explained to me). Your psychiatrist will have to start all over again -- trial and error with dosages and even drug types. Thus, if you crawl back in, miserable and desperate for relief, you may not get it, at least not right away.
J-Named Men: My Bipolar Brain Made Me Do It!
- Johnny Lewis Was Dealing With Psychopathy or Bipolar Disorder, Says His Former Advisor | E! Online
More details are emerging regarding Johnny Lewis' mental state just two days after the Sons of An...
- Jonatha Carr: Family Blames Bipolar Disorder For Outburst In Florida Atlantic University Classroom
The family of a 24-year-old woman whose violent outburst in her Florida Atlantic University classroom went viral on YouTube says the incident is related to her bipolar disorder. Jonatha Carr was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 13 years o
- Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Lawyer, Not-So-Subtly Blaming Mental Illness | National Review Online
Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Lawyer, Not-So-Subtly Blaming Mental Illness -
Good resource for all mental health issues
- Staging a Bipolar Disorder Intervention | Help Bipolar Loved One Who Does Not Want Help | Bipolar Be
Author of Bipolar Disorder For Dummies provides suggestions on how to help someone with bipolar disorder who does not want help.
Maybe I'm Cured!
Don't be fooled. Bipolar is a chronic condition. Its symptoms can be managed, and you can live a normal life. But it doesn't go away.
And the best predictor of future behavior is past episodes. As it was explained to me by a psychiatrist, if you've had one depressive episode in the past, you can expect to have more in the future. Same goes for manic episodes.
Try to remember the worst experience you had before you got diagnosed. Did you go on a spending spree that left you in debt? Did you spend two weeks holed up under the covers, unbathed and alone? Did you end up in trouble with the law, or under observation on a 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold)? Whatever unpleasant memories you can dredge up -- amplify them by at least two. That's what's in store for you if you persist in this plan.
Still not convinced?
I'll share with you a true story of a friend of mine, a bipolar who did exactly what you are contemplating. He didn't feel anything unusual so thought he'd made the right decision. Until about three weeks later. Out of the blue he decided it would be a good idea to kill himself. He set out to drink himself to death (after being sober for three years). Luckily, he didn't succeed. The cops found him on the side of the road puking his guts out next to his car. He lost his license for a year. But he gained an important lesson -- and a new respect -- for bipolar disease.
Feed Your Head
Bipolar Disorder Resources
- NIMH · Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious medical illness that causes shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function.
- Bipolar disorder - PubMed Health
Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The "mood swings" between mania and depression can be very quick.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: Improving the Lives of People Living with Mood Disorders
- Bipolar.com - Home
Bipolar disorder support and information brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline.
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