What Makes Bipolar Treatment So Difficult

Treating bipolar disorder is a lot like trying to hit an erratically moving target with a huge arsenal of weapons that may work, malfunction or blow up in your face. It’s scary to try new things, impossible to predict how certain meds or therapies will work and frustrating if success just never seems to come.

It can also feel a lot like a complicated board game. There are several moving pieces, just as many outside factors to consider, opponents on many sides and consequences to actions. One move can lead to a huge leap forward in progress, or a major setback on the way to the objective. The other problem is that the “objective” isn’t ever achieved fully and forever. Perhaps for a time you “win the game,” but rarely is it ever the end of the game forever. Eventually, the title of “winner” may be stripped from you, your piece set back to the start position (or at least may feel like it) and you are told to start all over again.

It’s ironic how treatment alone can actually cause an episode to occur in a bipolar person. When a major setback occurs, or an outcome isn’t achieved like everyone was expecting, it can be devastating and may trigger a depressive episode. On the other hand, a victory — whether short-term or long-term — can give someone the feeling of being above the illness completely, of having been completely healed or even that some supernatural power had chosen them specifically to beat the illness, triggering a manic episode or symptoms.

Bipolar disorder is a volatile, erratic beast to try to tame, and it is nowhere near easy. But knowing that treatment does work, that people have found relief and that it can be beaten can give many people hope for a better future. It can be easy to feel down all the time with the way treatment may seem to never work or only bring about side effects, but knowing that all the trouble is for a better end result — one that’s actually possible — can provide even a little strength in the fight against bipolar disorder.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Images photo via tuaindeed

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

Woman holding a jar full of lights

Why the Question 'What Does Everyone Want for Christmas?' Hurt So Much

“What does everyone want for Christmas?” We were seated, ready to start the birthday dinner at a fine restaurant. December 2nd, and my niece had just turned 17. She’s an amazing, young woman who has seen her own share of adversity, but this isn’t her story, it’s a moment of mine. As a family, those [...]
woman holding christmas bauble

A Christmas Thank You to the Woman Who Saved My Life

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. Merry Christmas, To the woman who saved my life, I thank you eternally. As [...]
Carrie Fisher

8 Reasons We're Grateful for Carrie Fisher, Badass Mental Health Warrior

On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher died after having a heart attack. The beloved actress was well-known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films and admired in the mental health community for the shameless way she talked about her mental illness. Fisher was legendary for the kick-ass way she spoke about living [...]
illustration of woman at night hiding under her covers

5 Physical Warning Signs I'm on the Verge of a Hypomanic Breakdown

Hypomania is a psychological state that can sometimes precede a manic episode. It is a symptom of bipolar disorder and is characterized by an elevated mood, increased activity, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity and racing thoughts. When you live your life in a perpetual hypomanic haze, it can be hard to know whether you’re simply [...]