bipolar disorder, Dr. Paul Markovitz  Q. I was diagnosed six years ago with Bipolar illness (a rapid cycler). In those six years I've had several manic episodes, and many depressive episodes. Currently, I take Lithobid, Wellbutrin, Synthroid (for hypothyroidism), Seroquel, and Trazodone. I must admit I feel like a pill queen. My husband says my attitude, mood, behavior are worse than before I ever started the bipolar/medication roller coaster ride. He doesn't think I am bipolar, and thinks I should stop taking the meds, and return to plain, old me. Several of my friends also believe this. Quite frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if they're right. I don't even remember what non-med me was like. I'm seriously considering backing myself off of my medications. I'm also wanting to get pregnant, and know there are some questions regarding the various medications and pregnancy. I'm reluctant to just stop taking my meds. I certainly don't want to make matters worse. But I often wonder if perhaps I'm really, and truly okay beneath the medicated layers. Can you provide information on acceptable, safe ways to stop taking one's meds? Is there a time frame as to how quickly one backs off of the pills? If I choose to do this and I get to a point where I'm med free, and manic depressive episodes kick me right in the butt, can I start up on my meds again? Or will they be ineffective at that point? I just want to do the best, healthiest thing for me.

  A. It would be presumptive of me to give you ways to back off your medications. If what you are taking is not effective or the side effects too great, talk to your own doctor. If he or she is unwilling to change, get a second opinion. I have never see a rapid cycler who stayed well off medications.