Bipolar & Living without meds,
Is it worth it?
I’ve been trying to write about how this episode of being manic is affecting me in the hope that other ppl who are thinking of “going it” without the help of meds to control this illness can judge for themselves whether or not it’s really worth it.
Many ppl will\would advocate being on meds, and I would\am not advise anyone not take medication Some of ye are aware I have decided (against all advice from professionals , family & friends ), not to go that route at the min. This post is not looking for advice on that score.
What it is though is an attempt on my part to show others by sharing my experience what can\could happen if they decide to take this same road.
(This post is and has been written during an episode of mania, hence it may be difficult to follow, as my concentration isn't the best) .
In an effort to try and keep to the point I have used a portion of the article www.nami.org. I believe it best describes most of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing.
Mania is the word that describes the activated phase of bipolar disorder. The symptoms of mania may include:
- either an elated, happy mood or an irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
- increased physical and mental activity and energy
- racing thoughts and flight of ideas
So many it’s absolutely impossible to concentrate properly on anything. This time round it was almost crippling my communication with ppl. Flights of ideas would be good, only most of them are not realistic. This is where self monitoring is helping\helps. I decided not to act on any of the ideas I had except where they applied in trying keep my outward appearance (what ppl saw) relatively “ normal “.
- increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
This is a big problem, As they say here, “a mile a min!!”, trying to keeping a conversation going is very hard if the other person hasn’t a clue what I’m are on about because I speak so fast! Let alone make sense!! With that comes tripping over words,, they just fail to come out and \or I get tongue tied! The need to keep talking I really only became aware of a cpl of days in to this, after the racing thinking slowed down some.
You know when someone is talking about “whatever” and goes on and on, and you wish they’d just stay quiet for a while or shut up altogether, I’m that person at the min, tho ”biting my tongue” because I know it’s where I’m at, but in my head i’m thinking I could say so much more, I want to say more!, Even here I find that I could elaborate so much more and I have in parts, and come back and taken it out again because it was way too long or the point I wanted to make was already made somewhere else. Trying to keep things in context, to the point while trying not to go off on an completely! diff tangent is very very difficult.
- ambitious, often grandiose plans
not so much, Yet! .. and hopefully won’t get any during this episode. Although maybe attempting this post is being a bit ambitious.
- risk taking
- decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue
At times, I’ve been awake throughout the night, not feeling a need to sleep, Sometimes not even realising it, because my mind was still in overdrive and highly alert! but I know it’ll catch up as I return to normalcy and then I’ll be so tired, mentally and physically. Wipe out time!!
Below are a cpl questions I have been asking and answering for myself, to help me decide whether or not going thru this un aided by meds is really worth the effort.
Is this post\thread just another flight of manic productivity?
Probably… but it has and is help\ing me in getting thru this episode, when I was finally able to get my thoughts clear enough to put all this down here, it’s like a window of opportunity to get this done opened up. Right now I wish I had another window to be able to finish this quicker.
Have I found this episode distressing or Frustrating ?
Big time! it is for various reasons.. some mentioned already somewhere on here, others are: my memory is worse than it usually is, it's not the best at the best of times anyway. It takes such a long time to write anything here for instance, because my concentration isn’t fully back to normal. I’m distracted more easily. For a cpl of days during this period I wasn’t able to think “straight” at all, too many thoughts, ideas, diff levels of thinking going on at the same time,
Even the self monitoring was\is frustrating me out to the last at times, I was and still am trying to be careful, so careful that I just give up at times, it’s so hard to figure out what is okay and what isn’t.
For instance :- Today I’m rereading and editing this and I’m still find it hard to concentrate and decide what is relevant here or not, and I’m mentally going off on diff tangents having to work real hard to keep on track. This is frustrating because when I was eventually able to start this, (the window of opportunity) I believed I was over the worst of it. I was wrong! I just came down a level. It’s distressing because I had myself convinced it would only last a short while, a cpl of days , not this long!!
How have I been coping ? ( how am I coping, this period hasn’t ended yet)
(a) I’ve been spending a lot of time here, trying to read and attempting to reply to some threads, mostly didn’t happen but attempting to passed a good amount of time. (b) Being able to vent my frustration at myself or something I was trying to do but couldn’t!, being able to do that helped a lot! A cpl of online friends have been really supportive here. (c) Being aware of what is happening, has allowed me to try and keep my day to day life in some sort of normality. (d) making lists when I could to remind me of things I had\have to get done in order to keep that perception of normality alive. (Takes some doing!) (e) I’ve kept most of what is happening to myself, in my head, trying to appear normal. I found this didn’t work as much as I had hoped it would, One or two ppl who would have more contact with me than others, they were able to tell the difference, especially when I was irritable and impatient, (Patience is one of my stronger points normally. ) So I chose to avoid contact with ppl altogether!! When it was possible. (f) Working at my job, doing something\ anything to keep distracted from all that is going on in my head. There’s little time for all those ideas or whatever to take hold…Going to work, and when\if possible getting stuck in to it ( the job) helps. . Even tho I nearly packed it in at one point because I felt so frustrated with everything!! At another point I believed I knew the job better than anyone and nearly told the boss how to do his job, and how to run his business. Remembering (when i do) that this is an episode, that it will pass !!
Is being aware helpful? there are two ans to this, yes and no. No because being aware and experiencing that awareness has it's own drawbacks. It's not nice watching yourself battle and struggle with everyday things that are usually so easy to do,
Yes at the same time because being aware does help in a lot of things.
This is the first time I have been really aware of the other side of a manic episode, other times, I didn’t notice, because those (that I can remember at this time) would have been the “elated or happy mood times” in hindsight there have been a been quiet a few of those. Times where nothing could upset me, always able to answer anyone without even thinking of what I was going to say and I had so much to say! At times I liken it to being a bit drunk or tipsy.. especially the rapid speech part and wanting, feeling a need, to talk all the time.
Why being aware of what is happening and why it’s happening is helpful ,
I’ve read what I would call tons of info on what could happen when in a manic state, I’ve even used some of that info here to help me in writing this. The information I've read has made me more aware of the pitfalls if you like, So I am more cautious of doing things, (eg: why am i doing this? ) I‘m monitoring what I’m saying in so far as I am able to. Because I’m aware of where I’m at, I’m keeping my actions to a minimum. Erring on the side of caution might be a good way to describe some of my reactions\ actions tho at times this borders on being paranoid about anything I do or anything I say.
If I didn’t know, or wasn’t aware of where I’m at, I would prob have attributed being angry , irritable etc to outside influences, e.g.; I could easily blame other ppl for upsetting me or making me irritable, angry etc. thereby causing problems with the perceived offender. when in actual reality this is simply not the case. I would prob also have believed I was going crazy!. I know I have thought this in the past before I was diagnosed.
So why am I so adamant\stubborn even about not taking meds?
(When I know I could wind up in major trouble, in hospital or worse if my efforts fail. )
This is very very hard to try and put into words, for more reason that one, and I’m not sure I can explain it in such a way that would make proper sense.
1. I need to know for me! if it can be done, unless I experience and be aware of the effects of this illness without meds, I won’t know.
2. I need to try this way first, This is something I feel I have to do. For now
3. The obvious, the side effects both the short term ones and the possible long term ones.
4. I hate taking medication for anything. (not really a valid reason, but one all the same), when i was on the medication, just taking them at the time did my head in.
Depending on who’s reading this , these reasons could seem irrational and maybe they are, but this is my rational and I can’t change it till I know \experience otherwise.
Is this worth it??
I’m still trying to evaluate that. I think It will be if at the end of the day I can come to what I feel is the right decision for me regarding my treatment for this illness.
Writing this out has been very helpful to me for a variety of reasons, I apologise for the length , I have tried shortening it maybe even took out too much . I hope i haven't lost the point that I was trying to make. (see I still need to keep talking. ) . I know I’m still all over the joint a lot of the time. But not as bad as I was initially 10 days ago.
Thanks for the space.
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