I was having a conversation with a mental health care professional. We were discussing the need to treat bipolar disorder. The conversation was inspired by a young man I met who had his first episode of bipolar disorder. I’ll call him Matt.
After he was released from the hospital Matt came to talk with me at his mother’s request. He told me about smoking a lot of marijuana with high THC levels. And I replied, “Not sure if you know this but it can cause psychosis in people who are at risk for mental illness.” He answered, “Yeah. I know. They told me that at the hospital.”
We continued our discussion and it was clear to me after three weeks in the hospital Matt was still not stable. He admitted to “cheeking” his medications. The hospital than begin to give him injections.
So, as I was discussing with the psychologist about what happens to people with bipolar disorder who have had psychotic episodes and don’t stay with a treatment plan, I said, “Matt is headed down a bad pathway, if he doesn’t stay with his treatment.” The psychologist looked at me and said, “None of us have a crystal ball Amy.”
Well…I wouldn’t claim to be clairvoyant but I am rather intuitive. More importantly I have seen my family members struggle without the proper treatment (my sister had over 40 hospitalizations), I personally have had my own challenges and every single person who I have met with bipolar disorder road a rollercoaster until they got the proper treatment.
I had another experience just a few short weeks ago with a person who I helped get to the hospital. She was released long before she was stable. I was livid. She is now a missing person. Her brother said to me, “I can see how people become homeless.”
I’m not intending for this to be a downer blog post. There is a lot of hope when it comes to mental illness and bipolar disorder. I live a meaningful, productive life. But I also have been on that rollercoaster ride. Even if I’m not a psychic, I know with 99% accuracy, if you don’t take bipolar disorder seriously, it will destroy your life and will impact the lives of everyone in it.
The mental health care system is terribly broken. And mental health care professionals must start educating people about their conditions, including the possibilities of what can happen if the proper treatment plan is not in place.
I see two doors. Door number one is not taking medication and staying on a high-low rollercoaster that wrecks havoc and keeps us sick. Door number two is difficult. But we learn everything we can and keep learning about wellness strategies, how to recognize symptoms, how to deal with depressive episodes, how to keep fighting. It’s not an easy peaceful path. But door number two…is the audience choice on Let’s Make a Deal.
We can’t allow our frustrations with something we deal with on a daily basis to keep us from persevering. If you live with bipolar disorder, you must learn as much as you can about this illness. It is manageable, treatable and you can learn to live with it. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. But as with other illnesses a person who has it must take responsibility.
None of us bought the ticket for the rollercoaster ride bipolar disorder takes us on. But when you can get off the ride, life gets a whole lot better.