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Janet Coburn

Laughter Isn't Always the Best Medicine for Bipolar Depression

You often hear it said that a good belly laugh is as effective as a dose of antidepressants. You read author Allie Brosh's account of her depression breaking when she couldn't stop laughing at a piece of corn she noticed under the refrigerator.

But for a lot of us with bipolar depression, laughter is not only not the cure, it simply isn't attainable. It would be great if it were, because of that whole dose-of-antidepressants thing, but practically speaking, it just isn't.

My Pharmacy and Me

You may think that your psychiatrist and your psychotherapist constitute your treatment team. You can add your caregiver, your bipolar friends, and your online groups and call them your support system. But there's one person you've left out. One who can be vital in getting the care and help you need.

Your pharmacist.

My pharmacist – indeed, all the technicians and workers at my pharmacy – have been invaluable in managing my bipolar disorder and all the medications that go with it. Here are just some of the things they do for me.

The Thrill of Shopping While Hypomanic

First, let me say that I hate shopping. Not just grocery shopping, which I assume pretty much everyone hates, but all the kinds of shopping that women are stereotypically supposed to love: clothing shopping, shoe shopping, makeup shopping, and furniture shopping. I especially loathe car shopping. 

Everyone's Bipolar Is Different

We may have the same disorder in common, but how it manifests in each of us is different.

Obviously, bipolar 1 and 2 are different. But the way I see it, really, everyone has their own personal version of bipolar disorder.

Up? Down? How About Both at Once?

People who live with bipolar disorder grow used to – or at least familiar with – the cycle of manic highs and depressive lows. But what happens when the highs and lows come closer and closer together? What happens when they both occur at the same time? 

There are various answers to that, depending on whom you ask. 

Do I Have to Take Meds Forever?

I can't give you the answer you want, because the real answer is "Probably. You will most likely require psychotropic medication for the rest of your life." (I'll get to that "most likely” in a bit.) 

Personally, I don't see what's so bad about taking meds. Is it our upbringing, with the incessant "Drugs are bad" messages from parents, teachers, and media? Is it stubbornness about having to do anything for the rest of your life? Do you find pills hard to swallow? Does taking pills every day make you feel old? 

#DearTeenageMe, Don't Wait To Get Help

Learn more about #DearTeenageMe at

I know junior high was rough, and high school is only going to be rougher. By now you've realized that you're different from most of the other kids – they've told you so, but they didn't have to. You've been dissolving in tears for the least – or no – reason. You've been laughing out loud in class about things that no one else understands. 

There's a reason for that. You have bipolar disorder, and you need help dealing with it. 

Janet Coburn

I am a freelance writer and editor who has bipolar disorder, type 2. My symptoms started showing up in my childhood and teen years, though I was not properly diagnosed and medicated until I was an adult. I blog weekly on Bipolar Me, and am an administrator for Mental Health United World’s Facebook page and a moderator for A True Bipolar Support Group’s Facebook page. I live in Beavercreek, OH, with my husband and a varying number of cats.