I was diagnosed manic-depressive back in 1978, which is what they used to call bi-polar. I did a trial clinic at the V.A. and went on a fairly high dose of lithium. That did wonders for my condition and how I felt, for a couple years. I had stopped drinking when I got out of the Navy in ’77, but was still smoking weed occasionally. It seemed to help with the sense that the medication cut me off from my emotions. Two years in, a doctor took me off the lithium due to a severe infection I was fighting — somehow he felt the lithium would cause a problem with that — I loved how it felt being off lithium, so stayed off it. Things quickly spun out of control, but I realized, during that time, that I was an alcoholic and addict (the weed-smoking had also gotten out of control), and got very involved in 12 Step programs. It took 4 years, but I eventually got a sponsor who had good 12 Step experience, and began going through the steps in earnest. I asked about the lithium — he said he wasn’t a doctor, and suggested I talk to my doctor about that. The doctor suggested I continue doing what I was doing with the steps, since that was new, and talk to him monthly. Together, we could decide whether I needed to go back on the lithium. After a few months, we both agreed that the steps seemed to be doing the job. I never went back to the lithium. The manic-depression (or bi-polar) didn’t go away, completely — I think I still have some tendencies, and swings, they just aren’t destructive like they once were, and applying the 12 Steps to my living, and thinking, seems to keep it in check.