Complacency: Another Reason for Medication Non-Compliance

I was so good at managing my bipolar illness, I forgot I was bipolar and stopped taking my medication. Read the story.

Some bipolar patients find significant relief by managing their symptoms effectively that, to their detriment, they forget to remain vigilant.

After giving many valid reasons in a previous article for medication non-compliance, I now realized that I left one out. I realize this now because I've spent the last few weeks trying to get restabilized after slipping on my meds. No, it wasn't the side effects. Yes, I knew I needed it. I had ready access to it. I wasn't opposed to taking it. The demon? Complacency.

You see, I was so good at managing my bipolar disorder I forgot I was bipolar. Oh, if you asked me, I would assure you that the key to my good health was my medication cocktail. But I felt well enough to stop making the management of my disorder the top priority in my life. Complacency.

It all started, I think, when I lost my alarm watch. No bother. I didn't really need it, I thought. But without that alarm going off, I started to forget taking doses. Then I stopped filling my weekly pillboxes. It was too much trouble. But without my pillboxes, I started to forget whether or not I had taken a dose, and I was afraid of double dosing. But it didn't matter. I wasn't manic. I wasn't depressed. I would do better the next day. Complacency.

First, the hypomania hit me which was a shame, since I liked the sensation and wasn't keen on stopping it. Luckily, some rational, reasonable part of my brain realized what was going on and with some medication adjustments, I was able to stop that freight train before it crashed.

Unfortunately, depression followed. That soft, gentle depression that you sink into like an oversized leather sofa. Again, not serious enough to send me to the doctor. But when I'm depressed, I start to forget things. Little tasks, like opening five pill bottles, become enormous tasks. No surprise when I started to miss more doses. Then the depression was a little more noticeable. By this time, the illogical hopelessness set in and I couldn't see how getting back on my medicine could help anything.

But I did. My therapist gave me two pillboxes, one for my at-home meds and a small one for my afternoon meds. My doctor didn't get angry. My mother bought me a new alarm watch and reminded me gently when my doses were due.

And it's amazing how well those medicines work when you take them right!

My doctor suggested that I write about this because it is so common. We're all warned about the day when we feel better and think we don't need the medicine. No one warns us about the day when we feel better and we don't think at all about the medicine. The nurse pointed out to me that sometimes the combination doesn't work the second time around. When you've gone through as much trouble as I have to work out that combination, the thought of having to start over is daunting.

And doctors, nurses, therapists, be aware. Getting angry or scolding doesn't work. Helping a person work out solutions does.

About the author: Melissa has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and shared her experiences for the benefit of others. Please remember, do NOT take any action based on what you have read here. Please discuss any questions or concerns with your healthcare professional.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 28). Complacency: Another Reason for Medication Non-Compliance, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: January 7, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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