Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Advice to a Newbie BIP (Part 2)

In yesterday's post I said I would talk about being an "exceptional patient." That's actually a term used by Dr. Bernie Siegel in Love, Medicine, and Miracles. The ways he defines the term is that exceptional cancer patients are the ones who research their illnesses, ask questions of their doctors, don't accept information they disagree with, and participate fully in their treatment.

I believe that we should all be "exceptional patients" if we want to triumph over illness. The primary difference between dealing with cancer and dealing with bipolarity is that much of what we're told isn't true. Witness the following:
  • No one has proved that bipolarity is any more "biochemical" than a cold is. Yes, your biochemistry changes when you have a cold. But does that mean you'll have a cold throughout your entire life?

  • They talk about brain kindling, which suggests that your brain automatically responds to stressors in a certain way. But any number of BIPS have learned how to change the way they deal with stressors, whether by learning how to brainswitch, use meditation or yoga, or in my case, deep relaxation.

  • They tell you that you need to be compliant and take medication for the rest of your life. In my experience, medication only works for a small percentage of the bipolar population. And at least with bipolar depression, there is absolutely no evidence to prove it will make you feel better rather than worse.

  • They tell you that bipolarity is a spectrum illness, which means that you'll have it forever in some form or another. What's interesting is that cancer isn't a spectrum illness, and once a person has been cancer-free for five years, they're considered "cured." Why is no one ever cured of bipolar disorder?

  • While "exceptional patients" research their illness, a part of me recommends that we, who are exceptional BIPS, probably shouldn't research ours. The reason being is that if everything you read is "lies" or "unproven," then what's the purpose of researching it?

    But, there are some very valuable aspects of bipolarity, about which I'd like to know more...and I'll discuss them tomorrow. Stay tuned!

9 comments:

KJ said...

Great advice and I know it will help any new person and old hats struggling for wellness.

Sama said...

Hi,

I was wondering if you could talk about the effects of untreated episodes over time-- how the episodes get worse, and the effects of episodes on the brain. I've been through this haven't been able to find much information on this. I have noticed that in the past 5 or 6 years (being 36 and only have begun getting stabilized on meditation within the past year or so) my cognitive functions have taken a significant hit, and I think it's related to untreated manic episodes (several).

Thanks.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
As always, thanks for your support!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Sama,
My illness was undiagnosed for 25 years, however, I only experienced depression, never mania.

While there may be readers who know more about the effect of undiagnosed episodes of manias and depression than I do, I'll be happy to discuss this topic tomorrow.

Susan

Sama said...

Great! Finally...

sallyo said...

I love this advice to a newbie BP patient. Do you mind if I use part of this in my paper about the importance of educating the public on mental health?

Wellness Writer said...

Dear sallyo,
I'm glad you "love" it. If you credit me and my blog, I will be happy to give you permission.

Susan

sallyo said...

Thank you! I will give you credit.

Wellness Writer said...

sallyo,
Sounds good. Please let me know what you use. I may be including some of it in a booklet I'm thinking of writing for Newbie BIPS.

Susan
P.S. You can let me know by sending me a comment. I won't publish the comment but that way I can keep track of the material I let others use. I've done it this way with a few other people.