The Dr told me I was bipolar. What does that mean? I’ll get better right then I won’t have to take meds for long right?
For the first part of this question, please read Marybeth’s post explaining what a bipolar diagnosis means.
Regarding the importance of treatment
There’s no easy way to put this: you don’t just get better. It’s true that your symptoms will wax and wane, but you can never plan for them to just disappear. When you’re bipolar, you have manic and depressive episodes and the cycle usually lasts a lifetime. Instead of expecting a cure, bipolar patients must seek balance and stability in their lives.
Alright, with the bad news out of the way, let’s focus on the good news: help is available, right now, and it always will be. I urge you to speak to the doctor who diagnosed you and develop a plan. My doctors and I created a game plan that included medications, but the focus was on self-help.
Following my diagnosis, I kept a mood chart for four months. Several mood charts exist and your doctor will probably have one they prefer or can cater one to your specific needs. Typical mood charts allow you to keep daily track of your medications, hours slept, mood (represented by how far you deviate from “normal”), and events from the day (which prompts you to pinpoint what types of events trigger manic or depressive episodes). My doctors also gave me lessons on what my brain was doing, chemically, and why my behavior was affected by this. Knowledge is a valuable part of treatment.
As a result of losing health insurance, I have not been to a mental health doctor in two years. This is a shame. Shame on me for not seeking help earlier and shame on our society for not making help more accessible to those in need. In a matter of weeks, I’ll be visiting my county’s department of mental health and researching my options, which I hope will include therapy and aid with medical costs.
One way to surrender to bipolar disorder is to inconsistently receive treatment. Quitting your medications cold-turkey can lead to life threatening conditions (always call 9-1-1 if such event occurs) and not regularly visiting your doctor will mess with your mind. Please, do not follow my example of falling out of treatment and take my advice: control your disease.