This is something I’ve been asking myself for several years now, and it’s hard to figure out an answer. I’ve been living with Bipolar since mid-2000, and have been on different medications over the years. However, I’ve had so many experiences over the last 16 years, it’s tough NOT to ask how these have shifted the way I communicate, interact, control emotions, or even react. I believe transformation is the true cure for Bipolar because you learn so much about yourself, and make adjustments to handle triggers more effectively. I can tell you transparently, some of the things which use to bother me 7 years ago, don’t bother me anymore. Here’s something else,
The things that bothered me would be responsible for triggering manic-episodes, and now that I can control my feelings towards certain situations, I’m able to control my mood swings. However, the question I battle with once in a while is – Have I changed or the medication changed me?
Why is this question so important to me, and how come it affects me deeply? Well…
I didn’t plan on being on medication for the rest of my life. The very idea having to take medication to control my mood swings would throw me off. I’m haunted by the misconception that if you need to take medication in order to get through life, then there’s something wrong with you. When I first got diagnosed and was given a prescription; my first question was – How long will I have to take these medications? The answer was pretty universal because my doctor said: “I’m not sure because bipolar has NO cure, but with lifestyle changes you can learn to live a normal life”.
I’ll admit his answer through me off. However,
This was 16 years ago, and I’ve come a long way being able to handle situations more effectively. Ever since I started to incorporate reading into my daily lifestyle, I’ve been able to improve my communication, self-confidence, focus, attitude, etc. I can honestly say I’m happy with the direction my life is heading in “of course” with the usual ups and downs associated with having your own business. For example, running a business can be stressful, however, I’ve discovered constructive ways to handle situations more effectively. Next,
There’s even a deeper question I’m always asking myself:
The positive changes in my life, are they directly related to the medication I take i.e. Wellbutrin and Epival? Or, have I grown throughout the years making me stronger allowing me to conquer situations I couldn’t before. Is it my growth process over the years through constant education, exercise, and increased confidence which I can attribute to my success?
I was doing some research online, and found a study done on the connection between Bipolar and brain plasticity. Here’s a quick definition of the term:
“Brain plasticity is a common term used by neuroscientists, referring to the brain’s ability to change at any age – for better or worse. As you would imagine, this flexibility plays an incredibly important role in our brain development (or decline) and in shaping our distinct personalities.” – bbrfoundation.org
Husseini K. Manji, M.D had written an article on the following which I would like all of you to check out:
The article is for you guys to read and share your opinion below. As mentioned, I’m not here to change your view on treatment, but give everyone hope that we can make changes by incorporating strong lifestyle routines. Next,
Here’s the part which caught my eye when I was reading through:
“Bipolar disorder, we now believe, isn’t a disease of too much or too little serotonin or dopamine. It is not about the ‘chemical soup’ of neurotransmitters in the brain, but rather it is about synaptic and neural plasticity.”
After reading this I’m beginning to feel within the 16 years of living with bipolar, I’ve been able to build new connections throughout my brain allowing me to control my mood swings. For the last 7-8 years I’ve been learning new ways to handle my manic episodes by taking on personal coaching, reading, meditation, exercise, etc. If you’ve read my previous posts, my whole mission has been to find ways to identify situations in my life that trigger manic episodes. After, I can make changes to avoid them going forward. However,
Here’s the question which has been on my mind no matter what I read about brain plasticity. Have I changed or the medication changed me? What’s responsible for showing me light at the end of the tunnel – the medication or the growth I’ve experienced throughout the years?
Here’s what it ultimately comes down to and how I decided to approach this question over the last few years. I ask myself: Do I really want to find out? I think about what’s important to me, and it’s about being completely happy. I think about the time when I was battling mood swings, negative thoughts, and wasn’t able to function in society. Finally, I’ve managed to find a combination of therapy that works great for me.
In the end, I don’t want to go back to the way I was feeling before, and I’ve done whatever I can to make sure of it. I’ll be discussing some of the strategies, and lifestyle changes I’ve made throughout the years.
Here’s something else:
I’m pretty sure you guys would agree. It’s about where you’re going “NOT” where you’ve been. It’s about moving forward…right? Bipolar disorder is something that will flip your life upside down and if you’ve found ways to improve the quality of your life, then why question who, what, where, why, and when it happened. Just be grateful it did! J