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Holding Onto Hope in Bipolar Treatment

I know that as a semi-public person with bipolar disorder I am supposed to beam hope. I am supposed to remind people of it, write about it, speak about it, and give it to everyone wrapped in a shiny happy wrapper.

I don’t do this.

There is, without doubt, hope to be had, out there in the bipolar treatment world, but that doesn’t mean I particularly feel too strongly about it personally.

Hope for You

When it comes to you, the reader, the watcher, or the listener, I can tell you, with some authority, there is hope for you. I can tell you that with competent treatment for bipolar disorder, the odds are extremely good that you will experience remission. At some point. It may not last forever. You might get sick again sometime in the future, but you will experience remission. You can believe in that.

hand_to_faceHow Could I Possibly Know That You Will Get Better?

True, I can’t guarantee it. Nothing in life is certain. Nothing is a given. But I do know that with the myriad of treatments available, many of which most people don’t even know about, something will work for you. Your life will change. Your disease will change. No one knows why, but we do know this to be true.

Hope for Me

On the other hand, I don’t have a whole lot of help for me. It’s because I know my own history, I know how many bipolar treatments I’ve tried and I know the numbers. I know there is almost zero chance for a meaningful remission of my bipolar symptoms. If you look at people like me in studies, the predicted outcome is no change. Doctors recognize it. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that people like me don’t even get allowed into studies. We’d skew all the data in a way that drug companies really wouldn’t like.

Hope Hurts

The problem with hope is that when you don’t get the remission you hoped for, it hurts. If you really hoped for it; if it really matters; when it doesn’t happen, it hurts.

And with treatment failure, the hope is life rending. When I start a treatment and start to hope, I start to see visions of smiles in my future. I start to see a life that I’m not dreading to live. I start to see a social life. I start to see going out and having fun. I start to see relationships. I start to see laughter. I start to see motivation and energy and desire. I start to see the life that everyone else has.

And I have to tell you, when I experience another medication failure having all those dreams ripped away from me hurts more than I can express; and I know a lot of words. It feels like someone ripped out an internal organ and crushed it in their fist. It’s gagging pain that sucks the oxygen out of the room and makes you believe that you will truly die of pain.

I don’t recommend it.

hope

Hope is Required During Treatment

But the dagnabit of it is that you have to at least have a dewdrop of hope somewhere in your system otherwise you wouldn’t try treatment. Really. Even when you feel there is no hope, you scream it at the top of your lungs, somewhere some hope exists; otherwise you wouldn’t take another pill. Somewhere in there is hope. Even if it’s covered by layers of bad experiences, self-hatred, misery and disillusion.

Someone Can Hold the Hope for You

But the bit that few people know is that someone else can hold onto the hope for you. They can take the tiny pinprick of hope and keep it safe while you can’t. They can keep telling you it’s there. They can keep reminding you that it never goes away. They can keep telling you there is always tomorrow. They can keep telling you that your life will change. Guaranteed.

Help Holders

There are probably people holding onto your hope right now without you even knowing about it. People like doctors, therapists, friends, family, and yes, even me. I’m hanging onto a piece of your hope too. I’m keeping it safe. I can see it there even when you can’t. It doesn’t matter than I don’t know you. I know your despair. I know your pain. And I know there is hope. I know that as long as you are breathing, there is hope. Really. Truly.

But it’s OK not to feel it yourself. It’s OK to avoid the pain it brings with it. Don’t worry; it will be waiting for you anyway.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

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11 thoughts on “Holding Onto Hope in Bipolar Treatment”

  1. Hi Natasha,

    I’m sorry you don’t hold much hope for your own recovery, but you make a beautiful point about how important it is to have people in your life who believe in you even when you can’t.

    When I was first recovering from bulimia, it was my Twelve Step sponsor who believed in me until I could believe in myself. When my husband became ill with bipolar, I was grateful to be in a position to do the same for him.

    I actually like this post so much that I’ve referenced it in my latest blog post on why it’s important to be involved in a spouse’s psychiatric treatment: http://bit.ly/8XcyEe

    I’d love to hear you opinion if you have a chance to stop by.

  2. Believe it or not you just gave me hope by just knowing I am not alone in my world with Bi-Polar. I pray for hope everyday and somehow it always appears. Always know my friend you are never alone in this battle. There is a brighter day!!!

  3. Oh, thank you two for your vivid openess. Your thoughts and feelings mirror mine exactly. It is soooooo wonderful to know that you are not alone. As we all know, “Life is just too hard sometimes”. But yes, there is that glimmer of hope that drives us on.

    My particular joys come from children and elderly adults. They don’t judge or are not cruel. They also want just someone to listen to them. I don’t share my problems of Bi-Polar with them, but just to be near them and share with them of lifes pleasures. I can be really down, but when I get near those two groups of people, my heart takes a leap and joy comes to my soul….

  4. Having tried various medication for the past 18 years, I have no reason to believe in anyone else. I say this with my OWN experience: nothing works. Keep expectations and desires to the minimum and life will become easier. The more you struggle the worse it will be for you! Surrendering can be sad at times but that is the ONLY thing that has helped me.

  5. I have 2 children who suffer from mental illness. My seventeen year old daughter has just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My 24 year old son is currently in a mental hospital. He has struggled since he was seventeen. He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar. Of course they never have a conclusive diagnosis. So it is trial and error, trusting doctors who try this drug and that with no real positive outcome. I understand what you mean about hope. Now I always pray and have faith that God will help with this but lets face it, in my experience it doesn’t seem as though people with mental illness are given the attention or care they need and deserve. Compared to cancer and alzheimers awareness there just doesn’t seem to be the same amount of resources and treatments available. This is very frustrating as a parent.

  6. Hi Hiding Away,

    You are certainly free to feel that nothing works. That is the experience of some people.

    But just to counter, things _do_ work. They don’ work for everyone, but they work for most. I know if you’re not in the most you don’t really care so much, but as a reality check, most people do find relief from mental illness.

    Certainly one perspective is lessening expectations and desires and if you’ve found that helpful then it works for you. Many people, mentally ill or not, believe in this.

    Thanks for sharing.

    – Natasha

  7. Hi Heidi,

    Yes, I believe that the mentally ill aren’t treated the same as people with other illnesses. The medical profession should have no bias, but this very clearly isn’t the case. It’s unfortunate that we face stigma in our everyday lives and then again with the people who are supposed to help us.

    I’m sorry you’re frustrated. All I can say is that it’s great that you are championing for your children.

    – Natasha

  8. It’s a terrible thing to be told, as if another person knows (!), that nothing will change. I’ve come to know in my bones that everything is changing all the time … even if some changes aren’t apparent or evident. I look at the sky … at the weather … at the “moods” of the Earth as the seasons change … and there it is: the proof. Seasons … weather … and those good souls who hold hope for us, no matter what.

    … That is such a powerful image –> holding hope for another; holding another’s hope.

    Thank you, Natasha 🙂

  9. I have tried dozens of psyche meds with mixed results. My longest remission in the last twenty odd years was about 6 months. I don’t have hopes, I have expectations and they are that sometimes I will feel good and sometimes I will feel bad. I do have hopes but they are realistic.

  10. Jaliya

    I like the weather, seasons, etc analogies. It’s true that things are always changing in nature… and in BC it always seems to be raining, after all I do live in a rainforest, but I know that eventually the sun does come out, if only for a little while

    It’s kinda corny but this brings to mind the words of the Bette Midler song, The Rose…

    “just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed that with the suns love in the spring becomes the rose’.

    To me this represents hope. I’d rather be hopeful than hopeless

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