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Can I get better without medication?

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Can I get better without medication?

Postby AliceAristocrat » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:23 pm

Hi,
I just recently got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I think. I'm not sure, it's all really confusing right now but she said I had "symptoms of bipolar disorder") and we were talking about medication and how it'll take a while for them to work and I said I was fine with taking medication but now I don't think I want to. I don't think my symptoms are that severe and I really don't want to take medication for the rest of my life. So I've been trying to read up on it and I haven't been able to find an answer. Is it possible to cope with Bipolar disorder without medication? I really just want to talk to a psychologist on a regular basis and not have to rely on medication to cope with this.
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby Lexicon_Devil » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:11 am

Hi there. Well, I don't think anyone actually wants to take meds for the rest of their life... The reality is just that for many, it's the only way to have much of a life worth living for very long in the first place. I feel like I fought the idea of meds forever, and I still have a hard time accepting it, but in the end, I know I'm about a thousand times worse off without them.

If you think you're managing alright without meds, or want to try med-free approaches first, by all means, do so. I think almost everyone does at first, and if you can get away with it, you should at least try. Maybe your particular variety can be worked around without them, using super healthy living, structure, regular sleep, and exercise; it happens, especially with milder cases. But it's also worth keeping in mind that the longer effective treatment is put off, the harder it is to get things under control, so make sure you're being completely honest about what's working and what's not while exploring alternative approaches. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope your alternative attempts, if you make them, turn out better than mine.

Also, not to bear all the bad news, but while therapy may be helpful to many, it's usually not an effective treatment for bipolarity. It may help with insight, and it's certainly useful to have someone to report back to and work with on damage control and in other areas of your life... But it can't stop the swings. :/
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby Otter » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:16 am

Since the severity of any mental illness varies with each person it certainly is possible to cope without taking medication. That said, one thing that occurs when one is faced with their first diagnose of a mental illness is denial and an unwillingness to take medication; there is a whole forum here dedicated to anti-psychiatry and people who are against medication.

Although I was aware of my problem, at first I didn't like the idea of taking meds. For years I went on and off medication, which means I was having episodes without meds, taking meds, feeling good, coming off meds and having episodes again. This is a common cycle for people I have known with BP. I was off meds for a long time but I was also binge drinking (self medicating).

If you can find a method to cope with your symptoms and not take meds, then there you are. The truth will out. If you cannot cope without meds then your symptoms will dominate and if they are severe they will get you to meds eventually.

Maybe someone here copes without meds. I would like to hear what they have to say, and how they do it.

I am on meds as long as I need to be. There are some side effects but the overall it is most welcome. I am a very creative person and it does not inhibit my ability to create. Other aspects of my life are much better with meds.

But that's me. Maybe others will chime in. Good luck with your future.

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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby Exiled. » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:26 am

It really depends on severity and presentation of symptoms. It's perfectly fine to attempt to control it through alternative methods with professional guidance but statistically speaking, meds do help.
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby CrackedGirl » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:04 am

Hi

I also think it depends. Some ppl do well off meds but a lot find they need them. I always think I would rather be stable on meds than not stable off them - but that is just my view. If you are going to try without meds I think it is important you come up with some strategies to make sure this technique is working and that you are not deteriorating. I hope things go well for you

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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby ausgal » Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:04 pm

My family are very anti-medication. My father has bipolar too & he's never been on meds except while in hospital. He relapsed majorly a few times but has been stable these last few years. I would love to be med free but I've been off them in the past with disastrous results. Hope you figure out a routine that works for you!
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby Vespera » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:54 pm

AliceAristocrat wrote:Hi,
I just recently got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I think. I'm not sure, it's all really confusing right now but she said I had "symptoms of bipolar disorder") and we were talking about medication and how it'll take a while for them to work and I said I was fine with taking medication but now I don't think I want to. I don't think my symptoms are that severe and I really don't want to take medication for the rest of my life. So I've been trying to read up on it and I haven't been able to find an answer. Is it possible to cope with Bipolar disorder without medication? I really just want to talk to a psychologist on a regular basis and not have to rely on medication to cope with this.


I dont think Bipolar gets any better with time, infact, it gets worse over time if left untreated, according to my PDoc, people that left untreated, often loose total control, and lose touch with reality at times... I know that no one wants to take meds, I know I dont.. But thats the only option I have if I want to be some what functional in life
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby BrainStorm » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:22 am

Howdy AliceAristocrat,

Welcome to the forum. I hope you find a lot of helpful information here...I have, and a lot of support.
I wanted to chime in because I have been without medications since 2010, managing with a very strict lifestyle. (Thought it was 2011, and wrote that around here somewhere, but checked my journals, I went off meds August/September 2010.) i went off medication because I was feeling good, typical bipolar story. I wanted to see if I could "do it on my own" and the answer is, I can survive but I cannot thrive. It's been...challenging. I spoke with my fiancé about his feelings regarding how I've done without medication, and he is in agreement with me. My lows are more intense, and my highs have gradually gotten more intense to the point of being frightening. My illness has very slowly and gradually worsened over the past three years. This intensification of the illness may or may not have happened regardless of being on medication or not (I was diagnosed at 19, am 24 now. It is not uncommon for this age range to see changes in their illness), but it's effect on me was certainly more severe because I didn't have medication to soften the blow.

Slowly, my quality and quantity of work has diminished, and my intense episodes have become more dangerous (example: never totally lost touch with reality until a manic episode this year). That being said, from what I have read here and elsewhere about bipolar, my episodes are no more frequent than other folks with bipolar. It's just really hard to get back on my feet when I do have them, and they last for a long time, sometimes two months or greater. The past 6 months have been extra hard due to major life changes and stressors, but before that, I did pretty well except had persistent dysthymia through winters. I gradually began to use more and more marijuana to cope with the anxiety and sleepless mania...which did make me feel better, but it's hella expensive and you can't reliably get the same dosage of the same type they way you can with meds. So, probably didn't lend to stability, just to coping with symptoms.

I have decided to go back to medication...though as minimal as possible- I would like to see what just a mood stabilizer and perhaps something to help with my sleep would do for me, in the past i was on major cocktails of 6-10 meds. I hated it. I think too many gives me an extremely dulled effect and major side effects. I still want to feel like myself, just safe from my scary extremes! I can handle being a moody broody person, but I cannot handle being a delusional, suicidal danger to myself.

I also have a different attitude about medications than I did three years ago when I left psychiatric treatment. In the past, I expected the pills to make me feel better. I expected them to do the work.
Now, after living with this illness and managing it through lifestyle enough to function, I see that stability is something you have to maintain through awareness and effort. I know medication would protect me from terrible episodes like my most recent one AND improve my life by helping me return to work...but I also know that I will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order for me to achieve my goals and feel steady. I don't want to feel okay, I want to feel awesome. I don't want to feel numb and over medicated. I want to feel the regular ups and downs of life, a full spectrum of emotion, but I don't want to battle my mind to survive.

So, I am returning to meds this fall...waiting for a call back from a Pdoc who is accepting new patients! Hallelujah! I've never been so stoked to follow the typical bipolar treatment routine in my life. That being said, I am glad I took this time to see what the power of my own actions and routines can do for my stability (a therapist is helpful too, that's the only thing I actually regret- I didn't keep in touch with my therapist). I had a good run, and now I know that the combination of my "wellness skills" and right combo of medications will set me up for whatever kind of life I would like to lead. :)

Sorry this is so long, just wanted to give you my story and thoughts while you think about what lays ahead.

Peace,
Brain
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(with mixed states, psychotic features, and assorted yuck)
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby Vespera » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:47 am

BrainStorm wrote:I also have a different attitude about medications than I did three years ago when I left psychiatric treatment. In the past, I expected the pills to make me feel better. I expected them to do the work.
Now, after living with this illness and managing it through lifestyle enough to function, I see that stability is something you have to maintain through awareness and effort. I know medication would protect me from terrible episodes like my most recent one AND improve my life by helping me return to work...but I also know that I will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order for me to achieve my goals and feel steady. I don't want to feel okay, I want to feel awesome. I don't want to feel numb and over medicated. I want to feel the regular ups and downs of life, a full spectrum of emotion, but I don't want to battle my mind to survive.



That is really good advice, and you are right about how its up to the individual to maintain stability through life style, its something that they teach us in the out patient program that im attending. Unfortunately for me, my life style is a total havoc, which makes my Bipolar even worst, but hopefully, in a few months, things will settle down, soon as I find a place to live and move..
Im glad to hear that you found treatment and getting back on meds :D I know you had some financial issues
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Re: Can I get better without medication?

Postby pudetat » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:45 am

quite a while ago, fitness guru Jack Lellain(spelling) independantly discovered a method of living with bipolar disorder without meds. at the time, very few medication options were available. even fewer of them actually did any good. when people here mention that you can in fact achieve stability or a degree of it by a strict clean lifestyle, the kind mentioned by others above, they are talking about near Jack Lellainish attention to EVERYTHING you take into your body and ALL you do with it. . . . for the rest of your life. i myself practice much of this, am currantly off meds and i like to think that i'm stable. (i am aware that i may just be kidding myself.)

"can i get better without medication?" yes. are you prepared to do whatever it takes? there will be people, places, and things you will have to go without. there will be people, places, and things that you will have to bring into your life. for the rest of your life.
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