You Are Stuck With It

Some days I want to quit with all of these medications, therapy sessions and coping techniques, and just be normal for a bit. However, the reality is that most longitudinal studies support the notion that bipolar disorder is a chronic lifelong condition. So hey, I’m stuck with it. That’s still hard for me to grasp.

There are arguments that with the right kind of psychotherapy, people suffering with bipolar disorder can live without drugs. Then, there are arguments at the other end of the spectrum that bipolar disorder is biologically based, chronic and lifelong. Essentially, if you’ve got it, you’re stuck with it and there’s little to no chance of resolution. Every part of me wants to believe that I can learn to take control of myself again and manage my life without medications, I hate medications. The side effects are horrible and I hate having to set alarms multiple times a day to take pills.

You hear a lot of people saying that they are recovering, but that is a lot different from it going away forever. Unfortunately, bipolar disorder, like most other modern medical illnesses, doesn’t tend to go completely away even with treatment. Have you ever thought about this before? Take a second to consider this and pick any major modern disease – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, dementia, autoimmune disorders. For most of these conditions, doctors can control symptoms but cannot eradicate the underlying disease process. Mood disorders share many of the same disease pathways as these other illnesses, and because of this they can often be managed very well but seldom cured. This is one of the reasons that major depression and bipolar disorder are such painful and devastating conditions. Experiencing the swinging moods, shifting energy levels, sleep difficulties and intrusive anxiety, associated with bipolar disorder can feel overwhelming. And managing it can feel the same.

There are times when I entertain the fact that maybe I’m not bipolar. Maybe all the stress in my life at the time of my said ‘bipolar onset’ was just me having a mental break down. Stress can affect anyone, whether they have a mental illness or not. It doesn’t deem me crazy. Maybe once my life completely falls back together and gets less stressful I can handle myself just fine. I wouldn’t say that out loud for anyone else to hear though, I’ve made that mistake before. I get the typical reaction of them feeling sorry for me and quietly thinking that I am delusional and need to accept the truth. Am I delusional though? No. Is it unlikely? Yes. But, I guess it’s me holding on to the hope that just maybe I will feel like myself again and not question what is really me, or what is ‘normal’. Is that so bad?

 

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17 thoughts on “You Are Stuck With It

  1. I completely understand what you are saying, that it is hard to accept that you are stuck with bipolar.
    I also know the thoughts, when I am feeling well, about thinking that maybe I don’t really have bipolar, but that I am just reacting to stress triggers.
    I also concur with the burden of medication side effects. Unfortunately or fortunately for me I can’t tolerate most medications and so I have to rely totally on coping strategies except for a small dosage of a mood stabilizer. It there was a med that would agree with me and it would help, I would take it!
    Some day you may be able to quit the therapy sessions but don’t ever quit those coping techniques. They are even more effective than medication. My best coping methods are walking and solitude. If I can get enough if each of those then I might be able to have a good day. You may even be able to reduce or rearrange some medications, but don’t give up on those coping techniques!
    And don’t give up on writing this blog. The writing itself is a great coping strategy, writing is therapeutic. Even if you get discouraged and think ‘well no one is reading this anyways’, don’t stop. Just the writing of it is a huge benefit for you!
    Be encouraged. Don’t give up. You can do this. You are doing this. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had it for, oh lets see, 28 years now. I think one reason that I have no doubts about it is the times when I was not on medication; the last being a hospitalization in order to switch. My behavior so horrified and scared me that I would never go off my meds, ever. Perhaps another reason is that I have mixed episodes which are simply never fun. They destroy relationships so I know better then to leave my house. They cause havoc requiring much fixing afterward. If I never had another extreme mood swing it would be too soon but sadly that is not the reality. I’ve recently had to add yet another med but I don’t mind one bit because it is the first one that has actually stabilized the mania part. What a relief!

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    1. My behavior when I was unstable was horrible beyond words. I know what you mean by that. I look back on that when I start to ponder these thoughts and it tends to put me back in the place of feeling like this is just it for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar type 1 until I was 32 years old. And at that age I refused the moodstabilizer the doctor wanted to give me.

    I know I had full blown manias, lots of long periods of hypomanias and a handful of depressions between 15 years old and 32, but I was clueless that I had an actual mental illness. I regarded it more like the flu. You just get it a number of times in your life, but it isn’t a life-long illness. I’d even go to my general practitioner. He’d give me an antidepressant (I only went there when depressed or anxious) and I’d be miraculously “cured” a couple weeks later and stop taking the med. Just as if it was an antibiotic for the flu.

    I have since learned that untreated bipolar disorder can make for a worse course later in life. I certainly experienced that. At 34 I had the first of 10 hospitalizations. I was horribly ill for four years, and intermittently ill for years later. I’m 45 years old. In those four years I quit meds twice. Disaster!!!! Eventually I learned my medications would be part of the rest of my life.

    I have been doing much better for a couple of years now. My psychiatrist has started to lower and eliminate some medications. That certainly improves my life in terms of side effects. So my goal now is to stay on meds, but just the fewest needed (at the time).

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    1. I too had an experience with depression and anxiety being my identified problems initially. Taking meds and seeing doctors occasionally for short periods. When it finally hit me at 23 it took me an entire year and 3 hospitalizations to get myself stabilized enough to function semi normally. It wasn’t until February of this year that I actually started feeling myself again

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you’re finally feeling better, powerofenduring. I hope that it is long-lasting.

        I now look at meds like this. I’m 45 years old and even if I didn’t have bipolar disorder I would probably still be taking a thyroid med, a multi-vitamin, and perhaps something else. Swallowing down a few more pills isn’t really that big of a deal. I think most people my age, at least, are taking some kind of pill. It’s funny how taking a thyroid pill, a birth control pill, or a multi-vitamin isn’t a big deal, but when we have to take something like bipolar meds for the rest of our life, it really sucks!

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  4. Fantastic post! I struggle with the thought of being stuck with Bipolar, too. And I really struggle with the idea of being on meds forever. But… I want to be level and well too. It’s a tension I have to live with. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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