The following is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, BrainStorm: From Broken to Blessed on the Bipolar Spectrum: I share it in response to the complicated question of can Bipolar II disorder be treated? Though no one has found a cure, Bipolar II can be successfully treated as my story shows. But while bushwhacking on the path to successful diagnosis and treatment there are many who claim to have a brilliant cure that they’re happy to charge you big bucks for! Money drains like a sieve.
Here’s what happened to me when I was at my worst. Desperate for help. Clinging to any possibility of hope. Vulnerable to charlatans and snake oil.
Money drains through us, adding more stress to our lives. Because I am so dependent, my husband can’t work as much—he’s doing everything he can to keep me alive, attend to the kids, and run our household. I’m nearly incapable of taking care of myself or my kids so we have to hire childcare and cleaning help and more. There’s no way I can work at my high-powered intellectually demanding job.
On top of all this I am frantically seeking solutions of all kinds and these so-called remedies, supplements, and therapists are exorbitantly expensive adding to the money drain. The psychiatrist on my insurance couldn’t help me so I went to another doctor who charged $250 an hour. When she failed to help, a friend found me the “best of the best” from Harvard Medical School in Boston. For $300 for an hour he told me to keep doing what I was doing.
Another “integrative psycho-pharmacologist” charges $75 for fifteen minutes of phone consultations. Nothing works. Then I try every guru of every hoping-to-help friend: homeopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, Chinese medicine purveyors, naturopathic doctors. Each with their own theory of healing and corollary slew of supplements. Ring up a charge of $350 or so for each of these visits. I spend thousands of dollars, our credit card debt soars, and the money drain opens wider.
When you have this disease, you are desperate for help and thus vulnerable to all kinds of charlatans and would be healers who simply don’t have a clue about what they are dealing with. A man I’ll call Paul Sterling, referred to me by a reputable colleague, claims to have power to do distance healing. He calls me from three thousand miles away in Oregon and after a quick long-distance “scan” he found that “walk-in demons had colonized” my body. He performs an exorcism over the phone for $300. Really?? Nothing changes.
A chiropractor, recommended for his unique and effective alternative healing approaches, uses homemade tinctures that work on my “energy body.” He determines which ones I need by placing crystals on my chakras. This costs me $150 for an hour.
Then there is my dear friend’s psychic healer who, for a $250 an hour, tells me, in a shaming tone, finger-wagging tone, that DNA can be overcome, family history is irrelevant, and all I need is to get off sugar, meditate on my third eye, and open my crown chakra. Then I’ll be cured. Spoken with the arrogance and ignorance of someone who has zero experience with my disease.
As you can see, people suffering from this illness can be vulnerable to an entire “healing industry” that professes to have the answer. Bipolar II can be successfully treated with medication and complementary therapies: exercise, diet, sleep, mindfulness, etc. I’m here — with deep gratitude — as proof. But people who are clueless and do harm are happy to take your money.. .what do you think?