Recovery starts with questioning

I was told; “Do not to think about getting better“, “You will need for drugs for life” and “Forget about going back to work

Did these psychiatrists really believe I was beyond hope?

Did they say these things to make me angry and determined to prove them wrong?

Being told that bipolar is an incurable genetic disorder (it is not of course) took a lot of hope away. Psychiatric drugs made me sleep more, put on weight and have less ambition. It was difficult to cope. Being addicted to a prescribed mood-altering-drug is like any addiction. It took many years to gradually and safely taper off these drugs that were wrecking my physical health.

By 2008, I had learned enough to be employed as a health research interviewing people who had made great recoveries from severe mental illnesses. Initially, I did not understand those who said they had ‘recovered’ from mood disorders. I believed I would be ‘in-recovery’ until I died. After reading many interview transcripts it became clear I had been wrong. These people had indeed recovered. They were adding phrases starting with, “Providing I…“.

They had learned that eating right, moving enough and so on were important for good health. These are things that ordinary, less emotional, people know naturally. Some of us have to learn after doing it all wrong.

I have now been out of hospital and back working for 20 years, yet have I stopped having pretty extreme moods? Are, even long, periods of good health just ‘remissions’?

Some people still say, “You WILL become ill again“, so I need to stay well to prove them wrong!

There is no other disorder like bipolar: The better we feel and the more we achieve, the more the ‘experts’ say we must be ill and try to force drugs on us to make us less well. Is there any other illness or disorder in the world where sufferers are told not to think about what it would be like to leave it all behind?

It is time for change.  Without change the numbers with the diagnosis will continue to grow. Diagnosis with no possibility of ‘undiagnosis’ cannot be right.

By recovering as fully as anyone can from the trauma of diagnosis, over-medication and maltreatment I was offered a discharge from all mental health support. I was deemed too well to need any kind of support. Yet there was no route for exploring the possibility that I could now be fully fit. No discussion that a lack of symptoms might mean the disorder had gone or perhaps… I did not have an incurable disorder in the first place?

Strangely, even people who hate their disorder fight against the idea of full recovery. It is a difficult concept after so many years of indoctrination about the incurable nature of bipolar disorder.

Is it hope, false hope or even a fantasy to believe a bipolar recovery can lead to eventually having no disorder at all or even have our diagnosis taken off our health records?  Should those who believe it-cannot-be-done be preaching to those who dream of one day being well again?

Some of us need to dream. Some of us need to act on those dreams.

If this page (created in 2011 (edited in 2019)) still makes sense and is still going then could this suggest bipolar recovery is real and lasting? A ‘bipolar person’ earning enough money to fund a project that keeps going and growing – whilst not taking any psychiatric drugs – surely that contradicts the ‘expert’ opinion. Or else, if creating web sites and sharing ideas about full recovery is an illness, then it is a strange illness!

Please work on recovery and change things for the next generation.

5 Responses to Recovery

  1. andy says:

    Have you done a Millon’s Test yet? It is accurate and used by the NHS (in conjunction with an interview) and tests you for personality disorders including bipolar. If you didn’t register as bipolar you would have a strong case for removal of the diagnosis.


    • Hi Andy,

      I am grateful that you took time to suggest something I have not heard of. Sorry about the long delay in approving and replying to your comment.

      I looked the Millon® Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III™) up on the internet.

      I am tempted to do another test. It looks like it would be a good one if I was trying to jump from the bipolar ‘box’ to some other ‘box’ (or label) to describe my emotional distress or physical health issues. Currently I am struggling. Lack of energy. Blood tests show low calcium and low vitamin D that does not seem to get corrected by diet or supplements. I have paid to see some of my medical notes and looking back I now have the idea that I need to exercise more (not just walking as I already do that whenever I feel up to it). I get the impression that when I used to go swimming I was healthier. The challenge now is to somehow find the energy to get to the swimming pool… right now that seems like a seriously big challenge.

      I have a medical next week. Maybe that will shed some light on what is causing my current mostly low energy state.


      • Hiya – no problem I thought it might be of interest. I had been diagnosed with bipolar and ptsd and kept on an ever-changing multi-mood stabiliser regime which left me like a zombie. I spent 7 years telling NHS I didn’t believe the bipolar part was correct; stopping meds and being harangued about need to take, with attendant stopping issues. I finally discovered I was entitled to a second opinion which led to the new doc doing the test without any ‘prior’ opinion.

        Result was I scored very high on PTSD, major and chronic depression, anxiety and self-defeating attitude. The mood swings (which were always deep but short) were caused by borderline personality disorder (which was mostly already resolved by fluke as I’d received psychotherapy for PTSD). My score for bipolar was zero!!

        Basically, the results were exactly what I’d believed they should be. And of course that meant I needed NO meds (apart from a anti depressant short term).

        It also meant that I now have a framework into which my personality issues fitted – so I can now understand my motives etc. and thus change my behaviours, which is working very well.

        If I’d believed the seven psychiatrists in a row I’d still be a zombie with no solution, direction or goals. So yes, it’s a messy place mental health.

        I strongly believe one needs to focus on building foundation blocks (diet, exercise and meditation) onto which one can then re-build emotional stability etc. I also strongly believe one needs to take personal ownership of the issue and not just believe the docs – their goals are not the same as ours. They want stability and minimal hassles = meds usually.

        Anyway, that’s my story, hope it is of some use.


  2. Annette Monckton says:

    It was refreshing to read your article and you are not alone. Several months ago, I had an episode due to sleep deprivation. I was simply doing too much at the time, my body functioned on adrenaline and to a degree I became addicted to it. Eventually I received a surge of natural adrenaline which created my episode. However the doctors were not interested in my view and only want to force me to take drugs. I was detained and trapped in a psychiatric ward for 3 weeks against my will which was very frustrating. I kept my cool because I knew if I challenged in a negative way it would have been deemed as part of a so called condition they believed I had. Unbeknown to the doctors, I kept nearly all my pills. They had expressed I was making good progress and was well. When I confessed to not taking any medication they were flawed. I actually had to protect myself and illegally recorded 3 consults. I would never have imagined that the places of care could actually do more harm. I witnessed many inconsistencies and one in particular was the use of prescribed drugs, everyone was given practically the same pills. With a clear mind, I was horrified to see people being abused by these chemicals. Not once was anyone referred to a psychologist. Ironically I was actually researching psychology when I pushed myself past my limits. I have since documented my experience in an Auto-biography called Crazy Normal, Normal Crazy! It is available through Lulu publishing. I am continuing with my personal research and will be using the book as a springboard to instigate changes that need to be addressed with in the mental health industry. Thanks for sharing your story and I’m sure there are many people who are suffering unnecessarily.


    • What happened to you is unfortunately happening again and again. It made me think of the time in hospital when I was given the wrong tablets. I told the nurse they were the wrong size and wrong colour and she said, “Take them anyway. They are all pretty much the same.” I said I would not take the wrong tablets and it turned out another patient had been given my tablets. In a way, the nurse was not as wrong as I thought she was, as all the tablets being dispensed were sedatives, so maybe it did not make much difference when they were giving out the wrong ones.

      Your book sounds interesting. You are welcome to add a link to it here…


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