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Will I Be Ok Without Professional Help?


Hi Doctor, thank you for taking this question. I am 23 years old and Bipolar. Recently, I was laid off from my job and cannot afford the cobra insurance. BCBS won’t accept my application because of my preexisting condition. I am without professional help and coming off my medication. Can bipolars survive without the extra help? I’ve had the life of a typical bipolar. Irritable at a young age, always high-strung. Bouts of depression that would last 6 months at a time…cutting…followed by an incredible surge of motivation in whatever I would do. I can be abusive or let people walk all over me. As I got older, the symptoms were more noticeable. Incredible surges of energy at work. I could accomplish everything in one day! I would stay extra hours…etc. Then I would slip into depression and tell people to screw off. I got help when I was practically fired. The meds really helped to level me out. Everything was simple, including my happiness. My only complaint is that the Lexapro (although wonderful) would make me feel manic as hell and I did anything I felt like doing…including hurting people’s feelings and hitting my significant other. The risperdal helped but the dose I needed made me feel sleepy and dull. I don’t miss that part of the medication. In that light, I am glad I am getting off the medication. Hell, when I was on it I didn’t even feel bipolar. Now I am getting off of it and I’m worried. Is there any hope for me? I cry myself to sleep because I feel like I don’t have control of my actions anymore. I drink 6 days a week, hard liquor. Other than that I guess it’s not too bad. I do a little work here and there although it takes a lot to get me going. (But when I’m going everything is good!) I can’t sleep but I never could. I have brain shocks. I hope you have an answer for me :-/ Thanks in advance.

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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

The hard but honest answer to your question is that you cannot live without psychiatric help. The very fact that you are drinking heavily should provide that answer to you. You need to stop drinking immediately and get your self to a hospital emergency room. They will probably admit you in your present condition particularly because you are a suicide risk at the present time. That will worsen as the medicine leaves your body. The hospital can collect their fees by applying for emergency Medicaid for your situation. You really need to go onto disability at the present time because you are not able to work. These are always around the insurance situation but these are not lies. You are extremely vulnerable right now and it will get worse if you do not act.

By the way, it doesn’t seem optimal that the medications you have been prescribed are leaving you feeling manic symptoms.  I think it would be a good idea to make sure your doctor knows how the medication is causing you to feel next time you see him or her so that a re-evaluation of your medications can take place.  There are many combinations of medication therapy, one of which might be appropriate for your particular condition.

Next, after you are correctly medicated you need to learn about your illness. Medicine alone will not do the job. There is a lot to be learned about bipolar disorder including how to modify your thinking and control your symptoms.

Please, get your self over to the hospital now and start getting some real help immediately.

Best wishes.

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • Danny

    Though my own situation isn't exactly the same as yours, I do know the feeling of knowing you need help and wanting to get help and not being able to. It's very frustrating! Last October (2006) I went to the local county mental health clinic to seek help for my bi-polar disorder, and the lady in financial services I talked to told me I had to apply for general relief, and a bunch of other programs that had nothing whatsoever to do with what I went there for in the first place. Bottom line is they wouldn't help me unless I did...

    Needless to say I didn't get help and still haven't been able to get help by any other means, but yet were I to dial 911 and tell them I'm suicidal, I'd get all the help I need and probably some I wouldn't...

    Though I really struggle every day to get thru the day, I don't give up!

    Neither should you. I agree with Dr. Schwartz, get yourself to the hospital ASAP...and hang in there and don't give up!

  • kelly from Michigan

    I agree with the doctor - you must seek hospital help right away. You don't feel like you need it yet but as the meds leave your system you will hit the wall. I totally sympathize with you - I have been bi-polar since I was 17. Most of this time, having to keep the secret so of course we are not judged. I take my many meds and I keep my appointments - do I want to ? Heck, no. But I do it. Three sucide attempts, totally manic behavors and everything else that goes along with this lovely disease make me want to stay on program. Also I do it for my daughter. Even all that I do isn't enough - I'm writing this at 3am in the morning. The insomnia is an added bonus - don't you think? All in all though a sense of humor is a really great asset. And you will get that back and so much more. I wish you well.

  • Anonymous-1

    I can relate, your story sounds exactly similar to mine... i dont have insurance and when i attempted to commit suicide i was admitted to the state psych ward which works on a sliding scale, so they work with your financial situation. I live in a crappy part of my state so I can imagine that they'd have the same type of hospitals around where you are.

    I hope that you get help. I am newly diagnosed.. about a year or so and i still have not been able to manage this bipolar disorder. It is possible to atleast try, which is what i'm doing and i suggest you try to do that also.


  • Lamara

    It started about three years ago, I would suddenly have a lot of motivation to start a project, then I would just give up on it. I would do that for months! I am a perfectionist and I know that that effects my work sometimes but most of the time I just give up on something just because of the lack of motivation. I also have mood swings. I can go from being extremely happy like I was on E to being moody and depressed for little or no reason. It has been really bad for the last 6 months. But you know what Im not going to see one of those doctors because the only thing that they are going to do is give you drugs. Almost all of those drugs are poison. They tell you that there is no other way to manage it but they only say that because they want you to take their drugs. I am going to try to exercise and get more of what I need in my diet. Taking all those drugs are equivalent to taking street drugs. Their withdrawl symptoms are kind of simular to prozac's withdrawl symptoms! Back in the day, opium was taken for depression, and it was used responsible. It was a natural substance and it was an antidepressant/mood stabilizer. Most of the drugs today are no good even if they seem to help. At least opium did not make any body want to kill themselves!!!

    Editor's Note: Opium is not an antidepressant - it is a pain reliever with sedative properties and it is highly addictive and hard to kick. This class of drug is still very much with us - in the for of heroin, oxycodone, codine, morphine, etc. Some of these are used for pain management (or addiction management) by physicians, and some are just street drugs today. It wouldn't be true to say that no opioid addicted individiual ever felt like committing suicide because of their addiction, because that is simply not the case. Addiction to these substances can be devastating.

  • Allan N Schwartz

    Hi Lamarra,

    I am sorry to read that you are so very anti medication for Bipolar Disorder. I am sorry to read this because during the many years of working with people who have Bipolar Disorder I saw their lives dramatically improve as a result of these medicines. First, the medications for Bipolar are not usually anti depressants but are mood stabilizers. Sometimes Psychiatrists may add a small amount of anti depressant but that depends on many factors. Anyway, there is nothing addictive about mood stabilizers or anti depressants, either. Then, psychotherapy combined with mood stabilizers really help enormously. The psychotherapy is usually supportive and educational in nature so as to prevent relapses and allow for proper use of the medicines. I regret you feel the way you do because, since the discovery of medicines for this mood disorder hundreds of thousands of live have improved immensely and countless hospitalizations prevented. I want you to know that I have no interest in medications, financial or otherwise. But, experience is experience and I know what I have seen. I hope that, someday, you will reconsider.

    Dr. Schwartz


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