Bipolar and Bipolar Treatment are Moving Targets
Thursday, 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.