While preparing to write this piece about Bipolar Disorder and what to expect, how to treat, how to live with and so on, I did some reading and it seemed to gel with what I knew from experience and I could present it in a very straightforward manner to you. Then I picked up a book I bought several years ago called Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. Here’s how it starts in Chapter 1:
“Bipolar disorder is a heartless beast that parties with your life and sticks you with the bill.” Woke me right up. It continues, “At it’s best, it inspires brilliant insights and uninhibited joy. At it’s worst, it drapes the mind in debilitating depression, destroys relationships, empties bank accounts and fuels suicidal thoughts.” I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about BPD. As I write this I will have some of the book’s wisdom thrown in from time to time. Really, get the book. In the meantime…
Even though Bipolar is such a slippery illness, it is becoming easier to diagnose and therefore makes it treatable. Treatment most often includes a good psychiatrist-patient relationship, the right mix of medications (very tricky to get right), talk therapy, a good night’s sleep, exercise and eating healthfully. I personally find the eating healthfully the most challenging. Once the “cocktail” is right, with the commitment that it’s for a lifetime (like diabetes) and a vigilance to keep the beast at bay, life can be full and better than you ever dreamed it could be.
It’s important to partner with a psychiatrist who works with bipolar patients. Medications can be tricky because there are often other illnesses tagging along such as ADHD, Anxiety Disorder and substance abuse. Medications ordinarily used for ADHD can trigger a manic episode. Some antidepressants can do the same. Some medications can make you foggy or mess with your memory. If you’re working with a good psychiatrist, you need to be a good patient. That means paying attention to how you feel and communicating it to your Doctor. In addition, it’s important to listen and consider your doctor’s advice. As in any good relationship, communication is key.