I'm Fine, I Don't Need Bipolar Medication
It's not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder (and other mental illnesses) to think they're fine and they don't need bipolar medication. There are several reasons for this, and it can happen at any time during treatment. This thought pattern can truly hurt people. So, let's take a look at why some people with bipolar disorder think they don't need bipolar medication.
Thinking You Don't Need Bipolar Medication Before Treatment
In the case where a person has not yet started treatment, they may feel they don't need bipolar medication for several reasons.
Firstly, I think it's pretty normal to have a knee-jerk reaction saying, "I don't need bipolar medication."
No one wants to admit to having any illness, let alone an illness of the brain. Moreover, no one wants to take medications every day with possibly horrible side effects. Thus, saying you don't need medication is normal. Plus, stigma against mental illness and internalized anti-mental illness stigma (self-stigma) play into this picture and silently encourage people to deny their own mental illness and need for treatment.
People do tend to get past this stage, though, and into treatment. That is, unless they are suffering from anosognosia. Anosognosia is the neurological inability to recognize your own illness. This means that people are not in denial of their illness; it's not psychological in nature; it's neurological in nature. This means that anosognosia is incredibly difficult to deal with, and people with it think they don't need bipolar medication because they don't believe they have bipolar disorder in the first place. (More on anosognosia can be found here.)
Thinking You Don't Need Bipolar Medication During Treatment
Many people go through a period where their bipolar medication isn't working or has unbearable side effects. I hate to say it, but this is pretty normal. It's also normal to think you don't need bipolar medication if it isn't working in the first place or if the side effects are brutal.
The other time people think they don't need bipolar medication is during treatment is when bipolar medication is working really well. I know this sounds strange if you've never been there. But if you're on medication that is successful to the point where you feel like you're no longer sick, then you start to think you no longer have bipolar disorder and, thus, no longer need the medication. There is no realization, in this case, that it is the medication that is creating the wellness. I suspect it's a product of very strong wishful thinking.
Thinking, 'I'm Fine, I Don't Need Bipolar Medication' Is a Mistake
But here's the thing to know about this: if you have a bipolar diagnosis, you are not fine, and thinking you don't need bipolar medication is a mistake 99.9 percent of the time. Of course, I can't say that it's always a mistake, but I can say that if you were to play the odds, medication would win almost all the time. That's because people with bipolar disorder have a brain illness, and they need help to combat it. There's nothing wrong with that. Many illnesses require medication, and there's nothing wrong with using that medication to have your best life. Because that's what it's about. It's about being as well as possible and using medication as a tool to get there and stay there. There are many siren songs telling singing that you don't need bipolar medication, but you need to be stronger and trust in the science and medicine that can get and keep you well.
(Note: Dealing with anosognosia is not nearly as simple as understanding the above. If anosognosia is in the mix, you may need special help to help the person with bipolar overcome it.)
Tracy, N. (2021, March 18). I'm Fine, I Don't Need Bipolar Medication, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2021/3/im-fine-i-dont-need-bipolar-medication
Author: Natasha Tracy
I wish this had been written with more honesty, because it comes off as a smug way of saying, "Don't be an idiot. Take your medication." There's virtually no psychiatric medication that show the long term efficacy of it and if it will or won't impact your health in other ways. Lamotrigine, for example, is about 30 years old. Although it's effective, we only know that now. The ingredients are constantly changing. Our bodies are constantly changing. In another 15 years or so, there will be something on how Lamotrigine is linked to several other health problems and complications? Why? The medication can't keep up with the complexity of the human mind. Don't glamorize medication because you're unwilling to embrace contrary opinions.
Thank you for your comment.
I assure you I wrote this with honesty. It may not say what you think it should, but that doesn't make it dishonest.
You are right that we only know what we know. That's totally true. We are working with medications in the best way we can with the knowledge we have today. And with the knowledge we have today, I believe people with bipolar disorder should take the best medication possible and go to therapy. That's their best chance at their best life.
-- Natasha Tracy