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.

6 Kind thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Oh my I wish i could find something that worked for my manic part! They just tried me on geodon and I can not tolerate that stuff at all! Can not take seroquel because it elevates my blood sugar.

Nancie said...

Oh, Michelle, thanks for dropping by. It's not easy to find the suitable medication or combinations of them to manage bipolar. I am learning to manage through medication and other helps. Still trying to understand it and learn how best to cope with it. Hope you will find something helpful. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Dear Nancie,
I am newly diagnosed with severe Bipolar and am struggling because I am a pastor too! I took lamitical and flouxetine too and guess what?! I had such severe reactions that I had to grab my chest and lie foetal position on the floor for long-periods till I doze off. The former medication gave me boils (I felt like Job already! hahahh) and I had to see a dermatologist for biopsy. Haiz...oops! I just saw your picture and guess what?! I actually know you.

Nancie said...

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my blog! Thanks for your sharing. I sorry to know of your struggles and the severe reactions you have had with the medications. It is not easy to find the right medications and every one of them have side-effects.

In my own experiences the diagnosis, though distressing, helps us to understand what we are going through and how we may learn to manage it. Finding a good doctor is extremely important if medications are needed so that the doctor can work closely with us to find something that will help us in the long run.

But medications are only one of the aspect that will help us in our conditions. We need to incorporate other wellness activities, understand what may trigger off mania or depression, how to prevent them if possible, how best to recognize early symptoms of relapse and what we can do to get better, what we can do when we are going through a relapse and how to prevent its worsening.

This is a learning process and a journey that those of us who are diagnosed with bipolar or other mental illnesses, need to go through. I am still learning, by the grace of God, and am thankful that with all the available helps and resources, my conditions are improving and I am more functional. I have listed some useful resources that is helping me to cope under "My coping strategies".

Hope the Lord will lead you to find something that will help you. Being a pastor, it must be very difficult for you. God's merciful dealings with Job has been my constant encouragements in my own suffering especially with severe prolonged depressions. It is a comfort to remember that God is in control and He has a purposes in all that He allows us to go through. He sanctifies us through the trials, draw us closer to Himself and make us useful in His kingdom.

My own sufferings have taught me painfully on the reality of sufferings among Christian. I am learning to share with God's suffering people the comfort which God has comforted me.

It is interesting that you actually know me! That makes me very curious as to who you are? :)

Thanks again for stopping by and leaving this comment. May God be with you to guide and bless you.

With appreciation and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Dear Nancie,

I mentioned you and JJ-Lim to my wife and she remembers you guys too! From way ago at a place in Gilstead road. Hahahha. Anyway, you are very right. I am having a tough time not merely as a bipolar person but a bipolar-pastor! Imagine hearing voices (presently 4) and talking to myself without even knowing and all the guilt feelings of hypocrisy... not forgetting the ups and downs. Well...i wouldn't be pastor for long...anyway....thanks for the memories years ago. bye....

Nancie said...

It's interesting to know that you and your wife have known me since Gilstead Road days. It's a small world...

Hope you will find treatments that will help you to cope better with your conditions. Take heart that your condition can be managed! May God bless and guide you. Bye...


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