Bipolar Disorder: Peeps that are important

P-doc (BD talk for psychiatrist)

(S)He is important.  I wouldn’t go with any other type of mental health doctor or whatever names they happen to carry.  If possible of course.  I am aware that in the States the health care system and health insurance work differently than here.  My insurance allows me to choose my p-doc,  lucky me.

I even switched p-docs because I found the one I had not capable of dealing with my assertiveness.  And p-doc’s expertise – hm – not too experienced with mood disorders.  Now I have an excellent p-doc,  easy enough because I selected him on his expertise and willingness to work with me on my terms.  (Which is a co-operation in case you were wondering.)

Counselor

To me,  my counselor is vitally important as well.  In my humble opinion, meds are never enough when dealing with psychiatric illnesses.

The reason being,  that counseling or talk-therapy teaches you:

  • what our symptoms look like;
  • how to recognize our symptoms when they arise;
  • to deal with our symptoms to the best of our ability;
  • to learn about the things that can trigger our episodes;
  • to deal with any emotional luggage we are carrying around that     hinders our well-being;
  • to deal with trauma’s we might have;
  • to lead a healthier life.

It provides us with the opportunity to:

  • share our highs and lows;
  • be totally upfront about our functioning or lack of it;
  •  receive support from a professional who will never condemn or judge us;
  • have somebody who is always ‘on our side’ as (s)he has our best interests at heart.

It took me a long time to learn to trust my counselor,  but,  boy,  what a blessing once I could!  Many times he has been a rock in my ever-changing world.  This was especially true since I moved around a lot as I didn’t have my own place.  My weekly appointments with him have given me a steadiness I desperately needed.

Also,  what I like very much about my counselor is his approach of BD and our emotions in general.  BD is not something we are a victim of.  Meaning that we don’t have to sit around and wait for the next episode and survive it the best we can.  There is more to it,  thankfully.  As we learn to recognize our symptoms and triggers,  we can also learn how to better deal with them.  This way,  we can influence what happens once we face a trigger or we feel an episode lurking / starting.

I am aware that emotions do trump and sometimes we  just have to ride out the storm.  Sometimes what happens can be way too much for us to handle.  But that is when we turn to our p-doc and counselor.  And to our support network.

Support network
We need more than our p-doc and counselor.  People around us who are close to us and recognize our mood swings are so important to have.  There are three good friends that know exactly what mood I am in when they talk to me.  Even over the phone.  We have the kind of friendship that allows them to be up front with me,  question and challenge me.

They will ask questions like:  ‘do you think that is wise?’,  ‘should you really do this?’,  ‘I think you are doing too much (or too little)’,  ‘isn’t it time to think about coming down from your hypomanic?’,  ‘how is your sleeping going?’,  ‘you can come and stay with us any time,  you know that,  don’t you?’.

Depending on the situation,  I do or do not like those questions.  It is down right irritating at times.  But at the same time I am so grateful that those friends are in my life!!  Because there will be times when they recognize an episode earlier than I do.  At times they will keep tabs on me,  when life is not going well for me.  At times they are very practical.  Like coming over when I am severely depressed and getting my house in order.  Or letting me come and stay at their house and taking care of me.  Precious,  folks,  precious!!

So I would advise you to have people like that around you.  To allow them to ask questions, challenge you,  take care of you.  It’s not an easy task,  for them or for you.  But it will allow you to live your life to the fullest,  knowing there is a safety net when you fall.  Even more than that:  it is designed to prevent you from making the fall.  Actually,  even more than that:  to keep functioning to the best of your ability.

Other interesting posts:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Symptoms

Medical treatment

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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