The story you are about to read is that of Ben, a person living with bipolar 1. The experiences and opinions expressed here may not be representative of all people living with bipolar 1 and are not a substitute for medical advice or judgment. Always talk to your healthcare provider about available and appropriate treatment options. Individual results may vary.
Staying in all day and going out all night. Spending money and drinking to excess. Episodes of frustration and anger that didn’t make sense. I didn’t know it at the time, but my behaviors were associated with some of the changes in mood and energy that are symptoms of bipolar I disorder.1 It took finding the right healthcare provider, who diagnosed me, to begin my journey towards finding a treatment option that works for me.
My mental health journey started in my late teen years when I would cycle through feelings of being “low,” also known as depressive symptoms, and then I would experience “highs,” or manic symptoms. My manic episodes could be really frightening — I’d become irrationally and extremely angry, sometimes falling into a blind rage and lashing out.
I knew that what I was experiencing and how I was feeling weren’t normal. I was hospitalized multiple times and I wanted answers and help.
When I was 19, I started seeing a new healthcare provider and I found in him someone I thought would be a good partner. He was young and approachable, and I knew he really wanted to help me reach my treatment goals. Ultimately, my healthcare provider diagnosed me with bipolar 1 and while it was difficult to hear, having the diagnosis was a big relief because then we could work together on a treatment plan.
From the outset, I trusted and felt supported by my healthcare provider. He always listened to my concerns, which were typical of anyone starting a treatment journey. We worked together to consider different medications and he took the time to explain how each one worked, as well as the potential benefits and side effects and how I might feel when taking the medication.
Following my diagnosis, I began treatment with medication, but it was hard to find one that worked for me. One medicine helped reduce my bipolar 1 symptoms; but, unfortunately, it came with side effects I couldn’t tolerate. I tried several other medications, but for me, they didn’t help to manage my condition and my symptoms as much as I wanted them to, so I stopped taking them and my symptoms returned. My wife, who has been by my side every step of the way before and after my diagnosis, could tell when I stopped taking medication. When my symptoms weren’t managed, I’d become more easily frustrated and agitated, which would make her worry.
Then my healthcare provider told me about LYBALVI® (olanzapine and samidorphan) and together we decided I should try it. In 2021, LYBALVI was approved as an oral medication used in adults to treat manic or mixed episodes that happen with bipolar 1 disorder, either alone for short-term (acute) or maintenance treatment or in conjunction with valproate or lithium.2
My healthcare provider shared with me some important safety information about LYBALVI, including that LYBALVI has a boxed warning. More specifically, LYBALVI may cause serious side effects, including increased risk of death in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis. LYBALVI increases the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). LYBALVI is not approved for the treatment of people with dementia-related psychosis.2
Since starting LYBALVI, I have noticed improvement in my bipolar 1 symptoms, which my wife and family have also noticed. I take LYBALVI every day as prescribed because I see that it works for me and the side effects have been manageable. However, this is just my experience, so it is important to talk with your healthcare provider about what may work for you.
My bipolar 1 journey hasn’t been easy and I still have good and bad days, but I try to focus on the people who support me and things in my life that are fulfilling to me. I enjoy spending time with my family and helping them with their restaurant. I’m also focused on developing my skills in my career as a software engineer. When I’m not working, I like going to the gym for exercise and when I want to relax and unplug, I enjoy playing video games.
With the support of my loved ones and a strong relationship with my healthcare provider, I feel hopeful about my path forward.
I believe mental health is just as important as physical health and should be taken as seriously. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental illness persists and can prevent people from getting the help they need. By sharing my story, I hope to do my part to help raise awareness and encourage others to get the help they may need.
For anyone experiencing symptoms of mental illness, including bipolar 1, I encourage you to reach out for help. Be your own best advocate, or advocate for a loved one. Talk with a medical professional about concerns and symptoms, ask questions and be honest – so they can help determine the treatment option that may work for you.
To learn more about LYBALVI, visit www.LYBALVI.com and talk with your doctor.
INDICATIONS AND IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Important Safety Information
LYBALVI may cause serious side effects, including increased risk of death in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis. LYBALVI increases the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). LYBALVI is not approved for the treatment of people with dementia-related psychosis.
Do not take LYBALVI if you are taking opioids or are experiencing acute opioid withdrawal.
LYBALVI may cause serious side effects, including:
The most common side effects of LYBALVI when used to treat people with schizophrenia include:
- weight gain
- dry mouth
The most common side effects of LYBALVI when used alone to treat people with mixed or manic episodes that happen with bipolar I disorder include:
- dry mouth
- increased appetite
The most common side effects of LYBALVI when used in combination with lithium or valproate to treat people with mixed or manic episodes that happen with bipolar I disorder include:
- dry mouth
- increased appetite
- back pain
- problems speaking
- memory problems
- weight gain
- mouth watering
- numbness and tingling in your arm and legs
Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how LYBALVI affects you. LYBALVI may make you feel drowsy.
Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment with LYBALVI.
Avoid getting over-heated or dehydrated.
- Do not exercise too much.
- In hot weather, stay inside in a cool place if possible.
- Stay out of the sun. Do not wear too much clothing or heavy clothing.
- Drink plenty of water.
Before taking LYBALVI, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- have or had heart problems or a stroke
- use or abuse street (illegal) drugs
- have or had low or high blood pressure
- have kidney problems
- have diabetes or high blood sugar or a family history of diabetes or high blood sugar
- have or have had high levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, or triglycerides or low levels of HDL cholesterol
- have or had a low white blood cell count
- have problems swallowing
- have or had seizures (convulsions)
- have or had problems with urination or prostate problems
- have or had breast cancer
- have or had constipation or a bowel obstruction
- have or had high prolactin levels
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks to you and your unborn or newborn baby if you take LYBALVI during pregnancy.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you are pregnant during treatment with LYBALVI.
- If you become pregnant during treatment with LYBALVI, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the National Pregnancy Registry for Atypical Antipsychotics. You can register by calling 1-866-961-2388 or visit
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. LYBALVI passes into your breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby during treatment with LYBALVI.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
LYBALVI and other medicines may affect each other causing possible serious side effects.
LYBALVI may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how LYBALVI works.
Especially tell your healthcare provider if you:
- take opioids or have stopped taking opioids in the past 14 days
- take or plan to take other olanzapine containing medicines
Your healthcare provider can tell you if it is safe to take LYBALVI with your other medicines. Do not start or stop any medicines while taking LYBALVI without first talking to your healthcare provider.
These are not all the possible side effects of LYBALVI.
Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to
FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
LYBALVI is a prescription medicine which contains 2 medicines (olanzapine and samidorphan) used in adults:
- to treat schizophrenia
- alone for short term (acute) or maintenance treatment of manic or mixed episodes that happen with bipolar I disorder
- in combination with valproate or lithium to treat manic or mixed episodes that happen with bipolar I disorder
It is not known if LYBALVI is safe or effective in children.
1 American Psychiatric Association. What is Bipolar disorder? Accessed March 29, 2023. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/bipolar-disorders/what-are-bipolar-disorders
2 LYBALVI® [Prescribing Information]. Alkermes, Inc. Waltham, MA:2021
ALKERMES® is a registered trademark of Alkermes, Inc. LYBALVI® and logo are registered trademarks of Alkermes Pharma Ireland Limited, used by Alkermes, Inc., under license. ©2023 Alkermes, Inc. All rights reserved. LYB-002472