Sep 13

Bipolar 101

There are two schools of thoughts regarding addiction treatment and the use of medication whilst in treatment. A large majority perceives medication as unnecessary during and after treatment and a slightly smaller majority understands the importance of treating co-occurring conditions (if any). My first two stints in rehab were purely based on my pill popping and drinking behaviour and what I used to do or not do when high.

Understandably, my parents wanted absolutely nothing to do with any treatment model that suggested the use of medication to counter any other conditions. The only medication acceptable was for the detoxification process alone!! At one time, I can clearly remember having really bad headaches and being dismissed with a glass of water. Yes, I get that we are painfully manipulative, but not all headaches will go away with a glass or two of water.

I was truly despairing and afraid of losing my life after going through a bright, vivacious, warm and loving career, to a depressed, guilt-ridden, angry person all in a span of a few months.

It all began when I was at the peak of my career, when I thought life should be more satisfactory since I afforded what l perceived ought to make anybody live a happy life. That wasn’t the case. I had frequent periods when I would be overly happy and energized and other periods where I felt very hopeless and sluggish. It was too overwhelming to the extent I had to overindulge in drinking alcohol and using more sleeping pills in order to cope with these extreme feelings.

The mood fluctuation made matters worse,I could take serious risks with my safety .I dated many women, not that I had enough love to share but purely to satisfy my increased sexual energy. I had no control over my adventurous lifestyle, and I ended spending money excessively and inappropriately. My salary was never enough; I could borrow money from friends, relatives, financial institution and at times sell personal stuff of which a huge chuck always went towards financing my drinking and drug abuse. There came a phase when I felt terribly unhappy and ashamed about my behaviors and the commitments that I made but never took responsibility for. Depressive feelings took a toll on my life to a point where I stopped bothering with my personal hygiene. I isolated myself more and more and my job seemed to be a big stressor, I felt I had ‘lost’ it.

This continued for a period of two years and it became a matter of concern. I knew I had developed an addiction to alcohol and sleeping pills as it was the only way I knew to cope with my depressive feelings. Gradually, my situation was getting worse, my family and employer were getting concerned. I was questioned frequently about my drinking but it only got me angry and I always denied having a problem. I was a responsible drinker! However, there’s only so much others can do for us and as a result of my behavior, I was suspended from work due to non-performance and that’s when reality downed. I knew the only way out was to admit I had a problem if ever my family was to intervene. Something they did with compassion.

I was taken to an inpatient rehab facility, and went through the 12 steps of recovery. Unfortunately, two months down the line, I was still a worried patient the feelings of restlessness,impulsiveness, irritability, loss of energy and the need to sleep more were still persistent. Naturally, on my part I felt that the process was never going to work and the longer I stayed there the longer my head was in a dark place! On the other part, the rehab branded me a nuisance and took all my actions to be manipulative moves aimed at shortening my program period. If am to be true to myself-there were days when I played those games, but I also did have moments when I believed that something was amiss.

Sadly, after being discharged I went back to my old routine of managing my feelings with alcohol and sleep medication. It never worked but it felt better. I managed to hide it from my employer and family but not for long as I eventually lost my job due to my dysfunctionalities.

One day as I was going through the newspaper and come across a page with a post for free screening and assessment that was to be held at Chiromo Lane Medical center in collaboration with the Retreat rehab. I contemplated a lot whether I should attend or not, nevertheless on the material day I decided to go.

The events of that day were a turning point to my new road map to recovery. I call it the “psychiatric magic” (Dr Intervention). I was subjected to assessments and screening and it turned out to answer my long sought answer. The term bi-polar was introduced to me. That was my diagnosis. The doctor recommended treatment which entailed detoxification and intensive inpatient care in a rehab. I was hesitant at first since, I had been in a rehab before so what was supposed to be the difference? The doctor took his time to psycho-educate me on what my comprehensive treatment would entail, just to mention; Medical intervention, individual and group counseling, family therapy and aftercare. I had not informed my parents of the screening and explaining to them of the outcome was an uphill task. I guess at the back of my head I knew how they perceived what I was telling them, manipulation. Luckily, I had taken the contacts of one of the counselors from the screening and asked them for help with my parents. A week later my family agreed I should give it a try.

Its while at the rehab that I learnt more about mental health in relation to substance abuse, role of medication in addiction treatment and the importance of psychiatric review. I now know more about my condition, its causes, management and the importance of after care. On discharge I continued with my follow-ups sessions, I never miss taking my medication, I no longer experience mood fluctuation, am back to myself, joyous, energetic and grateful forever.