Self-Help for Bipolar Disorder: Taking Medications

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • For most people, the most obvious self-help practice for bipolar disorder is taking your medications faithfully and on time. Some folks use a pill box that's divided into days and times of day. I used to have one I used for my mother's medications (she had a ton of drugs and supplements to take) that was a one-week box with slots for four times a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Since she also had one or two that had to be taken first thing when she got up, those bottles were by her bed.


    People who eat meals at regular times may use those meals as reminders. But my mealtimes are erratic, so that doesn't work for me.

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    I take pills morning and an hour before bedtime, so I have them divided into two containers. I also have two pop-up reminders on my calendar: "Take morning meds" and "take bedtime meds." When these alarms show up, I get the containers out and put the pills in a tray right in front of my desk (I live at the computer). Then I snooze (not close) the alert, because sometimes I take a few of the pills and then get distracted. Not until they're all taken do I close the alert.


    Some of my pills have to be taken both morning and evening. There are two ways to handle this, and I use both. I've divided one medication between the current pill bottle and a prior bottle I saved. That way the second pill doesn't have to sit in my tray all day.


    But fish oil capsules, for example, are huge pills that come in a great big bottle. My evening pill container is the larger of the two, so this bottle lives there, and I get out both the evening and the next morning's dose at once. The morning dose sits overnight and gets taken in the morning with the others. For the one pill that has to be taken morning and afternoon, I have a third pop-up reminder at 3:00 pm - "omeprazole."


    I couldn't get along without my calendar reminders, not only for taking meds but for other tasks as well. There are other ways to get alerts, such as watches with alarms, smartphones, etc.


    Do you have a system for making sure you take your medications on time? Please share it with others by leaving a comment. If you're really bad about taking your pills, why do you think that is, and what do you think you can do about it?

Published On: August 10, 2011