For some of us, this is a question that our families or loved ones ask us. For some, like me, it’s a question we ask ourselves. We’re taking our pills. We’re sleeping eight hours every night. We aren’t doing drugs or drinking. So why the hell can’t we just get stable?
When I published my book, one of the people who read it told me that it felt very strict, particularly in the guidelines about not drinking. Personally I haven’t had a drop for over a year now. I haven’t used any illicit drugs for many years. I religiously take my pills (since diagnosis in 2011 I forgot my pills only once) and no matter what, sleep eight-nine hours. Every. Single. Night. Yet I am still rapid cycling and finding it hard to keep appointments, because while on Tuesday I felt great making an appointment for Friday, on Thursday evening I turned into a plant and stayed in this state until Saturday, when I jumped out of bed energised by the thought of buying a new Macbook Air. (I can’t afford a Macbook Air.)
Yahoo! Health published an article entitled “What People Get Wrong About Bipolar Disorder”. Unfortunately, the article gets quite a few things wrong. The damage is done – Yahoo! Health has a much, much bigger audience than my little blog – but I’ll try to explain the inaccuracies anyway.
It’s strange to see Amelia Davis, MD, the medical director at Rosewood Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona, get things wrong. But then, during my hospital stint I met a psychiatric nurse, a man around 60 who looked like he’s been working there for a while, who explained to me that “sometimes he gets depressed too, but then he just pulls himself up by the bootstraps and all is well again”. You’d think he’d know what depression is. You’d be wrong. Also, I have a strong suspicion that it’s mostly not Dr Davis that gets things wrong, but the journalist.
Now, without further ado, let’s look at the article.
One of the readers of “Bipolar For Beginners” has been chatting with me online the other day, then she mentioned she was having a glass of whisky as we spoke.
My automatic reaction was “don’t do it!”. Alcohol stops correct processing of medication by the brain, and in conjunction with Depakote/Depakine it wrecks your liver real bad. Unfortunately, alcohol is also something people enjoy. In fact, even while I was on Depakote, my doctor told me it would be fine for me to have one beer per day. It’s just that at the time I weighed over 100 kg, and so one beer was hardly going to make a noticeable effect, so once I finished my pint all I wanted was another one.
Another piece of advice which is easy to dispense but not so much to follow: “Avoid stress”. We can do certain things to limit the amount of stress. We can look for a less stressful job, avoid watching or reading things that we find triggered. But let’s say your brother contracts a deadly illness. How exactly are you going to avoid stressing over it? Or – an example from real life – your parents constantly smoke weed, and you live with them. Your friends smoke too. How easy is it going to be for you to avoid using yourself?