Are You Asking Your Meds to do All the Work?

Where is my magic pill? They say it takes a while to find the right medication, you just have to stick with it.

But for how long? How many chemistry experiments? When? WHEN will my bipolar get fixed?

This was me, resisting therapy, resisting exercise, resisting every other suggestion my doctor made. Alas, here are the pills that finally did the trick:

Pills are not enough.

Don't get me wrong - pills, the easier to swallow kind, kept me alive at desperate points in my life. Pills still make a huge difference in the management of my mental illness. They hold the depressive black dog at bay. They tame the buzzing bees that swarm inside some afternoons. They throw a wrench into the mental gerbil wheel that would keep me up and take me nowhere through the night but into a darker kind of darkness.

But they are not enough.

And having achieved stability (more or less, sometimes less), they are not the main action anymore. Always there to lend a hand, but not driving my recovery.

Tanya Hvilivitzky's article in BPHope magazine lists Ten Habits of Highly Successful People with Bipolar Disorder:

1. They have created their own treatment plan.

2. They rally a supportive team.

3. They practice mindfulness.

4. They know their triggers and have a plan.

5.They have a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

6. They have good sleep habits.

7. They stick to a schedule/routine.

8. They pay attention to their thoughts.

9. They are grateful.

10. They keep a journal.

The article links to further information about most of these items.

Me, my own treatment plan incorporates eight of these habits. Good sleep habits and routine top my list. Ellen Frank's book, Treating Bipolar Disorder, where she describes Interpersonal Social Rhythms Therapy, absolutely turned my life around. Here is the link to the fourth of a four-part series I wrote about social rhythms.

After sleep and routine, I prioritize my support team and paying attention to my thoughts.

I don't tick all ten items because, well, see #1. It's my personal treatment plan.

Now, some of this stuff is a pain in the butt, especially the part when I tell somebody that I am skipping the party because it is past my bedtime and I've had all the stimulation I can handle this week. Or sugar. Don't get me started on having given up sugar (more or less).

Recovery is a lot of work, too much work for a pill, or even a handful of pills. If somebody handed me a magic pill that would make my work unnecessary, I would take it. Of course, I would!

Until then, it's time for my walk. I need to go buy veg. My life is better when I exercise and eat right.

And for that, I am grateful.

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