Whenever we blog about medications used to treat bipolar disorder, invariably someone writes in boasting about their success at being medication free or sounding the alarm about the evils of psychiatric medications. If someone posts a comment about how medications have helped them, someone usually replies by saying something like, “I’m happy for you, but just wait a few years when you don’t have a functioning kidney.”
Whenever my wife reads or hears something like that or someone comments that medications are unnecessary for treating mental illness, she says, “I wonder if they’d say the same thing to someone with diabetes or high blood pressure.”
I’m not saying that the medications used to treat bipolar symptoms are perfect. Nor am I saying that medications are the only or best form of treatment for everyone. I believe that brains can develop over time and “heal.” I also think that in some cases the illness can be managed with lifestyle changes and therapy other than medication.
However, I still think there’s a powerful undercurrent of belief in our society that strong people can overcome the illness, but weaker beings “need” medication. I also think that this undercurrent of belief often pressures some people with bipolar disorder to stop taking their meds.
We’d like to know what you think. Do you feel stigmatized by your bipolar meds? Has anyone tried to make you feel guilty or said something to you that makes you feel like a lesser being because you take psychiatric medications?