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 from 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?