Bipolar, Depression, Self-Improvement

If you’re struggling, why don’t you just get help?

Because…it’s not so simple.

Stigma aside:

Those who move forward seeking help in diagnosing and managing one’s mental illness are only taking the first step in a monumental undertaking.

Receiving an accurate diagnosis is anything but simple. It takes time. For example, the average time bipolar 2 can go undiagnosed is six years. For me, it was ten. Following diagnosis, the process of pursuing the best path for treatment begins.

Mental health treatment paths
Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

What is the best type of therapy?

I didn’t really know how to go about finding it. Someone suggested a neuropsychologist, and I went to him. I never expected to feel comfortable in therapy; I hate talking about difficult subjects and delving into the events and emotions of my life. One doctor prescribed me medication and the neuropsychologist supplied my therapy. It wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped, but I didn’t know any better so I kept at it…unsuccessfully.

It wasn’t until my rock bottom in 2013 and after my husband and parents intervened more emphatically, that I gave psychotherapy another chance. Luckily, this time the doctor was right for me. Did I immediately feel comfortable speaking with this psychiatrist? No way. Five years later, I still often dread going; however, I have seen positive results. In addition, with this doctor, I’ve found medication therapy that works well, too.

Determining the best medication treatment is trial and error.

  • Which medications work?
  • Which side effects can you tolerate?
  • Do you need a combination of medications?
  • What dosages work best?

→ There is no one-size-fits-all treatment.

But…

Mental health treatment paths

Treatment doesn’t make my diagnosis disappear!

It just makes my condition more bearable. The bad days are still quite bad, but I’ve come a long way, baby!

Lifestyle changes are necessary, too.

These are probably the most difficult for someone who is clinically depressed. Oftentimes, even the simplest task feels like an impossible task: sometimes, taking a shower is challenge enough. Lifestyle changes overall include diet, exercise, and daily routines.

Even with all I’m doing, some people don’t realize just how far I’ve come. I’m not trying to be whiny or dramatic or attention-seeking when I discuss how I’m feeling. However, recently…

Mental Health Treatment

Again, there is no “fix”, just attempts to manage.

To top it off, therapy and meds aren’t cheap. Most insurance companies don’t cover any of it. $200 for a 50-minute session…beginning weekly. As you make progress you can gradually stretch it out. Right now, I’m every two months; however, I may need to back it up a bit again for awhile.

What I’ve learned the hard way:

  1. A psychiatrist is right for me.
  2. Changing doctors is acceptable once you realize you aren’t seeing improvement.
  3. Finding the right balance of medications and dosages can take a
    p a i n s t a k i n g l y 
    l o n g
    time.
    →Patience is harder when you are suffering.
  4. A support system is a must, even if you have to educate them on your condition. But remember: they still may not “get it”, but those who love you will try.
  5. Progress is progress no matter how small.
  6. And, sometimes, just surviving the day is okay.

Copyright © 2019 Alicia T-Rust. All rights reserved.

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