Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bipolar Myths - What is true?

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As with most anything, the more it comes into the spotlight, the more people try to understand it and at the same time, the more stories and/or misconceptions become ‘fact.’

A recent article spelled out these myths and did it’s best to explain them – from my own point of view I would like to give my own explanation on how they have affected me and my life.

  1. Bipolar disorder means I’m really ‘crazy. From what I have experienced, people basically think that if you have any mental illness at all you are crazy. Bipolar Disorder seems to be the “illness” of the decade, so of course those with it seem ‘crazier’ right now.

  1. Bipolar disorder is a medical disease, just like diabetes. I, myself, am guilty of this one. I use diabetes as a way to explain the need for medication. So many times I am asked why I take it, just deal with it. I tell them, as with an illness I need my medication to keep in an even keel. In reality, I know that my Bipolar Disorder is more than medical and that beyond medication I need to focus on my environmental stressors a life in general.

  1. Manic Depression is different than Bipolar Disorder

I think this has confused people, when it reality they are the same thing – same struggles, same medications, same treatment – different name.

  1. I’ll have to be on medications for the rest of my life.

This is a tricky question. Like most people with Bipolar Disorder I went through the phase when I knew I could do this without medication – with a little knowledge and therapy it wouldn’t be so bad. Ok, so I was wrong. It took many, many years to come to grips with the idea of medication, but now that I know what it needs to take to stay well, I take my medication.

  1. I’m feeling better since taking my meds, which mean I probably don’t need them any more.

This goes along with number 4 above. Feeling better is not a reason to stop taking them. Like an antibiotic, you need to take the whole prescription whither you feel better or not.

  1. There’s no need for Psychotherapy in Bipolar Disorder

With any disease, medication alone is not the answer. There needs to be some changes in your life, in how you live, relate to people, how you think and believe.

7 and 8. Atypical Antipsychotics are only for Schizophrenia, or have little or not side effects.

Medication seems to be a big deal when it comes to BP. Is it needed or not, will it work or not, what should I take, etc. in recent years more and more drugs, previously used for other disorders have come to be useful in treating BP – this may feel some people feel that their illness is worth than they thought – misconception ensues and the reluctance to take the meds.

  1. I may just have depression.

While this may seem like a temporary fix, it won’t take long before the cycle begins and the depression leads into mania – taking you on a journey you never expected.

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