Getting Help for Bipolar
John Donne once said that 'no man is an island', a statement that still rings true today.
However isolated you may feel during times of illness, it is important to reach out to those around you to ask for assistance.
Seeking help can be difficult at times when you have bipolar disorder, as you may feel that you do not need help, you are not ‘sick enough' for help, or that you do not deserve help.
You may feel shy about initially seeking help, or even ashamed, but medical professionals are trained to help people who are going through the exact situations you are, and your friends and family can also be an essential part of your tool kit in the recovery process.
If you do seek help from a medical professional, there is a chance that they will offer you the help of medication. This is not something to be afraid of – bipolar is a chemical imbalance within the brain and these medications are simply there to try to rebalance that.
Some types of medication used within bipolar treatment are mood stabilisers (such as Lamotrigine or Sodium Valproate), antipsychotics (such as Abilify or Risperidone), antidepressants (such as Zoloft or Citalopram), or sometimes you may be prescribed benzodiazepines (such as Klonopin or Restoril).
Medications can come with some unpleasant side effects, however most of these will fade within the first few weeks of use, and the positive impact of the medication on your quality of life will far outweigh the negative effects once the correct balance has been reached.
There are many ways in which you can seek help if you begin to feel unwell, or if you want continued support after an episode. Depending on the where you are located in the world, you may have access to the following options:
(This is not an exhaustive list, and is mostly based on UK care, so the person in this position in your country may have a different title.)
A lot of people experiencing mental health distress first seek help through their GP, or family doctor. A GP is a good initial point of contact as they have most likely met you previously, will have a record of your medical history, and can serve as a gateway into other types of care. In the UK for example, a GP can make referrals onto more intensive services such as community mental health teams, psychiatrists, or more intensive specialist services.
Counsellors are very good at providing emotional support, especially post episode. They are trained to help you work through what has happened, and to help you come to terms with the disorder. They are a friendly yet professional ear to talk to, and can help you work through any issues you may be coming across.
Access to free counsellors will vary according to where you live and what health care your location offers, however nearly all locations should have certified and licensed counsellors that can be accessed through private methods. Counsellors are unable to prescribe or advise on medication.