Facing the Terrors of New Bipolar Medication
I have been on every bipolar medication you can name and likely a few you could not. I have been on more medication combinations than I can remember. I have spent years dealing with medication side effects. There is very little medication pain that I cannot tolerate. I have taken medications that have made me feel amazingly well and bipolar medications that have made me feel intolerably ill. I’ve seen treatment miracles and treatment devastations. And still, I feel nothing but terror when I think of taking new bipolar medication.
What Bipolar Medication Can Do
Whether you are taking a new mood stabilizer, antipsychotic, antidepressant or anything else, new bipolar medication can be a godsend. It can pull you from mania, it can lift you from depression and it can make your life worth living again.
Or, then again, it can make unbelievable amounts of pain and suffering worse. It can pile horrendous side effects on top of an already very sick person. It can make walking through life unbearable.
I’ve had medication make me feel such acute, unbearable pain that sleep was the only escape. It’s the kind of pain where bugs dance across your bones and work to escape from your insides by burrowing through your flesh and skin. It’s being so drugged that your eyes won’t open and yet you’re so amped up that your brain won’t stop screaming and you can’t stop moving. It’s the kind of pain that even with all my words, I cannot describe, and if you have not experienced, for which you have no frame of reference.
Taking a New Bipolar Medication Anyway
And the medications that do the very worst of the worst things to me are invariably antipsychotics. I’m not saying that these are bad medications – they save lives every day – but my experience with them terrifies me. In fact, I have found them to be so horrible that I’ve sworn off them completely.
It’s a desperation thing. There is a moment where the pain that you are in because of the disease outweighs the terror of the new bipolar medication. I have lived this moment many times. I lived it just yesterday.
And so I’m looking at the new medication in a blister-pack “for my convenience” and I feel shakily scared. Like, really. Like, hands with tremors. Like hands that make water jump from the glass when I attempt to drink it with the pill.
But here’s the thing kids – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: change nothing and nothing changes. In other words, the pain you’re living with today cannot abate without some form of treatment and, for me, that treatment is a new medication. I have to face the fear and use my logic to overrule the terror in order to have even the small opportunity for improvement. It’s the roulette wheel we spin in an attempt to get better. It’s the price we have to pay.
And I will pay it in the hopes that I it will bring about a better day. And maybe, just maybe, all the fears won’t come true. Maybe it will work as advertised. Maybe it’ll make bipolar its bitch. I don’t know.
But I’ll be brave, because that’s what it takes to face bipolar disorder. That’s what it takes to try a new medication.
Tracy, N. (2013, January 24). Facing the Terrors of New Bipolar Medication, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2013/01/facing-terrors-new-bipolar-medication
Author: Natasha Tracy
For most of the three decades, when I started a new med it was no big deal, just take it.
In recent years while taking antipsychotics that changed. Any med can cause serious SE's but AP's seem to excel at it.
Because of weight gain I would like to drop Seroquel and go with something else. I'm not ready to take that chance. The game has changed.
Marco, I really appreciated what you shared too.
I do not take meds, although I suffer from depresion, anxiety, and ADD. I just can't take meds, and I haven't tried too many. I am extremely sensitive to them, and they only make my symptoms worse. Therefore I go natural as possible, and try to manage my life the best I can as I am. I don't work, and live off disability, so that is probably the hardest part. Living under poverty income is the hardest part, because I am so limited financially. That is another type of illness it seems. But I am glad to be able to try to manage my life just as Sarah described, and I have to try to remain thankful that I can try to live a controlled life as it is. :)
Try your best to get a supply of Lithium if you can. I can't help you with that because I don't live in your country and don't know how it works.
What I can help you with is how you might be able to survive as long as possible without the lithium.
1. Keep your circadian rhythms stable. That means strict routine, especially sleep and bedtime.
2. Avoid things which may be stressful or a trigger for you. This includes bad stressors such as seeing people you don't like, and good stressors such as a big party.
3. Identify your early warning signs of a manic or depressive episode, write them down and give them to your family and close trusted friends. For example, if my husband notices I'm getting a little excitable, he tells me, and I will cancel plans and have some quiet time. If I start getting teary over nothing and develop a negative outlook, it's time to whip out the cognitive behaviour therapy book and challenge my negative thinking, be gentle on myself and do something I enjoy. Your warning signs and strategies will be specific to you.
4. Watch what you put in your mouth. forget dieting - just eat plenty of healthy, nutritious food. some people find supplements like fish oil help (I don't personally though). Obviously no alcohol, caffiene, drugs. No self-starvation and no bingeing on junk food. Plenty of clean water.
5. some kind of spiritual practice, whether it be prayer, meditation, yoga, or just your favourite music - whatever is comfortable and right for you.
6. Foster your important and close relationships and forget about the stressful ones. I'm an introvert so I cut out most unnecessary relationships, but extroverts may prefer to have light socialising.
7. Enjoyable moderate exercise
8. Careful attention to your hygiene and to your environment - doesn't have to be perfect, but a comfortable and clean and organised home does a lot for your moods.
9. Anything else which grounds you.
All of the above strategies are in my own management plan along with medication. Meds are essential but they wouldn't work without these strategies.
In regards to your bf: congratulations on being happy! It sounds like he loves you for who you are so don't worry about him leaving you, and I guess if he does it is his loss. The thing about bipolar is that it quickly sorts out your real friends from the pretenders.
Bipolar is very hard on our loved ones and there's not much we can do about that, but I think your bf would prefer you manic than not at all so stick with him!
It's also very hard for other people, even loved ones, to understand our bipolar. If professionals don't understand it that well, if we don't understand it ourselves, than we can hardly expect someone with no experience or frame of reference to really get us and what we're going through. The point is that you can persist with communication - explanations, answering his questions and so forth, or by giving him written information, but don't expect that it will be easy for him to really get it.
The important thing for a partner to understand is how to identify your early warning signs and assist you to get help when you need it.
The other important thing for a partner to understand is that it's not personal - it's the bipolar talking. His job is not to fix you but to love and support you. He may also need to ask for help at times.
Well, that's all for now and good luck. Maybe a local person can help you to navigate your health care system and get your meds back.
On top of that, every year my HMO gives me a new doctor. The new doctor will then want to ask about my history of symptoms. If I go in the hospital, yet more doctors want a history of every hospitalization, etc. They have most of my charts here. The doctors not wanting to read is no reason to make me relive some of the horrors I have been thru. I wont do it anymore. I have met other patients who feel the same way.
This year when I got a new doctor I said nothing. Doctor said I probably didn't have bipolar. I let it go at that. Of course he was wanting to try some new things. Why would you suggest that if you think there is nothing wrong with me. I wont take a new med and I want to get rid of some I am taking.