Truehope - a hopeless situation
(Sydney, NSW, Australia)
Hi my name is hannah, my mums been diagnosed with bipolar since i was 1, i am now 20 and her epsiodes are only getting longer, more severe and closer together.
My dad has stayed with her this whole time but apart from the financial and emotional stresses her mania causes, her depression is by far the most debilitating; I'm afraid he has simply given up on her after so many medications, hospitalisations and still no improvement. I know my whole family is worried where we will be in a few years; my parents are also trying to raise my 11 year old brother and struggling.
I did some research and discovered Truehope, we ordered 6 months supply (of Empower Plus) which was extremely expensive but if it meant mum would be well it would be worth it. She was in the lowest part of a 6 month major depressive episode, my dad was trying his best to keep her out of hospital so as to trial this natural alternative but it has been very very difficult.
We live in Australia so the only support we have gotten from Truehope has been a lady by the name of Jerry who is the only liason for Australian patients. So far mum has improved slightly, now doing some cleaning and eating more, but her mood has not improved and she cannot stop taking seroquel or xanax as without them she does not sleep at all and she is literally begging my dad for something to relieve her severe anxiety.
So it has been a difficult situation and Truehope has offered little support, failing to contact mum regulary and simply telling her if she doesn't go off the mood stabilizers it wont work. We don't know what to do. Truehope honestly wont help us at all. Jerry doesn't want to hear it - she is obvioulsy sick of my mum but she is severely depressed and she needs help.
Do you think we should try other medications the psychiatrist prescribes mum and should she stop Truehope or go to the hospital, and when she's better she can attempt Empower again? and yes she is seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist but they are both at a loss of what to do until she shows some signs of recovery from this depression.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
Sincerely Hannah c.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I have seen people with very severe depression and anxiety recover with Empower (Truehope). But often the anxiety is the hardest to treat. In some cases, there are more psychological/trauma-related issues underlying the anxiety, and it is not simply a symptom of the Bipolar Disorder itself. In those cases, getting the right kind of help for those psych/trauma issues is an important part of the recovery process. Just being in therapy, doesn't necessarily mean that it is the right kind, or that it's the most effective therapy.
You say she had slight improvement since starting the supplement (more motivation?) but no change in mood. Seems to me that even if she still is very depressed, that the slight improvement actually IS a slight change in mood (lessening of depression).
I'm sorry to hear she's not feeling well supported by the staff at True Hope. Maybe it's the limitations of being in Australia. So far I've heard mostly positive things about the staff there and their willingness to guide things step by step. That said, I have a client with very severe, life-long anxiety (and is BP), and is in the process of getting off her meds and onto Empower (with the support of her psychiatrist). She has gone very slowly, (even slower than the Truehope staff had instructed her to do) and had some intense bouts of fear and anxiety/panic along the way. On a few occasions she had to take her anxiety medication to deal with her panic. She's had to deal with her her fear of being off her Rx medication and fearing a severe relapse. EFT / Meridian Tapping has been one helpful tool for her to decrease and manage her anxiety. Therapy, and a Bipolar Support Group are another strong support for her. She also uses acupuncture for stress and depression. Things are improving now for her, and after 2 months the positive changes in her are becoming easy to see, even with some continued anxiety. She has always - since early childhood - had serious insomnia and been on meds for some 40 years or more. Now she is sleeping with only a small fraction of the sleep meds she was on before. She didn't think that would be possible.
The advice from Truehope may be correct, but I understand your mom's fear and her dependence on meds to help her anxiety. Xanax is a strong anti-anxiety medication that is not easy to get off of, especially after taking it a long time. Even conventional doctors usually taper off of it very very slowly.
Don't lose hope. It may take more time. Some people need to go slower than others. It's always important to have a good safety plan in place, and a team of professionals working together to be of support in case things take a downturn.
Any additional approaches your mom can use - EFT/Meridian Tapping, Acupuncture, Light Therapy, etc, would probably add to the chances of success.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist