How I Know I Have to Take Medication for My Bipolar Disorder

How I Know I Have to Take Medication for My Bipolar Disorder

I know I need to take medication for my bipolar disorder. I know that going without medication isn’t an option for me. I know that I am far too sick for non-medication options to make even a dent in my illness. These things are clear to me. This is how I know I have to take medication for my bipolar disorder.

Non-Medication Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

I have tried many non-medication treatments for bipolar disorder including, but not limited to, omega-3s, n-acetylcysteine, light therapy, lifestyle changes and lots of psychotherapies. I am not against any of these treatments. Some of them can work for some people. They are most likely to work as an enhancement to medication treatment, however, and likely will not stand as an effective treatment on their own.

And believe me, every time I tried one of these non-medication methods I prayed for it to work. I prayed for anything to work. But not a one even created a chink in the armor of my bipolar disorder. (That said, psychotherapy did offer tools to help deal with my bipolar disorder and that, certainly, is valuable.)

How I Know I Have to Take Medication for My Bipolar Disorder

I know I have to take bipolar disorder medication. I know non-medication treatments aren't for me. Learn about how I know I have to take bipolar medication.One day, after going through years of mostly-unsuccessful medication treatment, I said to my doctor, “Do you think I’m overmedicated? Do you think I should just taper off and try without medication for a while?”

My doctor looked at me and said, “Well, getting off of medication will make the side effects go away, but it’s not going to make you any less depressed.”

That was when the penny dropped for me. She was right. Getting off of medication doesn’t help bipolar disorder in the least. It will get rid of side effects, which is a great thing, to be sure, but it won’t treat the underlying depression (my primary issue). The only thing that will happen is the bipolar disorder is likely to get worse.

(Additional to that, I have gone through a medication-free period since diagnosis and, to say the least, it didn’t go well.)

How You Know If You Have to Take Medication for Your Bipolar Disorder

So, it’s like this: if I was on a really, really stable treatment that included some non-medication components, I might be tempted to taper off the medication components to see if I truly needed them. That would be tempting for many, I’m sure. So if you’re in the lucky group of people that is stable on a regimen that includes non-medication components, you could, theoretically, very slowly, under your doctor’s supervision, try to remove the medication components and see if you would still be stable. (I’m of the opinion that you likely wouldn’t be, but you never know. For many people, it’s simply not worth the risk to try. Stability is very hard to get back once you lose it.)

Why I Need to Take Medication for My Bipolar Disorder

However, I have never been one of the lucky people in this position.

The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that has ever righted a mood episode was medication. After 19 years in the business, this I know to be true.

So even though the siren song of going medication-free still calls to me (I suspect it calls to everyone), I know I have to take medication for my bipolar disorder. I know that not taking medication is simply not an option for me. It sucks and it’s unfair, but it’s the truth.

Image by Ben Harvey.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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