I am a very difficult case of bipolar to treat. Believe me. I have been on more bipolar medications than anyone I know and finding an effective cocktail is akin to walking on water. It’s possible, but it’s pretty darn rare. And recently I made a medication change from one antipsychotic to another. It went very badly in a whole host of ways. In fact, I terminated the medication trial early and went back to my previous medication.
I see my doctor this afternoon and now I have to tell him the bad news about how it went. And I feel guilty about failing another bipolar medication. I know he will be disappointed and I feel bad about it.
Yes, some people will correct me and say, “The medication failed you.” Well, use all the wordplay you want, it still feels like I failed another medication treatment.
And, if you have a decent doctor, the doctor is disappointed when treatments fail. They’re not disappointed in you, of course. They are disappointed in the failure. But it’s easy to feel like this is a disappointment in you. It’s easy to read this like you’ve done something wrong. It’s easy to feel like it’s your fault.
And it’s hard to see the look of disappointment on your doctor’s face – especially if you like him. And this look gets more and more pronounced the more treatments that fail.
It’s Not Your Fault
But, as I said, it isn’t your fault. I admit that it feels like it is but we need to remember that this is a depression thing. Depression looks to make us feel bad about everything regardless as to whether there is any actual blame to be had. And in this situation there is no blame. Your chemistry just didn’t match with the chemistry of a drug. That’s no one’s fault.
Scientists see a negative result as favourably as a positive one. This is because a negative result is still a result. It’s still data to take into account. It’s still one step closer to the answer you seek. So we can view medication trials in the same way. If a medication doesn’t work then it’s just one more data point. It’s just one more medication to cross off the list. Yes, because we have personal skin in the game, we would have preferred that it work, but if nothing else, we still got a data point out of it and that data point can help get us to the answer we seek.
Because something will work. It takes time, patience, persistence and a good doctor, but it will happen. If nothing else, this I have learned. Eventually neither of you will be disappointed. But it can be an agonizing wait getting there – and that time will be hard enough so try not to spend it beating yourself up too.