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When Bipolar Medication Doesn’t Work: Disappointing Your Dr.

I am a very difficult case of bipolar to treat. Believe me. I have been on more bipolar medications than anyone I know and finding an effective cocktail is akin to walking on water. It’s possible, but it’s pretty darn rare. And recently I made a medication change from one antipsychotic to another. It went very badly in a whole host of ways. In fact, I terminated the medication trial early and went back to my previous medication.

I see my doctor this afternoon and now I have to tell him the bad news about how it went. And I feel guilty about failing another bipolar medication. I know he will be disappointed and I feel bad about it.

Failing Treatments

Yes, some people will correct me and say, “The medication failed you.” Well, use all the wordplay you want, it still feels like I failed another medication treatment.

Disappointing Doctors

And, if you have a decent doctor, the doctor is disappointed when treatments fail. They’re not disappointed in you, of course. They are disappointed in the failure. But it’s easy to feel like this is a disappointment in you. It’s easy to read this like you’ve done something wrong.  It’s easy to feel like it’s your fault.

And it’s hard to see the look of disappointment on your doctor’s face – especially if you like him. And this look gets more and more pronounced the more treatments that fail.

When bipolar medications don't work, it can feel like you're disappointing your doctor. As if the medication's failure is your fault. It isn't. Read this.

It’s Not Your Fault

But, as I said, it isn’t your fault. I admit that it feels like it is but we need to remember that this is a depression thing. Depression looks to make us feel bad about everything regardless as to whether there is any actual blame to be had. And in this situation there is no blame. Your chemistry just didn’t match with the chemistry of a drug. That’s no one’s fault.

Scientists see a negative result as favourably as a positive one. This is because a negative result is still a result. It’s still data to take into account. It’s still one step closer to the answer you seek. So we can view medication trials in the same way. If a medication doesn’t work then it’s just one more data point. It’s just one more medication to cross off the list. Yes, because we have personal skin in the game, we would have preferred that it work, but if nothing else, we still got a data point out of it and that data point can help get us to the answer we seek.

Because something will work. It takes time, patience, persistence and a good doctor, but it will happen. If nothing else, this I have learned. Eventually neither of you will be disappointed. But it can be an agonizing wait getting there – and that time will be hard enough so try not to spend it beating yourself up too.

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

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

23 thoughts on “When Bipolar Medication Doesn’t Work: Disappointing Your Dr.”

  1. Day in day out,trying to stay positive and stay afloat
    Of murky waters that lie in my head to the tablets that go down my throat.
    Where can i find some escape again,to shut out the dark that has become trapped in my brain.

  2. I’ve taken every single psych med to date. Almost all of them 2-4 times. I’ve been bipolar since a child. I’ve taken meds for 25 years. I’ve always been treatment resistant, it runs in my family just like mental illness. It’s a neccessity to stay positive. I did everything every single doc told me to without fail. Even when I knew it was going to go bad and it did more often than not. I’ve spent over half my life fighting my illness and adverse reactions, severe side effects, doc prescribed overdoses, meds that did absolutely nothing, overcoming severe reactions that made me psychotic, schizophrenic, horrifyingly manic, hospitalizations and failing my doctors consistently. I think it’s time for someone to let others know a truth about psych meds. There is the chance you will never find one. I, personally have reached that point finally. It’s not my fault. My doc is disappointed. However, I’ve reached the end of the road. Talk about feeling like you’ve disappointed your doc! I read these articles about taking meds and trying new combos and how to keep at it. You should also know the day may come when their are no more meds. No one every even suggests that possibility. Half my life that has been one of my nightmares. It’s come true. I’m not saying give up on meds. Not at all. I do wish someone would have mentioned the chance I would disappoint my doc, period! It would’ve made my current disappointment a lot easier and less scary. I do not mean to discourage anyone. I’m an extremely rare case. I just think it’s time someone was brutally honest about psych meds not working. It would’ve helped me. Now that I’ve no med to do anything to me I’ve decided to try Accupunture. Never stop fighting but always be prepared for psych meds to disappoint you and don’t believe everything a doc tells you about meds. I believe that is what this article should actually say. Instead of cheering you up about you disappointing a doctor. Best wishes to you all!

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