Thank you for writing. I hope you won’t give in and give up. You obviously are thinking hard about options and trying to take charge of your life. I’m very, very sorry that you seem to have been caught in the gaps of the current health care system. Each doctor was undoubtedly doing what they thought best. But it’s frustrating that there wasn’t more collaboration among them. I’m not surprised if at times you want to throw up your hands in dismay. It may be a small comfort to know that many people with a bipolar diagnosis try for years before they get the right providers and the right strategy to manage their illness.
The good news is that it can be managed. Yes, talk therapy helps. I recently attended a reading by David Lovelace who is the author of Scattershot, My Bipolar Family. He also has bipolar illness. He joked that his mechanic takes longer to change the oil in his car than his psychiatrist takes to review and prescribe his meds. Psychiatrists often have to see 3 or 4 people an hour; not exactly a pace where they can dig in and understand what is going on with someone. That’s why the talk therapy piece is so important as a long-term strategy. Your therapist can help you understand your illness better and learn strategies for coping with it and even using its positive aspects. Ideally, there should be a partnership and good communication between your psychiatrist and your therapist and you. Learning how to live with bipolar illness is a process of self-discovery; not just a matter of popping the right pills.
I think you might find it helpful – even inspiring – to read the books by Kay Redfield Jamison and the previously mentioned book by David Lovelace. You are indeed in very good company. Many people with a diagnosis of bipolar are extremely bright, creative, and productive people. Once they learn how to live with the illness, they become their best versions of themselves.
I wish you well.