By Indigo Blue


Recently, I have struggled with taking my medication. The reasons ranged from ambivalence and grief, to just plain forgetting. Although I devised a system to help me, when faced with unusual stress, I found myself slipping again. I actually forgot my system designed to help me remember. I decided to take the Beatles advice and get by with a little help from my friends.

Two of the most important ingredients to succeeding in almost any undertaking, are support and accountability. Support holds us in a warm embrace. Accountability wakes us up and says, "Okay, itís time to do what you have to do, and do it right." Both are vital.

I immediately began gathering Medication Accountability PartnersóMAPs for short. I liked the way that turned out. Maps give you way to get to where you are going. The directions are right there, and if you stray, a map can get you back on track. A fitting metaphor, indeed.

My first MAP was Marie. In her gentle way she prodding me with questions, "Why arenít you taking your meds?" As the mother of a diabetic child, she understands the importance of a medication routine. Her questioning forced me to voice what was merely vague introspection, and in the middle of my conversation I started my medicine, again. Her skillful guidance was followed up with praise. I felt encouraged and successful with her on my team.

Gail, my second MAP had a bare bones practical approach. We discussed the situation, and she urged me purchase a watch with an alarm, and keep it on. With the alarm set, I can be jarred into action by an annoying beep. This was good sense to me, and Iíll implement this as soon as possible.

Terry, my third MAP has a "scared straight" approach. I did not realize how menacing Terry is until she found out I was skipping meds. She told me she was going to whoop my you-know-what. But, she was smiling when she said it. I realized I would rather face Mike Tyson, high off drugs, in a dark alley than deal with having to tell Terry I didnít take my medicine. But in fairness, Terry is also very sweet, and told me to put an Indigo ribbon around my finger, even if my bottle of lithium was tied to the other end (Terry is funny, too). The color indigo will help me in the midst of my busy life, remember to take care of myself.

Systems are important, and for people who have bipolar disorder, they are essential. However, systems are not relationships. They donít love you and want to see you better. People do that. So when you are lost, get yourself a MAP. In fact, get a MAP before you lose your way. It may prevent being lost, altogether. Listen your MAPís input. Let your MAP help you help yourself.

In the end, youíll be glad you did. And best of all youíll find your way home again.


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