Just wanted to throw in my two cents on the whole depakote debate. I am on depakote and have had fantastic results. Everyone seems to have their little magic pills and for me its depakote. It did cause some weight gain in the beginning, but once I levelled out and got stable, I was able to lose the weight. The big thing for me is that it helps to level me out so I'm not bouncing all over the place and I can keep on an even keel. I'm relatively med-sensitive so I usually only take about 187mg/day. I don't have a lot of side effects with it, and when I do need other medication, it seems to help the other medication work better so I don't need as much of the other stuff. I have a pretty sensitive stomach and the depakote isn't particularly upsetting - it might be because I take a low dose. I do have blood levels checked every couple of months, but I've never had any trouble.
If you're paying out of pocket, its usually pretty cheap - otherwise there is a generic version that will be covered by insurance.
I'm a big supporter of mood stabilizers because they have helped me so greatly, so hopefully you'll find one that works well for you.