The amazing and important thing here---what caused you to “turn around” so to speak? And how do you control your mood swings and thoughts without meds?
I find this very hard to explain. I really don't know why I succeeded and others didn't. I really really wanted to recover, I never gave that up. I think that in a perverse way, because I believed it was all my fault, I found it easier to look at myself and not baulk at stuff I read or was told.
I found 12 step groups helpful, though they do have their down side for very vulnerable people. However, they were a lifeline for me. I did find an excellent therapist whom I saw for 5 years. He committed to me 24/7 until I didn't need him any more. It was not a traditional 50 minute hour sessions only. If I needed him at 3am, I got him. He never once told me what was wrong with me. He listened and pointed out my seriously flawed thinking and that was it. He gave me the space to discover and grow without judging me. I also read as much as I could. I found Alice Miller and Dorothy Rowe to be the most helpful.
Dorothy Rowe really changed me. It was reading her that gave me my epiphany. Reading her explanation of how we create meaning from our experience and how all we, any of us, have to go on is our ideas and the meanings we create. AND HOW WE COULD CHANGE THOSE IDEAS AND MEANINGS. It was that that truly awakened me and pulled me out of Hell. I would recommend her above all else. (She is an athiest, which I might agree with her on, and she believes that death is the end-I don't agree on that - but please don't let that put you off.) In fact I'd go as far as to say I think she should be mandatory reading for all teenagers in school. The powers that be will not like that though so it won't happen.
Oh and for me, I use a light box during the winter months and that has stopped the depressions I always got during that period.
I believe I don't get manic any more because I have nothing to run from. I don't get depressed because I think differently now but also because of the light box. I am sure that for me, there was a physical component to the depression-the lack of light. The reasons are scientific and well documented. And of course, as i don't manic, i don't experience the let down and exhaustion brought on by the mania ending which was another motor for the depression.
So this is the best short explanation I can give for being able to live without mood medicine. This plus what I have written and will continue to write on my blog.