5/1/14 Finally Diagnosed with Bipolar

Sunday , 27, April 2014 Comments Off

Dear Susan:


I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  People have been calling me bipolar for a long time and I was aware that my moods could switch very abruptly.  I’m seeing a counselor and taking medication and I have to say that I’m feeling better.  The problem is my parents.


They tell me that there is nothing wrong with me and that I don’t need to take medication.  These are the same people who were always complaining about me being moody.  What should I say to them?



Finally Diagnosed


Dear Finally:


I hear this a lot no matter what the diagnosis.  Strangely, the parent or spouse who forced someone into the psychiatrist’s office in the first place is often the first to deny what the good doctor said.  I also have heard of lots of instances where parents or spouses actually hide medications and/or refuse to pay for further treatment.


There are many reasons for this.  First, there is family pride.  It’s all well and good for your family to complain about your annoying habits.  It’s another thing entirely to have a “professional” tell them that one of their own is “crazy”.  “Not in OUR family!” they cry.  Along with, “What did we ever do wrong to cause this?”  Why can’t they understand that it is NOT about them?


Second, many people still have a great distrust for what goes on in a therapist’s office.  Many of my clients go home from a session only to face hours of questioning over “what you talked about in there.”  The implicit question is “What did you say about me?”  Again, NOT about you!


Finally, there is a lot of resistance to “being on drugs.”  Sure, psych medications can be powerful and some do carry a risk for addiction.  And it can take a while to find a combination of drugs and dosages that works well for you.  So there are risks, but there are also benefits.  It is up to the individual to decide what is right for him.


Now you didn’t tell me how old you were or whether you still live with your parents.  Assuming you’re not a kid who actually NEEDS your parents’ permission to get treatment, the decision is yours and yours alone.  Educate Mom and Dad on what bipolar is and isn’t.  Let them know what the current treatment options are.  The internet is great for this.


Tell them you appreciate their concern, but you’re the one living with the disorder and so you’re really the only one who can decide how you want to treat it.