Portrait of depressed young woman taking pills at home.

I Finally Found the Right Medication for My Bipolar Disorder

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It hasn’t been long since I started my journey to mental health recovery. In fact, I officially started just this past June, but I began dipping my feet into the world of psychiatric care about a year ago. Damn, has it been one hell of a year.

First of all, let me say recovery from a mental health issue isn’t always something that’s permanent nor a cure. Sure, in some cases, someone may find a cure and their depression can go away. Yet, this is not the case for a lot of us.

For us, recovery means fighting a constant battle. It means waking up every day knowing while you’re still sick, you actively choose to not let it win. Recovery isn’t linear, either. It has its ups and downs. Sometimes, it stays level. Some days, recovery looks like applying for jobs and cleaning. Other days, it looks like lying in bed and Netflix binge-watching. It’s all OK as long as we survive.

Right now, I’m in an “up” place in my recovery. Thank God. Although, I’m not too sure I can trust it to be honest. I don’t know if it’s because of my medication, an effect of a new relationship or if I’m in a hypomania state. I can’t tell you 100 percent which one it is.

I can tell you this:

Two weeks ago, I contemplated suicide.

Two weeks ago, I had to spend time with my new boyfriend almost every night to make sure I stayed alive. (He doesn’t know that.)

Two weeks ago, I was on the wrong medication.

Let me tell you a little bit about being on the wrong medication for bipolar ll disorder. It’s hell. The first few days, it worked wonderfully. I was as productive and energetic as ever. It was a miracle. I felt like myself from more than a decade ago. Then, it took it all away. As my dose went up, my emotions went down. I became numb. The only time I could feel was when I was with my soon-to-be boyfriend, and I knew that was not healthy for us.

It took away my will to live. It took away my joy and my logical thoughts. I wanted to self-harm, but I didn’t. I wanted to die, but I didn’t. In the evenings, I’d get so depressed I couldn’t get off my sofa. I found myself wanting to go to bed at 5 p.m.

I wasn’t me. I could see this person I was, this person I didn’t know. I didn’t like her very much. She was dependent, lonely and afraid. I was afraid for her.

Moreover, one of the side effects was a low sex drive. I’ll admit that ain’t me normally. It drove me bonkers. I had this new boyfriend, but I didn’t want him to touch me. I didn’t want to be intimate with him. I couldn’t feel any emotions between us. I felt like I was just there. This, along with the other downfalls of it all, continued for a few days after stopping the medication.

Now, I can breathe. Honestly, I’m in total shock as I sit here and write this. Not only do I have my ever so lovely sex drive back, but I can feel emotion again, even when I’m alone! This in itself is amazing to me. I’m finally on the right medication.

All it took was a change in my antipsychotic medication and a change in one of my stimulants. I take the antipsychotic medication before bed and the stimulant in the afternoons. My evening depression is gone! Normally, all I can do is lie on my sofa feeling sorry for myself about being physically alone.

Tonight, everything changed. Not only am I able to write this, but I’ve been cleaning. Actually cleaning as in organizing, making piles and cleaning! I’m happy! I’m alone, and I’m content. My boyfriend isn’t staying over tonight and that’s OK. I’m OK. I’ll be able to go to sleep with a smile on my face.

Wow, I’m OK. That’s the first time I’ve meant that in years. I’m OK. Damn, that’s nice to say.

For anyone struggling to find the right medication, hang in there. Trust me. Once you find it, you’ll know how worth it it was. It’s so worth it to be able to function by yourself. To not have to beg your best friend to kick you in the ass or give you a pep talk. To not have to pout and ask your boyfriend to spend time with you to get you out of your own mind. It’s truly refreshing to be able to breathe and say, I’m OK.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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What I Learned About Bipolar Disorder After My Most Recent Hospitalization

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A couple of weeks ago I wound up in the ER for my bipolar disorder– I was experiencing a mixed episode, filled with mania, anxiety, depression and urges to self-harm or do drugs. I even felt delusional about the limitless possibilities in my life, all the while feeling hopeless and empty.

What led me to this moment? My antidepressant — after being on the highest dose for more than two years, had finally crashed and burned. It was deemed ineffective. I also had gone off a drug that helped me with mania a couple months prior because I irrationally feared it made me gain weight (it didn’t… this was simply my eating disorder speaking). No wonder my mood was constantly swinging from severe depression to hypomania and intense mixed states!

What I learned after being stabilized in the psychiatric unit for a few days, is how crucial medication is for bipolar, and in my case, also anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Bipolar disorder, I finally understand, is a truly an illness of the brain. If I’m on the right meds I can function. If I’m not, I cannot. While therapy certainly helps me cope, as well as with my other disorders, bipolar disorder is best managed through the proper medication.

I’m happy I’m now on my proper medication cocktail — a new anti-depressant and mood stabilizer. I learned that medication, in some cases, especially with bipolar, may very well be the main key to being healthy.

Editor’s note: This piece is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Consult your doctor before starting and stopping medication.

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When Bipolar Disorder Keeps You Trapped Inside Your Mind

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I am trapped inside my mind. I shout. I rebel. I long for expression. Yet, I sit silent. My words, my connection, with you is severed. I don’t think this is my fault. You see, I need you to hear me. My voice, well, has “left the building.” My bipolar depression has wrapped itself around me. I am muffled at best.

The world spins. Days rise and set. I sit. Staring at the wall. Resting.

Movement is slow and overwhelming. Getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Brushing my teeth over the top. Accolades do not resonate. Guilt hangs on my chest.

Why can’t I do more? Go to work? Cook a simple meal? Even think about making coffee? I’m so exhausted. Yet, I haven’t actually moved in days.

I left messages with my boss, with my therapist, with my psychiatrist. Not necessarily in that order. Explaining. Maybe it mostly sounded like excuses. The honesty I exuded was painful then. Admitting my cognition, stamina and memory was compromised took all I had.

However, really looking back, it was probably obvious to others. I was barely hanging on. My face often flush, looking hung over. Raw. Fragile. The hangover was from emotion, floods of tears and uncertainty. White knuckling a mood disorder.

The darkness has moved in. Rented space without a lease. I didn’t know it was coming, and I don’t know when it would leave. Scary synopsis for a person with bipolar disorder. The reality of daylight savings time has me quivering. Bold black night greeting me at 5 p.m. It affects me, deeply.

My action plan, if I can muster the energy? Walk in the midday sunlight. Big cleansing breaths with sun on my face. Quiet time in the holiday craze. If that’s not possible, then I steal just five minutes here and there. I have a Youtube video with a song called “Breathe” I listen to in headphones. Just me and the music. It’s a reminder and a reprieve at the same time.

Fall is a time of beauty. A cleansing as the rains come. For me personally, it’s a time to really take notice of my internal clock. My tolerance or intolerance of noise, light and crowds. As the leaves change, so does my mood. Historically speaking, I’m vulnerable this time of year. Armed with this information, I can do my best to manage all that comes.

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19 Quotes That Help People With Bipolar Disorder Get Through Tough Times

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Although a quote itself can’t lift you up from a dark depression or keep you steady during a bad episode of mania, words do have the power to keep us grounded — if only for a moment — and at the very least offer us some hope. To find out what quotes helped people who live with bipolar disorder, we asked people in our mental health community tell us one quote that helps them get through tough times.

Here’s what they had to say: 

1. “Happiness can be found in e the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”– Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Submitted by Alexis D.: “I know it is difficult to see the good in the bad, but it helps to try.”

2. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” — from Les Misérables

Submitted by Kaitlin C: “I got these lyrics tattooed on my arm as a constant reminder that it will get better.” 

3. “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” — Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Submitted by Rebekah B.

4. “You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.” — Quietly I Will Not Tumblr page 

Submitted by Sara K.

5. “This pain is part of being human… the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.” –Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

Submitted by Gates P.

6. “You don’t have to feel like a waste of space. You’re original, cannot be replaced. If you only knew what the future holds. After a hurricane comes a rainbow” – “Firework” by Katy Perry

Submitted by Heather B.

7. “You’re a hurricane of a girl; remember to breathe every once and a while. Do not drown within your own storm.” – Emma Bleker

Submitted by Loren N.

8. “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devils ear, ‘I am the storm.’ — Unknown 

Submitted by Camila A.

9. “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” — Sam from “The Two Towers”

Submitted by Adrianna S.

10. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” — Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

Submitted by Jenn R.

11. “Oh be calm. Be calm. I know you feel like you are breaking down. Oh I know that it gets so hard sometimes, Be calm. Take it from me, I’ve been there a thousand times. You hate your pulse because it still thinks you’re alive And everything’s wrong. It just gets so hard sometimes. Be calm. — “Be Calm” by fun.

Submitted by Amanda M.

12. “I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.” — William C. Hannan

Submitted by Heather L.

13. “Fight it / Take the pain ignite it / Tie a noose around your mind / Loose enough to breathe fine / And tie it to a tree / Tell it you belong to me / This ain’t a noose this is a leash and I have news for you you must obey me.” — “Holding on to You” by twenty one pilots

Submitted by Rachel M.: “I’ve always loved these twenty one pilots’ lyrics. When I’m in my darkest of places it gives me power to fight and live another day.”

14. “Nothing hurt, and everything was beautiful.” — “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Submitted by Chantel P.: “It reminds me to fight for the times where everything is beautiful, even if it’s only for a moment.”

15. “This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass.” — Unknown

Submitted by Allison V.

16. “I see the sun, and if I don’t see the sun, I know it’s there. And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.” — Froyder Dostoyevsky

Submitted by Selena G.

17. “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Submitted by Christan A.

18. “Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forgot, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim” — Tyler Knott Gregson

Submitted by Nicole B.

19. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” — “Shake It Off” by Florence & the Machine

Submitted by Jelena V.

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