Fed up and Frustrated: Bipolar Treatment Fatigue

I was introduced to the concept of “bipolar treatment fatigue” by mental health blogger, Natasha Tracy of Bipolar Burble. Her definition of “bipolar treatment fatigue” is:

[W]hen a patient with bipolar disorder becomes burned out because of all the time and effort it takes to fight the bipolar disorder.

I don’t think this type of treatment fatigue is unique to those of us with bipolar disorder. Frankly, I think it can happen to anyone with a chronic illness.

one does not simply walk into mordorThere are those people out there who think chronic illnesses are just an excuse to be a lazy, parasitic, attention seeking baby. They have no idea how much energy it takes to be sick and how hard it is to fight day after day. It’s just what happens when you’re fighting your body or brain (or both) day after day. It’s what happens when you have so many doctors appointments that if your life was a play the scenery would be a series of waiting rooms with outdated magazines. It’s what happens when you become a medication guinea pig and you wonder, is this all worth it? They have no idea what it’s like to adjust and readjust medication until your brain doesn’t know if it’s going left or right anymore. And it’s not just testing new medication, but it’s also the side effects. The physical cost of coming on and going off so many medication.

We stopped Abilify because it was making me restless, anxious. and unable to sleep. My psychiatrist prescribed Latuda to help with my low mood, but it mixed with the Abilify still in my system and caused the psychotic and paranoid features of my anxiety attacks. To deal with that she then prescribed Propranolol, which didn’t make me feel any different. Now I’m coming off of the Latuda, starting something called Saphris, and reducing my Zoloft by 50 mg. Are you lost yet? I’m losing track of what I’m on and what I’m not. I’m losing track of dosages and what the medication is supposed to be doing. Which do I take with food and which do I take without? Which makes me drowsy and which causes me to be awake?

Y u noRight now, I’m fed up and frustrated with medication. There are some mornings that I stare at all the coloured capsules and tablets and wonder: is this really worth it? Some mornings I just want to flush all of my medication down the toilet and let the chips fall where they may. I want to stop seeing all the doctors and therapists and just let my illness take me away into whatever direction it wants to go. Maybe that’s just the nature of things. That’s how I’m supposed to be.

But then the rational part of my brain kicks in and reminds me how bad withdrawal would be. I could actually die if I just stopped taking all of my medications cold turkey. I remind myself of the fact that all of my important relationships would probably fall away as I fell deeper and deeper into the muddy sickness of my brain. I remind myself that I would most definitely end up in the hospital again. I remind myself that being sick isn’t a way of life either.

So for now, I keep taking my pills as prescribed. I keep going to my appointments. I keep doing all of the things that are supposed to promote good mental health and maybe one of these days my brain will cooperate and I’ll be able to reenter the world, healthy and happy.

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6 thoughts on “Fed up and Frustrated: Bipolar Treatment Fatigue

  1. Marisa, you’re in point. The only reason I haven’t quit taking Meds is because of the withdrawal aftermath. Maybe is my depression speaking, but I’m exhausted of doctors, medicines, therapy, coping with chronic pain, etc… Still, I believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for being brave to write about this, you’re amazing.

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  2. Ok girl, I have had effective treatment and been lucky that way. 10 years without a hitch. Relapse and a three year climb back to sanity. Tardive Dyskinesia and a three year search for symptom relief. The price that I’ve paid for all my bipolar relief has been a sea of side effects and so many doctor’s appointments you can’t believe it. Get a second opinion. Try Seroquel, I tolerated that for 8 years without a hitch. Sure, I was hungrier, but I did not get sick. When I got sick was when I was put on Geodon and Abilfy. My mania was not covered at all and I came down with Tardive Dyskinesia. I’m 54 and mostly have had a good life. But the longer you survive, the more side effect complications you endure. The best you can do is reach out like you are doing and when you have come thru the end of the tunnel, let others know exactly how you did it. allison

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  3. Ugh, right now I’m just sort of keeping my head down and trying to convince myself that depression isn’t that bad because like fuck I want to deal with coming off of and switching antidepressants. I’m hoping that upping the dose is still gonna be an option. ¬¬

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  4. I so get this. I’ve been taking the same meds for over a year, with slight adjustments in dosage. I’m consumed with thoughts of this illness. It’s literally all I ever think about. But I’m scared to actually start trying to let my psychiatrist play around with other drugs for specifically the reasons you have described in your post. I know tell you to “hang in there” is almost rude, but as I’ve said before, we need you and your words. Love, A Newbie

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    • Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. A hang in there isn’t rude! I can’t tell you what to do with your psychiatrist — you need to make that decision yourself. I wish you all the best.

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  5. Thanks for being so open and honest, I really appreciate it, especially when I’m having a bad day (like today) and this is how I remind myself I’m not alone in this lonely scary world of mental illness.

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