I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2000. I take my meds every day. I can't function at full capacity without them. I know I have a chronic medical condition. Its not any different from diabetes, heart dx, hypertension. You need to look at it as a disease instead of a mental illness. I lost friends, jobs, mates before starting my medications. I did not function normal before the meds. The question I have for you, do you like the way you are when not on meds? If you don't then stay on the meds not only for yourself but for everyone around you. You might not die from not taking your meds like other chronic medical condition but it does alter your capability to function normal. When you working with patients haven't you seen the deniel stage when diagnosed with a chronic disease. You are no different.