Living with bipolar disorder is difficult enough––made even more difficult when you add chronic pain to the mix.
Several months ago I started experiencing pain in my neck and shoulders. Initially it was bothersome. But as the weeks progressed, the pain intensified.
Thus began a costly and frustrating process of trial and error trying to pin down the cause and achieve some relief. After multiple exams, adjustments, massages, medications and x-rays, we think we’ve pinned things down. Now I’m faced with additional choices, cost and time all the while continuing to be in pain.
This got me to thinking. For those of us who live with chronic pain, what impact does this have on our Bipolar disorder? What I’ve learned:
1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Doctors are “the” medical experts and are therefore seen as voices of authority in our lives and communities. Consequently, we do not think to question their advice. Perhaps we’re intimidated or don’t realize that we can. Consider asking:
Are there other options? (less costly, less invasive, etc.)
What are the risks of not going with this prescribed medication or course of action??
How many times have you, Dr. Smith, performed this procedure?
What is the success rate for recipients of this treatment?
2) Do your research
Is the doctor prescribing a medication that may interfere with what you’re already taking? Many pharmacies and healthcare providers have a system to cross-check for potential interactions.
The internet is FULL of information (some useful, some not so much) about conditions, medications, and procedures. Check for scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence from recipients.
Ask around. You never know when a friend, neighbor or your librarian’s niece has experience in dealing with a similar concern.
3) Find an advocate
If you are having difficulty navigating the healthcare path, perhaps a friend or family member can join you on your visit to a healthcare provider. There are national organization that assist with patient advocacy. And many healthcare systems off in house advocates or peer support specialists to assist you in getting your needs and concerns are met.
Do you have experience living with chronic pain? Please share with us in the space below.
Jon Press is a husband and father living in the Chicago suburbs. He holds a BA in Religion, an MA in Christian Education, is certified in Mental Health First Aid, and has taken several graduate level courses towards a Masters degree in Community Counseling. He was first diagnosed with Bipolar I in college (1989). After many seasons of depression and (hypo)mania, his diagnosis was later revised to Bipolar II (2002). Following a hospitalization in 2010, he became fiercely committed to his own recovery and connecting with others in the bp community. Jon was featured on the “This is Me” page in the Winter 2012 Edition of bp Magazine. He facilitates a depression, bipolar, and anxiety support group in the Chicago area called Fresh Hope. He is delighted to be a part of the bphope blogging team. In sharing personal stories and experiences, his goal is to foster community by challenging, educating, and inspiring positive change.
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