I have never joined a chat before but since we are close in age and I have experiences similar to yours, I decided to respond. The sentence below is what drew me in the most:
"I am writing now because I am feeling anxious, depressed and frustrated with this disease that I guess I have." - your words
I would like to tell you most of all that "you are responsible for your treatment" and that you have to "do the work".
First, there are good doctors and bad doctors. It sounds like you have a doctor that cares but some doctors are better qualified and a better fit for "you" so work that out.
Do your homework and find a doctor that may have a new perspective. I found out that I had bipolar 1 in 2005 but I suffered from addiction and alcoholism for 20 years prior to that. I was treated for depression and addiction but to no avail.
Once I was diagnosed properly, I was given Limbitrol first. Not all doctors use that but it is good for people who are coming off of alcohol. Then I started Cymbalta (antidepressant) and Lamictal. I loved Cymbalta but it was giving me panic attacks and pushing me toward mania so I can't take antidepressants at all because I tend to swing more toward mania. My son is more on the depressed and mixed states side but that is another subject.
I take 200 mg of Lamictal and I take Librium. Librium is a benzodiazapene and I take just a small dose at night but I can take more if I need to. That is for anxiety. Most people with bipolar have anxiety and maybe that is what you are missing. Ask you doctor about it.
Remember, this is the only life you have. People get sick and unfortunately there is no cure for bipolar but read everything, find out about medicines, get 2nd opinions and believe in yourself. Your body will tell you when a medicine is not right for you. Seroquel was not right for me. I wanted to feel energetic and not groggy. I flat out told my doctor I wouldn't take it. If it is making you eat too much, tell your doctor to take you off because packing on the pounds will make you depressed at our age. Also, menopause may be having some effect on you.
Remember to see a doctor to have bloodwork done to find any other problems like a thyroid or blood sugar problem. I think every person who was a drinker should go to an endocrinologist and be tested for pre-diabetes. I have that and I take medicine and control my diet. Many other things can affect your mood so journal every day from how you feel when you get up til you go to bed.
Trust your intuition and never stop working to get that stability you seek. I haven't drank since March 2005 and I love it.
You can have bipolar and be happy - it will happen if you don't give up. Never give up!
Oh, and I don't do AA either. I do go to church and spirituality is a big part of my life.
God bless you.