I write at HealthyPlace about the problems associated with living with bipolar disorder, and let’s face it, there are many. I also talk about the problems with the treatment of bipolar disorder, and yes, there are many of those too.
But just because I recognize issues, discuss genuine, painful emotion and make loud an inner voice that among most people is strangled, doesn’t mean my treatment has been a failure. Just because I’m not “all better,” that doesn’t mean treatment doesn’t work.
When I Started Treatment
I don’t like to think about it much, but when I started treatment things were very bad. I cried all day, every day. I went to counseling, sometimes more than weekly, seeing no change. I was overcome by a profound desire for death that expressed itself with razor blades.
I. Was. A. Mess. A soon-to-be dead mess, at that.
Treatment wasn’t a lightning rod of brilliance reshaping my existence. It was more like a lightening rod of nausea redefining the word “headache.” But, you know, nothing’s perfect.
What Did Treatment Do?
Treatment made it possible for me to limp through university and earn a bachelors degree in computer science; many people with a well brain couldn’t get that far. And eventually, after many misses, I did get a hit, and for the first time in years I experienced pleasure.
And honestly, my personal biography is fairly impressive.* Tech companies, instant promotions, sent world-wide to represent a company, working for one of the most-prestigious tech companies in the world, skydive coaching, paragliding, SCUBA-certified.
And on, and on, and on.
During some of those things my bipolar was pretty out-of-control. During some of them it wasn’t. Not the Earth, nor treatment, nor bipolar, stand still.
I’ve had many more treatment failures than successes, to be sure. Far more medications didn’t work than those that did. But working combinations, well, they stick around for a while, if not forever.
Some people are misdiagnosed and shouldn’t have been on meds in the first place, they go off meds and are fine. Some people get off meds over time and do fine. Some people will find a medication, stay on it and be fine for decades. Some people will have to struggle every day to do what others take for granted. Some people will have to find new medications every year or two when theirs stops working. For some people, medication will only ever get them to a “5” and never a “10” like everyone would want.
And on, and on, and on.
None of these scenarios define success and none define failure either. These scenarios are typical of medicine’s battle with any disease. Some people die during a heart transplant. Most are alive at one year. Most aren’t alive at ten years.
Outcomes vary. No one can tell you what group you’ll be in.
Natasha’s Treatment is a Failure?
So certainly, there are heaps of deleterious things bipolar has done to my life. But in case you were wondering, my razor blades are in the drawer. I write thousands of words weekly in technical and other fields. I have friends I love and friends that love me. I have marrow-sucking, neighborhood-disturbing sex.
I absolutely feel like a failure, sometimes. I absolutely feel treatment has been a failure, sometimes. I absolutely feel bipolar has destroyed me, sometimes.
But I’m human. And a contradictory one at that.
The facts of the case however, is I’ve done more with my life than most people, well or not. And through the agony, I continue to breathe. And there is no doubt in my mind treatment is responsible for that. Discussing the pain of this life is a part of me as a writer.
Call that a failure if you wish.
* I do apologize for the self-aggrandizement. It’s simply there to make a point.