All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

31 Days of Bipolar: Day 16. My best possible treatment strategy

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Day 16: If you could plan the best possible treatment strategy for your bipolar self, what would it look like?

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The only treatment strategy that I’ve ever had for my bipolar self is medication. I’ve never had a psychiatrist monitoring my moods. I’ve never had a psychologist offering me sage-like wisdom and I’ve never had a team of nurses keeping an eye on the intricacies of my mental ill-health. For some reason the powers that be decided that I have to deal with bipolar affective disorder all on my lonesome, not that I’m bitter or jealous, it has proven to me countless times how strong (and stubborn) I am. But there are times I wish I didn’t have to go it alone, that I had someone to help me with the roller-coaster moods that make up my life, which is why my best possible treatment strategy would start with a psychiatrist.

Now, after my last appointment with a psychiatrist, I’m not exactly overflowing with warmth and trust for people in this particular profession. In fact, you could go so far as to say I despise anyone who pulls on a white coat and decides that their opinion is going to govern someone’s life, but I can’t hide the fact that I believe I need a psychiatrist. Not just someone to correctly monitor my medication intake, but someone with whom I can discuss the intricacies of my life in the hope of finding answers and insight to all the niggling things that nag at my inner-being. Or maybe I just want a psychiatrist because other people have one, and find their input toward their mental health, to be invaluable. Either way, a psychiatrist that I admire and trust would be the starting point to my best possible treatment strategy.

A best possible treatment strategy that would continue with a support worker with whom I had a valuable and trustworthy relationship. A support worker with whom I could discuss things outside of the psychiatrist’s control. A support worker who could accompany me to appointments, advocate on my behalf and help me fight the demons that plague my soul. A support worker who could assist me with DBT, mindfulness and exposure therapy. If I were designing my ‘perfect’ treatment strategy, I know who this support worker would be, because for a short time in 2013-14 she was my support worker, but a funding cut ripped her out of my life and left me the poorer for it.

The next part of my best possible treatment strategy would be a medication regime that worked; not one that has just been throw together because it has worked for other people. A medication regime that included anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. A medication regime similar to the one I was on prior to the mood stabilizers causing acute pancreatitis, a side effect that resulted in them being torn from my life and replaced with nothing.

The fourth part of my best possible treatment strategy would be a series of psychosocial rehabilitation groups. A program of activities that would prevent me from being socially isolated, teach me new coping mechanisms and allow me interaction with other human beings who were facing similar issues to myself. This would be an intrinsic part of my treatment strategy, and one that my support worker would assist me in undertaking should my anxiety prove too strong or uncontrollable.

Lastly, my best possible treatment strategy, would contain something that has been missing from my life for so long I’ve all but forgotten what it feels like; friendship. I’ve long believed that friends are more potent and powerful than even the strongest medication when it comes to fighting mental illness. Having one person talk to you, spend time with you, show an interest in your life, can re-program your brain chemistry and make everything you battle on a daily basis feel worthwhile. Having that one person care, having that one person show you love, can work miracles.

But like I said, I have been deemed unworthy of having these things. I have been sentenced to battle bipolar affective disorder and other mental illnesses all on my lonesome. So writing about what treatment I would like is painful, it tugs at my very heart and renders me in physical pain, for I know deep down that I will never receive it. Any of it. It’s just the way things are for me.

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