TRANSCRIPT FROM THE VIDEO:
The 4 WORST “Mood Stabilizers” for BIPOLAR DISORDER! – From Polar Warriors:
“My YouTube channel has given me a very unique advantage when it comes to exploring mental health issues. I get to hear stories from all over the world…. People talk to me about what goes on behind closed doors. I’m really honored to be in this position and I’ve learned so much from you all. To my “somewhat” surprise, there is a silent epidemic sweeping through the Bipolar Community. People are seeking relief from their symptoms and doing it in a very insidious way. Today I’d like to talk about 4 different substances that people are using as a mood stabilizer – weather they realize it or not. I’m not here to pick on anyone or make you feel bad about your desire to not suffer. I’m also no stranger to the things I’m going to talk about. These aren’t in any specific order, and I’ll have some other “honorable mentions” at the end…
So number one would be opioids or pain medication. Opioids target the brain’s reward or pleasure system. They flood the circuit with dopamine – a neurotransmitter that regulates things like emotion and feelings of pleasure. Considering opioids target the brain’s pleasure receptors, it’s common for some of us to feel euphoric or experience elevated moods. Some of us even get hypomanic on pain meds, so it becomes a way to chase the mania. The scary part is studies are showing how psychological addiction can develop in just 3 days! It also doesn’t take long before tolerance goes up and you have to take more to get the same effect body will eventually depend on them so much that you can’t function normally without them. Prolonged use of opioids can cause liver, kidney, and even heart damage. It can also develop into a condition where you have a greater sensitivity to pain. It can literally make you hurt more (both physically and mentally)..Talk about bad news. Even first-time users can experience respiratory failure and / or cardiac arrest, so I hope with all my heart that you don’t ever have to deal with opiate addiction. It almost literally killed me. If you have a history of addiction, I’d suggest staying away from pain medication at all costs. If you have to take it for a chronic condition, maybe consider lowering your dose a couple times a year to keep your tolerance low and the meds working.
I hope that first one was informative… Now let’s move on to number 2… In the late 70’s, benzodiazepines (or “benzos”)were among some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world. This would be meds like Ativan, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, etc. To this day, they are still one of the most frequently prescribed classes of meds – for people with Bipolar Disorder. I’ve been prescribed all of the ones I just mentioned at one point or another for sleep, anxiety, anxiety from pain, or rage. According to a study by the APA, more than one in eight adults used benzodiazepines in the past year – which is up from previous studies. Interestingly enough, although women were more likely than men to report using anxiety meds, men were more likely than women to report abusing them. For me personally, benzos are almost like “alcohol in a pill.” Their effect, how addictive they can be, and even the withdrawal symptoms remind me of how my body reacts to alcohol. Both benzos and alcohol increase how effective the neurotransmitter “GABA” is by acting on its receptors. Although they are very different substances, they both have similar physiological effects on the body. Both of them are very effective if used short-term, but they can be severely problematic to our physical and mental health if used long-term. I have a really addictive personality – it runs in my family. When I was in my 20’s, there’s no way I could have managed a bottle of anxiety medication. I’d abuse the hell out of it and truly convenience myself that I wasn’t. Maybe this is something you have to go through to come to the same conclusion. I really hope not because it was a nasty lesson for me personally.
Now for number 3… I actually asked our online Community what THEY thought was the worst substance for self-medicating. The overwhelming response was of course….. alcohol. It’s so cheap, accessible, and for the most part, socially acceptable. Studies have shown that those of us with Bipolar Disorder have a 60% chance of developing a drinking problem – at some point in our lives. We call this “Dual Diagnosis” and I have a whole video dedicated to it. I am absolutely in that 60% myself. I remember when I literally believed that having a little bit of alcohol was “simply part of my wellness program.” That it was literally what I needed to maintain stability. Alcohol is like this crazy trap. It starts to trigger the same major symptoms that I was drinking to escape in the first place. Alcohol and Bipolar have a strange relationship. The impulsivity and risk-taking of Bipolar mania can lead to alcoholism… By contrast, alcohol can lead to more impulsive, risky, (and even violent) behavior. Those of us with Bipolar who drink have been shown to display more manic symptoms than those of us who don’t drink. Mania causes a LOT of problems in my life. Even drinking it responsibly is a big risk to my overall stability. Of all the substances out there, there’s a reason why there’s alcohol warnings on all our prescription bottles. It can cause really dangerous side effects or prevent our Bipolar meds from working entirely. My 20’s were a blur of psych meds and alcohol. It’s no wonder I couldn’t find much of anything that worked at the time. One of the worst parts about this time was that I was just numbing everything. I wasn’t making very much progress growing as a person because I was avoiding healthy means of coping with life. It was almost like my life took a giant pause and I can’t get that time back. Some scientists have suggested that alcohol use or withdrawal and bipolar disorder affect the same brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters. Regardless of what the science says, I know from trial and error that it’s one of the worst things I can do for overall stability.
I hope I’ve covered the first three adequately because I could probably dedicate an entire video to each of those. Again, I’m not judging or picking on anyone out there who might have a glass of wine at night or who takes anxiety meds for a very valid reason. I’m just sharing a few things to consider.
So the last one I’m going to go over was the second most-voted among the Bipolar Community. This would be stimulants like meth, caffeine, cocaine, or prescription drugs like Adderall. I’ve tried them all when I was younger, and I really get why they appeal to the Bipolar community so much. Taking an upper is like a ticket to instant mania for a lot of us. Sometimes it’s feel-good hypomania, and other times it’s the catalyst for a serious paranoid-psychotic episode. Uppers can be like Bipolar ON TOP OF Bipolar. They amplify everything – both the highs and especially the lows. Some of the worst physical and emotional crashes I’ve experienced in my entire life were from uppers. What goes up, must come down and it’s usually proportionate. The higher the high, the lower the low. Long-term use creates this unrealistic standard of what life feels like, so when someone goes back to sober life, everything will feel so flat for a while. This makes it so easy to relapse at first. It takes time for our brain to recover after such a hit and to naturally produce things like dopamine again. Taking an upper almost guarantees a full spectrum mood swing. I don’t know about you, but I do the worst damage to my life when I’m severely symptomatic. I just can’t afford that now – especially if it’s avoidable. If you have an addictive personality like I do, or if you are known for “chasing the mania” like I did, pleeeeeeease take my advice and stay away from uppers. There’s a reason why uppers came in second behind alcohol for the worst substances we can abuse.
I don’t want this video to get too long, but I have a couple last “honorable mentions” of other substances people thought were among the worst for Bipolar Disorder. Coming in at number 5 was marijuana. Now there’s a reason why I haven’t made a video about pot yet. In all reality, it should be approached like a medication and I’ve made it a habit of not talking about specific medications on my channel. There is such a strong divide among the mental health community when it comes to pot. I know people who have experienced instant psychosis on it, while others swear by it as part of their wellness program. At this point, I’m not going to take a stance on pot, but I will say this… Of all the treatment options out there, there are much less risky, much more accessible, and much cheaper ways to treat Bipolar symptoms than using marijuana. If you’ve never used it before and you don’t know how you’ll react, it’s better to just stay away.
The last one that quite a few people voted on was food. I know all about binge eating when I’m depressed, not eating when I’m manic, and meds causing those late night hunger pains! Food is such a blessing and a curse for us. Eventually I’ll dedicate an entire video to Bipolar Disorder and nutrition, but I wanted to make sure I at least mentioned this one.
So there you have it! A few of the quote “worst mood stabilizers” or substances that many of us have used to self-medicate. If this video was relatable, interesting, or helpful, please consider interacting with my channel by liking, commenting, or subscribing. It just increases the chances that someone else might find Polar Warriors and get the help that they need. If you need to reach out, there’s always a link in the video description where you can contact me directly.
Take extra good care and stop by Polar Warriors again soon for more videos. Stay well!