Bipolar: Don’t Let Them Play Doctor


I got a very disturbing email the other day. This man was telling me about what’s going on with him, and I have to tell you, he is not doing very well with his bipolar disorder at all. First of all, he was describing his symptoms, which was good. That, at least, shows an awareness that he knows his symptoms.

He was saying what his diagnosis is Bipolar II, which is also good, because your loved one should know what their diagnosis is, too. And he was saying that he had done some research on his diagnosis. And that’s good, but it can also be dangerous. And I’ll tell you why. And it’s because of exactly what this man went on to say in his email.

He was describing how he was feeling, how his moods were shifting, and how each time his moods would shift, he would up this medication, or change that medication somehow. In fact…
He was playing doctor with his own bipolar disorder!

I’m telling you, that is the absolutely WRONG thing to do when you have bipolar disorder! It’s no wonder this man just kept getting worse and worse! He did… his moods kept fluctuating, and his symptoms kept worsening. And he was asking me what I thought he should do.

I’ll tell you what I thought he should do. First of all, I definitely thought he should stop playing
doctor for himself, as, like I said, that can be very dangerous for him. The very first thing he should do is to TELL HIS DOCTOR what is going on with him! It is up to his doctor to make changes in his medication if they are necessary.

But here’s the point: Your loved one’s doctor cannot make any changes unless he knows what’s going on with them in the first place. And he can’t know what’s going on with them unless they TELL him! Their doctor is NOT a mind reader! They have to tell him what’s going on with them, or he’s not going to know, and he can’t help them.

He depends on them to be a part of their own treatment, and to keep him apprised of any changes in their mood and their bipolar disorder between appointments. Otherwise he won’t know, and he can’t help them. They are the only link he has. But they have to tell him.

Like this man – He is suffering with these changes in mood and these active symptoms of his bipolar disorder, wanting things to change, wanting things to be better, but without telling his doctor. He’s just making changes in his medication by himself. And that’s why he’s not getting any better.

Your loved one needs to TRUST their doctor to do what’s best for them.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. David, I appreciate and understand what you are saying. However, I have avoided hospitalizations by tweaking or changing my medications. I always tell my doctor at my next visit and even left him a message once that I was taking 600 MG of Seroquel to fight off a psychotic mood which would have led to hospitalization. This was exactly what I should have done. Other times, I have increased my meds when I can’t sleep and begin to enter mania. Since my diagnosis in 1999, I have been fortunate to only being hospitalized twice. Without my independent actions. it would have been many more. As I stated, I always let my doctor know and he trusts my judgment.

  2. Hopefully this man afflicted w/bp is committed to recovery. My husband of 28 years who has read probably every book ever written on the illness recently decided to feed a manic episode by tapering off his lithium and staying up all night~ which of course led to a full blown mania destroying our marriage for good I think this time…He is accountable after knowing everything about his condition and gambling with it. Looks like he has chosen mania over marriage and I can’t ride out the storm this time ( it’s taken it’s toll on me)~ Thanks for all that your foundation does David Oliver!

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