Change Can Begin With You

Author: Natalie Beiser

I became angry when overhearing someone saying that people with bipolar disorder should not receive disability accommodations because “…all that they need it to take a pill.” As most individuals with bipolar disorder know, it is not usually that simple. Many individuals are able to work full time and live successful lives with bipolar disorder. The following is what many with bipolar disorder wish their family and friends knew about the disorder, and sharing these facts is how change can begin with you.

I have been surprised at how many people with bipolar disorder are unaware of what type of the disorder they have. It is crucial to become educated about what type you have and the associated symptoms. It’s common for those around a person with BP to compare their symptoms to someone with either more or lesser symptoms than them. In doing so, they fail to recognize that there are different forms of bipolar disorder, each of which come with different symptoms. Many indicate that their acquaintance should be functioning as highly as someone with a different type of bipolar disorder.  However, individuals with the more critical forms of bipolar disorder, Bipolar 1 and 2, are going to need different treatments than someone with Bipolar 3.  One pill does not treat these three types of bipolar in the same way.

If you have bipolar disorder, you may have already found that educating onlookers can be difficult. They are likely unaware that there is not just one pill that treats all bipolar symptoms for each person diagnosed with the disorder. There are also psychiatric conditions that accompany bipolar disorder, such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, that require another separate treatment altogether. One person may need one type of antidepressant while someone needs their depression medication from an entirely different class of drugs. Additionally, physical illnesses, such as thyroid disorders, that can accompany bipolar as well and can affect one’s mood.

Since there are different types and severities of bipolar disorder, finding the right medications can be difficult. For example, finding the right pill to help someone rest when they are sleep deprived and wake up for work on time and not sleep through their alarm can be an issue. Sometimes relaxation techniques alone are not enough to keep someone from having bipolar symptoms caused by not attaining enough sleep.

If there was a pill to prevent bipolar spending sprees, it would be popular, because some of those sprees cause individuals to become destitute and turn to bankruptcy for relief. And if there was one pill that worked for all with bipolar disorder that would also prevent the bipolar symptom of hypersexuality or cause patients not to become preoccupied with religion while manic or hypomanic. Hypothetically, if this pill existed, it would probably be used as a first line of defense for bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, there is not one cure-all medication for bipolar disorder.

Those being treated for bipolar will likely report that it is difficult to find a medication regimen that conquers the symptoms that he or she experiences. Having a bipolar diagnosis is difficult at best and one must be patient and candid with his prescriber to obtain the medications needed at the lowest dose with the least amount of side effects.

On another note, counseling is of great benefit to those with bipolar, and not every patient will be successful with the same modality of treatment. Medications cannot substitute for interpersonal therapy.

Please encourage those around you to become educated about bipolar disorder and educate others. Make it a personal passion so that your enthusiasm is contagious and others will want to know more. This will assist in helping stigma lessen in your family and possibly your community. Consider attending a support group for those with bipolar disorder to obtain support and further education about the diagnosis.

While there is not one pill that addresses all symptoms, educating your family and friends can potentially change lives around you. Change can begin with you!

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