I understand much of the frustration you are feeling with all that you are faced with. I have to say - I'm on the same train as Jet and SMSIRL - finding a doctor that you feel comfortable with who listens to your concerns is key - so is finding an appropriate treatment.
I'm a 25 year old girl and was confirmed BPII about two years ago. I suffered through years of depression and upset not understanding that this wasn't a normal experience. Finding the right medication was the best thing I could have done for myself. I take depakote and it works well for me. Not much in the way of side effects and the results are profound. I did gain a few lbs but managed to lose it once I was stable. I've also accepted the fact that I would sooner be 10lbs chubbier and happy, productive, outgoing and personable, than be 5lbs underweight, sluggish, upset, panicky, spastic and unpleasant - I've done both so I'm speaking from experience.
In the beginning, I was worried about medication also and all the potential side effects that came with it. I pursued the natural route as best I could with no success. There are no doctors in my area that deal with that type of treatment and my pdoc had no faith in available alternatives. My pdoc had seen many people try natural remedies and solutions, but none had any significant success with many people spending a great deal of money on treatments that didn't work. That's not to say that there aren't alternative therapies, but BP is nothing to be taken lightly and should you pursue an alternate route, it should be done under the care of a pdoc and natural health practitioner. Unattended BP can become disasterous rather quickly and trying to pick up all the dyfunctional and shattered pieces is much more difficult than managing it properly - also speaking from experience.
The big thing for me that I've learned is when I swing to the manic side, I get panicky and anxious. I've done some reading that suggests that anxiety can mask underlying mania in BP patients which can make it hard to get a proper diagnosis and thus the untreated mania can make it difficult to treat the anxiety. Adjusting my mood stabilizer helps to reset that stuff so that the anixety subsides and I can get a grip. I was lucky because finding the right mood stabilizer helped me to reduce the overall amount of medication that I took and helps me to sleep better so there's little need for medication there too.
Having said all that, its important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle as was mentioned earlier. I'm pretty convinced that it becomes a "sum of the parts" type situation. You could have the best care money can buy (natural or conventional), but if you don't treat your body well and take care of all the other systems (rest, nutrition, exercise, etc.) than the likelihood of feeling your best is compromised. It doesn't mean that you have assume a rigid lifestyle, but making small changes can really make a big difference. I'm not great at keeping up with a hard core exercise routine, but a 20 minute trip around the block every day with my pooch does wonders for my health. Same goes for regular sleep routine and eating schedule.
Take care of yourself and keep posting,