Bipolar Treatment That’s “Good Enough,” Isn’t

June 6, 2013 Natasha Tracy

In psychiatric studies, generally response and remission are recorded for the effectiveness of medications. So, a certain percentage of people positively respond to medications (get somewhat better) and a smaller percentage of people go into remission (get mostly better) from medications. The definitions of “respond” and “remit” vary, but typically it’s a reduction in symptoms, as measured on a scale, to a specified degree.

In practice, this means that a medication can still be deemed “effective” even if it only moves you from a 10 to a 5 on a scale of depression.

Well, this isn’t good enough.

Accepting the Suck

I first heard the term “accepting the suck” when I edited a book on PTSD in the military. Accepting the suck is accepting horrible things as just the way things are. In other words, suck it up big boy, things suck and you’re just going to have to live with it.

This is an attitude that many people with mental illness have come to live with over the years. Life with bipolar can be painful. Life with bipolar can be hard. Life with bipolar can be like being lashed with barbed wire. Longstanding pain tends to breed these “accepting the suck” types of attitudes.

And these attitudes might be as a result of treatment not working or treatment partially working or treatment working but with horrible side effects.

Treatment is “Good Enough”

In these cases people may think things are “good enough.” In fact, doctors may think it’s “good enough.” Patients and doctors may think that living with residual symptoms and horrible side effects is acceptable.

It’s not.

Anyone who lives with residual side effects is at a greater risk for future episodes. We know this. Anyone who lives with horrible side effects is likely to stop taking medication and get very sick again. We know this too. So these situations simply are not good enough.

Stop Accepting the Suck

So if things aren’t working for you, if your bipolar disorder is not under control, if the side effects are causing you significant suffering – take action. You do not have to live this way and you shouldn’t be expected to.

And if your doctor doesn’t listen to your concerns? Bully for him. Your concerns are important. The suck is not normal. If your doctor doesn’t listen then demand a second opinion. Be very clear that you cannot live with the residual effects. Be direct. Take control. I know it’s a hard thing to do, but you deserve better.

(I admit, there are limitations to what we can do. Medicine is limited, unfortunately. But don’t give up until you absolutely have to. If your concerns haven’t been addressed to your satisfaction then it isn’t good enough. Period.)

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

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, June 6). Bipolar Treatment That’s “Good Enough,” Isn’t, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 25 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

June, 13 2013 at 3:36 pm

Hi Natasha! I read your articles frequently but very infrequently respond. The last time I responded to you I was a bit rude and very depressed. I know you can't remember with so many people you talk to, but I just wanted to say that I apologize.
This article is a timely one for me! I just saw my PDoc today and had to adjust my meds (getting a bit too manic). I started seeing him a year ago and the change has been incredible. I accepted "the suck" for way to many years and stopped going back or gave up. This is the first time I have actually stuck with my regime in 20 years. So many just don't get it. That we do have to put up with these horrible side effects and doctors who could really care less and loved one who give up on us too.
I think no matter what condition you have there is no getting around "the suck". Cancer for example. Unfortunately society tends to put us in a different light and perpetuates the notion that our illness it just a bad mood that you need to get over.
Great articles, always great information. Thanks for all that you do!

Anon girl
June, 10 2013 at 11:13 am

I just LEFT a doctor and am now being watched every 3 weeks by my GP who Can give me meds for now until I am taken in by a new doc. I am hoping but not expecting a new one before one year.
I left my doctor when he freaked when I wanted a second opinion.
I even told him I felt belittled and I got shit. I never went back I went instead to emergancy at the local mental health hospital.... I actually ran. Ran all the way to the hospital I was so out of it when i arrived a hospital i knew well i could not remember!!
A woman I cant remember her face just her voice. She unlocked every door to get me to the asessment unit faster.
After 7 hours waiting I ended up being told Bi-polar was there FOR sure. I was manic for months I had not slept in months they asked how I was doing this with no sleep for so long and my doctor not doing anything when I had been telling him this for years 7 years!!
Do not wait as long as I did I could have been much further in getting better help a lot sooner.
Because he was a doctor I trusted him without question. I later found by going to the emergancy and finding out it looked like bipolar. Not just anxiety and depression then I was further watched for a follow up and now I have more info on my bipolar. It's bipolar one I don't know many people with one but I know a few with bi-polar 2 they have helped so much.
Canadian health care has me doing at therapy and other things too. I am doing better little by little.
I am so PROUD I went to the mental health hospital all on my own!
If you doctor is being unreasonable get up and leave find someone else 7 friken years of pain for nothing. 7 years with o diagnosis 7 hours in the hospital and I have more info on myself then ever before.

June, 10 2013 at 9:05 am

I am in the middle of a medication change from Geodon to Latuda it's a fairly new drug. I had been having dry mouth horrible dry mouth now my gums have reseeded and I have to have surgery and my eyes have been so dry that the cells on my corneas fell off exposing the nerve and have had to be put on medicated eye drops. Oh and the weight gain was horrible! I am 3 days away from being completely titrated off of Geodon on to Latuda I am hope full that the side effects of Geodon go away that is a horrible drug and at first my doctor did not listen to me and told me to go to the dentist. So I did and talked to my Opto and they both concurred it was the Geodon then I called my pharmacist and she confirmed that all of the side affects are from the Geodon. I then went into my doctor's office armed with this info and demanded to be taken off of Geodon. I hope the Latuda works for me it is a 80 mg dose so who knows and it is once a day at night with my other sleep medications. So far I have titrated fine some of the side affects have lessoned with the decrease of Geodon however I am still stuck with all this weight and I am pissed about it! I told my doctor a month ago about what was going on and it took three other professionals to confirm what I was telling him. Just because the Geodon has kept me from becoming manic which is what I struggle with...I rarely struggle with depression I was kept on a drug that wasn't for me. I am glad he finally listened because I have gone to him for 7 or 8 years now and we have had to adjust my meds several times so I don't know why he was so hesitant this time I was ready to find another physician it had gotten so bad. I hope that I am able to maintain a good relationship with him after this as I was very firm with him about this medication change. Good luck to everyone out there experiencing the same thing!

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