Holding Onto Hope in Bipolar Treatment
Monday, October 25 2010 Natasha Tracy
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.
How 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.
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 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.
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.