This is a question that all of us, the mental (and not only bipolar) ask as soon as we start dealing with the psychiatry. To take that monstrosity called medication with terrible side effects, or risk spending the rest of our lives enclosed in psychiatric facilities (and trust me, this isn’t fun).
Personally, I am all for medication. After all, plenty of people need to take it for all kinds of reasons and I know from personal experience that it does help. But the problem with medical establishment called the psychiatry is that upon giving you a diagnosis or releasing you from the hospital, they present you with a bag full of pills without explaining properly as to how one is supposed to live on 20 hours of sleep a day. Yes, this is usually the dose of medication that the psychiatrists feel the most comfortable with, the one where one is slowly developing into a zombie.
It was only with experience and several stays in the hospital that I learned how to deal with this problem. It is all in the details. Yes, I do need medication, even if I disagree with the mantra of the psychiatrists that developing an occasional psychosis is the end of the world (it is not and it can be an amazing experience), and I do agree that swallowing a daily pill will help me to avoid the company of psychiatrists and stay inside the community of all those we define as normal. But the detail lies in the dose. The psychiatrists tend to overdo the dosage because frankly speaking, they have little knowledge of what madness is. I think that lying in bed being unable to move because of the amount of medication is madness and not when one shouts on the streets about doomsday.
And so I learned how to manipulate it. The psychiatrists might prescribe whatever they want, but I am capable enough of making my own decisions. 300ml of quetiapine a day? Reduce it to 100ml (and when I am stable and happy, I also reduce it to 50ml). 10ml of risperidone a day? I wouldn’t take this medication from hell even under the risk of going mental for the rest of my life, but in case one doesn’t have any choice, I would reduce it to 5ml. 30ml of olanzapine? Yes, sleeping the whole day might seem as a good idea for someone who needs some rest, but if one still wants to have some kind of life, 10ml should be sufficient. The trick is to take a therapeutic dose and eliminate the aspect of becoming a zombie. We all want to live, enjoy the company of friends, find a good job, watch a movie, have fun. And psychiatrists (with the exception of some) don’t seem to understand this simple law of life. So, why should we listen to them if they just want to medicate us? The answer is simple. We shouldn’t.
I am happy enough on my self-medicated dose of quetiapine, thank you very much.