Truth about bipolar disorder and medication side effects


How’s it going?

I hope you are doing really well and have a great day.

Yesterday I saw a lot of responses about my daily email about bipolar and the true cost of working with bad people.

I am going to write a daily email about all the advice I get and why I can’t listen to most of it.

I do however get VERY good advice from many people on my list but not the majority—it similar to if you go out and talk about bipolar disorder—you’ll find the vast majority have no idea what they are talking about.

Someone asked me how I am able to do these daily emails every day.

I must say it’s hard work. There is no magic or automated system. It takes 1 to 1.5 hours EVERY day. Every since I started. I have not been able to sleep in ever.

It’s kind of stressful because I always have to think about doing it the next day.

I am working on a system to be able to send it faster. There is the writing part and the actually system that delivers it. It takes 15 minutes to get that system going so I am working to reduce that to a minute or two. But writing still will take 1 hour.

Anyway, I just saw a post on my blog. It talked about how sometimes the side effects from this person’s bipolar medication was worse than the bipolar disorder.

Do you think this is true many times? Think about it, then scroll down….


I disagree. Here’s why? What’s the worse that bipolar can do to a person? Scroll down for the answer.



That’s right. Statistics show that up to 20% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide.

Many say it’s more than that. Lots of people who are in jail have bipolar disorder.

Are side effects worse than death? I don’t think so.

Take Michele Soloway’s sister (Michele works for me), is DEAD.

What’s worse — her sister’s death or the side effects she might have been having?

In my course/systems, I talk about how to get a handle on side effects, whether you are a bipolar supporter or survivors.







There are strategies for BOTH groups of


I’m not disputing that sometimes the side effects of medications are really bad. I know they are. My mom is on medication.

But at least my mom is ALIVE!

There are so many people that simply do NOT get this idea. Death is final. The end. You don’t come back. Etc.

Medications keep people alive. YES there can be side effects but there are many options. Work with your doctor and therapist. Report side effects. You can get on something that keeps them to a minimum. But remember the alternative.

And if you don’t care about your life, you may not take your own, you might take someone else’s. Just go to google and run a search on murder and bipolar disorder or killed and bipolar disorder and look how many results come up—people who stopped taking their medication.

Agree or disagree?

I know for sure I will get tons and tons and tons of hate mail for writing this because people will say I am part of the pharmaceutical conspiracy : )



David Oliver is the author of the shocking guide “Bipolar Disorder—The REAL Silent Killer.” Click Here to get FREE Information sent via email on how and why bipolar disorder kills.

  1. All this is so overwhelming especially when you are first diagnoised. I’ve had some bad side effects on different medications that why I’m very hestitant on taking medications. I’ve been off meds for alittle but I’ve had some problems. I try to control my moods but it doesn’t work out that well. Any advise on how not to be very overwhelmed with the illness?

  2. Sometimes the med side effects can make a person worse than doing without that particular medication, but there are a lot of other medications to try rather than sticking to one or 2 than can actually make you worse. I take 5 meds to keep my Bi-po in check most of the time, of which one is an anti-depressant. Now go and Google suicides committed while taking an anti-depressant and I would bet the number is quite a bit larger. There are so many mood stabilizing drugs on the market today that there is no reason to have to keep taking one with really bad side effects unless, of course, you have tried every med there is to take. In that case, which is very unlikely, the person would have to settle for the meds that work the best for him/her and deal with the side effects as best as that person can.

  3. Having just gone through the problems with the side effects I have mixed feeling about some drugs. I posted a message about Andy. He had a wreck last week on Monday. He passed out while driving. They wanted to charge him with dui until they found no drugs, except prescription. He was taking seroquel and lithium. It drops his blood sugar to 29. Spent overnight at the hospital. They released him the next day and he was back that night with the same problem. Finally blamed it on the lithium. The combo of the two drugs which both cause problems with glucose. Cant take him completely off the drugs or he will be back in a psych ward. Which to him would be the worse factor. They took him off the lithium and seems to be doing really well. We have a glucometer and check his sugar several times a day. Would like to see him on abilify but his insurance wont pay for it . they really dont give a person many choices. He sees his Dr on Thursday who by the way did not show up at the hospital either time to see what was going on. She works right there up stairs in the same hospital. Maybe we should look to make a change,huh? Thanks for your info Deanna

  4. I was in a relationship with a man with bi polar, I tried so hard to fix him, show him there is good in life, he did try to commit suicide once while in our relationship and i got him help, wasnt sure at the time if he would forgive me or not for saving him, he did forgive but yet at times said why didnt you let me go..? well I cant, 3 kids, me, freinds, family,, easy answer why not.. anyway between him and another man i know, i see with this is no meds only once in a blue moon , instead with him i seen alot of self medicating with beer starting at 8a.m and vodka along with it, all day treatment. did it help him? he thinks so, anyway other one i think and beleive could be self medication with pain pills . why would they want to be relying on these instead of taking there meds like there supposed too?? this i will never understand. side effects to alcahol and pain pills , well i see the same ones , maybe im wrong on that, but either way theres side effects

  5. This is in response to a comment you made a couple of days ago when you were comparing a current employee with an ex-employee:

    davidoliver Says:
    August 25th, 2008 at 10:26 am

    To Everyone,

    Neither person that I am talking about has any disorder.


    I just want to say that nobody is perfect and we are all flawed in some way and just because it hasn’t been diagnosed yet, either one or both can have a mood disorder or some physical problem that hasn’t come to light yet. I have had Bi-po for as long as I can remember but I didn’t have a proper diagnosis until I was nearly 50. I am not bashing you or sending “hate” anything, just merely stating a very important medical fact. I value the emails you send and often go back and read comments that were left after I had already been there. I realize you invest a whole lot of time and yourself to keep the emails and the news coming every week and I want you to know I appreciate your hard work. But you cannot merely assume that some one doesn’t have a medical problem (mentally or physically) just because the symptoms and diagnosis were not there. Or perhaps the previous employee was struggling with Bi-po and only being treated for depression, which in my experience doesn’t help a whole lot! There are a lot of variables as to why an employee didn’t do too well at her/his job. I was, at one time, the employer and I know what a tough position that is sometimes.

  6. If I had known the TRUTH about Bipolar disorder and treatment, my loved one wouldn’t have been incarserated over 5 times and maybe if he had been on the right meds, we would still be together. Instead, out of ignorance people (like us) do nothing or play the blame game which only makes things much worse! I believe that if medication can offer any relief at all to a mental health problem(of any kind) then the side effects are worth it!! Noone wants to go thru the hell that my family has had to suffer thru for the last 12 years and if there is any life-line thrown- then I think you have to grab it!!! Example- If you are in a burning house, on the second floor and the only way to survive is take the risk of jumping, would you risk it to save your life? I would! That’s what the truth of the matter is! If you do nothing, you could die or kill someone else. Take it from me, the alternative to taking meds or getting therapy is far worse than any side effects! I would have rather had 1 week of love and peace with my loved one than a lifetime of pain and suffering just because of fear! Fear is the killer of dreams and goals. love to all and God Bless!

  7. David—–
    Here’s what completely disappointed me when I got you kit. Not once have I seen anything on if you live away from your loved one. My son, was recently diagnosed but he has either been living way at college, or out at his father’s questhouse or on his own in an apartment. Presently he lives in a house about 30 minutes away from his father’s house and my house. How can we possibly keep track of what he’s doing or how he acting.??? He lies without giving it a second’s thought. I find it hard to believe that he is capable of ever telling the truth. How do you keep track of a loved one who doesn’t live with you? And will I ever an email back from you??

  8. Hi Dave,

    I agree with you about pretty much everything you write. And medication is a huge part of managing our Bipolar symptoms. I have been hospitalized 17 times for attempting suicide one of the times landing me in icu for 4 days. And every time I attempted suicide I was off my meds!!!!! Also my ex husband is in Jail right now on Murder and Manslaughter charges along with 16 other charges. He is Bipolar and has never been treated for it. So what you are saying at lease for me I have personally experienced. And it is a very sad sad thing. The girls my ex killed were 17 and 19. These girls had their whole life in front of them still. And due to someones ignorance and pride their precious little lives were cut short. Dave you have my vote for president!!!


  9. If the medication isn’t working, or if the side effects induce a morbid state of mind, for someone with a severe depression then – yes – the nothing may be perceived as preferable to living a mentally painful life, a life full of unrelenting anguish. Not just “oh dear, I’m feeling down today …” but a mental state that is a kin to the most severe physical pain you can experience. Only there is no, or no satisfactory, pain killer for that mental state. It can be – literally – unbearable. And to wake up to it every day, with not even a glimmer of hope that it will end … death may seem like a mighty way to find final relief. Been there, read the book, starred in the film, got the sweat shirt. I cannot find adequate words to express just how intolerable it feels. Yet, doing it takes courage not because of the unknown the “other side”, if there IS another side, but the act of doing it. That’s what can scare people off. And there you are, struggling to keep a grip of yourself when along comes someone who really gets in your face! What they are doing may otherwise seem uncontroversial, but when you feel like you do, the smallest things become mountains. To rid yourself of this extra pain, you lash out. In doing that, sometimes a life is lost. But “at least” the BP sufferer can then be sure the cops will turn up and do what you are too scared to do to yourself – fire the fatal bullet.

    “Hamlet” (Shakespeare)
    To be, or not to be: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
    To sleep: perchance to dream:

    This is why it happens. And for someone who is suffering really terrible Bipolar or Unipolar depression, or even one who has come to the end of their tether because of the relentless Chinese torture of the drip, drip, drip of Dysthymic Disorder, sleep – permanent sleep – is most attractive because the pain of the depression only ever disappears when we are asleep. (That’s a large part of why depressed people sleep.)

    And when the intention or attempt of suicide fails, so do does the self-image fall down further … because we cannot even do *that*! We have failed even in that!

    I’m sorry that I can’t offer more of an insight into this issue from a survivors’ perspective but I hope this gives a glimpse if only a small one.

  10. Ive been intresed in ur work because i suffer from bioplar myself, and ur mum is lucky because she has you and her family to help her, my family dont want to accept what is happing to me, this hurts me so much

  11. Randomly discovered in april that my blood pressure was 160/125 and pulse was 130 and rising! Doc couldnt figure out why. Other medication could not fix the problem. Doctor wanted me in hospital but I have nobody to look after my kids. They said I was on the verge of heart attack/stroke. To cut a long story short, 2 weeks ago I discovered this is a side effect of Reboxetine. I take max dose of 12mg daily. Now changing to new medication and bp and pulse coming down at last! My point is, the side effects could have very well killed me. Would I do it all again or stay on the “dark side”? You bet. As scared as I was, it was easier to live through those side effects than the wish to kill myself (which I’ve had since 10 years of age.) Thanks for the emails. Really interesting.

  12. Ive had bipolar since I was a teen but wasnt diagnosed until I was 21 yrs old!
    After 4 years on different meds I almost died 5+ times I stopped the meds and just do therapy and I am still alive at 38! Most of the meds I was put on made me suicidal when I shouldnt be! Now that I now also have M.S. I will never go back on bipolar drugs! Im cant manage both all the time, but I see docs 4 both and ive helped many to survive M.S. and Bipolar and will continue till I die! People can handle all if they educate themselves on what they have and fight to stay alive! Ive been and I know my daughter has bipolar, my husband wont let me take her to be diagnosed so Im just watchin and doing what I can to help her stay alive!

  13. I do agree that medication is preferable to suicide, but what happens when the very meds that are prescribed are what is used to attempt the suicide?

    My husband has used his prescribed sleeping pills twice now after a disagreement we got into regarding the other woman in his life. The last time, even though he claims there is nothing going on between them anymore, he admitted to me that he is still telling her that he loves HER. How can he say nothing is going on and still tell her he loves her??

    I know the disorder is messing with him a lot, but this affair has been going on prior to the actual diagnosis and the medication. The meds just made him decide to be honest with me about it, not that I was not already suspicious about their relationship.

    How can I make him understand that he has to choose between us without setting him off?


  14. First of all I love reading Davids daily blogs. I have a 13 year old daughter who is bipolar and for about a month she kept getting destonic reactions to the medications that the doctor was giving her. Her head would turn all the way to the right, her tongue would swell and her jaw would lock. It was very scary the first time we saw this. We did not know what was happening. We learned in the emergncy room how to counter act these reactions for when it happened again. which it did, over and over again.
    The doctor finally figured out which medications she was allergic to. She is not stable, yet but we are working on stablizing her with a little caution on the medication she prescribes. I will watch her for a half hour after I have given her her first dose of a new medication to see if she is having any side effects. My daughter does not like to try new medications unless someone is with her because the side effects are painful. As long as there is an adult there and ready with her medicine to counter act the medication she is fine. She will tell us immediately when her tongue starts to swell. We need to get the medication in her mouth before her jaw locks.
    It has not stopped us from trying other medications. The voices she hears
    continue to get louder with some medications but she takes the chance that with a new medication the voices will go away.

  15. I live with someone that is and has been being treat for bipolar since 1991.
    She does not comptemplate suicide but just wishes some days she would not wake up. We have had more than a few doctors and tried all kinds of meds. She really just can not enjoy the everyday life. Unless confronted she has very little self expression. Sometimes we will watch a sitcom and I will be laughing my head off and she has little to no emotion. She wants to work and cobtribute but most jobs are short term because she just can’t grasp the work and retain how to do it.

  16. i am a bipolar supporter. medication is the key. it is a stabilizer. sure, the side effects are not fun, but as david mentioned the alternative is not something anyone wants to happen.

    my girl friend (now my ex) stopped taking her medication several months ago. the decisions that she has made since then are very upsetting. she moved out of where we were living together, stopped doing the activities that we used to do and activities that she liked to do, starting doing street drugs and finally broke up with me. also, she did try to take her own life.

    i called her therapist and explained that she was not taking her medication and asked if the therapist could help me. what did the therapist do? called my ex and told her that i called and said that she was not taking her medication. now, not only are we not together, we do not speak any longer.

    i am afraid that my ex is going to do something really bad to herself. her family lives 3.5 hrs. away and her mother has bipolar and does not take medication herself (ever). the father is very passive and my ex is very manipulative in their relationship. what can i do?? i do still love her, but she pushed me away. i spoke to some professionals about this and the only adivice i was given was to stay away from her do not call her and one day she may come around.

    i am doing this now, but it does not sit well with me. i still love her, miss her and i do not want to be with anyone else. this is torture for me!!


  17. Yes some of the side effects are horrible. My son has hypothyroidism and slightly decreased kidney function due to his long term lithium usage. He’s only 11, but I would rather deal with 1 extra pill for the thyroid function than to keep going in and out of the hospital like he was 5 years ago. He is a totally different kiddo now than he was then.

  18. i m a bipolar patient since my teens , but on regular medication since 15 years only i am 55 now life with drugs is not only better but is a must if somebody wants to escape from suicide or some severe offencve

  19. I am currently on medication. I dont dare come off it. I have lived without medication most of my life…..And most of my life has been one tragedy after another. You may say that I learned that medication for bi polar is like taking medicine for your thyroid or pain.Without my medicine I would have another episode, the last one scared me so bad that I decided to stay on meds permently. Dont bother wondering what type of episode….i am just glad to be alive and that i didnt kill some one else while on my wild ride. believe me side effects are nothing compared to life without my meds.

  20. Thank You David for sending me these email, you have truly open My eyes.My husband is bipolar,we have baan married for 45 years and have 4 children and 6 grands and one greatgrand.I discovered my husband had a problem in 1976,he went under the dr. care an was on med’s. I have been live in HELL,and I did to find a support group. This has brought my body down in the past two years I have had 4 surgerys and will have another next month. The dr. says it comes from stress. I have to do something about it are leave my husband. I love my husband and I don’t want to leave him, but I have to think of my health. Please send me some HELP.
    I can be reached by phone or email. My cell is always on 912-412-1380, you have my email address. Thanking you in advance:
    Lillian Sally Stanley

  21. As a person whom actually did suffer from bi-polar for over 20 years then actually did find that one Dr. I’d been searching for, for over 15 of those years. I had been to Dr. after Dr. giving up after about a year after the medications weren’t suffcent or the side effects were worse than the benefit. I won’t go into detail about just how bad I felt a good deal of the time, I’m sure you understand.
    My present Dr. listened to me and heard me and talked to me not at me and through trial and error found that magic bullet. Everyone has bad days but I believe that I have less of them than any “normal” person;o) Now I’ll tell people that I have BP, I wouldn’t before, and they just can’t believe it. If I have to do my routines, work out, get out side every day, make my bed as soon as I get up, believe it or not that’s important in the beginning, but if I have any side effects from the medications the benefit far out weighs them.
    By the way, I don’t “suffer” with BP anymore as to where in those 20 years I lived with a death wish and contimplated suicide often. I’m 50 now, having 3 disks replaced in my back in 2 weeks and looking forward to a lot of gret years ahead. I could go on about how great my life is now, especially by comparison to before, but I’m sure you can understand that as well.
    I appreciate your news letter.
    Thanks. Bill

  22. i am a doctor and a full fledged cace of bipolar disease . From psychiatric books and my personal experience there is a very simple one line inference “bipolars have better life with medication than without “

  23. Lisa,

    There is no way to stop being overwhelmed by the emotions except with the right medication for you. This may take some time for you and your doctor to work out and find the right medications. But it is sooooooooooo worth being on the right medications, the difference is day and night.

    I totally agree with you Dave, medication is a CRITICAL factor in some one’s life who has bipolar. It took me years to get diagnosed, and that only came after 5 or 6 hospitalizations! Suicide was a life long battle for me, I was always debating or thinking about it before I got on the right medication for me. I say the right medication for me because bipolar is as different as each individual is. Think about it, how different are our finger prints? Our brain chemistry is a little different for each person, and requires different chemistry to correct the imbalance. It took me 3-4 years to find a good doctor who worked with me to get on the right meds, and my life has never been better. I am happy most of the time, but I have problems with stress not related to bipolar because I had a nervous break down 13 years ago. I have never handled stress well, but I functioned. Now I can function as long as I don’t have to deal with large amounts of stress. But my point is, that every person has to find out what medications work for them. seeing a Psychologist was also CRITICAL for my recovery from the bipolar mess I was before medication came along. But I am high functioning now, and love life most of the time.

    It is a difference between day and night. I have some mild side effects, like I am dizzy when I wake up, or get up from laying down, so I sit and wait for my balance to come back before I get up. But other than that, I have very few side effects, probably because I have been taking what I take for so long that all the side effects have gone away. But if you are wondering why you cannot manage your moods without medication, it is because with bioplar it is not possible to manage our moods without medication, period. End of Sentence! No if’s and’s or but’s.

    Please take your medication if you have decided you like being off it better than being on it. Like Dave says, we can lose control of our behavior, and either end up in jail, or addicted to drugs, and even worse end up dead! All it takes is one afternoon to ruin the rest of your life, or end it. Work with your dr on how to find the right medication that works yet gives you the least negative side effects.

    GodSpeed to your healing,

  24. As far as the side effects of meds vs. the reality of not taking them is a very hard call to make. Being bipolar myself thoughts of suicide are almost a personality trait rather than an emotion. This drives me to either self medicate or find a doctor to give me meds. So, i’ll quit doing drugs and start a medication regiment, then…………………………………wait maybe this pill works, maybe it doesn’t. But dilligently, I’ll move forward. It all works itself out in the end. Now, I’ve been on my meds for awhile< and although not perfect, I can see the light at the end, ya know? Now my head is clear. So clear I can see what my life truly is. The people I’ve hurt both intentionally and not. I can recognize all the missed chances. I can feel the pain of everyone in my life giving up on me. So, what to do?
    Yes, things are a slight bit more bareable on meds. But, when i’m not on my meds the clarity goes away. Which is nice sometimes.
    Yeah, ive got scars. And i’m getting back on my meds this week. And we’re going to go one more round. Hopefully this time is different. I’d like to be different.
    Maybe it will be okay.
    So, as for the question? Meds are better for those around us, but they are a pain in the arse for those of us on them. take care

  25. I just had my big brother diagnosed wit bipolar and he is also a sex addict! He left his wife and 4 kids and wont tale his meds and his soon to be x wife tells me he truely needs the meds! Though I have bipolar and not the sex addiction I dont think he should avoid his meds! He has been in 2 car crashes since stopping the meds, he has messed up his life and his kids life! To keep me grounded I focus on my beautiful kids and helping others with my illness!

  26. My Son was diagnoised as bipolar about a year ago. He is now 31 years old. He is a drug addict and I’m sure that has not helped.
    He does not have any insurance and is on probation for illegal use of a credit card. This was done during a drugging time.
    He lives in an apt. that I pay the rent on, I live in AZ he lives in TX and must remain there as long as he is on probation. His Father lives there as well.
    My son gets his medication from the county hospital, but he has no one to talk to, his Dr. only does blood work and perscribes his meds, period. He does not have access to a psycotheripest, I can not afford to send him to a privite Dr.
    I worry about him very much, he does have more friends now than he has had in a very long time. He has not told them of his drug issues or that he is bipolar… I really wish he would, so that they could help with the emotional support he needs.
    He does get very depressed from time to time and he lashs out at his father and me from time to time. He isn’t sleeping very well at night from what he says and that is a major concer. I ask him if he is upset or worried about something.. he just says, no, I just am not sleeping well. I have suggested he get some exercise but he finds excuses not to, not to even walk…I have also suggested he call his Dr. about it, he says they never call him back.
    He sees his Dr. once every couple months, for new perscriptions…
    Do you know of any other help I can get him afforded by the state or county? It took me about 6 months going through MHMR by phone to get him as much help as he has now…
    Please respond

  27. Usually I don’t take in part in blogging my ideas ,but I must sound off
    on this issue because the meds. I took caused more harm than helped.
    I’m suffering a whole host of medical conditions because I wasn’t
    told the truth about how the meds. I took would effect my body and
    how it functions. Please be very cautious when you reference on taking
    meds because it just might come back to haunt you.


  28. I have been reading every e mail that you have sent with much interest. My brother has been diagnosed with bipolar and everything you say about it fits him to a tea. Right now I’m trying to get him in a facility for his drinking problem. He can’t hold down a job now because of his drinking problem. So I have been reading all your information and look forward to reading more. Thanks for all your hard work and info. Marlene

  29. Dave, if there is such compelling evidence that unmedicated bp folks not only can hurt themselves but others why will the authorities NOT step in and do something when a bp is not taking their meds…just because they are an adult is not a good enough reason in my book.

  30. I like what you wrote and I never thought about it like that. My husband just had some very bad reaction on Seraquel (however you spell it). His life is such a flip flop….sometimes I feel like I’m at my wits end. This medication actually sedated him. He literally slept for 11 days straight…and in the few hours he did make it up to go to the bathroom and eat, he was in fits of rage. I was actually worried about him taking his own life. I’m still worried about it. I don’t want to leave him alone at times because I fear coming home and finding him dead. So now, I’m the overcontrolling, smothering wife. I hate that he just doesn’t understand that I worry about it. I hate this disease and wish it would go away. I never know what’s going to happen in our lives….when he going to quit yet another job and put us in debt….when he’s going to take off and no one knows where he is, etc etc. Life is hell living with someone like this….but I truly love my husband and I’ll be damned if this disease is going to take away the last 10 years of my life. So I just keep fighting forward and updating myself on dos and don’ts of this horrible thing.

    Thank you very much for all your Email, I look forward to reading it everyday and have learned a lot. God will truly bless you! 🙂

  31. I am a bipolar supporter. Though at this time a very poor one. My son, diagnosed 7 years ago, has gone through the wild and then terribly dark stages of the illness. Now 26, and for the last year, he quit seeing his psy and taking his meds. This was revealed to me 6 months ago when he asked to move back in with us, clearly already unstable , showing poor judgment along with lack of insight.
    Since then, here’s what the lack of treatment has done: he now stays at the very far end of the house, has gradually cut himself off from us, avoiding all contact – to the point of gluing his door lock shut to prevent intrusion and using the window to go in and out. Most likely does not have a job anymore, given his lack of grooming. Most likely uses his credit card(s) to feed himself, fill his car tank, etc. Demonstrates poor control of his moods (judging by the holes in his walls, the stuff thrown around when he perceives any “intrusion” from us). He is getting sicker and sicker, yet we are unable to help him at this point, paralyzed by the fear that any action on our part will trigger some violent reaction.
    This is sad and scary for me, to live this way in my own home. His illness is controlling our lives, we can only wait for this wild ride to end , then hopefully help and treatment will be possible.

  32. First, thank you for your daily Emails David.

    Second, let me say that i am not on meds currently and not in an episode. I was on meds last year and decided to go off of them because of side effects. Ive tried most all the meds there are. I am unusually sensitive to medications…..i dont know if its from the street drugs i started on at 12 or what….i have been clean and sober since 1982. I was not officailly diagnosed until 2003. Depression runs in my family-way back. So here it is…..I have side effects that are not listed in the info that is handed out with the meds….that is because so few people had these side effects in the drug trials that they didnt list them as they were deemed insignifcant. I am in the process of looking for another DR-as i have been through several Dr’s and therapists…..mainly because it didnt seem like they cared about ME or what i said and had no answers for my questions. Doing what they were paid to do but not really caring about the patient. My major episodes come around every 3-4 years. My job demands clarity in thinking and the drugs i have tried ALL make me forget things –things i do every day, business phone numbers, contacts names—my field is accounting and my mind must be clear…..and not slowed down. So then u might think when i have my episodes things COULD get really bad-and thats true…..but it hasnt happened in the last 14 years at the same job (yet). Im not in denial -i understand i dont get a choice when i have episodes or how bad they will be. Im 49. So meds versus side effects……..I just hope i hear back from this DR i need to get in to see-he comes highly recommended….ANY FEEDBACK ON THE MEDS IS WELCOME…..and i do know the other option about checking out. Thanks, Kerry

  33. First to Mary who lives in AZ – there may be a way to transfer his parole to AZ and to get him into Magellan – the care system for Severely Mentally Ill Adults. They pay for meds, therapy AND most of their doctors are fantastic. He would be given a case worker to help and offered chances to continue his education, get work training and wonderful support! I am unsure what county you live in but, contact me at I currently live in India with my husband but my doctor is willing to even prescribe my medications for me while I am over seas. We have a contract worked out that I will contact a doctor here if I have problems. AZ also has state health insurance called AHCCCS. They are great. I have epilepsy also and they have no problem with sending me to a specialist. Please email me and I will gladly give you further information and support. I live in the Phoenix area.

    Now as for meds having side effects ANY medication for ANY condition has side effects. My daddy had very high blood pressure and was on a special diet and medication. He also had heart problems that he was on meds for. They would leave him depressed and grumpy. They would make him dizzy and light headed. But because of those medications we were blessed with 4 more years of time with my father. That is priceless. No matter how bad he felt, he always put a smile on when me or my siblings would come visit – which we all did as often as possible. We miss him so much but you can’t replace those 4 years we were given.

    And why is it with mental illness that people won’t take the meds because of side effects? It was a physical health condition people would just deal. When I was first diagnosed 11 year ago I was told that taking my medication is just the same as a person who is diabetic. They depend on Insulin to survive. My meds for bipolar are the same. It took 8 years and LOTS of different meds and combinations of meds to find what is working. They have worked for 2 years and I am doing SO well! I’m happily married, we are planning a family and for the future. I couldn’t do that without my cocktail as I call it.

    Dave, thank you so much. I don’t have a lot of support here and this helps me a lot. My husband tries, but he is clueless. I am the first person with a mental illness of any kind he has ever been around. This is so wonderful and supportive for me. I forward your emails to my mom in the States. She wants to learn as much as possible to help me, too.

  34. Hi Dave,

    Something that might help you write faster is software called Dragon Naturally Speaking. You speak into a microphone and the words get typed for you. Instead of typing the average of 40 words per minute, you can now have it typed for you at speeds up to 120 words per minute. I just bought the software on sale from CompUSA for half price.


  35. Hi,
    I have been diagnosed with BP a year ago. I only take one BP med and a depression and sleep med, but have just recently been diagnosed with a heart problem because of the side effects of the BP med. I’m really sensative to meds. Some of the BP meds that I tried earlier made my mania much worse.

    Now, because of the heart problem my mental health provider has taken me off my BP med. I DIDN’t take myself off – in fact I’m working hard right now to get in to see a Dr. so that I can get heart meds so that I can get back on some different BP med. Yikes! Wish me luck everybody!!

  36. It is important, I think, that there are two perspectives here. Of course 99.9% p0f Supporters will say “medication is better than suicide” but there will be a much lower, and fickle percentage of patients for whom suicide will be preferable. Indeed, it is for many (most?) with the illness at one stage or other.

    This is important for Supporters to realise because all those “logical” arguments they may use to their loved one …” medicine is better than death”, “you have responsibilities to your family and friends” etc. won’t work when the patient is in real pain. In my view the supporter needs to recognise this limit because the only way to deal with it is not applying logical arguments but call in the medical professionals to take the patient into care until the danger has passed.

  37. Dear David,

    This is not a hate letter. I appreciate your knowledge and good intentions. I agree that it is very important for people with bipolar disorder to take our medications as prescribed and communicate openly with our psychiatrist, get therapy and be patient. It can take years to find the right combination of drugs to be healthy. It is worth waiting for.

    I hate to be discouraging, but once you find the medications that work in time they may quit working and you have to tweak the dosage and experiment again to find something else that works. This is really hard. When your aren’t feeling well and are struggling with the lows and consequences of your illness, it is very hard to think that it might take years to find good health. Also it’s very hard to figure out how to be able to continue paying for the very expensive medications, or to get by financially at times when you can’t work or lose your job, because of your illness.

    Despite all of your research, since you do not suffer from this disorder you cannot understand what it is like. Also, people have many different types of experiences with the disorder. One person’s experience can be very different from another’s.

    When I read what you had to say about side affects, what popped into my head was that there are many things far worse than death. I’m not advocating suicide. It’s just my explanation that the anguish caused by this illness can make death seem to be the friend, not the enemy. We must remind ourselves and our bipolar friends that even when it feels hopeless there is still hope. We cannot trust our feelings. Also, we must realize how much suicide hurts those we love. Joining a support group with other people who have mental illness can be very helpful.

    Well, maybe that was sort of rambling. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think you understand how hard it can be to live with some of the side affects of medication and that some of the side affects cause death too. I felt like you were being a little too flippant about it. A good friend who is a nurse recently pointed out to me, however, that the bad side affects listed for any medication may have only happened to one person or just a few people. The potential benefits of medication outway any potential bad side affects.

    Mental health is making great strides. Already some illnesses such as bipolar disorder can be diagnosed with SPECT scans. My psychiatrist believes that in a few years we will have difinative tests to diagnose and be able to choose the exact medication people need to cure their mental illness. That day cannot come sooon enough. Meanwhile we must hold on tightly to hope.


    Brenda Sowers

  38. Hi dave,
    thank-you for your newsletter, it’s been a help in reinforcing what I face daily dealing with bipolar disease in both my husband and my 22 yr. old daughter. Husband is on medication that is fairly closely monitored by his psychiatrist and adjusted to his needs. Daughter is another matter. You can’t tell, suggest ect. but both husband and I can see she has the problem. If she goes on a medication to help her, she is not compliant in taking it. We never know sometimes who is coming in the door, somebody very irritable, verbally abusive or someone calm and happy.
    Keep up the good work and God Bless you!

  39. Thanks, again, Dave for a compelling email on the side effects of bipolar meds. Yes, they sure can be a “deal killler” as far as staying on a medication. But as many have said here, stick with it. Don’t ignore a side effect or let your doc ignore it either. Be that squeaky wheel (in a nice way).

    Theresa brings up a good point: Why are the authorities not allowed to force meds on someone if they don’t want them. All the legal reasons aside, the main reason is consumers and consumer PACs have convinced our legal system it is a violation of a basic human right. The courts have upheld that position. And so, we have laws like HIPPA which allow a person to be as mentally ill as they choose to be without recourse, unless they are a danger to themselves or to someone else. That last part–the danger part–is often hard to prove. Consequently, a person with bipolar often can hold it together for the 72 hr. involuntary commitment to a hospital to convince the authorities they are not that sick. Of course, this only makes the situation worse when the ill person gets released from the hospital. They often blame the very people who wanted to help them.

    From long-standing experience, both as a parent to bipolar victims and a professional in the field, all I can advise is hang in there as long as you can! Do as much as you can! Be there for them as much as possible. Just do remember, you do not have to get sick or die for someone else. Love them from a distance if that is what you need to do. Blessings to you all!

  40. Hi! I know you’re right about what happens if a person doesn’t take medications but, for me, taking lithium is the end of the world, it turns me into a machine like thing that can barely function, I can’t read, concentrate, loss my ability to write, can’t cook, I stare at the wall all day, I can’t watch TV, it’s horrible, and the doctor says I should take it, so I leave the treatment. I’m doing fine, I had a depressive crisis a few weeks ago but I’m fine again, and when I know I am manic I use the energy to get things done. I’m doing fine, ok, I know I should be taking meds but I feel better if not. But that’s me.

  41. When diagnosed as manic depressive in 1977, they put me on Lithium. As I didn’t LIKE the side effects or going to the Health Department to get my levels checked, I stopped. As a result, I went into a year-long clinical depression, that was taken care of by the local Community Mental Health Department, where I was put BACK on Lithium and given an antidepressant, which started working in about a month.

    Unfortunately, for the 20-odd some years I was on Lithium, I developed neuropathy in both legs; this is VERY uncomfortable and, while not painful, is “creepy;” my legs feel like they’re not a part of me, and feel as if they are “asleep” most of the time. My neurologist took me off the Lithium, and my psychiatrist replaced it with Depakote. However – the damage is done. I will NEVER have my “old” legs back, which is, in itself, disconcerting. So, yes, sometimes the meds themselves can cause serious side effects we’d rather NOT live with.

    With the Depakote, PaxilCR, Valium, and Zyprexa, I am fully functional, and like Bob says, “happy.” Or as happy as one can be with bipolar. For the most part, I enjoy my life – as long as I take my medications RELIGIOUSLY, and don’t skip a dose. I would be afraid, be VERY afraid, of ever going OFF my meds. Though I’ve never been suicidal, the quote from Shakespeare that Graham included in his post, comes close to what I believe a person who is suicidal feels. I personally DON’T think it’s worth it to go off your meds; as bad as the side effects are, there are other things that could be worse.

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good.

  42. Nice writing, Brenda. It’s worth noting that some with BP may even believe their demise will not only relieve their own suffering but those of their supporters, too. Indeed, when I read of the terrible time some supporters are having with their loved ones, such a negative conclusion isn’t hard to envisage. Otherwise, there is no downside for the person who checks ut because – well, they won’t know what life they might have missed becvause they won’t be there!
    However, the sad thing is that, when someone takes their life, their progeny immediately become something like 50x more likely to follow their example if/when they become unwell with a depression.

  43. OH Cripe; Any medication is better then nothing. It is, after all, a trial and error situation. Even after taking one drug for a while, your body may need something different……Everyone is unique. The people suffering this baffling condition are not to blame…..and they want it to go away more then their support does, for crying out loud.
    I”ve sent for the natural alternatives to research and hopefully the person I know, will try. Like you said ” what’s the alternative?” If it helps it’s a good thing, if not, then you try something else. Giving up is not an option.

    About you and the pharmacuetical companies; it doesn’t deserve a comment.


  44. Hi Dave,

    First of all, you are awesome!

    I’m a bipolar supporter and even though my 31 year old daughter has side affects from the meds, life for all of us is so much better. I’m no longer laying awake at night afraid I will get a phone call with what ever situation she has gotten into. It is actually a miracle she is still alive.

    Your daily emails help keep me on track and realize I’m not alone.

    Keep up the GREAT work!

  45. Bipolar can lead to suicide. But with a doctor that sees you when you say something is wrong, The side effects are easier to deal with. I go to a mental health clinic. When I call, my doctor always makes time for me.If your doctor is too busy to see you, get another. The right doctor is a big secret of bipolar treatment. We all know when things are just not right. Tell someone. Go to the doctor. Get some help, even if you have to go to the hospital. Bipolar is not something to “wait and see what happens”. New medicine is scary. Someone needs to be around you that can make good judgement about the side effects. Bipolar is not an “alone” thing. When people try to get thru this is when they run into trouble. You can be a survivor of bipolar disease if you do not hide it.

  46. I have struggled with bipolar since I was a teen. After my break up with my husband, I struggled with that and holding down two jobs to support my children. Every day I struggled, I wanted to kill myself. I really did, I would just say, I wonder if that would work. But because of my children, I wouldn’t dare, and so I found ways to work through the depression. And now I am here. Thank God. I am on med, for nine years, the right meds. finding the right ones that worked for me was very difficult, but it was worth all the trouble. With a balanced diet, proper sleep (very important) and my meds and learning how to live with certain stresses I live an almost normal life. I take seroquel and selexa, and honestly, the worst that could happen, from what I’ve been told by my doctor is that my pancreas could get messed up. Well, I would rather have diabetes than go through the torture of depression and mood swings. I am a rapid cycler, (and I mean I change moods about every thirty minutes, insane itsn’t it )and when I don’t take my meds, I can’t stand to be around myself. It’s all about what you’re willing to give up to live. I would take diabetes over death any day of the week. We all have to put up with something just to live our life, so side effects don’t seem like such a big deal when compared to what bipolar could do to you without the meds.

  47. Dave,

    With regard to Alternative Medicines and definition, I would be more comfortable if these were referred to as COMPLIMENTARY medicines, not Alternative, since “alternative” suggests these are replacements for conventional prescription drug treatment for BP … that is, unless you feel you have genuine substitutes for the prescription medication?

  48. hey lisa i am 44 years old and suffer from bi polar as well i take my meds every day and have been on some real wild stuff in the past year but i think between the doc and i we have finally figuered out something that is working for me but most of this stuff takes at least a month to get into your system and yes i was tired had dry mouth and all the rest of the crap that goes along with it but i just stuck with it and i am slowley everyday feeling a little better oh the doc put me off my job for three weeks as he knew what the side effects would be and now i am back to work fourty hrs a week raising my daughter who is five and taking care of my elderly inlaws and am actually coping with it all its all about schudle and patiance so keep going girl see your doc take your meds and i think u will get there it all takes time i wish u all the best take care and i am sending u a hug cause i know exactly what u are going through i am not a son or a daughter of someone who has bi polar i am a bi polar survivor and so are you

  49. I can’t take much more of my hubby’s bipolar disease.
    He sold my car in February and now that I am not going out on the road with
    him. He has decided I need to pay for the truck loan which is a lease and it
    is locked in for 3 years. With that and the insurance it is a $1,000. a
    month. The fuel is $400 a month and I only make about $1600.
    Plus he makes me pay for my own food. He has taken me off all of the
    accounts. I have no idea what he is up to.
    He also likes to phone me and tells me to go and get a quote on a gas
    fireplace to install in our basement suite which we live in. So I do it and
    then he accuses me of not listening to him and that he didn’t want me to do
    it. Then he calls me back just a short while later and tells me to get a
    loan so I can have a gas fireplace since I like to spend money.
    He is the one who spends money like it is water. I try to get our bills all
    paid and I get so close to it and then he goes on a spending spree but don’t
    you know it is because of me he had to spend this. When I am the one who is
    saying we don’t need it.
    I am trying to save money for a 12 day cruise (which he refuses to go on
    with me) around HI in April of next year for my 50th birthday. But the way
    things are going he is going to make sure I am not able to go. He had
    originally said if I saved the money for the down payment of the cruise he
    would pay for it. Well when I did he then turned to me and said “How are you
    going to get the rest of it?”
    That is why I am home now not on the road with him. He also didn’t figure I
    would get a job too. But I did so now I am paying for it now with him
    blaming for all of the bills.
    About a month ago he went out and bought a semi trailer without even talking
    to me, now we are paying over $800 a month for it. I get the credit cards
    paid and then he goes out and spends again. Why am I being blamed all the
    I am going to try and get my money back for the down payment on my cruise
    and pay some of the credit cards off. Then I am going to figure out all of
    the bills he has racked up in my name and get them paid off. So then he can
    deal with his bills because right now I am so tired I am so can’t handle
    much more.
    I know I married him in sickness and in health but how much do I have to
    deal with?
    Well now that I have unloaded I am going to go and try to sleep as I know he
    is going to keep calling and calling to just throw more at me

  50. hello David

    my wife is living with bi-polar and right now she is living with another man who is a pedophile and a wife hitter and she left me because his (the pedophiles) wife called her (my wife)parents and told them what has happened so thay won`t let her see her son, was seeing him( the pedophile) and having sex with him behind my back and this is the third time that she has done this to me with this gentlemen, i can`t get her to listen to me that she needs help (our daughter just died weeks ago) and so i know her bi-polar is kicking in and making her run away cause she tells me that her other personality hates me a lot and she can`t keep it away so all i can do is try and pray and keep her in my heart and pray that soon she come`s home

  51. Hi,
    Firstly let me say that My background is in psych and holistic medicine, next, let me say that I have been involved in a two year relationship with a bp person, who I care very deeply about. The lithium that he was on made him half the person I know he can be. He is brilliant. He came off his meds about 4 months ago and has slowley slipped into being a person I dont know. We have very recently seperated due to his emotional abuse of me. He has turned into a monster from hell!!! I would far rather live with him and the side effects of the meds then have watched him turn on me like he did! I have studied pb in text, but living it and seeing it are a whole different reality. He is also a alchoholic and dope smoker, not sure if there is a connection here, but with the meds he was a happy drunk without them a very nasty one. I am totally heartbroken and confused

  52. I wonder what has happened to Tried It All? I know you are mad at me but please leave a message here or send me an email to let me know you are still alive, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  53. joanne,

    If he smokes dope and drinks too much, that will most probably screw up the effects of the prescription medicine anyway. If he won’t get off the dope and booze, and if he won’t take his meds, there’s not a lot you can do for him. But there’s something you can do for yourself – move on with your life. You can be there for him at the end of the phone, even meet up – for a coffee, not booze – in a bar. But while he is incapable of, or unwilling to, help himself you won’t be able to do anything …. unless something happens that motivates him to help someone or something he loves, like someone who needs him for their survival.

    Meanwhile, some practical advice …

    When he’s nasty that’s usually when he is hypomanic and feeling frustrated. He may be feeling frustrated because there are things, or people, getting in the way, stopping him do the things he wants to do. Whether that’s you in the way or someone/something else, he’s going to be Mr Angry and ultra sensitive to anything you do or say. So, you get the brunt of his ire because you are there! It may seem like it’s personal but it isn’t really – he just feels desperate to let off steam and, as usual, loved ones are easy targets not just because they are there but because they usually forgive!

    Sometimes you can still get through the madness of the hypomania and appeal to some measure of reason … if he’s usually a reasonable person anyway. So, you can try saying, “Hey, I know you’re frustrated about XYZ but there’s no need to take it out on me!”

    Alternatively, if you can find out what it is he wants to do, and help facilitate that, he’s likely to be more reasonable. If none of this works, just keep out of the way – go out for a few hours or a day on your own, giving him time to cool off or even sleep it off. (When I’m in such a state, I try to get everyone to go out for the day and I try to sleep by sitting down and listening to music. When I wake up I’m usually calmer, more relaxed and positive.)

    But think on the first paragraph … realistically, can you really help him while he is in such a self-destructive state? If no, then why stay? You are not ill (I presume) and there is no reason for you to allow his doomed life to dominate yours. But you love him? No excuse! You are no less important than him. You are no less deserving of love, of YOUR love. You must love yourself at least as much as you love him! Then show yourself that love – by making sure you have a life worth living, more worth surviving than his in its present state. Live a good life, a life worth your own and maybe to make up for his lost life! Live well! Just do it.

  54. I found this thought of Master Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov very assertive, and would like to share it with you, if the manager of the group allows it.

    “Because humans do not know how to protect themselves, they allow
    all sorts of physical and psychic disorders to take hold of
    them. And the doctors who treat them, and who know no more about
    this area than they do, are content just to give medication. They
    never say to their patients, ‘Close your door to dark entities,
    and live a purer life, so that you attract only heavenly
    You will say, ‘Entities? But what does that have to do with
    illness?’ Have you read the Gospels? After Jesus had cured a
    sick man, he said to him, ‘Go, and do not sin any more’, because
    faults and transgressions attract evil spirits by acting as bait
    and food for them. Once these spirits have entered a person,
    they cause a lot of damage, which leads to all sorts of physical
    and psychic disturbances. This is the reality doctors ought to

    Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

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