Treatment-resistant bipolar, also known as med-resistant, is something that most of us know too much about. Sadly, it’s extremely common. Being diagnosed as treatment-resistant generally depends on the number of medications a person has tried during the phase that individual is in. Many individuals have been through all sorts of different medications without much success. And then of course, if a person finally finds a medication that helps even a little, it comes with side effects that are too much to handle. I have been considered treatment-resistant by my doctors many times throughout my diagnosis. I have taken so many medications that I’ve lost track of them all. I’ve even lost track of the horrible side effects. I know that for me, Abilify sends me into a huge manic episode, Depakote causes me to lose my hair, and I gained 80 pounds on Risperdal. Those are just a couple examples of medications that I couldn’t handle.
Treatment-resistant doesn’t mean that there’s no answer; there are several individuals that are treatment-resistant that have gone into ‘remission’ for multiple years. I am one of those individuals. Somehow, I was able to live a regular life, work a full-time job, and have a full-time social life. I don’t know what happened or what changed, but after a little more than 2 years, something changed. I was still taking my medication and seeing my doctors, but it was as if I was a ticking time bomb. Then I exploded into such a massive manic phase that I had to leave my job and go live with family. I haven’t been stable since that time, but I do know it’s possible. Sometimes I wonder if I can ever get back to the place in life that I was at before. Honestly, I don’t know if it will or will not happen, but I haven’t given up.
There is always hope, even for those that are treatment-resistant. New treatments and medications are always coming out that could help. Sometimes, a certain combination of medications or treatments is the key to remission. It’s not easy to be patient, or willing to try new treatments, but you never know when one of these new methods will be the key to our health. I am always willing to research and usually try new treatments and medications. I am doing ECTs, electroconvulsive therapy, every month (I’m doing the maintenance treatments at this point), and I am doing a rechallenge of the Clozapine medication. The ECTs helped me get out of a major depressive episode. The Clozapine is supposed to help take away my suicidal ideations; it’s too soon to tell how effective it will be. My conclusion regarding treatment-resistant bipolar is that you never know when some new treatment or medication is going to help; don’t give up before the miracle happens.