I’m breaking this particular piece up into 2 separate post but they should all be up today. I know it’s a lot but the struggle to stay properly medicated is one of the most common struggles between people with bi-polar and those who love us.
“Wait, there’s help available and you’re not utilizing it? I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t you use every tool available to get better if you really are sick?” Or, this one is really common – “With all the advances in medicine why would you insist on torturing yourself?” Or my favorite, “Put your pride aside and ask for help.”
While I am bi-polar myself, I do have a bit of a unique perspective because I was also in a relationship with someone who is also bi-polar. While this brought about a whole slew of separate complications that would need its own episode of both Oprah and Dr. Phill to cover adequately, it gave me an insight into loving and taking care of someone who faces this battle. So, with all that said, for the common, new or uneducated observer of someone with bi-polar the resistance to be drug compliant can be described at best as frustrating. So many of the actions and choices that are taken in cases like mine can easily be perceived as defiant, rebellious, and ostentatious. Those around us feel for so long that we decide to do things for the sheer purpose of being difficult. But alass…this is not the entire scope.
There are a couple of different things that influence each person’s personal decision they make for their individual treatment. They can range from educational theories that their past experiences support, religious beliefs and training that dictate acceptable forms of treatment, and for some it is an risk-verse-reward calculation for future life impact.
A little about my story that will allow me to demonstrated a few of these concepts that are found in a large portion of the bi-polar population. In 1998 I started college at The University of Texas, Austin. I moved to Austin fresh out of high school from California , leaving my parents behind. My first semester had its trials but nothing that was noted to be concerned about. Then in the spring of 1999 there became a more noticeable presence of anxiety and depression invading my thoughts. At the time I was also beginning my path through exploring my sexuality and finding my identity so a lot of what I was noticing I justified as growing pains. While I had been diagnosed with learning disorders in high school I had never received any proper treatment until starting at UT, so that brought about one more stressor to place the blame on.
As that second semester was coming to an end I was able to compare where I was with emotional stability to that of my peers and I started to see some inadequacies. Now, just so that I am setting up the back story accurately these periods of depression and anxiety were completely internalized for the most part. I have always been known for my outgoing, energetic and over the top personality. My grandmother used to always say “She’s never met a stranger.” So I can say that these episodes were not having a massive impact on my everyday life. For the time being they were just there. Although, being there was becoming more and more frequent.
After a few months I finally approached my Doctor about the depressive thoughts that were becoming more and more intrusive. I described the lethargy, depressed, and anxious moods and was forthcoming about their frequency and intensity. My words had not fully formed in my mouth, let alone had the time to leave it, before my Doctor was writing my first prescription for an antidepressant.