With Bipolar Depression, How Many Days Until I Get Better?

December 3, 2013 Natasha Tracy

I have spent a great many years with this bipolar disorder thing. I have spent a great many years dealing with it. I have spent a great many years suffering with it. I have spent a great many years with medication unsuccessfully controlling it. I have spent a great many years in pain.

And when in an episode, for me it’s a depressive episode, I just want to know, “how many days until I get better? How many more days do I have to live in this agony?”

Time Doesn’t Heal Bipolar Disorder

Pain is a part of life. We experience pain when we stub our toes, we experience pain when we break up with our significant others, and we experience pain when someone we love dies. Pain is just a part of existence – sucky, but true.

But all those forms of daily life pain have one thing in common: they end. Yes, sometimes it feels like the end of the world when someone dies or there is a divorce, but it isn’t. It’s never the end of the world. That hurting passes with time. It just does.

Bipolar depression can seem to last forever and leaves the sufferer asking, how many days until I get better? More at Breaking Bipolar blog.On the other hand, bipolar never passes. Bipolar never ends. Bipolar can feel like the end of the world because in some ways it is.

And as such there is no expiration date on bipolar pain. It’s here, it’s excruciating, get used to it because, for many people, time alone doesn’t heal bipolar disorder. I think it’s supposed to, and many people do pop out of episodes periodically, but that is not my personal experience. In my personal experience I’m sick until I find a treatment that works.

The Bipolar Holding Pattern

And so I wait. I wait and I suffer. I wait and I cry. I wait and I wish I were dead. Because that’s all there is to do is to wait and to wish. Wait until, by the grace of the universe, a medication is found that can let me breathe again.

How Many Days Until I Get Better?

I feel like the agony would be more bearable if there were an end date. If I could say there’s only two months of suffering left, I only have to survive this pain that long, then it would become more manageable. That knowledge could somehow give me comfort that there would be an end date, however far off in the future it might be.

But, of course, no one knows what will happen in the future and no one knows how long the suffering will last. When people ask me about this, I tell them the truth: nothing in life stays the same and your illness won’t stay the same forever either. But you have to wait it out. You have to wait (and work towards) that change. Because it will happen. Change is the universe at work.

But that is very cold comfort indeed. Unfortunately, it’s also the only comfort available.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, December 3). With Bipolar Depression, How Many Days Until I Get Better?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 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.

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

Stephanie Kirsten Hansen
December, 4 2013 at 11:40 am

My heart aches for those of us who still demand, beg, and wail for definitive timelines regarding relief. I remember doing that for years, decades, and it damn near killed me. Being in that state is what made me chronically suicidal. Only when I learned to see my depressive patterns, to trust that it comes and goes, always goes, not focussing on the terror of the coming of it, did I find any relief.
The docs could easily treat the hypomania, but the depression appears to be intractable. Every drug either makes it worse, or triggers the hypomania when they try to give me a dose high enough to truly relieve the depression. I'm on a low dose that at least keeps me non-suicidal.
For many, many years I shut down in May and start to 'come to' in Sept/Oct. This year the depression broke the f'n rules. I shut down in April and am just entering the world of give-a-damn a couple of weeks ago. My depression presents itself as exhaustion, over somnolence, no interest and precious little pleasure in anything. But I have always been an observer, an intellect, a writer and reader, comfortable with myself and content enough to be entertained with simply communicating with other people online or on the phone, going out only when I can muster a little bit of energy for a couple of hours or so, though rarely enough.
I have known extremely happy times. Had, and have, deeply satisfying relationships. I wait out the hell of depression because I want to enjoy those people who never leave when I am able to deeply enjoy them again. I don't quit or give up on me because they don't. I'm blessed that way. I'm 44 and it took a LOT of years of self-pity before I could say any of this. I have been bipolar since early childhood. I should be ashes by now!

December, 5 2013 at 1:53 am

Hi, i have been reading here for about a year, to try to help and encourage a friend who told me she has biopolar,recently she has been struggling, and talked to her social worker, who reminded her she has beem diagnosed with BPD,she asked me to take her to the hospital a few weeks ago, they made some big med changes, and said she is doing that i know about the BPD and the way she has been treating me. ignoring,spliting, devauling, etc,i don"t know what to do,it might not matter ,everytime i call i get brushed off,seems to have found a new best friend,i feel hurt, have i been on the wrong website here? thanks, i am sure i learned a lot here.

December, 5 2013 at 12:12 pm

I totally understand. I hate not knowing when Im going to spiral downwards. Once Im there, there is no out until the time ....but I try to figure out what triggers it. I keep track of everything but cant figure it out. Im 50 & have since Im born I think. Really had swings in my 20's. Stephanie, I feel you girl. Its so hard and the worst part is people dont get it. They get mad and you lose friends when you drop out. I have no one now. Lost my friends and family. Pray for us all. GEORGE: Bless your heart. What a lucky friend you have!! Not many/any I know would take the time to read here and try to help a friend. You are a blessing. Thank you :)

Stephanie Kirsten Hansen
December, 6 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thank you for the acknowledgment, LORI. I'm sorry your friends and family left, but then again if they did then they're not the people you need around. Hard truth. My family are gone too. They insisted all my life I am just lazy, selfish, self-centred, that I have no ambition and just want everyone else to do things for me. I finally turfed them because who needs that kind of misery when you're already miserable?! The struggle became SO MUCH EASIER to bear without them!
Oddly, my sister is also diagnosed Bipolar II, but she can still function. She works, hard. But she can't accept that it is a spectrum, that not everyone can push themselves by sheer will. When I'm down, baby I'm out for the count. She struggles more against the hypomania than the depression. I'm the opposite.
I have very few friends. But they're great. They're artists and we're all the kind of people who tend to lie fallow for a while now and then. It's natural for us so no one bats an eye when I go AWOL. They're just happy to see me again when I show up. I'm blessed that way.
GEORGE: It's not easy to be the friend of someone with a mental health issue. You're a good person to reach out. It works with loving detachment. To be there when they reach back to you is a wonderful thing. The problem is theirs, not yours. It was a great thing for you to help in the way you did. Who knows what would have happened to her without your intervention?
Bipolarland is an interesting place: the Mean Seasons don't respect the calendar. We live by our wits and our willingness. Bless us all.

Maggi eBair
December, 7 2013 at 9:06 am

Oh my God Natasha I love you.... I just do. I don't know you but I have personal experience with someone close who also suffered. I can't express enough how grateful I am for you sharing your heart and pain and what ever hope you have with the world. You are one of my hero's. I wish I could take the hurt from you. I pray God's peace to you. You matter Natasha, you matter a lot. I know we all do, but I think the world is a much better place because of you. Love. Love. Love.

December, 7 2013 at 12:00 pm

Some people will get relief with time- as most depressions and manic episodes are episodic in nature. They will eventually pass, or at least change into something else (as in rapid cycling). This doesn't mean that it is fun waiting- or that you can't destroy your life while you try to wait it out. Hopefully treatment can make these episodes shorter. But before medication, people did get better from episodes. At least for a while, before the next one hit.

December, 7 2013 at 4:10 pm

So glad I found your website Natasha. Our 24 year old son had a psychotic breakdown in May, was hospitlized and has been dx with bipolar. He's on his 6th med change and has gained a lot of weight. We're all in a whirlwind, trying to learn as much as we can, understand this illness and be supportive. It's been hard. I plan to visit your site on a regular basis.
Thank you for sharing your experiences.

December, 8 2013 at 8:42 am

Once again I love your blog! Would it be weird to give my psychiatrist a 5 page letter? Writing out my thoughts is way easier than talking face to face.

Natasha Tracy
December, 8 2013 at 9:04 am

Hi Tara,
Well thanks :)
For what it's worth, I don't think it's weird for you to write your feelings down. If that's the most effective way for your to communicate your thoughts, then that's exactly what you _should_ do. However, it's unlikely that your doctor will sit there are read it so you might just want to read it to him and use it as a jumping off point for a conversation.
- Natasha

December, 8 2013 at 9:47 am

Thanks, I feel like I would vomit if I had to read it aloud though, lol.

December, 9 2013 at 1:56 am

Thanks Lori,Stephanie,for your comments to my comment ,they mean so much to me,i can"t thank you enough, and thank you Natasha for your writings.I guess you know its hard on family and friends when they have people in there lifes with mental illness,I try to belive in Gods will and pray for my friend and yes i will pray for you,its when i take things personal that i struggle, so thanks for reminding me its there problem ,not mine,many times she has thanked me for my help,but to here it from you that i do help in some way means so much to me,my best wishes to you.George

December, 11 2013 at 6:09 am

I am 55 & never was diagnosed with BiPolar but, I know now that I have it, My personal Physician tried me on so many antideppresents over the years & all they did was make me feel suicidal, never did he evr mention BiPolar. I figured it out on my own because my youngest daughter was diagnosed with it at 17, she is now 30, she married at 19 to a great man that was laid back worked hard made good money & wouldnt fight or argue with her & I thought for 10yrs. she somewhat had it under control, I would in them years still see mood swings but, she seemed to handle them & be Ok. Plus she had a baby boy 8yrs. ago so he gave her something to focus on but, as spring approached in 2011, she got hooked on pain killers which caused her Bipolar to spike & the mania got so high she went to having everything & a great life to divorced & lost everything except joint custody of her son!!! It broke my heart, I kept telling her she needed to go to Dr. get on the right meds before all this happened, but her mania was to high & she was having a wonderful time til everything crashed!! I didnt know for along time she was addicted to pain killers because her mood always was like she would be on a mania high!! Well, now she is lost & pregnant and in a low low state of Bipolar, very depressed off the drugs & so very confused!! I look back on my 20s & 30s and realize now that was what was causing all my craziness because I never done drugs but, did drank at times, never drank everyday or nothing but, yet I might be calm one day & the next be totally crazy. In 1999 they had to remove my ovaries due to large tumors on them, so no hormones running through me helped calm me down some but, Dr. also put me on xanax due to heart problems he seemed to feel was caused by alot of anxiety, so I have mellowed out but, I have to take at least 3 1.o mg a day to stay calm & there are still things that comes up that make me crazy & I jump up and do crazy crap before thinking it through!! I gave my life to Jesus & Pray alot depend on his guidance for me anymore and I do know I can control it better now!! But, back to my daughter, I cant seem to find the right words or the right way to help her right now, she has so much bitterness in her with what she has lost over the last year 1/2, she isnt dealing with that very good!!! I am just glad I found this Blog to be able to help get through each day!!! Such a sad disease for all of us to have to live with!!!! God Bless You All for reaching out on here!

December, 12 2013 at 5:57 pm

I get so sick of waiting for it to go away. Even though I know it will pass it feels like an eternity in the middle of the depression. For me the mania is just as horrible. I often feel like I'm about to have a heart attack for being so worked up and keyed up. I have no idea how to handle the stress of being sick. It's just ridiculously complicated. But I'm so thankful for the good days and weeks I do have. I have more good days a month than bad so I consider that progress.

Don Hornback
January, 4 2014 at 8:46 am

I had a psychotic manic episode when I was 22 years old in 1969 that was diagnosed as schizophrenia. My life has been interesting. I had been using alcohol since my teen years to relieve depression. So some would say I have a dual diagnosis. I am now retired and not taking any meds or using alcohol,and have sort of gotten used to depression. I took lithium from 1973 to 2007. It seemed to help keep me out of problems with mania and may have helped some with depression, but. not as much as self medicating with alcohol.

January, 15 2014 at 6:19 pm

I started dating a girl who told me she was borderline bipolar...we fell in love, and we had a relationship for 5 yrs even getting engaged. But every November of every year, she would break up with me only to ask me back. Also a few times in the middle of the year. I love her,so I allowed it all to happen. I even bought her a puppy a year ago, hoping that the distraction of the dog would keep her away from having an episode...I kind of work for that November...but now she has left me, and says its forever. In fact, she said she would get an order of protection if I ever contact her again...Im torn. I do love her...and now not only will I not see her again, but our dog. I don't know what else to do, but to vent here. People tell me to just move on as she has..(she's dating a bunch of people is what she says)Im sad, and worried for her. Not sure too many people out there would understand her, or have taken the time to read all there is about this disease. What can I do...not ever look out for her?

January, 15 2014 at 8:53 pm

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I have been dating a beautiful girl for almost a year and a half. When we started dating, she informed me that she may have to go to rehab for a past drinking problem. I stood by her, and told her I would support her, no matter what. After a few months, we decided to move in together. Up until that point, everything seemed fine, and had a smile on her face all the time. After the initial euphoria of moving in and creating a home together had passed, she began to get agitated. We both drank in moderation. However, about 6 months ago, she started to drink heavily. As a musician, playing a lot of gigs, I had limited control over her alcohol intake, and often came home to find her passed out on the couch. Shortly after, things started to get violent, and she would lash out and abuse me, when I didn't agree with her. While this happened infrequently, I developed a sense of fear for her, but also a degree of sympathy in that her mood was being altered by alcohol. The drinking and attacks continued. I asked her to take a break in October, and she begged me to take her back. She is a beautiful girl, and when taking mediaction, is under control. However, she sometimes spirals into massive lows of self-confidence, drinks excessively and her behaviour changes completely. Last month, it went too far, and I asked to leave the house. Since returning home, she voluntarily placed herself in rehab, where she is getting close attention for her condition. I still love her, and have gone to visit her, to show her I support her and am still willing to be a pillar of support for her. It is quite a nervous time, as I am trying not to communicate too frequently with her, although I am thinking of her constantly. I worry a lot about when she gets out, and am terrified
I think the question I seek advice to is::::
How do I be there for her, verbally, physically and emotionally, when she comes out of rehab, to show her I love and care about her, and what BOUNDARIES should I set?? I would greatly appreciate any advice from anybody on this post.

January, 27 2014 at 1:58 am

Thank you for sharing this with us all. It has greatly helped me understand what my son is going through. Best wishes for the future. Yours P

Michael kyu
April, 26 2014 at 4:04 pm

I live in philippines part of asia and we do not have any support group
Here that i know off... I was diagnosed bipolar last january just when
I turn 30. I cant accept it! I feel that i have been robbed to think straght
and become a normal person. I would have killed my self if not only
for my daughter. I learned a lot from this site. I hope i could have facebook
Buddies who has bpd. Pls add me

T avlis
July, 9 2014 at 10:54 am

In Oct 2013 I was admitted to the hospital, second attemp on my life. Someone I trusted my feelings to i told someone else i tried to commit suicide I didnt know till I came out of hospital that by the end of week, she had told everone in my job wat I did, I felt remourse and shame didnt know how to face them well i didnt hace to, the info was sent to mngmt. Were they decided to Send me a letter in mail sating I was let go from work making me worst since I left hospital I have stop doing anything just stay in my room in the dark my kids come in and go left the gouse 1 day for my sons graduation, its not a picnic when u have Bipolar stage 1 Panic/ Anxienty disorder and be around so many people mine u it was the first day since mid Oct I left my room that was actually 7 months later May 2014...... My little ones come in and give me a kiss and tells me mami get better entering my 9 month still unemployed ... In my bed... And dont do anything ...... And the last 2 months its gotten worst bcus i even stop going to psychiatrist and taking meds, i cant even put 2 words in a sentence i feel i have fail beyond even my own expectations im tired

February, 8 2015 at 6:56 pm

Natasha, I was surprised to find this post so incredibly negative.
I'm sorry that you haven't found the relief you've been looking for
yet, but if you are truly honest you have had some periods of wellness
also, have you not? Please correct me if I'm wrong
Yes there is no expiration date with bipolar disorder. It is a life long illness. But for me it is cyclical. I do have periods of wellness
Patience is not normally one of my virtues so cultivating patience, being mindful and having faith helps me ride out the difficult times and builds both stamina and resilience.
What also helps is journaling both the good times and the bad. It keeps me humble. When I'm going through an especially difficult period, by looking back through previous entries in my journal, at more stable, happier times it also gives me hope.
I know that help is always out there if I need it.
I just need to remember to keep reaching out

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