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Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

Many of us with bipolar disorder take drugs to lessen the intensity of our mood swings, whether that is depression, hypomania or mania. We take them in spite of the side effects such as foggy thinking, memory problems, weight gain and sleeplessness or sleepiness, just to name a few. Many of us have convinced our doctor or psychiatrist to change our meds as a result of the side affects. Some of us have decided to tolerate some side effects because the meds are doing the job of leveling out our moods to normal or close to normal and, after trying many others, these are the only ones that have worked. We tolerate it because the toll the mood swings have on us is far worse than the side effects.

But what if a medication actually causes the behavior we are trying to prevent? Recently the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about Abilify. I read a bulletin from Drugs.com stating that on 5/3/2016, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has issued a warning that Abilify, an antipsychotic drug used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and tourettes, has been found to have side effects which cause a lack of impulse control in some individuals. It results in compulsive behaviors such as spending or shopping, gambling, eating and sexual activity. Although they are rare, the FDA is still requiring that these side effects be listed on Abilify’s label.   Once the medication is stopped, the symptoms disappear.

By no means should anyone stop their medication without discussing it and working out a plan with a doctor.

These side effects are the very things that we are taking our meds to avoid. We want to steer clear of those manic and hypomanic type of behaviors. Findings like this it just reemphasizes the importance of being self aware. It is important to keep a running record of our meds, their dosages, any changes positive or negative and the start and stop dates. If something doesn’t seem to be working right, we can go to the doctor’s office armed with this important data. S/he will see that we have been doing our homework and, with the detailed records, s/he will be better able to help us. I certainly can’t keep all of that data in my head. I must write things down or I forget half of what I want to bring to my doctor’s attention during my appointment. I keep the record for not only my psychiatric meds but those prescribed by my family doctor as well. It serves me well.

You can find the FDA report online—I checked it out. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm498662.htm

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Can We Take Charge of Our Lives?

There are some people who believe that those with bipolar disorder or some other serious mental illness can’t change. They believe we can’t control our mood swings and therefore can’t control our lives or ourselves. I’ve met a few of these people, both the ones with the illness and their loved ones as well as those who have a difficult time believing in mental illness at all. I’ve met them in support groups, through friends, at work and at church.

It is true that there are some people with bipolar that either don’t connect their behavior to their mood swings or they feel they are at the mercy of the swings—they believe they have no control.   Who has told them that lie? Sometimes it is loved ones who make excuses for “Johnny” reinforcing the idea that he’s sick and can’t help himself.   If our loved ones don’t believe in us then we must be hopelessly prone to acting out in some way during our cycles, caught in a never-ending loop. WRONG.

We Must Believe in Ourselves

We must believe in ourselves. We can learn how to respond to our mood swings and the things they make us feel like doing. Rather than immediately reacting to the swing and the thoughts and emotions that go with them, we can give thoughtful consideration to what the correct response should be This takes time to learn. It means becoming aware of the signals leading up to a mood swing, which takes time. It’s a slow process but pays big dividends in the end. Learning this skill can even shorten or stop a mood swing from taking place. It gives us some control. It helps us funnel that energy into a positive behavior rather than allowing it to bloom into a negative behavior, thought or feeling. Drugs are helpful but can’t totally eliminate all of our bipolar symptoms. Learning these skills can help to stabilize us where the drugs can’t do the whole job.

Real Stability, Finally

I find this to be helpful in my own life. I have been drug resistant and using awareness and a positive response to the signals and the mood swings for several years. It has been a tremendous help. Recently we (my doctor and I) found a drug combination that helps me by slowing down the cycles significantly(I’ve been an ultra rapid cycler). But I still need the tools so when swings do come I can ward them off or keep them from rocketing too high or dropping too low. I’ve been more stable now than I have been for most of my life. I wish this for you too.

 

 

 

 

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