I finally felt hopeful about my treatment and future
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with and treated for depression. By age 17, the diagnosis was updated to bipolar II rapid cycling.
I was in a terrible state for many years, experiencing severe cycles of mania and depression. For example, one manic episode landed me in jail for shoplifting things that I could not possibly use (clothes far too large for my size, 12 pairs of the same kind of earrings, etc.), and my horrific episodes of depression brought me to several suicide attempts. My life was an ongoing nightmare, and I loathed myself for the toxic effect I was having on myself and my loved ones. I just wanted it to end.
I was under the care of a trusted psychologist, and a very experienced psychiatrist who was trying very hard to find medicine that helped me. Back then, trial and error was a common method, and we went through that for years, which caused me to experience all kinds of side effects from the different medicinal cocktails we used to try to manage my illness. The different side effects sometimes made me feel even more miserable than my usual depression, and that, in addition to my mania, often caused me to fight taking medicine at all.
After six years of suffering through both the illness and failed treatments, my doctor heard about a new approach, the GeneSight test, at a medical conference and asked me if I’d like to try it. My parents and I jumped at the offer, and when I got my results back, it was clear why so many of the medications we had tried were not effective for me.
Using GeneSight for new medications on the market
The GeneSight test gave us a list of medications that might work better for me, as well as a list of those that could potentially be less effective or cause side effects. This gave us some direction as to where to start first. Over the next year, I had transitioned to a new medicinal regimen that was effective in treating my bipolar, with very minimal side effects. I finally felt hopeful about my treatment and future. The stability I gained from my medications gave me the first glimpse of happiness I’d felt since I was a child.
We adjusted a couple of my medications/doses very slightly over the next five years. During that time, my psychiatrist used the GeneSight results to choose new medications on the market that had improved effectiveness and/or caused less side effects.
I am now 35 years old and have been on this medication plan for seven years. It has allowed me to not only remain stable and happy, but has also provided me the chance to reach new heights in my career and maintain positive long-term relationships.
Able to completely turn my life around
My father, who is a retired general practice doctor, says I am one of the most successful cases of bipolar he’s ever seen, and my psychiatrist agrees. Thanks to the GeneSight test and the support of my family and doctors, I was able to completely turn my life around. Despite the seven years I lost from age 16 to 23, due to the dysfunction and trauma caused by so many dangerous cycles of mania and depression, I not only survived but have come out thriving.
Today, no one would ever think that I have bipolar disorder. A year ago, I decided to return to school to pursue a biomedical sciences degree and seek a career as a physician’s assistant. I am proudly maintaining a 3.94 GPA.
I am a successful musician, play in a few social sports leagues, and am thrilled to say that I have several lasting friendships that I’ve built over the last 12 stable years. My relationships with my family members are strong, peaceful, and loving, and most importantly to me, I have been happily dating a fantastic man for the last year, who I am completely in love with and who loves me in return.
There is light at the end of the tunnel
I believe in therapy and medicine as a great way to treat bipolar, but the journey to stability and happiness may be much shorter, more tolerable, and more successful, with the information that a GeneSight evaluation can provide. I feel extreme sorrow and empathy for those suffering from the symptoms of bipolar and other mental illnesses, and I would not wish it on anyone, as bipolar is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever come to know or understand.
If you have such an illness or know someone who does, please don’t give up. Seek support, and hopefully, get the medical assistance a bipolar patient needs to have the best chance to survive and succeed. GeneSight made that effort so much more manageable for me, and I will ALWAYS recommend it to anyone who is in search of happiness and relief from a devastating mental illness such as bipolar.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’d say this might just be the best way to get there.
* Jillian asked us not to use her given name
This story is one patient’s personal experience. Other patients may not have the same experience or outcome. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.
The GeneSight test must be ordered by and used only in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medications. As with all genetic tests, the GeneSight test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. The test results are designed to be just one part of a larger, complete patient assessment, which would include proper diagnosis and consideration of your medical history, other medications you may be taking, your family history, and other factors.
If you are a healthcare provider and interested in learning more about the GeneSight test, please call us at 855.891.9415. If you are a patient, please talk with your doctor to see if the GeneSight test may be helpful.