How to Keep Going When Mental Illness Treatment Doesn't Work
Everyone who has been bipolar, or mentally ill in general, for longer than about a day-and-a-half has experienced failed treatments. We've all had medications that didn't work. Therapy that didn't help. Lifestyle changes that did nothing. And so on, and so forth. In fact, most of us experience months of treatment failure before we find treatment that works for our mental illness.
But after years of failure and trying everything you can think of and still being sick, how does one keep going? How do you keep going when mental illness treatment doesn't work?
Do You Regret Trying a Treatment?
I can understand why people would think I'd regret it, but I don't. Because you can never tell if a treatment is going to work before you try it. Every treatment is a question mark and the only way to know whether you'll get better or not is to try. I don't regret trying. Because even failure is information to use moving forward.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
- Thomas A. Edison
Treatment Doesn't Work
I have experienced far more treatment failures than I have successes. I'm what you call treatment-resistant, also known as a doctor's nightmare. A doctor gives me pills, I get every side effect. I do therapy and I know what the therapist is going to say before they say it. I make other changes in my life to little or no effect.
A friend of mine sometimes gets depressed. And he told me, he forces himself to go outside and do things anyway. When I asked him why, he said he knew staying inside wasn't going to make him feel better, but outside there was at least a tiny chance something would happen to make him less depressed.
Continuing treatment is extremely simple: If I try something new, there is a chance I will get better; if everything stays the same, there is no chance.
Treatment, Even That You've Already Tried, Can Work
Today is not yesterday and today sure isn't three years ago. You're not the same. Your illness is not the same. You may not have seen a good response three years ago, but you might today. Or tomorrow. Or a month from now.
And the truth is there are always more treatments. Therapy, medication, ECT, VNS, rTMS, DBS and on, and on, and on. And any one of them can work. Really.
Because even a tiny chance of getting better is infinitely superior to no chance at all.
Tracy, N. (2011, August 15). How to Keep Going When Mental Illness Treatment Doesn't Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/08/how-to-keep-going-when-mental-illness-treatment-doesnt-work
Author: Natasha Tracy
Hilarious was the part about the friend that can tell them self to go outside LMAO.
That's not mental illness thats plain old boredom.
Try not to post things as such and act like you know anything about what its like to suffer and not be able to EVER feel good for over 30 years.
a new medication is lined up but it didnt work last time and i am snookered and confused as to how i will get better. i have anxiety and ocd but head tension mainly
Thank you for telling your story. It certainly can be a long path towards getting the right medication and sometimes it can be a very lonely journey.
My lifesaver was lamictal. I hope you find yours soon.
Thanks for the positive feedback. Glad I could help with perspective; it's a challenge for anyone.
"It is frustrating at times but patients need to know that if care providers had a magic solution they would not hide it."
Yeah. I've felt like they were "hiding it" before. Not because I really thought they were but because I couldn't get better and I was desperate and I knew that other people got better. It _seems_ like they're hiding it, but of course, they're doing the best they can. (Which I tell people all the time and yet people find it hard to believe.)
Great post. I just want to say that I have been following you for a while on HealthyPlace.com and on your website. I appreciate your honesty on the topic and am glad to be part of the blogging team. Thank you for, as they say, keeping it real.
I started on a new treatment programme for my bipolar this spring with high hopes and a really positive recommendation from my psychiatrist. It didn't work. I got to a stage where I was feeling upset with myself for not responding as expected to the meds, which I know is crazy, but that's how it was. I'm changing meds now and have been on the new one a couple of weeks. I know I am going to be really disappointed if this one doesn't work either, but reading your post has helped me get a bit of a sense of perspective back, thanks!
This is really, really common. When treatment doesn't work it feels like your fault - but it isn't your fault. Mental illness can be very difficult to treat and you just haven't found what you need yet.
It's natural to blame yourself, but please know, that's just the disease talking. It's not you.
I recommend discussing this in therapy because a therapist is always there to back you up and fight the nasty things your disease tells you.
I wonder about this- a lot. I wonder if its my job, not an illness, if its my relationship and not an illness, I even wonder if maybe i am just dehydrated!!!
Today, Im in treatment, but still feeling shitty and depressed and anxious. I wrestle everyday with it and someways- i feel like its not worth the effort.
I generally consider it an accurate assessment of the glass, but that's me.