Some people with bipolar disorder can live healthy, thriving lives without medication. Despite my doing tons of research, consulting with top experts and giving it my absolute best shot, I could not live medication-free. Maybe in the future, but definitely not now.
A person with bipolar who is able to live without medication is neurosurgeon and general practitioner Dr. Liz Miller. I discovered her in actor Stephen Fry’s acclaimed documentary “The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive”; she was one of his subjects. If you haven’t seen Fry’s film yet, I highly recommend it – he profiles both celebrities and regular folks, and it’s inspiring and fascinating. I got emotional watching him as he narrated the film. I felt tears come to my eyes as he shared about his suicide attempt. He has been there in bipolarland hell, and he has made it back to the other side to help people and has become a major mental health advocate in the U.K. Fry is vulnerable, funny as hell, and immensely likable, plus he has the British accent going for him! You can watch the film on YouTube – here’s the link for the first part, and you can easily find the other parts on YouTube :
Dr. Miller was the only subject in Fry’s film who was living medication-free and doing well. I was impressed by her philosophy and I appreciated how she shared what helped her stay sane, i.e. healthy eating, etc. Aside from working part-time, she co-founded the Doctors Support Network, a confidential self-help group for physicians in the U.K. with mental health concerns. I liked what Dr. Miller had to say so much that I tracked her down through the internet. I asked her to write the foreword to my book, which would chronicle my becoming medication-free. I conservatively planned my tapering process to take a full year. After reviewing my proposal and sample chapters, Dr. Miller agreed to write the foreword, and I was thrilled. Unfortunately, when I relapsed, that version of my book went out the window. I cancelled the book deal I secured with a women’s health publishing company, and I never thought I’d write more than a few lines again.
Despite the fact that I refuse to toss away my pills, I can still incorporate some of Dr. Miller’s suggestions for remaining stable and healthy. She wrote a book titled Mood Mapping (Rodale) and it’s for anyone who wishes to keep track of her moods and learn from them. Mood Mapping is on Kindle and here’s the Amazon description:
Mood mapping simply involves plotting how you feel against your energy levels, to determine your current mood. Dr. Liz Miller then gives you the tools you need to lift your low mood, so improving your mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Miller developed this technique as a result of her own diagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic depression), and of overcoming it, leading her to seek ways to improve the mental health of others. This innovative book illustrates: * The Five Keys to Moods: learn to identify the physical or emotional factors that affect your moods * The Miller Mood Map: learn to visually map your mood to increase self-awareness * Practical ways to implement change to alleviate low mood. Mood mapping is an essential life skill; by giving an innovative perspective to your life, it enables you to be happier, calmer and to bring positivity to your own life and to those around you.
I am the Procrastination Queen…
I’ve had Dr. Miller’s book for a long time, and I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t read it all yet. However, I intend to finish her book soon, try out Dr. Miller’s Mood Map, and report back here.
Here’s Dr. Miller’s Facebook page link for Mood Mapping: