In this post, I want to answer a question that I get asked a lot and that is “how can I help my loved one take their meds and stay on their meds?”
With with bipolar disorder, it’s very, very common for us to get off of our meds for two reasons. One is that we feel so much better, we don’t think we need them anymore. We think, like the medical model, that we take our medicine until we are better, feeling as if we are cured. Two the side effects are seemingly just too much for us to deal with.
But when they get off our meds, it’s not that they’re ever cured, so we’re always going to enter a new episode and it’s typically going to be into a manic one in which we’re going to ruin and lose everything that is dear to us in life…personal relationships, jobs, careers, money, perhaps even our freedom.
So, people always ask me, well, how, how do I deal with that; how do I support someone who does not want to take their meds anymore. I approach it by asking people what is it that they’re missing in their life that they just can’t seem to get or keep. And invariably they’re going to say something like, “I can’t seem to keep a girlfriend or a boyfriend or any kind of relationship, a husband and wife, or I’m struggling with my children. I can’t seem to keep a job or any money or, or anything for that matter. In some cases, they could not keep their freedom.
And they, they, they just talk about all the things that they’ve lost but they can’t regain. And so what I say to them “You know what? There was a time when I lost my children. I could not see my children and I wasn’t medicated. And because of that, I was willing to take an experiment that my doctor recommended for me. And that is take these meds and see if I don’t get my children back. And I took him up on that. I said, yes, I’m going to do that. And I did. I took the meds and I did get my children back. So I don’t consider them bipolar meds. I mean I know they are or any other kind of meds other than the fact that they’re my, ‘I get to see my kid’s meds’ and that’s the reason I take them.”
So, a few of things that I just want to reiterate. One is that you want to help the loved one find things that they’ve lost that they can’t seem to get. Two, then you want to see if they’d be willing to experiment with the meds to see if that’ll help him get those things. The third thing is, is that it has to be their reasons. It can’t be your reason for them taking their meds. You can’t tell them all the reasons you have for why your son or daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, whatever ought to be taking their meds. They have to be coming at it for themselves. Because we want to honor their journey. We want to respect where they are and we want to meet them where they are. So you could share this with them. You could say, “Hey, I just read a blog post and this guy couldn’t get his kids back in his life until he took his bipolar meds. He doesn’t really care what they’re called. He just takes him and for as long as he wants to have his kids in his life. Since he never wants to be without his kids, he’ll never stop taking his meds no matter how good he feels or no matter how bad the meds make him feel.
You see, sometimes we talk about the side effects, but the biggest side effect for me isn’t weight gain or memory loss or confusion of thought or whatever it is. Whatever it is, there’s a bunch of them. I know there are, but the bigger side effect for me by not taking my meds is that I don’t get to see my kids. That’s a huge side effect. That’s one I just can’t live with. So I’d rather take the meds, have the other side effects and not have the side effect of losing my kids.
Ask them to give it three months and see what happens. See if they don’t get these things back in their life. I know from my own personal experience and from the experience of many others that I’ve talked to that have done this, that they do get the things they want back in life and that meds do work and that treatment works, and that it must be every day, all the time. This is a lifetime illness. I’m sorry it is. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. And just like myself, I need to take the meds for the rest of my life if I want to see my kids and if I want the things that I want in life.
Good luck…I hope this helps you.