Not being bipolar does not make me an idiot! You being bipolar doesn’t make you smart. There! I said it! I have lived with someone battling bipolar disorder for many years. Each year I watch his illness become more consuming, and each year I blame him for it. Why? Because he was given a diagnosis and gave up. The diagnosis gave him an excuse to be an idiot.
I am not bipolar and I am not going to infer I understand what it is like to live with it internally. I have highs and lows but the extremes are different than what he experiences. I get it the best I can. I also understand that pills will not fix his life, and they are only tools to help him deal with it. After all, a student who has ADD doesn’t take a pill and then a paper writes itself or ace a test without studying. A lot of work still has to be done to be successful after taking medication. I understand while his diagnosis gives him a trial in this life that I do not have, I also understand that educating yourself beyond the prescription from a doctor is essential to continue living successfully. Psychiatrists are as good as their patients, and he is making his doctor look like an idiot.
First, let’s understand depression. True depression, not simply feeling depressed, is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression isn’t the result of the death in the family, or the loss of a job, but that doesn’t mean depression can’t be triggered by life happening. Depression doesn’t acknowledge common sense. Knowing you have a family who loves you, and friends who care doesn’t make life better like it would for someone who is not chemically depressed. True depression often needs treatment using prescription medication, regular supervision from a doctor, and additional treatments. Just taking a pill doesn’t fix depression. It is just a tool to help a person get up and do the rest of the work. Medications for bipolar disorder are no different.
Google is amazing! Google helps you to search for most any answer you may need. However, all it does is pull up options to look at when you search a topic. It doesn’t open the article and read the article to you. People use the tool of Google to search for topics, but then have to do the work of reading and finding the answers he or she is looking for. Google has a lot of information on bipolar disorder, or I should say it helps pull a lot of information for it. WebMD is source pulled by Google in the first few options given when searching the topic. When you open the article for bipolar disorder it gives a very generic description of the disorder, and then provides a drop-down box to continue searching information. Here is a summary of the generic description from WebMD (“Bipolar health center,” 2015):
Bipolar disorder has extreme mood swings from depression to mania in patients. Bipolar
is a serious condition with serious consequences, but can be treated through therapy and
Bipolar disorder is hell to live with, and I know that firsthand watching a loved one suffer from it. He goes to the doctor and takes his medications, and these actions are to his credit because people with any depressive disorder can be known to stop medication once they feel better. When the pills do not do enough, however; he takes more medication than he is supposed. He steals other people’s medications and has risked putting the entire family in danger with his theft, lies and deceit. Why does he do that? Does he not care about us? Well, him not caring about his family isn’t the problem, but it is a consequence of him not caring enough about himself to work hard and get help. A concoction of pills will never fix the problems he has. Work will.
I am only using WebMD for ease of basic information for this article, but there are many other resources out there. Moving forward, while the website talks extensively about medication and treatment it is not simply a source for medication understanding. If you are bipolar there is so much more that a patient has to do to become mentally healthy. WebMD provides the tip of the iceberg for additional treatment needed (“Understanding bipolar disorder,” 2014):
Routines help to manage bipolar disorder. A patient’s routines should include regular sleep, exercise and diet practices. Patients must learn to identify his or her warning signs early to control their symptoms of the disorder.
Having bipolar disorder requires patients to work harder for everyday normalcy than those who do not have the disorder, and I understand that it is hard work. While I may not have the experience of having it – I have taken the time to educate myself about the disorder so that I can understand it and provide support. If you are a patient with the disorder you must educate yourself and act on the advice beyond what a doctor writes on a prescription pad! It is silly to be diagnosed with anything and then choose not to understand what it means. What happens when you do not educate yourself and work hard to find the solutions that work? Everyone around you suffers.
When I offer the information of what I have learned through research I have been met with anger and resistance. Because I don’t have bipolar disorder it means I have no understanding of it and therefore cannot give advice. That is the thought process of someone who is mentally ill and not working to feel better as needed. Instead it is him who has no understanding of bipolar disorder and he is the one living with it. He understands feeling ill, but he has never truly tried to understand what it takes to be healthy while having the disorder.
We all have trials and we all need support with our trials. Doing it alone and isolating yourself to find your own solutions will only result in negative outcomes. I understand that life in general is hard with the disorder, and I can only imagine the frustration of regular ups and downs that seem out of nowhere. I also understand through educating myself that the diagnosis doesn’t ruin your life – it just requires new disciplines to survive.
Understanding bipolar disorder. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/ss/slideshow-bipolar-disorder-overview