I often have people reach out to me looking for solutions on how to treat their mental illness. Or they want suggestions for medications. I love being able to help other but I do know my limits. I understand that I am not a medical professional. I am just a blogger with bipolar disorder who only has experience. So this is what I offer those who approach me:
I want to say that it takes a lot of strength to realize that you need more help than what you are doing on your own. I am going to be honest, I can’t tell you what you should do. But I have a couple of suggestion that can really help you .
#1. Purchase a journal.
Keeping a journal is a great way see what is and isn’t working for you. When you start, journal at least 2-3 times a day. Things you want to keep track of is how you are feeling both physically and emotionally. Are you tired? Drowsy? Irritable? Depressed? Shaky? Dizzy? Anger? This is something you want to share with your doctor. It will help them see if this is something that is working. Most likely you will be the last to see the difference. It is hard to decipher things about yourself that is you and that is your disorder.
#2 Be Informed.
You are going to be faced with many options. Your doctor may narrow it down to a couple of choices based on what you told them. (On that note, always be honest with your doctor.) When given those options,. make sure you are aware of the side effects. The can range from nausea and weight gain to loss of fine motor skills and kidney damage. Some medications require regular blood-work to make sure they are at safe levels. It is a matter of give in take. Do the benefits outweigh the risks. It is why personally I have stopped taking Depakote and Lithium. I began to lose my fine motor skills from taking Depakote. I still have trouble with it. However, some people have not had that issue.
#3 Not two treatment plans are the same.
Just because I may do well on something doesn’t meant someone else will have the same results. Just as individual as we are as people so can our illnesses. This is why I strongly urge that you focus on what works for you. People are going to give you all kinds of suggestions. Essential Oils. Yoga. Diet Changes.Medications. They will tell you what worked for them. And those things may have worked for them. You need to filter through and see what works best for you. This is where your journal comes into play. It is a great way to judge what works and what doesn’t work.
#4 You are not your disorder.
Some people may see your disorder before they see you. It is hard for people to recognize that people with particularly mood disorder are capable of having real feelings. This part is really tough and can be discouraging. Nothing is quite a blow to an ego when you are honestly upset about something, then someone responds with asking if you are taking your meds. It is infuriating and deflating. Most likely, it will happen when you are really thinking you are doing well. When you finally feel like a person again. Please don’t let that discourage from continuing with what it working. You are your own person who is not defined by your illness. You are allowed to have emotions like everyone else in the world. If you are feeling down, flip through your journal and see how far you have come.
#5 This is a lifetime dance.
So this is probably the hardest part about being open about seeking help, but do not let this discourage you. Chances are pretty good that this is a lifetime dance. I know with bipolar disorder there is no cure. There is just fluid treatment plans shifting ever so slightly to keep up with your brain. You may find something that really helps. It may help for months, even years. Then one day, it all stop working. It can happen. Matter of fact, it has happened to me. It can be a let down. A somber reminder that indeed we are not like everyone else. It can be tiring and frustrating but it is worth it. Life is a beautiful thing to be apart of. So in the end, at least to me, it is worth the dance.
I really hope that this helps you in some way. I wish I could tell you what exactly to do. But I can’t. Not in good faith in any way. My last piece of advice is follow your gut. If you feel like you are getting the help you need, go somewhere else. Your voice does indeed matter. Never forget that.
2 thoughts on “5 Things to consider when starting a treatment plan”
Hi there, great tips. Can I ask why you stopped lithium? Was the constant monitoring or did you have some funky side effects?
Thank you! I stopped for a mixture of reasons. 1. I couldn’t afford the constant blood tests at the time. 2. It was the possible long term side effects.