By Angi, Full-time child-care worker (last names have been omitted to protect identities)
When I was in my early 20s, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder but looking back, I definitely started showing symptoms in my teens.1 It took me years and a lot of trial and error to find the right antipsychotic treatment regimen that worked for me, but then I started to experience the uncontrollable movements of tardive dyskinesia (TD).2
Learn about TD: https://mhanational.org/conditions/tardive-dyskinesia
When I first started experiencing TD, I thought I had restless leg syndrome because my legs and hips would not stop moving.3 My hips would thrust uncontrollably, and I couldn’t sleep at night. During the day, the movements were so bad I couldn’t even sit down. Then TD started in my face – it caused twitching and long, involuntary blinking that would make me scrunch my face into a weird position. I felt very frustrated because I could not control what was happening to me!4
The TD movements were disruptive and embarrassing.5 I was self-conscious and thought people were staring at me when I left the house. My family and I didn’t know what to do, and I was becoming depressed.
Eventually, I found a psychiatrist who immediately recognized the uncontrollable movements in my legs and face as TD. This was the first time I had ever heard of TD, but it was comforting to know what I was going through was a medical condition.
When my doctor wanted me to try a medication for TD, I was very hesitant. The thought of possibly changing my medications or adding another was scary. I didn’t want to take another medicine because I didn’t want anything to jeopardize the progress I’d made with my bipolar disorder. I put off treatment and told my family I would start taking medicine when the movements got worse.6
For more on TD visit: https://www.tardiveimpact.com/
My Treatment Journey
One day, my husband and sister sat me down and said it was time for me to consider treatment for my TD. It had been six months, and my TD was now impacting my life. I realized my family was right. After several conversations with my doctor and encouragement from my family, I decided to start TD treatment. Now I feel so much better, and my symptoms have improved.7 Luckily for me, I also didn’t have to make any changes to my current bipolar medication regimen. I have regained my confidence and don’t feel as embarrassed to go out anymore. With TD under more control, I have one less thing to worry about.
Getting a mental health condition under control is tough, and TD symptoms can be frightening. To anyone currently living with a mental health condition and experiencing uncontrollable movements, I would encourage you to talk to a doctor. There may be treatment options available to help you.8
For more information about Tardive Dyskinesia and medications that may help, visit:
- What is tardive dyskinesia?
- How do you treat tardive dyskinesia?
- For more resources on TD visit TDImpact.com
1Bipolar Disorder in Teens: How to Spot the Signs and Symptoms. Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. https://www.houstonbehavioralhealth.com/blog/bipolar-disorder-teens-signs-symptoms. Accessed August 2021.
2Tardive Dyskinesia. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000685.htm. Accessed August 2021.
3Warikoo N, Schwartz T, Citrome L. Tardive dyskinesia. In: Schwartz TL, Megna J, Topel ME, eds. Antipsychotic Drugs: Pharmacology, Side Effects and Abuse Prevention. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc; 2013:235-258. Accessed November 2019.
4Tardive dyskinesia (TD). Mind website. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/tardive-dyskinesia-td/about-tardive-dyskinesia/. Accessed August 2021.
5Sharing the impact of tardive dyskinesia. NAMI website. Accessed November 2019
6Finding the Right Medication. International Bipolar Foundation. https://ibpf.org/articles/finding-the-right-medication/. Accessed August 2021.
7Tardive dyskinesia. Baylor College of Medicine website. https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/parkinsons/conditions/tardive-dyskinesia. Accessed November 2019
8Tardive dyskinesia. NAMI website. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Tardive-Dyskinesia. Accessed December 2019.