Bipolar Treatment and Non-Compliance

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Did you take your meds today? Ever had someone ask you that question flippantly because you aren’t in the best of moods? People who may or may not know you have Bipolar Disorder can ask this question not meaning anything other then bringing your mood to your attention in a subtle way. It’s estimated that roughly 50-60% of those of us living with Bipolar do not regularly take our meds. That is a lot of us being non-compliant with our treatment plans. There are factors that affect this like your happiness with the current medication, your doctor-patient relationship, your overall satisfaction with treatment, money, availability, and so on. I have a family member who self-medicates a lot. He believes he knows better than the doctors and can decided when or if he should take his own medications. The thing is that most medications must be taken for a certain time period before they even become truly effective. Missing doses starts you back at square one, so you aren’t getting the full benefit. For me, taking medication is essential to my treatment plan success. Over the years, I have learned to be aware enough of my situation that I can look at myself with some objectivity and see what I need to improve myself. I hate taking medications every single day. To make this a little easier I have my pills prepped and ready for me so all I have to do is grab them, take a swig of water, and swallow. Thanks to my doctor I know what pills are best taken in the morning versus at night. Which pills can be taken with certain supplements and which can’t.

Compliance is a big part of successful treatment. There is no cure for Bipolar Disorder. Don’t be fooled by the ads you see on the internet claiming a cure. This is a lifelong disease we need to learn to control and treat. I learned the hard way that if I want to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and woman I need to pursue treatment and stick with it. Therapy is something that helps me look at where I have been and where I want to go. I learn coping skills, methods of self-reflection, and get called out on things that I try to ignore. I need this. My medication helps balance me out and keep my swings to a minimal level. My diet helps keep me steady instead of diving head first into sugar when I am having a bad day. Although, I do love me some cupcakes! All of these things I had to realize where essential for me to be the woman I want to be instead of the woman I was. I hurt my family and friends. I put my family in bad situations and created a bad reputation for myself because I thought I could handle being Bipolar on my own. It wasn’t until my long-suffering husband looked at me and said that I either “get help or I need to leave” that it became real. I was at a crossroad and no amount of talking was going to change my situation. I needed to change.

How do you deal with non-compliance? I see it in others and am at a loss for words on how to get through to them how important compliance is. You aren’t losing your freedom of choice. You are gaining a better understanding of who you and who you can become. Medication isn’t easy. It takes a while to find the right cocktail. It is a frustrating journey I will admit. There were days I felt I was better off before I started medication. Now that I am on a good regimen I feel like myself again. The me without the ups and downs. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it easy? Hell no. Give yourself a chance and take your meds regularly.

What are some ways to you use to make taking meds easier? Do you have pretty pill containers? Do you set your meds and water on the nightstand? Please share your methods.

Sources: Chakrabarti, Subho. 2016. Treatment-adherence in bipolar disorder: A patient-centered approach. Retrieved from

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