First of all, if you don't agree with your treatment for your bipolar disorder, know that you are not alone. Accepting a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder isn't always easy. Since there isn't a cure for this disorder and its treatment will continue throughout their lifetime, many people have a hard time accepting the facts of the diagnosis of bipolar. In order to feel better about taking medications to help you get stable, you first need to accept that you have Bipolar Disorder. There are five main stages of acceptance. However, it is important to know that not everyone will experience every stage and that the stages do not always occur in this exact order. Stages of Acceptance When you first receive your diagnosis, chances are that you're going to find it difficult to accept even if you've thought that you may have had bipolar all along. In fact, many people find that when they are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, they go through several stages, which are similar to those of the 5 Stages of Grief first outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying that people experience when they find out that they have a terminal illness. These stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and, finally, Acceptance. For our purposes, let us apply Kubler-Ross’s Grief Cycle to the Bipolar Model. Applying these stages and understanding them as they apply to Bipolar Disorder, can help you cope with the reality of your condition more easily and/or be more willing to take the necessary prescribed medication. Stage 1: Denial – Initially, you're going to be wracking your brain in order to come up with reasons why the diagnosis is wrong. It's natural for us to not want bad news to be true. In fact, Kubler-Ross believes this stage is actually healthy because it gives individuals time to build up their own coping strategies which will make it easier for them to deal with the reality of the news. Stage 2: Anger – Once the reality sets in, you're going to be angry. You'll probably spend some time asking “Why me?” and contemplating the unfairness of the situation. You may lash out at the people around you, including your doctor, your friends, and your family members. It may be difficult for people to deal with your feelings but talking about them with a therapist or another person who won't judge you can help you pass through this stage. Stage 3: Bargaining – When you realize that being angry about your disorder won't do anything to change it, you'll probably start looking for ways to change the facts. You may try to make a deal with God, for example. Of course, none of the deals you make with anyone will make a difference. If you have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, then you will have it forever. Stage 4: Depression – After you recognize that there's nothing you can do to change the reality of Bipolar Disorder, you're going to feel depressed. You'll probably spend some time feeling hopeless about the future, worrying about what's going to happen to you, thinking about horrible scenarios about life-long hospitalization or other events, and questioning whether or not your life is even worth living. During this stage, it is critical that you seek help from a therapist and that you keep your support network around you. The same problems which can emerge because of a bipolar depressive episode, can also arise during this stage. Stage 5: Acceptance – Once you reach this stage, you are ready to begin treatment. You understand that there's nothing you can do to change the fact that you have Bipolar Disorder and you've resolved to make the best of the situation. While in Kubler-Ross’s Grief Model, reaching this level allows individuals to die peacefully, reaching it in the Bipolar Model means that you are giving yourself permission to live your life to its fullest. Acceptance here, then, is the understanding that, although there is no cure for Bipolar Disorder, there is stability, whereby you can live a healthy, balanced life with the aid of medication. Once you have gone through all five stages and accepted your diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you will be ready to agree with your doctor and accept his recommended treatment. This treatment will most likely include the use of medicine that will lead to your stability. If you are still going through these stages, please do not stop taking your medication. Give yourself time to accept your diagnosis before you make any drastic changes with your medication. As a matter of fact, do not make any major decisions during this period of adjustment. There will be time for that later. In the meantime, talk to your doctor or therapist in order to explore your feelings and determine a way to help you stay on your medications. Everybody is different., and their course of treatment, including which medications and the dosages of those medications, is as individualized as the person him/herself. For many people it takes a few tries before they find the right medication or combination of medications that works together to bring them the greatest amount of stability. DON’T GIVE UP! If one medication doesn’t work, tell your doctor—he/she is on your side, and wants you to get better. He will just try another drug if the first one doesn’t work. But just because you have to change medications, does not mean you should go off your medications. In fact, the opposite is true. If your doctor is changing your medications, he will wean you off your current medication as he weans you onto the new medication. You should never be without any medication. Never stop taking your bipolar drugs without your doctor’s supervision.