The BP Cocktail
Most Bipolar Disorder people are put on a medication combo, that I will from here on out refer to as the "meds cocktail". It can take months, even years for you and your Pdoc (psychiatrist) to get this cocktail just right to where it can do it's job and stabilizer your Bipolar so that you can have a fairly normal funtional life. Let me tell you that it is not a good idea for you to try to alter this cocktail on your own. If you do, you can possible do yourself more harm than good and end up with a panic driven emergency room visit. And none of us like or want that.
If you are only taking your antidepressant, you risk setting off a major manic episode. If you only take the mania med, then you risk a depressive episode. If you don't take a mood stabilizer then you are risking a mixed episode or possibly a severe depressive or manic episode. The solution is obvious: DO WHAT YOUR PDOC PRESCIBES.
Now this issue of medications must include some how to's and don'ts. Different meds need to be taken on a full stomach or an empty stomach. All your meds need to be taken at the same time each and every day. Just like Pavlov's dog, your brain needs to be conditioned to receiving the cocktail at the same hours daily. Be aware that some of our cocktail meds will have a bad interaction with other medications, even those over the counter. Always ask your pharmacist about this because #1 they have to stay current on the newer drugs and #2 your doctor doesn't always remember to tell you or may not even know about the possible interactions. We all know how "busy" Pdocs are and they do sometimes forget to tell us the minute details.
I learned this the hard way when I was first put on Neurontin. My Pdoc never told me that Neurontin had to be spaced out into 3 distinct dosage times. It's half-life is short which is why it must be spaced out in order to maintain my depressive driven anger. The first month on this drug I was taking it all at once and was totally and delightfully stoned out of my gourd. It was my therapist, God bless her, who informed me of the proper procedure. Plus, I was also on a medication to reduced excess stomach acid and this med negated the psych cocktail. So in other words, nothing was able to do it's job. I learned to take the psych cocktail 30 minutes or more after the stomach acid medication. When I mentioned this to my now "former" Pdoc, he just shrugged and said "hmm."
Taking your cocktail off and on, or constantly forgetting and taking it just whenever you remember is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. You certainly are not helping yourself and you're making biochemical adjustment almost impossible. Our cocktails usually make us even more forgetful than we were without them. So it is definetly easy to forget just what you took and when. You can buy those medication dispensers at your local pharmacy. A former coworker of mine came up with a suggestion that works great for me. I take an empty med bottle and fill it each night with what I will need to take the next day. I keep all my meds at my computer desk because that is generally the first place I go when I wake up. By looking in that bottle, I can tell what I need to take and which I need to take or haven't taken. Write yourself a note or make up a board listing if you have to, but just take them daily at the same time! If you skip a dose by accident and it isn't close to the next dosage, go ahead and take it. But if IS close to the next dosage time, just wait and take the next dose. Do not double dose!
Some of my med can put me into a stoner's haze that would make even the oldest hippy giddy. Sometimes that same med will have me tip toeing on the edge of a major manic episode or a major depressive episode. When I teetering on going manic, my legs get sort of light headed and I feel as though I'm going to jump right out of my skin and fly. If there is another person nearby, they will be in for a manic induced rambling of speedy thoughts from my mouth. In other words, I simply cannot shut up. I will spew all sorts of things at them and I can see in their face that they are trying there best to keep up with me. If I'm going the other way into a depression, then I just want to isolate and I don't want any living person near me. It is because of these various reactions that I cannot at this time tolerate a job. It's just too stressful when one of these attacks come on and office gossip and politics are something I cannot tolerate even without the meds so you can imagine what I'm like when I'm on them and have to deal with it.
Are cocktails are our friends. Sure, sometimes it seems they are our enemies but in reality, all these meds, side effects and all, are our lifelines. We need them, our brain craves them. So let's just be thankful that swallowing a bunch of pills is all we need to do in order to control our disease. Sure our lives can be rough, but always remember that there are people out there who are suffering from much worse diseases or disorders and pills won't help them at all.