Bipolar and Bipolar Treatment are Moving Targets

November 29, 2012 Natasha Tracy

As I’ve mentioned, recently I’ve started volunteering for a local bipolar organization and what I do is give presentations to others. One part of the presentation is my “bipolar story.” It’s the story of my life before diagnosis, the process of treatment and whatnot. It’s long and, well, not that happy.

But one of the things that stands out is that treatments have turned me around, but then they stopped working and new treatments had to be found. And these new treatments were extremely hard to find. In fact, successful treatments have been found through guessing as often as through any type of clinical judgement.

And there’s a reason for this: bipolar disorder and bipolar disorder treatment are moving targets and our responses have to move with them.

Bipolar is a Moving Target

Bipolar is hard to treat for many reasons but one of them is that bipolar seems to change over time. This makes intuitive sense as people with bipolar disorder have been through many, discrete and very different episodes. It makes sense, then, that treatment for one episode may not be sufficient during others although this isn’t really something they tell you up front.

And, to be fair, one treatment may sustain a person over a very long period of time, so it’s all a lot of dice-rolling anyway.

But for many people bipolar just seems to move around. Symptoms change and they become resistant to treatment. No one knows why, they just do.

Bipolar Treatment is a Moving Target

And so bipolar treatment has to follow the moving bipolar disorder and, unfortunately, treatment is always two steps behind as no one ever knows when a treatment might stop working for you and then it’s never known what might work again.

In my opinion, this is one of the more devastating impacts of the disease. It seems like just when you get your life on track and things start to go well, back comes the bipolar for round two, or seven, or eleven.

Dealing with Ever-Changing Bipolar and Treatments

So, while no one warns you about this up front, this is something we have to learn to deal with. We have to learn that the disease may not always be the same and the treatment might not always be the same. And we have to deal with the reality that change could take place at any time.

And the major thing we can do to deal with this is simply to make peace with these facts. This is extremely difficult to do, granted, and I think it’s quite reasonable to be scared of the re-emergence of symptoms. But I think it helps to remember that no one, mentally well or not, knows what tomorrow holds. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. But you can’t spend today worrying about it.

In addition, I highly recommend planning ahead. While I would hate to tell anyone that their treatment will stop working at some point, the reality is, it very well may, so it’s best to be prepared. Two documented ways to prepare are the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and the Ulysses Agreement. Check out those links for more information.

And remember, while moving targets may be hard to hit, it can be done. Don’t give up hope. Just understand that it might take a few tries to get treatment where you need it to be.

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

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, November 29). Bipolar and Bipolar Treatment are Moving Targets, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Beverly Hutchinson
December, 5 2013 at 12:03 pm

I 'm the poster child for those unrealistic expectations. I try also to be Martha Stewart. Then I remind myself Jesus is the reason for the season, and things get somewhat back back in perspective.

January, 18 2013 at 11:50 am

Thanks, Natasha - this was the right article at the right time. I've been around the bipolar block a few times, but the symptoms are coming back hard. I needed to be reminded it is okay to ask the doctor to make some changes when it's necessary.

December, 2 2012 at 12:50 am

It's true, this article is so true. But nobody wants to hear it do they? Nobody wants to hear that the golden pill is really copper and will one day turn a rusty green. Bipolar really is a lifelong game.

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