I am a very difficult case of bipolar to treat. Believe me. I have been on more bipolar medications than anyone I know and finding an effective cocktail is akin to walking on water. It’s possible, but it’s pretty darn rare. And recently I made a medication change from one antipsychotic to another. It went very badly in a whole host of ways. In fact, I terminated the medication trial early and went back to my previous medication. I see my doctor this afternoon and now I have to tell him the bad news about how it went. And I feel guilty about failing another bipolar medication. I know he will be disappointed and I feel bad about it.
OK, maybe it seems like I’m being a bit hard on commenters. I swear I’m not. I like people who comment and express their opinion, but sometimes their opinion spurs one of my own. This is one such comment: I’m bipolar, and I think we ALL should have to take a Dialectal Behavior Therapy course. The DBT course helps with coping skills, year class, and helps  . . . these skills work if you want them too. Here’s someone singing the praises of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). She would certainly not be alone as many people find DBT to be helpful. The problem I have with this comment is the last bit, “these skills work if you want them too [sic].” So, this means that if the skills learned in DBT don’t work for someone it’s because they didn’t want them to? I don’t think so.
In my line of work I run into many people engaged in the mental health system in different ways. Many people are patients, naturally, but many are the loved ones of patients as well. And some of these loved ones are parents. And some of these patients are children. I have publically stated previously how shaky I am on the concept of children and mental illness; which is to say that I’m very critical of labelling children with a mental illness when we don’t even have formal diagnostic criteria for mental illness in children (except for things like ADHD/ADD). I’ve also said that I’m even more critical of putting children with their growing brains on psychotropic medication when we aren’t even fully aware of what these medications will do to adult brains long-term, let alone developing ones. Nevertheless, parents don’t have to justify their child’s mental illness or the treatment of that mental illness to me or anyone else.
Recently a commenter talked about how she felt taken advantage of by a loved one who had schizoaffective disorder. This particular individual seemed to take a lot from his family and gave nothing in return. He refused to shower, help out around the house, pay for anything and would eat out at restaurants with no money and then insist his family come down to the restaurant and pay for him. The person with schizoaffective disorder was being medically treated and the loved one felt that he was just manipulating the people around him. Now, I can’t say what the motivation was in this scenario, but certainly, this commenter is not the only one to have found herself in that situation. So the question is, is mental illness an excuse for bad behaviour?
A little while back I went through an amazing phase of remission. I started a new medication and it worked like magic in a very short period of time. In short, it was a miracle. At the beginning, I kept the miracle to myself. Others noticed I had changed but no one said anything and neither did I. But eventually, a few weeks passed and I just had to tell people how great I felt. I thought I was "safe." I thought the remission would be around for a while. I thought I would be able to announce the good news and then not disappoint people when the treatment stopped working. I, of course, was wrong. As fast as the remission came, it left. And I couldn't get it back. It felt like I was being punished about being happy about, well, being happy.
I hate shrinks. Shrinks should die. Shrinks are evil. (Thank the commenters (not an individual) for that.) OK I get it, you don’t like psychiatrists. Personally, I would find a more intelligent way to express an argument, but your point is clear nonetheless. You’re ranting. I get that. I rant. We all do. It’s a healthy expression of the frustration seen when dealing with so many things outside of our own control. But at some point you have to stop hating, wishing for murder and committing moral condemnation and actually do something useful.
I take a lot of flak for what I have to say about mental illness. My positions are often blunt and sometimes unpopular. This is fine with me. I’m an opinionated girl. Not everyone enjoys that particular charm. But one thing that gets said every once in a while is I’m, “playing the victim.” And not only that, but I’m encouraging others to be victims. Contagious victim-ness I suppose. This, of course, is just a slur designed to make me and others feel bad about what we have to say. Well, I say this: Admitting to having a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re “playing the victim.” Talking about mental illness isn’t “playing the victim” either.
I am lucky enough to have many people out there who love my writing, love my perspective and yes, possibly even love me. Sometimes these people contact me privately, sometimes publically, but either way, I certainly appreciate all the positivity. On the other hand, there is a small, yet amazingly vocal, number of people who hate what I have to say, and yes, possibly hate me. These people tend to denounce me, and what I have to say, publically. And honestly, I don’t mind the differing opinions. Disagree with a point I’ve made? No problem, that’s what the comments are for. But zealous, hateful stances on mental illness, treatments and psychiatry tend to hurt those with mental illness far more than it helps.
Women are classic “I’m sorry” – ers. We’re taught to say “I’m sorry” from the time we can utter the words. We are the peacekeepers, claiming fault so no one else has to. We have to apologize for emotions because we’re “overemotional.” We have to apologize for our needs because we’re “clingy.” We’re sorry for our behavior, our significant other’s behavior and our children’s behavior. We are simply, sorry. And most women in 2011 realize this habit is one borne of the past and is no longer relevant in our everyday world. We realize we are not “sorry” at the drop of a hat or a glass of wine spilled by a drunken significant other. We realize there is a time to be sorry and there are times not to be. Unfortunately for me, I feel like I have to be sorry all the time, for every tear, for every thought, because if I’m not, people will leave.
I have been through more bipolar treatments than I care to recall; probably everything you’ve heard of plus a bunch of bipolar treatments you haven’t. And yes, obviously, I have failed the vast majority of these bipolar treatments. And while not getting better is certainly nasty enough, it always feels like it’s my fault that the treatment didn’t work.