Severity of Bipolar Disorder and Views on Treatment
You’d let them take an ice pick to your brain if you thought it would help.
Bipolar disorder impacts different people differently. For some people, bipolar disorder is immanently treatable. These people find doctors, therapy and medication and walk off into the sunset with few bipolar symptoms left with which to contend. These people lead the same lives as everyone else and besides (likely) controlling certain lifestyle factor that contribute to stability, they don’t have to think about bipolar disorder on a daily basis.
Then there are the people who are more affected by the illness. These are people for whom treatment partially works. They likely find doctors, therapy and medication too, but in spite of best efforts, they live with bipolar symptoms every day. These people might live your ordinary life or might live a life that is more affected by the illness, such as one where they can only work part-time.
And then there are the people that are severely affected by bipolar. Even with treatment these people tend to have intractable moods and likely can’t work because of them. These people do not live average lives. They live lives dictated by the illness and the treatment. These people are in pain every day.
And it’s only chance that places you in one of those three groups.
Depending on the Severity of Bipolar, You May See Treatment Differently
And depending on what group you’re in, you may see the disease differently and you likely see treatment differently too. For example, if you’re in group one, and let’s say you have a well-controlled disease while only taking one medication, you might look at someone on six medications like they have tentacles growing out of their head. We have a tendency to judge each other, even within the community (which is sad).
But the fact of the matter is, some people with bipolar disorder are in pain on a daily basis. For some people with bipolar disorder, life is not worth living. For some people with bipolar disorder, every single day is the struggle of a lifetime and when they go to bed at night they have no idea how they made it through another day.
I identify with these people more than with the other groups.
Bipolar Severity and Pain
There are things about me that are high-functioning, to be sure, but I have felt that life wasn’t worth living for major chunks out of my life. And I can’t express to you the desperation. I can’t express to you what it’s like only to want to die but to deny yourself that desire every single day. I can’t express what it’s like to know that tomorrow will be the same. It all will be without meaning. It all will be with excruciating pain.
And I cannot possibly express to you much anyone in chronic pain wants it to end.
Because if I could express those things to you, you would understand that almost any price is worth paying to begin living life again. It is worth almost anything to want to get out of bed in the morning. It is worth almost anything to feel pleasure. It is worth almost anything to have the feeling that you are doing more than merely “existing” on this planet.
Ice Picks in the Brain
And as for ice picks in the brain? Well, that’s not something I would recommend to anyone. But there is a radical treatment out there known as deep brain stimulation where electrodes are being implanted directly into the brain and, who knows, maybe that’s something I’ll have to look into one day. And if you don’t understand why a human being would let someone give them a craniotomy and surgically implant electrodes into their brain with all the risks that entails then you simply don’t understand pain, that’s all.
Tracy, N. (2012, December 3). Severity of Bipolar Disorder and Views on Treatment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/12/severity-of-bipolar-disorder-and-views-on-treatment
Author: Natasha Tracy
I hate hope. I hate it, but I need it. I have to let it be a part of my life, even though, I will forever be convinced it will be proven false. I will hide from it, I will run from it, but I know I will eventually turn and embrace it. I always have before.
Funny thing. If I was saying that to people who haven't lived with this illness, I would spend pages now, trying to explain what I mean. Thank you Natasha, for providing a place where doing that isn't necessary.
So far all drug therapy has made me more manic and I OD'd on Xanax and alcohol and spent 4 days in ICU and 20 plus days in the hospital three different times just this year alone so now they won't give me Xanax for the panic. Weed makes me more paranoid and alcohol gives me a headache. Where is the hope!? Where is the fun?! I can't even concentrate on these wonderful blogs you write! I want to! I can tell they are full of good information but the depression takes over and I can't keep my eyes open. DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN!
Is my way "right" or "the only way?" Not at all. This is what I am doing right now to try and deal with the symptoms caused by my bi-polar disorder and my PTSD. I hope and pray for a better tomorrow, but as I get older my symptoms seem to increase and the medications work less and less. (I have been on over forty medications in my lifetime.)
VenusH: I applaud you for expressing what works for you even though you knew it might offend. I was offended at first, but after reading your second post and spending some time thinking about it, I had to admit that everybody who suffers from mental illness has different experiences.
Natasha: Thank you so much for your article. It was well written, thoughtful, thought provoking, and obviously from the heart. This is the first time I have responded to any type of article, blog, or post.
I have to point out what should be obvious, if it has come to the point of ECT then either your brain, soul, or both are already not intact. If at my worst someone offered me a tiny glimmer of hope, then barring any moral objections I might have, I would grab on to it with everything I had. Pain of all kinds destroys people and it's understandable that people will do anything to make it stop.
no, that is NOT what I was saying. I am just refuting cutesy/condescending "that's all" conclusion. Taking meds is not shameful, it's like taking a painkiller. But eh, taking a painkiller doesn't make you brave and wonderful, it's just a solution for you.
And people are on social security even if they take meds, so it's not "I take mades, I am smart, you don't because you either don't suffer as greatly as I do, or are stupid".
And I am not claiming I am all rational in my position. I use no "that's alls" and "oh, yeses" as if I was the ultimate truth carrier.
“And if you don’t understand why a human being would let someone give them a craniotomy and surgically implant electrodes into their brain with all the risks that entails then you simply don’t understand pain, that’s all.”
actually, no, it isn’t all. I believe to a degree it has to do with personal trust to medical science. and such.
so while somebody pops painkillers happily with every tiny headache, some people are stubborn and will not take them for pinched nerve and bad back pain. Not because with my back hurting as hell I don’t understand pain of hangover headache sufferer… it’s because I am bit paranoid when it comes to medicine.
I have a friend with MH issues and big trust in science. So they take pills and claim it works for them. I don’t take pills and it works for me, eventhough they sometimes wonder “so you rather go through these ups and downs, see things that aren’t there… then take few pills that can help a lot?”. Yup, I rather.
Yes, sometimes you are “I would do anything”, but maybe some value and fear for their egos and brains and pesonalities more. For me if it would be ECT or death… I’d pick death with my brain and soul intact. Dignity. Pride. All these. And if I am wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
actually, no, it isn't all. I believe to a degree it has to do with personal trust to medical science. and such.
so while somebody pops painkillers happily with every tiny headache, some people are stubborn and will not take them for pinched nerve and bad back pain. Not because with my back hurting as hell I don't understand pain of hangover headache sufferer... it's because I am bit paranoid when it comes to medicine.
I have a friend with MH issues and big trust in science. So they take pills and claim it works for them. I don't take pills and it works for me, eventhough they sometimes wonder "so you rather go through these ups and downs, see things that aren't there... then take few pills that can help a lot?". Yup, I rather.
Yes, sometimes you are "I would do anything", but maybe some value and fear for their egos and brains and pesonalities more. For me if it would be ECT or death... I'd pick death with my brain and soul intact. Dignity. Pride. All these. And if I am wrong, I don't wanna be right.
I believe as Sarah said, I am in a group of my own. However, I identify more with the last of your comparisons. I have struggled with this disease since the age of 13,amidst a very dysfunctional family of alcoholics and physical and sexual abuse. Not surprisingly, I developed BPD.
As you were saying "I cannot express..." This is my life of up and down. Wanting and planning to die everyday because the pain is overwhelming. The never ending cycle of, "What is going to happen next?" Then I get up the next day and "exist" all over again.
Thank you for giving all of us a place to go and to see that we are not alone.
Have you ever written on treatment-resistant Bipolar?
Very interesting pos
I guess I've always been in the group of the middle but I've belonged to the other groups for a while, too. There have been times when I've just feel as if I didn't have anything (taking meds), however, it hasn't been so in 3 years.