Cure or no cure?!

All right,  even though it has taken much longer than I expected,  let’s get back to the post Can bipolar disorder be cured? and the question I finished with:

Would you allow me to suggest that there is a possibility to get your disorder ‘in order’?

Today I like to begin answering the question with offering the following musings.

There is more
My ‘problem’ is that I am a fighter.  I simply can’t accept a diminished life because somebody else tells me so.  Nor can I accept that I will be on meds the rest of my life because a pdoc says so. Even so I am realistic.  Of course bipolar in its disordered form has cost me much.  And most likely there will be times where it will cost me still.  But I don’t want to dwell there.

Because I believe there is so much more to my and your life.  So.much.more.

Real stability

cure for bipolar disorder

Flickr credit: horiavarlan/4273913966

You see,  to reach real stability is not to be ‘in remission of symptoms’ , or be afraid when the next episode will roar its ugly head.  It is not avoiding any stressor,  trigger,  or situation that might possibly set off an episode.  It is not responding on autopilot to whatever happens.

I want you to look further than these types of statements and challenge your view of yourself and the way you function:

Simply living with this illness is a major achievement, so give yourself credit.

Stress is toxic to anyone with a mood disorder, so every effort needs to be made to reduce stressful situations.

Since bipolar disorder is a brain malfunction,  there is not much you can do about it.

For me,  I much rather put all my energy in living my life,  than trying to avoid stress,  avoid possible triggers or being afraid for the other shoe to drop.  Because be not mistaken:  to avoid all these things takes a lot of energy that can be used differently in a way that builds you up and makes you stronger.

Don’t get me wrong: I do know first hand how debilitating the illness can be.  I do not take it lightly.  I can’t.  It has cost me way too much.  In months and years spent in deep depression.  In being suicidal.  In my hypomania getting out of control.  I totally recognize the seriousness of those times.  But I don’t wanna get stuck there.  I want to move on.

Which requires study.

Become a student
You need to become a student of your own disorder.  You need to know absolutely everything about it.  What are your triggers?  What are the signs of your different types of mood?  How does sleep or lack thereof influence your mood?  How do you respond to stress?  What happens when you have a row with your partner, children,  family,  or friend?  What helps you to deflect depression?  What are the signs your hypomania is getting out of control?  What action do you need to take to come down from hypomania?  Have you build a good working relationship with your mental health professionals?  Are you an active participant in your own treatment?  Do you work hard in your talk-therapy to get the most out of your life?

In time you become an A+ student and your reward is the ability to recognize your condition,  to stand back and have the freedom to choose how you respond based on what you have learned about yourself and your bipolar disorder.  You will no longer be the victim of an illness that you feel you can’t control.  In time you will react differently to the same situation in comparison to the past.

What is the challenge?
Because really,  the challenge is not to ‘survive’ your illness,  but to function no matter what situation you get into,  no matter what stress throws at you or which triggers you encounter.

Flickr credit: katerha/5807967450

That is why I believe that it doesn’t really matter what the cause of bipolar disorder is,  as long as you change the pile of jigsaw pieces into your own beautiful picture of your life lived to the fullest.  Through your studying,  you begin to get the disordered heap sorted out.  Yes,  it is a huge pile.  Yes,  it takes a while.  Yes, frustration is part of it.  But oh,  it is so worthwhile,  especially when you see a glimpse of what is to be!

Cure
That said,  I have nothing against researchers finding the gen responsible for bipolar disorder  and consequently finding a cure.  But I,  for one,  am not going to wait and waste my time for science to catch up with my life.  Are you?

Further reading:

Are you a victim or a survivor?
Bipolar in Order by Tom Wootton, a book review

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Cure or no cure?!

  1. I love your take on things! I have Bipolar II. I have a blog about it also everydaybipolar.wordpress.com I would love for you to check it out!

  2. Another inspirational and informative post here Fenny. Excellent. I’ve a bit blue actually – a little disheartened. This has made me feel a bit brighter.

    Actually, I’d love your input on something regarding mental health over at my blog today. Please take a minute (if you have one spare) and let me know your thoughts. Basically – Is it worth my trying to build a mental health community with Monday Madness, or not?
    http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/07/monday-madness-linky-letter-of.html

    Many thanks – Shah .X

  3. Hey Fenny

    The All New Monday Madness linky is up – new rules too. I do hope you’ll pop by and link up. I hope together we can build a great resource for mental health bloggers everywhere.

    Hope you’re well?

    Shah .X

  4. Thanks Fenny for linking up at Monday Madness – and for your comment – Love all your articles – always informative and easy to read. Usually a little wit pops up too!

    Not sure how much of my decision to change is courageous and how much is fear of the long-term effects of not changing. But hey?

    I am in the fortunately position of only being on one drug. I always reacted badly to anti-depressants and our UK docs don’t prescribe addictive drugs often – like diazepam or zopiclone – both of which I took very rarely and not for over 6 months. So I’ve only got one drug to withdraw from. Yippee!

    When I said I dropped from 275-150 (I often/always moved between 275-200 according to my needs so my body is used to this margin of change) so really the only real drop is between 200-150ml in real terms so not to worry too much there. I’ll stay at 150ml a little then drop another 25, and so on. I’m thinking by the end of the year I should be drug free – (but obviously if I become unstable I will elongate that plan). ;D

    Bless you for caring. And for linking up.

    Shah XX

    • Glad it isn’t such a jump… nasty stuff huh, those meds? You know I am here for you, so write and let me know how you are doing!

      Change can be an agent for growth – in whichever way it goes ;) I think you always win when you are honest and integer, and that is what I like about you a lot! You are a great person, Shah! Glad to know you!

  5. Madeline

    I’m visiting from the Monday Madness linky and am your newest follower.

    I completely agree with you! As “victims” of this disorder, we have to learn how to shed the victim person. Instead of being bipolar victims, we need to become bipolar students. Informing yourself and arming yourself about your condition and your unique bipolar characteristics won’t cure you , but will allow you to live a better life. It helps you to fight a better fight!

    • Hi Madeline,
      Thanks so much for your comment and encouragement. Welcome to the Crazy ;)
      You’ve got it so right – no victims here! Even without a cure we can live The Life!

  6. Great post Fenny. I absolutely agree that one has to be a student of one’s one disorder and sometimes other family members also! Education removes a lot of the ignorance surrounding mental illness, which is why I have started a new feature at my blog called Manic Monday where I will be looking at different illnesses that fall under the mental illness ‘umbrella.’ Do hope you’re keeping well Fenny and continuing to be stubborn!!!

    • Yes Elizabeth, you are absolutely right that it is important for those close to you to be a student as well! Thanks for contributing that.
      I don’t have family, but I do have a few friends who know and udnerstand in different degrees. But most importantly: most of my friends take me as I am, even if we never talk about my disordered self ever. Acceptance is precious!
      Will have a look at your educational linky, but presently I don’t seem to be able to link anything anywhere. No clue why, hate when that happens :(

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