Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder where people experience extreme changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These mood swings can be very unpredictable. Some days may be manic, others may be depressive, and some days might have periods of both. Bipolar disorders are diagnosed based on the specific episodes that happen over time. There are many different types and degrees of bipolar disorders. The most common treatment for bipolar disorder is medication. Here are seven reasons I take daily medication to help manage my bipolar disorder every day.
1. I take medication to stabilise my mood
One of the most important reasons I take medication every day is to stabilise my mood. I have times when I am very energetic and productive yet can take risks and make regrettable decisions, but there are days when I can’t get out of bed. If I weren’t taking my medication, these mood swings would be even more severe and unpredictable.
2. I take medication to keep depression from coming back
The most common treatment for bipolar disorder is medication. For me, that means taking my daily medication to help maintain a stable mood and prevent depression from coming back as severely as without medication. If you look at bipolar moods like an up and down rollercoaster ride, the peaks are the manic cycles, and the troughs are the depressive cycles. Medication doesn’t necessarily make depression disappear, but it brings those peaks and troughs closer together and more evened out. Hence, there isn’t such a big swing.
3. I take medication to slow down mania
One of the most common reasons people take medication for bipolar disorder is to slow down mania. Mania is an overly excited or euphoric state that can be dangerous and even lead to psychosis. On a lesser level is hypomania, which I’ve experienced the most. However, before I was diagnosed, I had experienced mania and made some stupid and risky decisions.
When I experience hypomania, it usually lasts for about 2-4 weeks. I have trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, and heightened energy levels. I can be super productive, very creative, have big, excellent ideas and feel like I can conquer the world. I have a harder time controlling my emotions and making rational decisions during this time frame. The medications that I take help slow down mania episodes so that I don’t experience them as often or as intensely.
4. I take medication to work on reducing my symptoms
There are many different types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder. The most common type are mood stabilisers, which help reduce the severity or frequency of manic or depressive episodes. These mood stabilisers can be used alone or combined with other medicines. Currently, I take two different mood stabilisers and an antidepressant. When I first started taking these medications, it was hard to tell that they were working at all. It took me quite some time to figure out which medications worked, which didn’t and what dosage. I experienced many side effects and not-so-nice withdrawal symptoms when I came off the medication. But I persisted over about 3.5 years until I noticed that my symptoms would happen less often and not as severe when I took my medicine daily.
5. I don’t want to have another episode
As much as a hypomanic episode can feel amazing, I know that the drop to depression is inevitable; it’s just a matter of when. You get to a point when you have to decide what you want more – the horrible feeling of being trapped down a deep dark hole or the small window of feeling good followed by the dark hole. It is tough to manage, and I’d have to say, the loneliest and most desperate times of my life. Without medication, there’s a high chance that I would slip back into an episode. I don’t want to live like that anymore.
6. I want to experience happiness
Being manic or depressed are big extremes, and quite frankly, living life through these two polars is exhausting and confusing. I want to be in a stable mood to experience a relatively balanced life. I want to be able to make calculated decisions, to feel without my feelings being clouded and to be able to achieve things without setbacks. When I’m not depressed, my brain is finally working right, which is nice. The downside, though, is that I can feel too tired when I am on medication. The happy days are still worth it, however!
7. I want to be able to function day today
I completely understand that some people wonder if medication is worth it, considering some side effects. I have wondered this myself. My psychiatrist put it to me, “Eva, you can either power through this brain fog, or you can go back to where you started; it’s one or the other.” Of course, I never want to go back. I want to keep my life as it is, and since then, I’ve come up with tools and methods to help me with my brain fog and memory problems. As a copywriter and someone who works with a lot of data, this isn’t ideal, but I can work through it.
If I reflect over the past four and a half years since being diagnosed with Bipolar, there is no way I could function without my medication. I’m an example of how the medication works. Without my medication, my moods would go up and down like crazy, and I wouldn’t be able to regulate them. I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog post. I wouldn’t have my business, I probably wouldn’t have my friendships, and my children wouldn’t have the mother they deserve.
It’s not easy to live with bipolar disorder, and even with medication, it’s a challenge. But it is possible. Although medication does not make Bipolar go away, it lessens the extremes. Bipolar is a chronic mental illness, and medication provides quality of life. This blog is written from my experience with bipolar. I can’t speak for others who have the illness a lot worse than I do. I am fortunate to be one of the 75% of people living with bipolar disorder who can live a fulfilling life despite the condition. And I’ve found that taking medication daily is one of the best things I can do to stay healthy and hopeful.