I went off my meds, and the result was not pretty. When I am compliant, my meds work well for me, affording me a relatively normal life. I stabilize on my meds. Then months and years pass, and I think I am cured. I think I don’t need them anymore. So, I stop taking them. At first, everything seems fine, but within a few days, I am paranoid, hearing voices, rapid cycling, talking fast, making poor decisions, and rapidly climbing the ladder of mania. This past time I tested the limits of everybody around me. After a call from my psychiatrist, I had to take a PRN to come down while my meds worked their way back into my system.
I’m lucky. I have a great doctor for whom I work well with. He knows when I seem a bit off, and he doesn’t buy bullshit. My husband and my father are also able to tell when I’m not right. It’s hard to be aware of yourself when you are in the middle of a mania. There’s a point where you stop noticing the details and the irritability, anger, and grandiosity take over. I’m lucky I didn’t reach this point on this particular trial without meds. I’m lucky I didn’t wind up hospitalized, dead, or worse. I did, however, upset a lot of people.
During this bout with mania, I still had access to my car keys, my credit card, my computer, and my cell phone. No one thought to take these away from me as my moods swung. And, I abused all of these privileges, fortunately with little consequences.
But, more importantly, I want to talk about the people I hurt, my husband, my father, my stepmother, and a few others. Hurting loved ones is never the intention, and so I’ve put together a few suggestions on how to better manage relationships when you have bipolar disorder.
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Seven Ways to Maintain Healthy Relationships when You have Bipolar Disorder
1. Tell the truth. Find an appropriate balance between giving too much information and not enough. Stick to the facts, and make “I” statements when dialoguing with your partner.
2. Talk about your reasons for having or not having children. Remember both of you have fears, and you need to air them out.
3. When you have an episode, decompress it after it is over with each other and perhaps a therapist.
4. Refrain from using slang and hurtful terms to describe a person’s condition. Explain what slang terms mean to you how these terms affect you.
5. If one partner has gained weight because of meds, don’t overwhelm them will comments and pressure. Encourage them gently to eat healthy and work out instead.
6. Introduce your partner to all your doctors. Allow them to see that you are receiving professional care.
7. Show your partner any self care rituals you do like keeping a mood journal, meditation, yoga etc…
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I’m back on meds, and I plan to stay that way. I won’t be running little experiments to see if I could be more creative and productive without them. Ultimately, I proved that I am far less productive and creative, bordering on completely disabled, when I am not on meds. And, it takes a long time for meds to get back into your system, so I find I have to build myself back up to where I was before I stopped taking them. Honestly, it ain’t worth it.