Medication is a route few people volunteer for as their first choice to treat their bipolar (BPD). It can be expensive, restricting and seem like a life sentence as opposed to a practical solution to managing symptoms. However, there is no getting around the fact that, sometimes, medication is the best and only course action that will allow you to lead a functional life.
Before deciding on a course of treatment though, it’s important to give consideration to a few things that will make some of the possible challenges more manageable as they arise, as there is a high incidence of issues taking medication amongst individuals diagnosed with bipolar. If you’re considering what treatments are available to you, here are some important things to remember before committing yourself:
1. If The Medication is Working It Doesn’t Mean You Can Stop Taking Them.
This is a common occurrence. No one enjoys taking medication. And if it’s felt that all your symptoms are under control, there is a school of thought that reasons the treatment has done its job and the medication can be stopped. Unfortunately, psychiatric medications do not work in the same way antibiotics do, which are only taken for a short-term period to achieve lasting results. Some individuals have been known to come to this conclusion by the empowerment their manic episodes bring, feeling they’re over the worst, and can move on with their life. However, the respite is often short-lived with a relapse almost certain. This can be complicated further if you’ve had significant support from friends and family to get you the help you need. If you’re seen to be rejecting the treatment only to lean on those people again, you may find same the level of support as before if needed. But the goodwill you receive will quickly be used up if this becomes a consistent pattern. You’re obviously under no obligation to do anything you feel uncomfortable with. But when you’re relying on the support of others, it places aexpectation on them for which there is only so much capacity to meet.
2. Experiencing Side Effects Doesn’t Mean Medication is the Wrong Choice
By now, side effects are an expected trade-off when using medications. And with that said, it’s important to note that while they can be highly effective in the management of bipolar, not all prescriptions will be suitable for each individual. Unfortunately, there is no sure way of knowing how a person might react to one over another, due to differing physiologies and other variables. There can be a degree of trial and error involved in the initial stages, but this can be minimised by seeking help from a professional psychiatrist, one who deals specifically with bipolar. Their specialised knowledge and experience will enable them offer a treatment plan with far greater confidence than most general practitioners. Be aware though, when your medication isn’t working properly, and the experience has turned to one of managing side effects instead of symptoms, it can often be a simple of case of the changing the treatment or even the dosage. The use of micro-dosing to work your way up to the optimal therapeutic level is an effective way of doing this. But you should consult with your doctor or psychiatrist before doing so.
3. Fearing You Are Dependent (or addicted) to Your Medication
This is quite a big hang-up for many of those who seek treatment for bipolar. As much as taking medications have the power to restore a sense of control in someone’s life, it is paradoxical in that it involves giving some of that control away. Over time, the routine of acquiring and taking medication can become monotonous and a constant reminder of your condition, leading to perceived feelings of hopelessness and even addict-like dependency. This is entirely understandable, and a very legitimate concern. But it is also a view that can often be taken out of context – prone to exaggeration. We’re dependent on a great many things for our survival: the air, food, water, sleep and sunlight. These things are accepted, unthinkingly. And while medications are man-made, their purpose is to rebalance the chemistry that is already present to improve quality of life. They rebalance and repair; they do not replace the functioning of the brain and nervous systems. Taking medication does not make you weak or any less of a person than your peers. As cliché as it sounds, it is only the strong who’re willing to accept help at the expense of ridicule. With some mental illnesses, there are much better alternatives than medicating, but due to the challenging nature of bipolar symptoms, it’s often the best course of action that can be taken, despite whatever complimentary solutions are available.