Being beautifully bipolar comes with its trappings. Rage, irratability, depression, happiness, mania – so many emotions. As I have mentioned before, and as many people have described it, it is a roller coaser. Unfortunately we do not do not have musch control over it.
Therapy helps. You can learn coping skills – what to do when the rage comes, what to do when you are anxious, how to reel it in when you are manic. Therapy helps but it does not fix things. You have to know that going in. Your therapist will help you, but he or she can’t save you from the illness that is bipolar disorder. Oh, you will learn a lot if you have found the right therapist, but it is up to you to use the tools you learn in therapy. For example, I have learned breathing techniques that help when I start to have a panic attack. I have learned to listen to music and dance when I have anxiety because these things I love to do. They help.
But therapy is not enough for me. I also require prescription medication from a psychiatrist. I do not tell many “normal” people that because it creates distance between that person and myself. I have written before about stigma and unfortunately this is a big one, because if you need medication you are definitely crazy. And yes, it sucks, but people are uneducated about mental illness so stigma exists. If people would read this blog I think it would help them understand a little bit better.
When first starting psychiatric medication it is a crap shoot. The doctor is just meeting you and really has no baseline for what or how much of a drug to give you. So they take a shot in the dark and put you on medications that have worked for other bipolar patients. It does not really work, but he or she has to start somewhere. When you tell them about your moods and he or she realizes that the prescribed medication isn’t working, he or she will add more pills and potions.
Eventually the meds will add up and you will be taking a lot. This may even exasperate your symptoms of this mental illness. This is when your doctor will start relieving you of the duty to take so many. He or she may have a better understanding if what you need after this period of observation. But it is just a guess.
What you must learn in this process is patience because it is not an easy fix. It does not happen overnight. Most of these medications take a month or more to even start working. Yeah, patience. You need to know that also going in. Everyone’s brain chemistry is different. What works for me most likely will not work for you. Bipolar disorder just works that way. It presents itself differently in everyone so it requires trial and error. I know, not what you wanted to hear – especially the error part.
So, why does it take so long? Your brain is an amazing epicenter of bodily control, mental illnesses included. It has a lot going on up there. And the chemistry that mediates mental illness is finicky. It can even react pleasantly for some time to a medication then fall out of love with it. That happened to me. I was on a certain med for more than a year and I was Elaina J again. Then a new psychiatrist changes things up and things shifted for the worse. A couple years later I convinced a new psych doctor to try it on me again. You know what? It didn’t work anymore.
I just ask that you have faith in your doctor and try to have patience. It takes a while and then it might be back to the drawing board. Remember this is normal. It gets better, always remember that.