=>PLEASE FORWARD TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND LOVED ONES <=
I hope you’re doing ok. Today I want to talk to you about this email I got:
“Dear Dave: My husband has bipolar disorder, and usually he does ok, it’s just that it’s been a while, and I thought that by now he’d be doing much better than he is, ya know?
I mean, he’s been on his medication, and he’s been taking it right and everything, but he is still having episodes once in a while. They’re not as often as they were before, and they’re not as bad, but I thought that once he got on the right medication that he’d be ok.
Why is he still having episodes?”
Wow! I know where this lady is coming from, because you wouldn’t believe how many emails I get that say the very same thing. It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m not a psychiatrist or therapist, so I can only give my opinion – I have no professional standing – just my experience and the experience of thousands of people who have written or talked to me.
There are a lot of supporters (and just as many survivors) who think that once their loved one is on the right medication, that that’s all there is to it! They believe that that their loved one will never go into an episode again. Maybe you think that way, too. So I want you to know how wrong that thinking is. It is unrealistic to think that way.
Yes, medication is the core ingredient to getting better with bipolar disorder. But it’s not a cure for it.
No one should be telling you that your loved one will never have another episode, because that is just not true. No doctor should tell you that, and no therapist either. And you should not assume that, because it just isn’t true.
I teach about the core ingredients necessary for stability, and yes, medication is one of them, but it isn’t a magic cure to never have another episode ever again.
No matter how compliant your loved one is with their medication, no matter how well they follow their treatment plan, no matter how many years they have gone without an episode, you still have to keep up your guard, because they can still have an episode at any time – it’s just the nature of the disorder.
You can’t expect perfection from your loved one, any more than you would want them to expect perfection from you. All that they (and you) can do is your best. Remember: “Hope for the best, while being prepared for the worst,” like I preach all the time.
Because bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain, there is no way of knowing when those chemicals are going to “flare up.” Even if your loved one has been stable for a long time, it can still happen. I know a woman who didn’t have an episode for TWELVE YEARS, and then had one that lasted for SIX MONTHS!
Usually, your loved one can control their disorder by being compliant to medication and therapy. But you still have to remember that your loved one has a brain disorder, and that sometimes, it is going to flare up, no matter how long you’ve been stable.
Remember to watch for triggers, and don’t let your guard down as far as watching for signs and symptoms, again, no matter how long your loved one has been stable. I know, it’s easy to become complacent when things have gone on so well for so long. But you can never forget.
Now, I’m not saying to stand over your loved one like a general or anything like that to watch them for triggers, signs and symptoms, but you should be able to tell in general if/when it happens. Just don’t let down your guard is all I’m saying.
If you know that your loved one is in a particularly stressful situation at work, well, you know that stress is one of the biggest stressors to a bipolar episode, so you would just watch them more closely. If their anxiety and/or stress levels are increased, that’s the time to be more vigilant. Also, watch their sleep patterns.
If they are sleeping less, be watchful, because loss of sleep can indicate a bipolar manic episode.
And just the opposite is true, too. If they are sleeping more, be watchful, because sleeping too much can be an indication of a bipolar depressive episode.
The point is, medications are not a cure for bipolar disorder. They are only there to control the symptoms of it, but they are not a guarantee that your loved one will never have another episode.
Well, I have to go!