Bipolar FAQ Part 2

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By popular demand, I am bringing back Bipolar FAQ! If ya’ll have any questions for me, I would love to answer them and add them to a future post. So feel free to comment below and I will answer with my thoughts and experiences with bipolar disorder. But until then, I will answer questions I have been asked since my last post.

1. Why do you (and most people with bipolar) fight taking meds?

I can’t speak for others, but I know for me personally that I hate taking meds for psychological reasons. I legitimately make myself gag every time that I sill my prescription box (I have a pill box for my med containers; pills I take daily, along with a box full of rejects as I like to call them). I can’t control the gagging, I have tried changing my mindset for pills, but every day I look at my medication with such utter hatred and I try not to vomit everything I just consumed after swallowing 7 pills at once. And trust me, I have tried doing it one at a time, and it almost makes the process worse because I get the residue of pill fibers in my mouth and it’s the taste and texture of the pills that make me want to throw up.

It’s odd because this only happens when I take meds specifically for the bipolar. If I’m taking Tylenol or whatever, I don’t have this gag reflex reaction. That’s how I know it’s psychological. Something I will bring up with my new therapist….

Another reason folks in general don’t like to take their bipolar medication is that they don’t like the way that the pills make them feel. I haven’t personally really struggled with this. I have had the correct pill cocktail for me for about a year and a half. When you’re on the right meds, take them consistently, and notice a difference in your daily life, that’s what motivates you to stay on them.

But unfortunately, some people haven’t and will never find their right for them cocktail, which breaks my heart. It took almost 3 years since my bipolar diagnosis to get on the right meds and that was going in monthly and changing dosage every month along with what I was taking.

The feelings of being on the wrong medication is the worst feeling in the world. If the anti-depressant is wrong, then you are either elated about anything or you are suicidal. There is no in between. If you’re on the wrong anti-psychotic, then your mood swings from one side of the spectrum to the other without any rhyme or reason. If both are wrong, you’re a mess.

Not only is dealing with the wrong medication hard, but dealing with the negative side effects is almost worse. I have steadily gained 40 pounds since I have been on anti-psychotics. Not only that, side effects include, suicidal tendencies, mania, even worse mood swings, anger issues, delusions, hallucinations, you name it.

Plus, all this shit is expensive!

Just a few things to consider for you normal folk if you ask why someone doesn’t take medication.

2. How does one manage their symptoms?

Short answer: coping mechanisms, therapy, medication, and a good support system.

Long answer: The first step is a correct diagnosis. This can almost be considered the hardest part of the whole process. I was misdiagnosed for four years before I got my bipolar diagnosis. I didn’t really grasp or comprehend my manic symptoms in order to explain it to the doctor, so I was put on a very generic, low dosage of Effexor, which is an anti-depressant.

My mood swings became more prevalent after I went through puberty and it wasn’t just my adolescent hormones talking. Once doctor what’s his name established it wasn’t just puberty, he referred me to someone better equipped to handle my prescribing of mental health medications because he was only a primary care provider.

Let me just say this: If you are suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder or something similar, don’t give up. Stand your ground and find a doctor that will listen to you and understand what you’re struggling with.

After I was referred to a doctor that had more mental health knowledge, I was able to get a correct diagnosis. Then comes finding the right medication.

She put me on prozac, an anti-depressant that she’s only had to change the dosage of, and put me on abilify, an anti-psychotic that worked well for my mother, and the dosage had to be changed. Other than that, it’s worked like a dream. After about a year, she added lithium to the mix, along with I think 4 dosage adjustments. Then added propranolol for the lithium induced tremor. Propranolol is actually a blood pressure medication, for someone that already has low blood pressure. Then there is a butt load of supplements I have taken over the years, but now it’s down to nothing.

Word to the wise: be patient when it comes to finding the right medication for you. It doesn’t nor will it happen overnight. It could take years for it to work. And get the right dosage. It’s taken me 3 years to be on the right dosage.

The hardest part is getting a diagnosis, while the longest part is getting the right meds. The things that will make you endure these hardships is your support system and whatever you love; your coping mechanisms. The people you love and loving what you do whether it be your family, friends, significant other, along with your hobbies, interests, pets, or job is what makes these struggles all the more worthwhile.

3. What’s the difference between bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder?

Bipolar is probably the most known about mental illness in comparison to borderline and schizophrenia. Bipolar is also the most different in terms of definition and symptoms compared to the other two disorders.

All sources and definitions are from the Mayo clinic ~

Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships. With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.

4. Do you hide or mask your bipolar disorder?

It depends on the situation and how disclaiming that I have bipolar would benefit or hinder me. In job interviews, I have learned to hide it because there is such a stigma around mental illness in the job front… I learned this the hard way when my boss found out that I was bipolar through a Facebook post and he fired me because of it. Ever since then, I usually try to hide my bipolar or if I can’t, I will quit the job. I’m not saying this is the best thing to do, but it tends to be my course of action when I can’t be myself.

When dating or making friends, I am usually pretty honest about my bipolar disorder. I make sure to bring it up the first few times I meet someone new to create honesty and transparency. It has backfired a few times because people don’t understand what it means to be or know someone who is bipolar. But if I bring it up at a later date, someone might assume that I’m lying or hiding this sort of information. It behooves everyone to know from the beginning so that they can make their personal decisions to continue the relationship or not.

5. Why do bipolar people push those closest to them away?

My best friend asked this of me when I told him I was making this post.

I said I would have a better answer for him after I collected my thoughts…

So this is for me personally and others may push those closest to them away for different reasons but mainly in my bipolar frame of mind, I push others away because I am ashamed of what I am doing in my life.

This may seem silly. That’s because it is. During my manic outbursts, I quit jobs on the spot, I drink and smoke a lot, gamble a ton, sleep around with whoever, whenever. It’s not behavior I am particularly proud of, but I don’t want my friends and especially not my family to see that behavior. It’s not me.

Well.. it is me, but not the real me. Those closest to me know that, but it’s hard for me to be told what to do, even when I am in a good place. My friend, Brent was particularly supportive of my behavior of “getting some” which I never understood because reckless sleeping around can and did have negative repercussions in my life, yet he still wanted what was best for me, whatever I thought that was and stuck by my side while others fled.

I guess that annoyed me; him sticking around when I was personally ashamed of what I was doing so I pushed him and many others away.

Even now when I am not doing that sort of stuff since Diego has got me in check, I still push others away, even though I really don’t have anything to be ashamed of. So that is a concept I am still mulling over, so who knows what my new therapist or I come up with. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

..

I hope this was informative and maybe a little entertaining to read! Until next time, my friends…

Dani

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