For the treatment of my bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), currently, I am taking 2 medications ie. mood stabiliser (lamotrigine 100mg, brand name Lamictal) and anti-psychotic (quetiapine 25mg, brand name Seroquel) to be taken every night. Whenever I am down with severe depression, I will need to take an anti-depressant ie. 20mg Fluoxetine (or common brand name Prozac) for 7 to 10 days. The anti-depressant does not cure me but it lifts me up to a more functional level. Then I am able to make use of other helps such as reading the Bible, pray, regular exercise, reduce stress, recreation or breaks (see my coping strategies).
My Doctor said I will probably need to be on Lamictal for lifelong as it will help to stabilise my mood on the long term basis. As bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness is a chronic and lifelong condition, mood-stabiliser is crucial in the management of it. Lamictal is less toxic than Lithium salts and it is another option available that helps in treating bipolar. My Doctor said I probably will need Seroquel too as Seroquel will help to prevent relapses of depression. Seroquel is an anti-psychotic and it works by changing the actions of chemicals in the brain. Seroquel is used to treat the symptoms of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
But medications alone is not enough. Medications can only help if used together with other management techniques or helps which I am learning use to manage my condition. I am learning to recognize what can trigger off my episodes and look out for early symptoms so that I can either prevent or shorten the episodes. I discovered that stress and strain over a period of time will bring about a relapse severe depression. Hypomania behaviours will worsen if I have little sleep or rest, or take on more and more projects. After months of hypomania, depression will follow. It is like a cycle. I am learning to arrest these cycles earlier or use various helps to shorten them. By God's mercies, I am making small progress which I am thankful for. Thank God for providing various helps.
I have also been taking large dosage of Omega-3 fish oil supplements through the kindness of 2 church friends for the last 9 months or so. Omega-3 fish oil is said by some writers to help with bipolar disorder in the long run when taken on a regular basis.
I hope that one day, by God's enablement, I can manage my condition so well that I can be on lower dosage of medication or without medication eventually. But I know that at this point of time, I still need to continue with the medication in order to be more functional. Although the medication have their side-effects, at least at this moment they helped me to be more functional. Without the help of medication, I will still be in severe depression and will have to wait for the cycles to run their courses before I can function which is usually after 3 to 6 months or sometimes longer. And the frightening truth is that my condition has worsened over the years. My interval of my relapses were closer and my symptoms were more severe and less bearable. My severe depressive episodes have become more suicidal and these suicidal tendency are harder to fight. Thank God for preserving me. I believe that medication and other helps will help me to get better and cope better. So I am learning prayerfully to use other coping helps.
I hope that with the various helps, my down time will be lesser and lesser and I can contribute more to the Lord's works, my family and the society at large. I thank God that there are various helps available now for bipolar and other mental health condition so that we may be able to continue to live in the society and contribute in small ways. In the past, without these helps, people with mental health conditions are confined to institutions and isolated from the society.
I know that ultimately it is God who preserves and restores me. But it is also my responsibility to take care of myself by using the means and helps God has made available to me. There has to be a balance between God's sovereignty and man's responsibilities. So I make use of these means (see my coping strategies) prayerfully, looking to God to use these for my recovery. I pray daily for God's guidance to me to the right helps and learn to manage my condition so that I can be more functional and able to continue to serve our Lord.
I know that our Lord will preserve and strengthen me for as long as He wants me to serve Him here. When my service are done, He shall call me home to be with Him, to enter into my eternal rest and to enjoy communion with Him forever. So meanwhile, I look to Him daily, for grace and strength to run this race that is set before me, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith.