View Full Version : Long Term Remission?


saturday
02-09-13, 08:55 PM
I'm feeling rather pessimistic about the long term prognosis associated with my Bipolar diagnosis. In the last three years Ive not had a remission of symptoms longer than 4 or 5 months. I've tried half a dozen different med combs and nothing has worked in the long run.

I want to know if there is anyone with Bipolar who has had long term remission, like 5+ years. Please, someone give me some hope that I can have a normal life.

sarahsweets
02-10-13, 07:39 AM
I have always viewed remission in relationship to disease sort of like, the disease is always there but the symptoms arent as frequent. Using that as an idea, the symptoms re-emerge at anytime, and never fully go away. Sometimes with BP its all about cycles...you can have a nice period with stability and just as quickly a period of ups and downs even as often as every other day. This is why I am a huge proponent of adequate meds that really work.

dvdnvwls
02-10-13, 12:33 PM
Focusing on a normal life vs an abnormal life is always going to create bad feelings. Focusing on living a life that has in it what you need, being able to take the bad because you know the good, has more possibilities in it.

saturday
02-10-13, 01:08 PM
This is not about having a good attitude. This is about the fact that I do no know anyone who has had long term relief from symptoms. A person with "adequate meds that really work" shouldn't have cycles. I don't want a temporary relief. I want a permanent one and one that won't make my hair fall out, or keep me so dumb that I can't have a conversation, or that has the potential to make me gain 50+ plbs, or makes me perma-paranoid.

crystal8080
02-10-13, 01:38 PM
I'm sure its possible. I'm sure there are people out there who have only ever had one episode started meds and continued on with life. But are you going to be one of those people? Who knows, everyone is different. Can we expect medication to take it all away? I think that's a tall order. Medication is part of the solution.

Sounds like you are getting a little frustrated, maybe even a bit discouraged. This is what we've been handed, and it sucks. I won't compare it to other disorders, but everyone in this world has to deal with some kinda health problem, and its inconvenient and draining. But you're not alone.

I try to find some solace at least there is some kind of treatment available, and they aren't just throwing us in mental hospitals to rot away, or killing us to rid the demons living inside us. I know, not what you wanted to hear. But sometimes I find comfort in seeing things different than most and I thought it might help.

dvdnvwls
02-10-13, 04:39 PM
This is not about having a good attitude. This is about the fact that I do no know anyone who has had long term relief from symptoms. A person with "adequate meds that really work" shouldn't have cycles. I don't want a temporary relief. I want a permanent one and one that won't make my hair fall out, or keep me so dumb that I can't have a conversation, or that has the potential to make me gain 50+ plbs, or makes me perma-paranoid.
Sorry for turning the conversation in a useless direction. I know nothing about the medication problem.

saturday
02-10-13, 05:22 PM
It's ok...

I still would like to hear from anyone who has had long term success. Maybe those people aren't the ones to hang out on support forums because they don't need it any more, and that's why I'm not getting the responses I was hoping for. Or maybe they just don't exist, I don't know.

sarahsweets
02-10-13, 05:28 PM
I have been bipolar my whole life...diagnosed at age 16, then again about 9 years ago. I would consider myself fairly stable but I usually have a rapid cycle a few times a year...this year its been a little on the high end. I honestly think that with a chronic life long mental illness that requires daily treament, there will never be a point in time where you will have no symptoms. With cancer, once it goes into remission you have no more cancer symptoms and require no more chemo/radiation. With bipolar, I am not sure using the term remission quite works.

saturday
02-10-13, 05:31 PM
Anyone? Anyone?

Anyone have anything close to 5 years of symptom relief?

keliza
02-10-13, 09:21 PM
This is a hard question to answer, because everyone is different. Every case of bipolar disorder is different. Everyone has different kinds of cycles, different presentations, different responses to medications, etc. Some people only have a few episodes in their entire lives, spaced apart by years of euthymia (normal mood). Some people have multiple mood episodes a year, for their entire lives. Some people have years of multiple episodes, then years of being symptom-free, it just changes abruptly and nobody knows why.

I have had this conversation with my psychiatrist before, regarding the long-term prognosis of my illness. I've had bipolar disorder for over a decade now, and it has been fairly consistent. I've had a major depressive episode almost every year (and sometimes two in one year), and a manic episode at least every other year, and at least one every year for the past 4-5 years. My episodes seemed to become more intense and more frequent in my early 20s, especially my manic episodes, which was troubling for me. I was afraid that I would only continue to get worse and worse as I got older, since that seemed to be the trend.

So I talked to my psychiatrist, and this is basically what he told me. He said that it's totally variable, there is absolutely NO way to look at someone right now and know what their long-term prognosis is like. He said he's had patients who went from rapid-cycling (4+ episodes per year) to having several years without an episode. He said he's had a few female patients who had terrible mood episodes, but became pregnant, went off their meds during the pregnancy, and had a major decrease in mood episodes after giving birth - a few of them even stopped having mood episodes entirely. Something about the shift in hormones from the pregnancy permanently altered their brain chemistry. He said he's had many patients who hit their late teens/early twenties and their illness got better, not worse. He's had patients who, like me, had the opposite experience. He's had patients who got into their mid/late 20s and (most likely due to the full maturation of the frontal lobes) had a huge decrease in the frequency and intensity of their mood episodes.

In short, he's had all kinds. He specializes in bipolar disorder so he's seen it all. He's had patients who, despite rigorous treatment with every medication and therapy available, still suffered from profound mood episodes. He's had patients whose bipolar episodes seemed to cease entirely, for no obvious reason. There is NO way to know what the course of this illness will be for any individual person, no way to know what the magic bullet will be - age, brain maturation, hormone shifts - or if there will be one at all. There's just no way to know.

The only thing you can do is learn how to accept and live with your illness now, for what it is. There is no living in the future with bipolar disorder. If you try to speculate what your illness will look like 5 years from now, or to wonder what you could possibly do to make yourself have such long periods of remission (5+ years), you'll drive yourself nuts. You may never have more than six months of remission in your entire life. Or you may go into remission next week, and never have another mood episode again.

There's no way to know, and worrying about the future prognosis of your illness won't change it, so why get stuck on it? Hakuna Matata. Learn how to accept the illness for what it is, and do everything you can to control what you DO have power over - the meds you take, the professionals you work with, the lifestyle changes you can implement to improve your quality of life. Those are things worth reading into and focusing your energies on, not whether or not you'll ever have a lengthy period of remission. You can live today, and that is all you can do. So live today.

saturday
02-10-13, 10:29 PM
That's ALL I can't do? Is live for today? I guess you might be right, but I hate that answer.

Thanks for the info though.

keliza
02-11-13, 03:14 PM
That's ALL I can't do? Is live for today? I guess you might be right, but I hate that answer.

Thanks for the info though.

Think about the way you live your life like tending a garden. You can do things to help promote healthy growth like fertilizing the earth before you lay down the seeds, giving the seedlings good food to grow on. You can water the plants every day, giving them the nourishment they need to keep growing upward. You can pull weeds as they come, but you can't do anything to stop them from growing in the future.

Your brain is a garden that is terribly prone to weeds. So is mine. It's also prone to drought and flood, it seems like there's never just the right amount of water. Sometimes the sun burns down so hard it feels like everything inside me peels and cracks. Sometimes the waters rise so high I cannot breathe, and I'm afraid I will drown at the bottom of the ocean. Sometimes the sun shines and the blossoms unfurl and life is beautiful. Then the process of planting and weeding and tending begins again.

Right now you're fixating on how to prevent weeds from growing in the future. How can I ASSURE that there will NEVER be ANY weeds in my garden for the next 5 years? Don't get so stuck on that idea of preventing weeds from ever growing that you miss your opportunity to get out in the dirt and pull weeds today.

You can't pull tomorrow's weeds today, or next week's, or next year's. You can only pull today's weeds. That's all. You can only try to water the parched ground, or stand over your garden with an umbrella in a hurricane, and do your best to protect the little flower garden in your brain from the elements until they pass. You only have that much, that's all any of us has, is that much. Today.

If I pull weeds today, if I erect fences to keep out deer, if I provide my garden with nutritive fertilizer for the soil and try to give it the right amount of water and sunlight, I can help my garden grow stronger tomorrow, and next week, and next year. Doing those maintenance things will help produce better long-term results, so in that way you DO have some semblance of control that you can exert. You can make a positive difference in your own life. But there will still be weeds. And droughts. And hurricanes. No amount of vigilant garden planning is going to stop those things. You can only do the best you can, today.

crystal8080
02-11-13, 04:25 PM
:goodpost::thankyou:

dvdnvwls
02-11-13, 05:26 PM
That's ALL I can't do? Is live for today? I guess you might be right, but I hate that answer.
There is a pretty strong sense in which this is true for every person on the planet. Some of us are just forced to notice it.

saturday
02-12-13, 10:24 PM
Thanks everyone for trying to help me change my point of view. I do appreciate your words.

I would still like to talk to anyone who has had 5+ (or even close) years of relief. I would like to hear what you feel has contributed to your well being, meds, life style change, diet, whatever.

Please, no more replies about why this isn't important, or how focussing on finding such a person might not be positive or productive.

sarahsweets
02-13-13, 05:45 AM
When you say relief do you mean absolutely no cycles, or ups and downs? Even if they are short lived or minor? And I wouldnt tell you its not important or you should stop focusing on it, its your body and you have every right to worry about it.

Thanks everyone for trying to help me change my point of view. I do appreciate your words.

I would still like to talk to anyone who has had 5+ (or even close) years of relief. I would like to hear what you feel has contributed to your well being, meds, life style change, diet, whatever.

Please, no more replies about why this isn't important, or how focussing on finding such a person might not be positive or productive.

saturday
02-13-13, 11:33 AM
Yes, I mean no cycles, no (hypo)manias, mixed, or depressive episodes. I get that people might have other comorbids, and it may be hard to tell apart symptoms for some.

I would like to hear from those who can clearly state they have not cycled or expirienced an episode.

keliza
02-13-13, 01:25 PM
Saturday, have you asked this question in other bipolar forums too? I know Bipolar World has a great chat with a lot of really supportive people, I go in there periodically. Maybe they would be able to give you more answers/thoughts, since that chat focuses solely on bipolar disorder.

saturday
02-13-13, 01:30 PM
I have memberships on a few of them. Psych central was one... cant remember the others. They blow in comparison to ADDFs. If you disagree with the mods then your posts and threads get taken down and they pick favorits, so I dont go to them anymore.