Well, after a fashion. Slowly but surely, I'm coming out of my last, awful bout of dysphoria. I'm hooked up with more Seroquel and a new therapist who is absolutely fantastic. It may seem as if I've been doing the right thing in my pursuit to manage my disorder all along, but one thing that has finally hit home: I need the talk therapy, especially right now. It's enormously important and helpful. Someone truly objective, who listens.
Sue asked some very good questions: Does it matter which types of medications you are subscribed? Do some work and others not? And does it make a difference if you see a regular medical doctor or a psychiatrist?
Um, yes to all. There are a number of medications out on the market for manic depressives: Lithium, the first real medication for the disorder, Tegretol, Seroquel, Lamictil, Depokote, Abilify, Klonopin. These are the most commonly prescribed. Does it matter what you take? No, if it works. And yes, some help more than others, depending upon your individual physiology. Often, it takes time to find the right mix. But you have to be commited to finding that mix and to try what you need to try.
And then, some people never get enough relief from medication. It's a sad truth, but one that must be faced. There are cases of manic depression that are so bad, not much helps. Some bipolars often would rather self-medicate with alcohol, blow, heroin, and whatever than face up to the reality that their health is in their hands. It takes a hell of a lot less energy to do the illicit or the Liquor Store Shuffle than get yourself into a proper care program. It also takes an epiphany about your illness, something that may or may not happen.
Often, medications don't "work" because the bipolar doesn't take them according to directions, stops them as soon as they feel better. We've all been guilty of this, including me. "Oh, I feel great! Don't need no steenking pills." Wrong. My epiphany continues to this day. The first epiphany was in 1995, when I accepted my disorder for what it was. When I understood that my healing must come from within and that there is a higher power than my ego, I was able to submit to the treatment I needed, including admitting to things I had done when manic, much of which I was ashamed of. The second epiphany came when I understood that I will have to take medication for the rest of my life for this. Big deal. As my mother pointed out, look at all the pills she has to take at 84. As ever, she was the voice of reason that I needed to hear. Along with my pdoc's
Seeing a medical doctor, such as your primary care physician, and hoping that's all you need to do is foolish. First of all, most responsible MDs will refer you to a psychiatrist or a behavioral clinic. Psychiatrists understand all the ramifications of psychotropic drugs. MDs can help you with your upper respiratory infection. You wouldn't see a shrink for your chest congestion, would you? Or your bad back? You'd see an orthopedist or chiropractor for that.
Is there hope? Absolutely. Every day, more and more is learned about this disorder. It affects so many people--an estimated 5+ million Americans suffer from it.