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How the Right Medication Affected My Bipolar Disorder

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Living with bipolar disorder can be an ocean of sadness. The waves crashing over you with no mercy, no love. It can create tidal waves so monstrous you become buried by the sea. I remember living this side of life. I remember the pain of waking up and seeing the sunrise once again because I wasn’t ready to face another day. I remember the lack of energy and weight of grief I felt for myself. I mourned my happiness.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar depression is a nightmare that never seems to end. It latches onto you for months and sinks into your heart. You feel pressure within your body and begin to question if it’s even worth it to continue. Bipolar depression is days of being bedbound and locked away in a mind hellbent on pressing you beyond your breaking point. It is something I would wish upon no one.

This, though, isn’t it.

Mania sneaks into your body and throws itself into the limelight. It takes control and takes away the days of suicidal ideation. It promises happiness beyond measurement and convinces you that you’re bound for better days, but it tricks you. It tricks you into thinking this energy will help you be the best you that you can be. What it leaves out is the nights of no sleep, staring into the night with thoughts racing throughout my mind and the anxiety I couldn’t contain. It drove me to self-harm and said my medications were not worth it. Mania is no less sad than depression. It still tears at your body and causes destruction. 

I used to be like this.

I remember the feelings of uncertainty, the question of how often I would switch. I wondered where this all came from, and if I could ever make it stop. I felt lost within my symptoms, trapped with no way out. I sank into the mindset that these symptoms and behaviors were inevitable, that I wasn’t like those who knew the relief of recovery. I’m elated to say I was wrong. 

Sometimes, we’re afraid of medications.

I used to be afraid of my meds. Sometimes, I still am. They feel daunting and scary. What if they don’t work for me? What if they hurt me? I have these thoughts a lot. Sometimes, I believe I don’t need them anymore, or the fear becomes so big that I refuse to take them. It’s a battle all on its own, but I’m here to say it’s worth it. You are worth the happiness they bring. I know there’s a stigma around the use of psychiatric medications. Some believe it makes you weak, others say they’re unnecessary. I hear that if you just exercise or go out more you’ll feel better. Those are good strategies, but unfortunately, that doesn’t treat the disorder.

The day I got on the right medications, my life changed.

I have spent 11 years dealing with mental health issues. I was originally diagnosed with depression, and at 13 was put on medications. This starting the long phase of trial and error. My brain felt like a melting pot for psychotropics. It was hard back then — misdiagnoses resulted in the usage of the wrong medications, some causing my symptoms to flare up or cause new ones. I questioned the validity of my doctor saying it was worth it.

When I was 18, I found a new psychiatrist, one of many I had seen. She listened to me and understood my frustrations. I believed in her more than the others, and I’m glad I did. I may be on a lot, but I’ve never been better. I see the world from a view of someone healthy and happy.

There are always “bad days.” Medication doesn’t fully solve the problem; it aids in fixing it. Some days, I can still feel the sadness leaking into my life. I still get the racing thoughts and sometimes I blank out and feel as if reality is slipping from my hands. This is normal, though. Medication doesn’t take every symptom away, but it has taken away the worst of it. I now live a functioning life; I feel the joys of life and I am able to venture out into the world with confidence that I will be OK. I’m here to say: don’t think you’re forever stuck with these symptoms. People who are bipolar like me have options, and there are those who are willing to help. Don’t feel like you’re stuck in this loop, one filled with far too much sadness. Reach out. It’s worth it.

Photo by Taylor Ann Wright on Unsplash

Originally published: August 15, 2019
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