Bipolar Med noncompliance…blame the Victim..

okay I already wrote this post but somehow lost it so even though I am extremely annoyed I’m going to do it again.  But if this one sucks that is why.  The first one was out of this world. ha. But now I have like 8 and a half mins.  Lets go

The other title for this is meds and judgement.

So sure.  I am sure there may be some people out there who have unsavory reasons for not taking their meds.

I am not saying that med noncompliance is not a big problem.  I’m not saying that it isn’t dangerous.  I am  NOT saying that you shouldn’t take your meds. What I am talking about in this post is the general attitude (not ours) about it.  Yet another post about the unfair attitudes toward us and judgements of us. Yes I know, ANOTHER ONE.  It does get old.  But hey I don’t make the news people.  I just report it.

My experience has been that whenever I hear the term med noncompliance or hear a person spoken of as being noncompliant with their med regime….

It comes across with a hint of derision…

It feels slightly patronizing and infantalizing.

It feels like there is some judgement behind the term.  At least in some of my experiences.

Almost like the thought is…..

These self destructive crazy people.  They have an answer to their problems right under their noses and the just won’t take it.

But I don’t know.  I can’t really think of any truly BAD reasons for not wanting to take meds.  Maybe not wanting to be on meds so you can feel the high of dangerous illegal drugs.  That seems unwise.

And then there is the popular idea that we don’t take our meds because we are chasing the high of mania.  I suppose this happens.  But it doesn’t seem like a big call for judgement if a person has knowledge and understanding of Bipolar disorder.

But the absolute biggest reasons I see for why people just don’t want to take those darn pills are

  1. The meds may be helping the Bipolar but they are making the person feel horrible.

2. The meds are NOT helping the Bipolar and they are making the person feel horrible.

so basically the person feels horrible.

MORE horrible than they did before the meds.

If you are puking every hour on the hour and you are given a pill to stop it….

and that pill stops the puking but paralyzes your body….

hmmmm.  Maybe not so helpful.

Maybe that familiar puking seems like a better deal

AND if the pill does NOT stop the puking AND paralyzes you…

then the obvious desire is to toss that pill.


That is a NORMAL response.

Once again let me pause and say that I am not saying it is okay to not take your meds. I am saying that we don’t deserve to be treated like masochist idiots for wanting to stop

or stopping….

How many of you have stopped or changed your med regime without consulting you doctor first?

Why did you do it?

Often it happens because the person is suffering too greatly from the meds and can’t hold out until their Pdoc appointment….

as we know lots of us do not have ready access to a pdoc.  Many of us have to wait and wait and wait and wait.

That is a long time to hang on on a wrong and awful med.

Other times it happens because the Pdoc won’t listen…

won’t agree..

won’t give their blessing….

We forget our voice…

We try and feel ignored…dismissed…shut down…

We leave the appointment feeling discouraged beyond belief…

“I’m truly suffering from this and I am trapped in it”

And then we get pissed and think “Fuck that shit”

and stop the meds

We should not go off meds or mess with the regime …..because it can be dangerous.

Does that mean you should stay on meds that are hurting you and or not working…


Once again  it means that you have to


If your Pdoc won’t let you off of the meds…keep pushing…

Ask to try different meds.  Keep stating your case.  Say it is making your symptoms worse.

If you can’t get to a Pdoc then tell your regular doctor what is happening.

Tell these people that you are trying to do the right thing and taper off with a doctor’s supervision, clean out, and then try a different med……

Ask them to respect that and help you.

Tell them that you aren’t asking to go off because you are a masochistic idiot…

That you NEED off because it feels like the med is making everything worse.

Meds don’t all work for all of us.  It is fair to ask for different ones.

It is not fair for us to have to be pushed to a place where we have to contemplate doing something dangerous because we can’t get appropriate help and support.

Of course…the doctors may have really good reasons why they want you to stay on the med.  Listen to that.

But in order to protect yourself…..

If you KNOW that you are going to stop the med whether the doctor wants you to or not…

If you have plans to do it

Then perhaps you need to say that.

Perhaps they need to know that you are suffering THAT much.

And hey nonbipolars….

If you know a Bipolar person who stopped their meds

or if you are a doc who has a patient who wants to stop their meds….or who did….

Take it as a sign that they are suffering terribly.


Bipolars who choose to be med free also get a lot of crap.

Some people think they must not really be Bipolar if they can manage without meds.  It is a tough decision to take meds and most of us don’t like taking them. So those of us who decide to take them may feel uncomfortable and weak around people who say they can manage without.

But hey.  We all have DIFFERENT Bipolar.  So it makes sense that people can manage it differently.

And of course the world thinks they are dangerous and irresponsible.

Perhaps it is dangerous but that is reason why they deserve MORE compassion. not less.

There are generally two groups I see who choose not to be medicated….

newbies who think they SHOULD be able to handle it without meds for various reasons.

And veterans who have been through hell with meds.

For the former the weighing of risks versus benefits has not yet put meds on top.

For the latter in the weighing of the risks versus the benefits of the meds….the meds are no longer worth the risks.

It does happen to people.  Meds can fuck you up.  Those people deserve the utmost respect.  Bipolar is a hard life medicated or unmedicated.


But meds are a gift in this day and age.  We are so lucky to have them.  To be born here and now.

Many of us have full on love affairs with our meds.

The saviors of our well being.

We feel grateful every time we pop the pill even when we feel pissed about it.

Many of us have been SAVED by medication.

Families restored,

Careers renewed,

Happiness and wellbeing back on the table.

For each one of us there is RIGHT medication and there is WRONG medication.

Not necessarily perfect.  But RIGHT

Fight for the right medication.  Hope for it.  Dream about it.  Don’t settle for less.


From what I can tell most of us take medication.

So probably most of you reading this blog right now opened pill jars and med cases this morning or last night or a few minutes ago and took these pills….

These pills that are not without their risks…not without their side effects…not without their stigma…not without their danger….

And that means that all of us made the decision after dx to take the meds….

in a desperate scrabbling grasping

for help

with the hope and the faith that….

It CAN be better

How profound is that?

How noble is that?

How brave is that?

So if you are on the edge with your meds…if you feel discouraged and let down and lied to about meds…

if you are suffering because the meds are not working or are hurting you….

Try to remember that beginning…

When it seemed possible that they COULD help you.

Because they still can.

But once again….

Nobody is going to fight for you but you.

you deserve to be safe and you deserve to love your life.

Don’t stop fighting for yourself…your happiness…your life.


Add Yours
  1. prideinmadness

    I experience chronic depression from ages 12-17 and was then diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at 18. I was on psych drugs for a few years as a teen and experienced the suicidality side effect. I was off psych drugs for many years, learned many skills until I tried again in late-2013. The same thing happened, with two different drugs and my psychiatrist was very confused but he believed me. The shift was so dramatic that I needed to stop regardless of my GP wanting me to taper off. I had my family and friends watching out for me during the time of withdrawal and I know I did the right thing.

    Basically, I agree with your post. People who have never been on these drugs don’t understand how damaging the side effects can be. Some are life threatening. I cannot use these drugs. Medically, I cannot. This does not mean that my experiences are less than those who can use psych drugs. It is actually more complicated than many think and assuming a person is good or bad based off of whether or not they take psych drugs is dangerous.


    • bipolarfirst

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate hearing these stories because it expands our understanding and therefore promotes and enhances compassion for each other. The world would have you think that these things are simple. Black and white, wrong or right, on or off but it is simply not the case. And I totally agree. Misunderstanding and ignorance are dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

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