Bipolar… medication or self discipline?

Long RoadWritten by Trev.

I would say, self management of bipolar disorder is the best option. Rather than a potential lifetime on prescription drugs, that’s only my opinion.

But I would hope, many others would tend to agree with me.

It’s a long, long roooad…..

With many a winding turn…he ain’t heavy, he’s got bipolar… So on we gooo…”

Well my experiences whilst in the NHS system (National Health Service), proved to me that there was no other option. A case of gradually acquiring the crucial tools that have enabled me to at least stand a chance to pick a somewhat relentless fight with bipolar disorder.

I have been walking on a slow, and very long path to recovery, along the way, finding and learning ways in which to accept and accommodate. A case of adapting to live with bipolar disorder. This has by no means been easy, I’m afraid there are no quick fix options.

Been there, tried that

As I know from experience, bipolar is still a somewhat misunderstood illness. Hence why misdiagnosis for depression instead of bipolar disorder is so common place. The mind boggles concerning accurate statistics, relating to an accurate diagnosis between, is it depression or bipolar disorder?

There is a massive difference, but for doctors it is a case of there simply isn’t enough time made available to treat a person as an unique individual.

I would suggest booking a double appointment, be your own researcher, taking along with you a manifest of reports and personal notes on your thoughts across mood mapping. You will need to constantly scrutinise your behaviour and actions… ideally over a long period of time… the lows, the middles, the in-betweens and the highs.

I have tried the medication route, I did place my trust in the National Health Service and followed their so called advice and one-size-fits-all medication. Sometimes when times get close to impossible fighting this bloody bipolar bear, the thought does cross my mind to get back in line and wait to board the National Health Service zombie train.

Don’t get me wrong, I know as a whole they do save thousands of lives, But I found the resources, and advice that was available to me, both systematic and antiquated. The medicine came thick and fast, whilst the support network was dated and slow.

What are you wanting?

My local GP retired around three years ago (thank Christ), since then I haven’t had to consult my new quack with anything too serious.  But in the summer of 2011 an ear infection became so painful I had to make an appointment.

At the time there were plenty of warning signs of a potential relapse, I had observed gradual changes in my perception and reaction to people and society. My sleep was off kilter, I was losing weight, along with patience and tolerance with people. I was also struggling big time, trying to control my temper and frequent bouts of sadness, self pity and symptoms of depression.

As he was writing out my prescription, I decided to ask the question.

“Doctor, I am a little concerned about my weight loss and my sleeping pattern, how much experience do you have on bipolar disorder?”

An uneasy unconvincing nod of the head, confirmed he was no more knowledgeable than the previous Muppet. I would say he would fall under the same umbrella, referred to by some as “I have heard of it, isn’t it a posh name for manic depression?”

No time, no interest

I sincerely doubt that his knowledge of this illness is any where near the sufficient depth that is required to try and at least understand a condition as complex as bipolar. It takes a qualified medical professional to decode the intricate workings within the ranging spectrum of bipolar disorder.

At this time his buzzer went off.

“Next please”

“Well there you go doc, that’s a sure sign of the times we live in… appointments of five minutes or less.”

No retort.

“I have been self medicating for nearly six years, I’ve never been given a formal diagnosis… just a verbal opinion, that was “We think it’s bipolar.”

“Were you told this by your doctor?”

“No, It was while I spent time in a mental health institution, I had experienced an acute manic episode, five years previous I had also endured a Major depressive episode, which resulted in my sectioning under the mental health act.”

“Basically I have never had a follow up call for an assessment since I abandoned medication in June 2006. After all who am I to know if the avoidance of medication is the right road to go down? ”  (Prodding for an appointment)

“Well If the bipolar comes back, be sure to make an appointment to come and see me.”

“What?”

“Oh, and the ear-drops are three times a day.”

As we know bipolar disorder doesn’t just come back.  It is a condition that you will have for life. Where in, it will always need strict and vigorous managing on a daily basis..

If your in a crisis… don’t call them

This is what I experienced once I found myself unintentionally funneled into the shit National Health System. I will take us back to November 2005, family members have been alerted to the cause, to them my behaviour seems odd or abnormal.

Looking back, I was in fact right in the middle of a week long manic episode. My somewhat bemused parents, girlfriend and the interfering ex wiff, had in their desperation called the Crisis team.

I just needed sleep, and to be alone or at least be with someone who had experienced what was beginning to happen to me, a person who would not judge. Only listen with sensitivity, compassion and empathy.

The Crisis teams expert opinion, lead to the girlfriend and ex wiff taking me for an out of hours appointment to see this idiot who was masquerading as a mental health professional. All this numpty could ask was “Are you hearing voices in your head?” At this time I had no idea what was happening to me, my sensory awareness had like a golden tinge to it. Although my behaviour was bordering on hedonistic, living somehow seemed more meaningful, it felt at last, life did have a purpose.

That was until I asked the police to take me away from the suffocation of so many people who felt they knew what to do, but were seriously aggravating the situation. By using the ” Just pull yourself together” technique.

101585099_037a6015b7_bDesperation had forced me to walk through the doors of institutional despair for the second time. I soon come to realise these people were never going to be able to help me.

I was given all combinations of drugs, the only noticeable difference was the drastic increase in my appetite. Substituted for what felt like major depression.  The regime is kept to breakfast meds, lunch meds, and then dinner meds. Then left to your own devices, walking around like a zombie.

Upon leaving this institution, I vowed never to go back, and to one day write about my experiences to highlight the lack of a professional diagnosis.  This along with the way below par knowledge of inept mental health experts within the National Health Service.  In your favour I’m limited by Trish to a word count!

They said “slow slow.” I said “no no.”

Basically, my medication had been set to contain Depakote and Olanzapine, coupled with a shot of Amitriptyline. This little cocktail was under the advice of my 2nd rate National Health  psychiatrist. I had agreed to see this moron once a fortnight as part of a kind of care in the bloody community… each time I left from one of my visits, I found myself muttering…

“Same shit, different appointment.”

A mind with no emotion

After six months of feeling hopeless, at a complete loss, and having hardly no self worth or respect left in me, I asked to drop the medication. It felt as if I had a mind with no emotion, because it was being controlled and suppressed by medication. On the advice of experts?

Before I walked back through those doors I had felt feelings of euphoria and some form of acute awareness. My behaviour may have been viewed as abstract, but I was of no harm to myself or others.

When I came out, I was categorically suffering form major depression, for what seemed an eternity, did in fact last a solid six months. That being the whole time I was on medication, under supervision with the National Health Service.

I had no identity or the will to see beyond hopelessness, as the advice given to me, was that this was more than likely to be a lifetimes worth of prescription meds. The thought itself filled me with despair.

We are all unique

There will always be a debate that medication does save lives, I’m not here to dispute that. There are cases where a pungent course of medication will be needed before that individual can even think about acknowledging talking therapies.

It’s also a case where a lot more lives would be saved if that person wasn’t on meds. [Tweet this quote!]

If someone is strong willed to notice and avoid the damage medication can cause; then they are strong minded enough to take up the fight with the beast that is bipolar disorder.

I would welcome any comments or questions you may have on such a controversial subject.

 

Photo credits:

Long road by N. Kimy

Praying shadow by ParanoidMonk

 

Trev bio picHi, I’m Trev. I suffer from bipolar 1. I have been managing to control my symptoms for the past 6yrs by applying self-management techniques rather than relying on medication. 


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Comments

  • Chantal

    Hi Trev, just read your post and must say I do agree with some of it. It’s great that you’re on a path to recovery. I consider myself in recovery too. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 just last fall 2012. One year prior to, I was diagnosed with traits of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). How confusing it has been for me, not only now but the past 40ish years of my life. What the heck do I have? With research and committed therapy to Cognitive Behavioural (CBT), I have gained much insight and understanding into the BPD. The Bipolar still confuses me but am working on seeking my on knowledge to help with recovery. I am learning that BPD is perhaps part of the broad range of Bipolar. My experiences with my psychiatrist haven’t been the greatest. I also have gone through problems with the “system”. It was awful to not have proper care and understanding. I am now going through medication adjustment…how fun is that? I find you are strong to battle Bipolar without medication. I hope that this will work for you and alleviate the major highs and lows of the beast. Even though I am on medication, I still fight off the symptoms of illness. The emptiness I feel almost everyday is unbearable at times and the ideations I must argue with. I guess people have to do what is best for their own recoveries. You have been through so much and I thank you for sharing this post. Be safe, keep fighting…take care.

    • Trev

      Hi Chantal,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

      Well it sounds like you are going through a process of self discovery, start to become your own doctor.

      Bipolar 1 is one of the most dangerous of mental illness’s so therefore medication is deemed as a necessity, as was the case with me. I assume you are from the USA? Stick with it because the chances are along the way,you may well meet an excellent therapist, who will offer care and understanding of such a complex disorder.

      I must add, that i have had the good fortune of having uncondtional love and support from my partner for the past five years. There is no way I would have come this far on my own.

      So I hope my website has at least some words of comfort and guidance for you.

      Keep well, and let me know how you are progressing.

      All The very best, and be lucky.

      Trev

  • Bob Brotchie

    Trev, thank you so much for sharing such an important story. I agree with you 100%!
    In this blog, you have hit all the right nails, with the right sized hammer!
    Your views and recollection of experiences are measured and articulate, and could well be ‘the voice’ of reason in this oft painfully inadequate world in which we exist, and sometimes even live in.
    The GP situation. Yep!
    The NHS situation, Yep
    Many private service providers (for balance) – questionable!
    Avoiding the medication where appropriate, oh god, yep
    Self care and self awareness. If at all within a persons gift – you better believe it!
    For those for whom it isn’t, seek very carefully those golden supporters who just ‘get it’.
    Terrific post

    • Trev

      Hey Bob,

      That’s what you call a positive feed back! it’s almost as if I have written the post just for you.
      Many thanks for taking the time to read the article, one is never quite sure what reactions or other peoples opinions may be, but you are obviousley following the same road of self awareness and mindfullness.

      Glad I pushed all the right buttons, perhaps you have also have a story to tell?

      Be good, and be lucky…

      Best wishes
      Trev

  • Melody

    Hi I’d like to communicate with you. can you email me? I’m bipolar and would really like to know a friend from the States who has it. chingmelody82@gmail.com

    • Trev

      Hi Melody,

      I’m from the U.K. but I can still help you with understanding bipolar disorder,finding ways to ease the symptoms. Feel free to have a browse on my website, if there are any questions you may have just let me know.

      Keep strong,

      Trev

  • Laura

    Loved your story. It was very thought-provoking. Sometimes I think the whole mental health system and medical community itself induces other mental-health symptoms, new to the presenting problem which can muddle the accuracy of diagnosis. Lengthy waiting lists, multiple appointments, varying opinions, bureaucratic red-tape in processing data, ever-changing prescriptions, coverage issues, missed work-time causing financial hardship, related relationship strain, personal fear and confusion, etc issues can overwhelm an individual easily and cause new symptoms.

    Experts label people according to the DSM-IV checklists, but should inform patients it can be either a major disorder (long-term) or if it is a ‘situational’ likeness (short-term). We often hear terms ‘situational’ vs ‘major’ applied to depression, but it is possible other disorders can be situation-based while unnoticed. A close relative was diagnosed as ‘manic-depressive’ (the old term for bi-polar in the 70s), but when she finally found a happier environment (via a divorce), the 12-year symptoms, coinciding with the length of her marriage, vanished. Was she really bi-polar, or just sharing some of the symptoms over a long period of time because of her lengthy, unhealthy ‘situation?’ When your doctor said, ‘if it comes back,’ perhaps it might be helpful for them to really assert how difficult it is to assess life-long likeliness vs situational symptoms. They forget another professional might express lifelong symptoms as an absolute certainty, adding more stress to an individual not knowing how to proceed with treatment, how it will effect his or her life, etc.

    With respect to bi-polar disorder, I also wish there was more done to educate people on the term “Highly Sensitive People.” This is not a disorder as 20% of our and animal populations match the criteria. This comes to mind, as I wonder if HSP can be misdiagnosed as bi-polar. As an HSP, I can say, if one is in a negative environment for a long period of time, he or she may feel depressed for lengthy periods. If the same person is suddenly subjected to a great environment, they may feel suddenly good or grateful. This is similar to highs and lows, but not bi-polar. Moods are environment based.

    The relative I spoke of was likely an HSP, as am I and my children… in healthy environments, we thrive. No meds for me, thanks… being around kind people, practising art in my spare time, etc, works wonders!

  • Julie

    Hi Trev, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I applaud your courage in going at it without medication. The road is long and can be extremely difficult, painful and confusing — and lonely. While I believe medication saved my life a couple of decades ago, I have chosen the no-medication route. Since that time I tried to go on medication a few times to please loved ones and to try to save a job. While I believe I would go on medication if I couldn’t function, struggling with life and self and work issues and being “different” do not — for me — qualify as pre-requisites for meds. I find that the more I learn to let go of what doesn’t work for me in life (people, things, work, beliefs, activities) and discover and embrace more of “who I am” and what truly turns my wheels, the more stable and healthy I become. What has helped much has been getting more educated with a variety of mental conditions and learning to accept my thoughts and behaviors as consequences of things separate from my sense of self-worth. Having said that, the more responsible I am and the more true to myself I am, the more my self-worth, self-knowledge and courage improve. In these decades of suffering, my best medication has been TRUTH and my most fruitful efforts have been in the areas of letting go what doesn’t work and embracing what does. What is crucial in my case is to keep my life very simple, and to continually filter out and filter in what truly is in alignment with my loves, abilities and capacities. Comparing myself with others and their speed and their (or society’s) definition of productivity is a death sentence for me, so I work to avoid that nasty tendency like the plague. I now pave my own path little by little, cultivate my gardens, and protect myself wherever necessary, being sure not to take on too much at once. If I find myself having taken on too much, I work to — lovingly and as soon as possible — remove what has tipped the scales. I thought that I would never get better, that I would never pull out, that I would never learn to love myself and flourish, but I was was wrong. Thank God I was wrong.

    • Trev

      Hey Julie,

      I admire your honesty and your dedication to finding yourself and embracing a mental health condition, rather than completly submitting to medication, you have fought back and looked within for your answers. Easy to say, but as you know so very hard to implement.

      I think for many of us it is hard to accept we have a mental illness, until we are forced to look for the truth. Fear, regection, denial and social stigmatisation are often enough reason to prevent self analysis ever taking place. But once you are in the system the tide can sweep you away, perhaps it is not until you are ship wrecked on your own deserted island with no where left to run, and where no one can hear your screams, you have to fight back.

      It looks to me that you are in control of your emotions and your way of life, as you say filtering in what is needed and viable in alignment with your loves, abilities and capacities. And filtering out the junk that isn’t needed.

      Carry on slowly repaving that pathway, and continue to cultivate your garden with your seeds of self knowledge.Courage and self worth will one day be in full bloom.

      You are destined to be an inspiration for many other sufferers .

      Keep positive, and keep strong.

      Trev

      • Julie

        Thank you, Trev, for your very kind and encouraging response. So much wisdom in your words. Makes me think of the constantly vital need for boundaries when we endeavor to truly take care of ourselves and pave our unique and special paths. Now that I have mostly “cleaned house” with my life, this time I must be extra vigilant with what gets inserted and what gets attention. There is a saying: “All unhappiness is caused by unmet expectations.” Funny that all these years I have been comparing myself to others, yet not for one moment would I want to be them or have their lives. I love my life; I love who I am and what I am about and what I strive towards; I love my loves. Yet there is a family of demons inside of me that has fought successfully within me to twist thinking, to distract and to fog things up. While I have been fighting back for years, now that I know more and now that my living has basically stabilized, it’s time to pull out the big guns and go deeper and broader within myself, which brings me back to the crucial need for steady, stable, solid and kind boundaries — coupled with truth. You provoke thought and divvy out kindness and encouragement generously. Thank you truly for what you bring to the table.

  • Trev

    Hi Laura,

    Many thanks for your comments and your opinions, my neck aches from the constant nodding!

    Your overall assesment of the mental health system, is in my opinion a very accurate one. With regards to our NHS [ National Health Service ] things are looking even worse due to massive government funding cuts, and closures of mental health units here in the U.K..

    My work involves relocating these NHS mental health teams, moving them into plush offices, new carpets, desks, coffee machines. While we are asked to transport and DUMP [ in the skip! ] Thousands of pounds worth of perfectly serviceable, at the very least least all completly recycleable office desks, pedastals, filing cuboards cabinets.

    While the staff wander about aimlessly, hands in pockets or grasping a mug of coffee looking busy, doing nothing earning but not learning…This says it all about the National Health Service.

    Whilst the emphasis on patient care and understanding based on ‘hands on knowledge’ is supplemented by quick referencing, followed by a professionally labeled diagnosis from whats refered to as the ‘Psychiatrists Bible.’ The afore-mentioned DSM-1V that loves to offer SSRI drugs. [ selective serotine reuptake inhibitors.]

    Rather than a directory, of self management therapies.

    The checklist system isn’t aimed at identifying your personel, and unique underlying, pschological under-pinning. It is mainly geared to what course of medication your going on. So many ready made remedies…so we need a label fast.

    As you said Laura, and I do so agree.

    ” Sometimes I think the whole mental health system and medical community itself induces other mental health symptoms, new to the presenting problems which can muddle the accuracy of diagnosis.” [ tweet this quote]

    Your HSP theory is a good one, and can be summarised by my so often used phrase ” people can mistake kindness for weakness.”
    I am from the same school of sensitivity, one of love and understanding and retrospective thinking. At times, I find more solace, comfort and satisfaction in the company of my two cats, than I find in compassion from society.

    Environment factors do play a huge role contributing to mental illness, especially between the years of adolescence, and alarm bells should be ringing if there is a genetic link to a mental illness. This in my opnion is where the majority of mental health disorders characteristic’s show, and begin to follow a pattern.

    Something has to be done enabling a detailed and up to date procedure to be implemented, ensuring a formal professional diagnosis. Because now we have the massive explosion in the illegal drug culture to contend with, making a correct diagnosis virtualy impossible.
    Asking the question…Did the environmental factors cause the drug taking, that provoked a mental illness? or did the mental illness, lets say acute depression… did it provoke the alcohol, followed by the drugs that lead to the environmental influences?…yes it’s that chicken and the egg scenario again.

    I am glad to hear you are like me…med free, but live care-fully.

    I’m a poet, and don’t even know it!

    Keep up the healthy living and hanging out with kind people. all those joys an and an apple a day, certainly helps keep bipolar at bay.

    That is certainly a inspiring story concerning your relative, I sincerely hope she continues with her remarkbly fortunate discovery. But as you are most likely aware. Manic depression rarely leaves without so much of a trace…one most be mindfull, at least at the possibility of a relapse into perhaps one of mania, that is sometimes cleverly disguised. Or dare I say, watch for signs of our old enemy Mr D, he is often not far away, to bring us down once more.

    [ a cough]
    So don’t let her read the last paragraph!!

    Try and swing by my site, I’m sure there will be some content that will interest you.

    All the best

    Trev

  • Laura

    Hello Trevor,
    Well now my neck is sore from nodding in agreement as well as shaking my head in disappointment with ineffective systems described as well as other examples in mind. It was unfortunate learning recyclable supplies were wasted rather than benefitting smaller organisations in the helping community, also.

    RE: ineffective mental-health services. I’ve worked in a variety of other ‘helping,’ community services and witnessed them, one-by-one, losing their human-service focus to budget-focus. For example, previously, we had a Mother’s Allowance benefit as well as a Disability benefit managed by provincial government under one umbrella. It was a great design; programs supported individuals with unique needs, as well as, helped those seeking financial independence to find meaningful employment through free, training programs, child-care assistance, and other barrier reducing programs. This multifaceted form of assistance was congruent with our Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (entitling persons with disabilities, the elderly, sole-support parents, children and other at risk groups, to have special considerations). I should have known human-focus was ending when employees with ‘social worker’ titles were officially relabelled as ‘income-maintenance officers.’ The province cut all programs for sole-support parents living in poverty and transferred the client group to municipal Welfare programs. Disadvantaged parents (with low family or social supports, little education, and minimal employment skills) were suddenly labelled lazy bums. This includes a working widow or widower, laid off and in need of immediate assistance. So much for our Charter who promotes this group’s unique needs & barriers recognized. All programs designed to reduce barriers (training, daycare, transportation assistance) were concurrently dismantled. Social workers entering the field to ‘help’ people, soon found themselves responsible more often for hurting people as ‘income-maintenance officers.’ They were the messenger expected to force people into poverty, cutting benefits immediately over the smallest ‘infraction’ (submitting forms a day late, missing an appointment, etc). The red-tape caused by simple issues would take months to rectify. Clients in prior years could receive social assistance and still pursue post-secondary education, borrowing only for tuition and books. This was to help individuals with special needs (children to feed, higher rent and other expenses, etc) to become financially independent. The same government, however, immediately cut this opportunity also, twisting the loss to seem like a privilege—one pamphlet read, “Good news! Ministry of Community and Social Services will be delivering $3000.00 grants per year to low-income families…” What they didn’t mention, is that each individual would suddenly have to borrow $12 000 in living expenses recipients, a year prior, were exempt from. Single parents would have to borrow far more than average students. Since daycares were shrinking, waiting lists rose, and parents would have to borrow even more for independent daycare help. So much for equal access to education.

    Yes I’m rambling lol My point is first, I saw help towards sole-support parents being taken away in the 1990s. In my next workplace, I saw the same thing happening to programs for the homeless and unemployed. Next witnessed it happening to pograms for the elderly and so on. I started working in the disability field assuming, ‘it might be safe; I can work in peace, helping and not hurting people, right?’ All decision-makers know it’s not wise to pick on/suffer this target population, right? Nope. Since the 2000s any assistance to people with physical or other disabilities were also replaced by legislative, political and bureaucratic–related suffering and (profitable) prescriptions as the sole treatment plan. Balancing chemicals is a definite component (phisolophy/method of intervention) of the medical model, but the medical model also knows Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is just as effective in most cases… and who do we know who actually has the privilege of getting CBT assistance? I don’t know anyone. I’ve never heard of a doctor linking someone with CBT services… why pills only? We know the reason and we aren’t doing anything to stop it. Hope this changes soon…

    Since WWII, we slowly developed so many programs to stop human suffering, only to have the same vanish in little more than a decade. Decision-makers win votes by promising investing monies into something current will change economies for the better, meanwhile one hand secretly robs from the other hand (social or health service cuts) creating suffering and debt elsewhere . People become more strained, lose hope, there is a direct impact on mental health and a sudden rise in assessment, treatment and other health-related expenses. I doubt decision-makers care about these short & long-term consequences. Looking good now, pays their salary today, right? As it is, the middle class are increasing exhausted by heightened work & family expectations of recent decades. There’s little hope they will have the energy to advocate for vulnerable groups. If some manage to maintain empathy, there’s always the media influencing a decline in compassion printing the most bizarre, stereo-typing stories re: a vulnerable person or group committing a crime, or involved in thievery etc.

    One more example about ineffective systems: I work with adults with developmental disabilities. In grant proposals, you can feel assured we are all about respect & dignity, but most workers in our day programs sit around gabbing about their personal lives for hours, while individuals blankly staring at walls (most of the day). A worker might scramble for 20 minutes to make quick crafts ‘for them’ and the illusion is that people are enjoying a quality program (?). Workers who advocate are let go. Workers who feel and question nothing, while pretending to do something for individuals have the highest seniority and job security (?). Any helping professional (social workers, teachers, counsellors, nurses, etc) is likely to experience mental discord and breakdown if things don’t change. Many of the same caring professionals are getting tired of being exploited to fix the broken pieces, or creatively problem-solve lack of resource issues. If we continue to be disempowered via exploitation, how are we to genuinely empower others? Or do the powerful want to maintain suffering and poverty so that someone will always be willing to serve them their coffee (and shine their shoes)? Yes, I get a bit passionate on this haha.

    RE: SSRI—overuse/directory of self management: I was talking to Tricia re: submitting alternatives I’ve used (reading, connecting with nature, humour, painting to calm, learning a new instrument, choosing uplifting music, collecting quotes, helping others, volunteering, etc) for those who dislike taking medication or finding them to flatten one’s creativity. Sure they might work to help us function, but I found meds prevented me from crying as well as laughing aka walking zombie. No thanks. These other self-management approaches need to be discussed in more depth than most resources share. For example, simply telling a poor person to join a gym to beat depression, might not be a reasonable option. It would help to have the basic help suggestions presented in ways that are more interesting… like dancing at home to disco hehe, not joining a gym. Or reading, but reading about world cultures and all the ways people around the world find happiness, improve their lives, etc. For me, I wasn’t satisfied with religions common in the western world. Reading about world-wide cultures gave me so many choices. Books can be helpful; readers should share their A-lists of effective reading material.

    Kindness does not equate weakness. My son was saying it seems most of the people with mental health issues are also those with the highest logical or emotional intelligence. I agree. It’s difficult being the minority who have deep perceptions and open hearts opposed to others with limited thought and hearts shared with a close circle of friends & family. Deeper thinkers and ‘feelers’ are more likely to be denigrated than supported. With respect to complex issues, root causes seem to reveal themselves to me easily, plus I pick up on simple oddities like another’s words being incongruent with their body language. If one dares to share our perception of contradictions that escalate problems, the same is sure to be denigrated and silenced quickly. Accountability is not something anyone wants to think about. So the open person with deeper thoughts and feelings is forced into a mental discord of wanting change, but fearing the punishment. In my opinion, many mental-health issues have a personal, complex, discord at the root. Find out what that is, learn how to resolve it, or use it for good and you’re in the clear… happy & healthy. Again that’s just my opinion, not a judgement and I might even change my mind on that lol

    Agreed re: solace with animals over people at times. That’s an important part of self-care 😉 Fortunately, some humans accept us just as easily! Thanks for your words! Time to see some pictures of butterflies or something (part of my self-care rituals lol) 😉

  • Twyla W

    Trev-

    I too take the same stance with you regarding medication and plan to write a blog post about this in the future. Although I do not suffer from Bipolar disorder, I do have chronic and persistent mental health diagnoses that will be there for the rest of my life. One year ago I was on several different medication for physical and mental health… today, I only take PRNs when I absolutely have to and they are last resort. My main reason why I went on the medications is because I did not want to put chemicals in my body that altered my positive experiences in life.There was more negative then there was positive for me personally. For instance, I found that with being on the medication for mental illness, I would often find myself in the land of numb- not being able to think or feel much of anything. I am an artist and this form of self express is very important to me- but with medication it was taken away. I was not able to concentrate or have the desire to want to paint- the drive and creativity left me. At this point, it was either I was coming off those medications or there was nothing left to live for if I did not have my painting as an outlet to cope.

    Since the age of 13, I was tried on over 15 different medications to help with the symptoms I was exhibiting. For 13 years, I was a pharmaceutical guinea pig so to speak. It feels great that I have control of what goes in my body now instead of expecting that I take it. I did not want to be on medication for the rest of my life- I wanted to learn how to manage the symptoms I had on my own without medication. My heath care team feels that I am not making the right decision and that perhaps medication would help me during the times that I feel the most symptomatic. I stand firm knowing that I know myself best and what I need to help myself through difficult times. Knowing yourself and how you work is key to success and it is great if a person has support to back them up.

    Kudos to you Trev. I hope you are able to continue to live free and successful in whatever you do.

  • Trev

    Hiya,
    It’s interesting that you are an artist, and obviously a creative individual, as we know this sector of people are often closely associated with a mental health illness.

    As they say their is a fine line between Genius and madness….dare I mention Jim Carey?

    However,being subjected to the land of numb as you say, is not a good place to be. We cannot entertain no emotions,motivation,drive or generalised lack of self esteem. As we know medication can have an adverse affect, I found that a mood stabiliser given too me, was to prevent mania… Instead, it induced depression.

    I admire your courage and determination to fight your individual condition, in a single-minded way.
    Doctors and healthcare teams maybe have the best intentions, but they have to stick too and follow a rigid protocol. So non-conpliance concerning medication, is always going to be frowned upon.

    Keep your focus on the painting, it’s free therapy :>

    Support is always good, In my case it proved to be essential.[ friends not medics] So if you’re ever in need of help, advice or support please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    The ‘professionals’ advice will always be stick to your meds, or you may relapse into another episode. My advice is carry on as you are, learning to understand and come to know you. It takes a resilient,strong minded person to take the road that eventualy leads to a complete knowing, and being at peace with oneself.

    I know you will get there, as the alternative isn’t an option.

    Thank you for your kind words, Keep focused, and keep well.

    Kudos to you too, I look forward to reading your post, don’t forget to send me the link.

    All The Best

    Trev

  • GregM

    How I Cured My Bipolar Disorder
    I read that omega-3 was being used for psychiatric disorders and gave it a try for myself. It didn’t work, but I noticed that after 13 years my urine had no calcium sediments in it anymore. Before omega-3 supplements any extra calcium I ate showed up as extra urine sediment. I then read that calcium was important for proper neuron function and added calcium supplements to my diet thinking that I might not be getting enough. I increased the amount until I started seeing calcium sediments in my urine again. My mental symptoms stopped then. I believe the mechanism for the success of omega-3 is through its ability to allow the body to maintain a higher blood level of calcium. Higher calcium levels are known to reduce the level of excitability of neurons. Perhaps omega-3 allows the kidneys to reabsorb calcium to a level that satisfies all the body’s requirements.

  • Scottie

    Your blog is perfectly articulated. I’m glad to see you’re inspiring people.

    I’ve been off medication for 13 years now. The first three were themost difficult.
    I think the biggest trick for me was recognizing an episode before it happened.

    I’ve arranged my work schedule four days on & three off, so if i hit a “high” i can maintain it with caffeine until the end of the work week, then crash, or sleep through the low that often follows.

    It also helped that I had a close friend who knew by my behavior, about two days in advance, when I’d hit a low. It helped me recognize it on my own.

    After being off medication so long, my episodes are fewer and father between, so even my odd work schedule & caffeine are rarely needed.

  • Trev

    Hey Scottie, thank you for leaving me your comments, I don’t get to write much these days, and kinda lost interest in my blog…but it is very rewarding to hear that my words can help inspire people :>
    That was the overall objective, and perhaps becoming some form of spokesman.
    Perhaps I will give the blogging another go…see your inspiring me now!

    13 years without prescription meds is something you can be more than proud off, that is one massive individual achievement…so very well done to you :> arseoles to the medication system …perhaps you can guest post on my website? I’m sure your story will resonate with many many people. To be honest, that post was my first and only publication, Trish was so helpful and offered me positive and friendly help and encouragement, and even assisted with my poor grammar and editing…bless her.

    So I’m now thinking of more of a journal blog, like you I have learned to recognise the signs of an onset of a imminent episode, then with a great deal of effort..control and temper it.

    And I’m trying to convince myself to have a crack at stand up comedy..waiting for the manic alter ego phase…who knows what could happen lol.

    bloody hard work..but there are no other alternatives…

    Keep it real, and keep the Faith….and keep in touch

  • Randolph Gowing

    Hi Trev,
    I am a 51 yr old male. I agree with some of your thoughts. I wasn’t diagnosed or medicated for my Bipolar one until I was 30 years old. I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t been through a “harden the F### up” lifestyle of boarding school, then the Australian Parachute Regiment, then car sales then running my own company, would I
    have not developed the self-discipline and skills to cope with what can be a horrific illness later on in life. Unfortunately , if I went off my meds again it would definitely have a diabolical and probably fatal effect on me.
    I have just started a project called “BIPOLARS RULE” on Facebook, Twitter @BipolarsRule and Google+ .
    I hope to have a MindBlowing website up by December 2015 by the same name.
    Please keep up the great work. Randolph.

  • Kristina Johansson

    Hi Trev,
    I guess to a minor extent I’m on the same page as you. I admit I haven’t liked taking meds on a day to day basis so far, though I will take them quickly, if I realize I’m becoming too dramatic, too emotional, speaking too fast, can’t get to the point well at important times, getting silly and miscellaneous enough that my speech is beginning to slur, having too much motive or desire to speak at a given time, or simply have too much doing motive for what’s appropriate at that instant. There are other times when I can stay calm, quiet, still and relaxed for long steady time periods during the day, or simply go out and enjoy the silence and stillness of nature (which is tough for a lot of people who can’t be without noise or city commotion).

    To get to the point (before I put in more detail) I can understand that the deepest thing that keeps me as a heavy thinker, a heavy talker, and being on a fairly big emotional rollercoaster ride at times, is HAVING TO KEEP A DEEP SECRET IN LIFE, that either most people don’t understand, or I feel weary sharing with certain people, unless I know them well and trust their types of reactions. When I do share that deep secret with certain people (or certain types of people), it is sometimes like deflating a balloon, according to how much less talking motive I suddenly have, or taking a pot off the stove that is about to boil over, according to how much more calm and less emotional I can internally become (if the secret has been suppressed fairly long again).

    Otherwise it has been pointed out to me, that it is good to keep a steady balance, of times of chaos and instability, with times of calmness and good stability. As long as I don’t do either or for too long a time span, or switch back and forth between them too often, I feel I am a harmless person as is most of the time. Other times, I feel I just have to hold precaution on how wide a range my up and down emotions can spread to (as in maintaining a maximum and minimum line of appropriateness, with Zen mode neutrality being the midpoint, like a statistical quality control chart**, or audio sound wave analysis).

    If the chaos times are a smidge too chaotic, or the Zen or calmness times are a smidge too long (which is rare), then it is time to go back to taking medicine more often again for awhile, until things settle down again too much.

    I understand in the long run there will be a consistency on how often I should really take my medicine, that is much broader than only following the day to day basis method, but until then, I am still on my journey of understanding what Bipolar disorder is really like.

    **Note: the statistical quality control chart I mentioned earlier, I do not currently remember if it is really called a “statistical quality control” chart or something else, but I do remember I got it from a college textbook called Statistical Quality Control, which I used a lot during my later years of college while studying industrial engineering, which can be used for studying the systematic processes of LIFE, instead of just technical or industrial systems.

    I wish everyone well on their Bipolar disorder settling down, or at least getting into the desired stability mode

    Good luck to all, and take care

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