I found a really neat new (to me) site which discusses legal issues related to severe mental illnesses (bipolar and schizophrenia). I am reading it slowly, but already it has triggered a lot of thought about this.
I believe that there is a level on which patients have a right to choose treatment. I know very well how harsh the treatments can be, and how frustrating it is to not have them work as well as hoped yet still have all the side effects. I know that there have been times I have not been very compliant with certain parts of my treatments because I didn't like something about them.
I can't really imagine being bipolar and having well times, but I imagine if I did I'd push rather hard to be allowed to try significant med reductions/trials of being off meds. I did this when I only had a depression diagnosis, and although it wasn't what my doctor wanted it worked for me and made me feel I had tried everything when I did need the meds again.
In the situation I'm in I do have certain meds I have requested not to take. One of these, Zyprexa, is likely to help me, but I really do not want the side effects. Another of my online finds lately has been this which I plan to fill out and distribute to my mother and doctor's as soon as I'm well enough to trust my own decision making.
Which is the point. I know that at times I can't make any decisions for myself that are healthy. If I am unwell I want those meds forced on me no matter what. I already actually wish that my meds were available as depot injections (shots that give a month's worth of meds). I'd rather gets shots than worry about missing doses, etc.
I've seen many times what non-compliance with meds does. Anyone who has worked in psych has. Many, many of the admissions have not been taking meds properly for a very long period of time. As they are given meds on a consistent schedule and monitored while they take them and all stops are pulled to get those meds in consistently, the patient sometimes becomes a totally different being, capable of so much more than would have been anticipated upon arrival.
So, I now will make sure that everyone understands that I give up my right to refuse meds when I am too ill to live outside of a psychiatric facility. I never thought that wasn't obvious.