Self-medication for bipolar disorder vs meds

By my teens I had experimented with booze, which I loved – it took away all anxiety. Marijuana didn’t work for me, despite frequent attempts, as my anxiety went escalated I lost control. I was seeking upliftment, and this drug gave me the uncertainty.

By my 20s, I had discovered Zyrtec, an antihistamine, to help me sleep. And Codeine to manage anxiety. And cough mixture to sleep during the day if in a depressive state (only once or twice). I also took St John’s Wart for long periods of time and started running in an obsessive kind of way during university .

I discovered Ecstasy when I hit London in my mid 20s and hung on for way too long. This was my fabulous drug of choice – the energy (even if I couldn’t move my body due to the Ketamine) and the deep connections with people around me, combined with no fear – of life, of anything.  The whole world was possible. The plunges between weekends were unfortunately agonising. I dabbled in Cocaine, Speed and other chemical follow-ons, but nothing compared.

Then in my 30s I was prescribed antidepressants after the birth of my first child. At 38, after having my two boys, my first hospital stay and experience of Rivotril (Clonazepam). By 39 diagnosed as first hyperthymic and then Bipolar 2. Which meant more focus on mood stabilisers. It’s taken seven years to get on my current combination, which still don’t stop the cycles. 

So have these seven years under psychiatric treatment (love Dr L don’t get me wrong), with five hospital says, helped? I am still unstable. I still self-medicate with booze (although abstaining now). I suffer the side effects from the meds on top of this, and think I am pushing my reliance on Rivotril. And I often wonder if this is actually me anymore or rather a slow and numbed version of what is possible. Or was it so terrible during those years, even worse than now, and I don’t want her back? It seems so long ago.

Do you ever think the meds are a waste of time?

PS I found this amazing blog on the subject on Quora, from Mills Baker. Do the benefits of bipolar meds ever feel outweighed by the emotional costs?

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