By now you all must know I have a loved one with Bipolar Disorder. I don’t name that person because stigma and fear dismantle job opportunities, friendships, romantic relationships and a medley of other stuff.
This is an inescapable truth.
Now to the issue at hand. My shrink, other family shrinks, books, documentaries, and the internet have all told me that w/o exception, bipolar people, at one point or another, experiment with their meds. Without the permission of a doctor. I’ve always found this thesis extremely suspect: there’s never one rule that applies to everyone. Nothing in life is uniform.
After a serious episode, my loved one was put on a medication cocktail that included lithium and a low dose anti-psychotic. I’m a fearful person who always expects the worst and yet I never imagined my LO would ditch a med. I figured he’d been sufficiently scared by the last episode; I thought he trusted his psychiatrist enough to be transparent; I thought he got it.
I was so wrong. Even as I write this, I can’t believe how uncharacteristically naive I was about this.
I’ve taken so many medications for my depression over the last 22 yrs; all of them stopped working at some point, and each time I’d go back to the drawing board with my psychiatrist. The difference is that none of the medications have made me feel all that different. I’ve never felt especially slowed down or exhausted or zombie-ish. I’ve never felt like I’ve lost part of my personality because of a medication. My personality was already lost; the medication was there to help me find it.
Back to my LO. He stopped his very low dose of an anti-psychotic about 6 months ago. We just found this out at Thanksgiving. The psychiatrist had no idea.
Serious, marked changes in behavior were apparent. We were victims of this behavior and so was he. I was seething with rage that he’d done this. Here we were, back in a danger zone.
All of this was preventable. After some knock down, drag out power struggles, he’s back on. He has to submit to being observed while he takes the pill everyday. It’ll take weeks to start working. We’re still waiting for those weeks to go by.
Now I feel like all the first person accounts of people living with bipolar should have been taken at face value. There was no reason to think my LO was any different; no reason to think we’d be spared the medication gamble.
So now I’m prepared for the likelihood that this will happen again. Maybe in 5 years, 10 years, whenever. Lesson learned. We’re fortunate beyond measure that nothing terrible happened except a ruined Thanksgiving holiday.
That’s all for now. Onward and upward.