April 22, 2011 2 Comments
We are working towards a world where no one will need to be labeled as bipolar.
- How can people incorrectly labeled as bipolar reduce any disorder and eventually stop being regarded as unwell?
- Why is there any need at all for a mental illness called ‘bipolar disorder’?
Example: LABELED as BIPOLAR
John was told by doctors that recovery was not possible and he would need psychiatric drugs for life. Both things turned out not to be true.
A prescribed drug caused him to suffer insomnia and restlessness that matched the symptoms listed for bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, there is no procedure in the UK for removing a bipolar label from medical records. Once labeled as bipolar it goes with you for life. Even if the next day a different psychiatrist were to say it was an error. The words BIPOLAR DISORDER will stay on your medical records for life. On John’s records BIPOLAR DISORDER is written and printed in capitals.
- When will ‘ undiagnosis ‘ be possible?
Bipolar disorder is close to a perfect diagnosis for selling drugs. Anyone can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In most countries the diagnosis goes with the message, “Keep taking the psychiatric drugs no matter what happens”. Even if you fully recover from whatever was going wrong or find there was nothing wrong at all, you will still be told you must not stop taking the drugs because the withdrawal will cause ‘bipolar symptoms’. It is a strange disorder with most doctors discouraging recovery.
- We work with people wanting to eliminating their own bipolar diagnosis.
- We are also tackling the wider issue of whether anyone ever needs a bipolar diagnosis in the first place.
Bipolar disorder evolved from the diagnosis of manic depression – It is no longer the same thing
Prior to 1980 a small number of people had been diagnosed as manic-depressive but that was a different disorder. Manic depression was a disorder of mostly short episodes of disorder with mostly long periods of wellness. Many/most people only had one ‘high’ and one ‘low’ episode in their lifetime. It rarely disabled anyone. The bipolar disorder label was created in 1980 by psychiatrists in the USA looking to explain something new that was happening to people taking psychiatric drugs. Up until 1980 bipolar disorder and its description simply did not exist in the psychiatrists’ manuals.
Bipolar may not sound as bad as manic-depression but when it comes with no hope of recovery it becomes far more damaging. Gradually the drugs used to control mood cause severe physical illnesses and usually early death. In many ‘developed’ countries it has reach epidemic proportions becoming one of the top disabling health problems. Psychiatrists who say they do not experience bipolar symptoms themselves have told us that it is “…degenerative and that is why recovery is not possible.” A frightening idea that could easily take away a person’s last bit of hope.
In our work as mental health researchers and trainers the many bipolar diagnosed people we meet tend to either believe:
1) It is something they were born with/developed at an early age that they will always need drugs for it. They talk as if psychiatric drugs are more important than anything they can do for themselves.
2) It is mainly due to past traumas and current stresses, saying it is something they can learn to overcome with minimal use of psychiatric drugs.
We have met, interviewed, trained and spent time with enough people in each group for enough years to be convinced that the way we view bipolar disorder determines its outcome.
1) Those who believe it is incurable and place huge emphasis on psychiatric drugs gradually become more unwell, achieve less and less and have an increasingly miserable life with fewer and fewer good relationships.
2) Those who believe they can overcome the disorder using, Mood Mapping, Bipolar In Order or similar systems/techniques tend to stay well, achieve more and have an increasingly better life with more good relationships.
With bipolar diagnosis: what we believe really does become reality in almost every case. Recovery is possible for those who have hope, take responsibility and have an open mind.
This site is about giving people a choice about how to think about bipolar
We were taught that it was largely hereditary… “Your parents were nuts and that is why you are nuts.” It turns out there is very little truth in this. Yes, a diagnosis can run in families, however, research has confirmed that anyone can experience massive shifts in mood and so anyone can be labeled as bipolar. A lot of things we were told about bipolar disorder have turned out not to be true.
The idea that, “Bipolar disorder can never be cured. Once you have a bipolar diagnosis you have it for life.” takes away a lot of hope, shifts power away from ordinary people and makes psychiatrists more powerful. To consider and talk about the alternative (the truth) you have to be brave. We risk being called mad when we say that we have recovered from bipolar disorder.
Eliminating disorder: To survive bipolar disorder we must to eliminate the disorder part. When friends (and ideally family too) can help us eliminate the causes of disorder we find coping, recovering and thriving become easier, regardless of who says we are still ‘bipolar’ and whatever may be meant by that.
Eliminating your diagnosis: Some doctors are starting to agree that bipolar labeling does not have to be for life. In the UK doctors are not allowed to remove incorrect or obsolete bipolar labeling from our records. While we want this to become possible, a step in the right direction would be for incorrect or obsolete diagnosis to be marked as such and made less visible. This would allow medical professionals to consider our physical health before reading that we have an incurable disorder.
Time to stop the labeling: When we or our families are desperate it can feel good to get a diagnosis. It feels that progress is being made and useful treatment will follow. With the bipolar label comes a lot of false hope. If you have a choice, then do not accept a bipolar diagnosis. Accept that you have difficulties. Difficulties can be overcome. The bipolar label does not go away. People who accept the bipolar label generally get sicker and die younger than those who do not. Find people who used to be considered bipolar and mentally ill and are not ill now. Learn how they coped and recovered then do what you need to do to stay well. We believe it is better to be considered well rather labelled for life.
Next article = Giving people choices