Do you want to take medication or drugs for the rest of your life? This was my first question when I finally accepted that I had a problem and that this problem had been labelled "Bipolar Disorder" by psychiatrists.
Accepting that I had a problem was tough, probably one of the toughest things I have ever done. I was proud of my mind, or brain. It could do extraordinary things, and yet here I was told, I had a problem and that problem was a mental illness. As a doctor, I found it particularly hard to accept, because accepting that I had a mental health problem went against twenty years of medical education and meant that I publicly agreed that I was a deeply flawed human being.
Yet even though I accepted the diagnosis on the surface, underneath I was still searching for a "cure" or at the very least a way of managing bipolar disorder without medication. Especially when the psychiatric establishment was telling me I would need drugs for the rest of my life. That advice didn't seem right.
Without doubt, some people find drugs helpful. For them, medication seems to take the edge off their symptoms and enables them to lead more fulfilled and happier lives. But these are strong drugs, and an alternative approach is needed.
For me, that approach is returning myself to health in as many areas of my life and work as I can. I have developed a "non medical alternative" for bipolar
First - I see bipolar as mood instability rather than a deep flaw to my nature. Fluctuating moods are part of who I am and as long as I am sensible, they don't fluctuate too wildly
Second - Nothing gets between me and my health. I am no use to anyone if I am ill, so as long as I don't become selfish or greedy, I accept that I need to look after my health first
Thid - I need lots of friends around me, to help keep me right and I hope the relationship benefits both sides.
This is where the previous reader comes in. Are there any groups around the world which specifically look at non medical ways to manage bipolar disorder? Not many! but sites such as the Icarus project click here
As to face to face groups, I am not aware of any apart from our Tuesday evening group. We accept the need for medication but we are also keen to develop our ability to manage our own condition and experiences without medication. And most of all, we like to have fun!
For those readers in the US, you can buy Mood Mapping from Amazon.com and some UK sellers will export to the US