Hey Anniejack, I'm Bipolar as well (although not 1 or 2 as I have some atypical symptoms), and I ran the gamut of meds, including Depakote. I can sympathize, believe me!
I ran into a lot of side effects (including a nasty bowel one) and had to go off it pretty quickly, but from what I remember, you will end up having to have either liver or kidney tests (simple blood work) every few months to make sure no damage is being done. This goes for Lithium as well. I also didn't like how either of the 2 made me feel (that numb feeling).
The last med I took that worked well for me was Abilify, but there was a weight gain issue. In 8 months, I put on about 30lbs! The other problem with that was Abilify makes you kind of speedy until you get used to it. In the first few weeks, I refinished my dressing table and chest of drawers, including new hardware. The upside to this was that I got motivated to do projects, and the downside was that I drove DH crazy for a while. I ended up going off of it due to their being no research on the effects of Abilify on a fetus, and DH and I are getting ready to start trying for kids.
I was misdiagnosed for years before we got to the Bipolar diagnosis, so I have taken MANY of the meds on the market for depression and such. If you need to talk about anything, feel free to PM me if you feel comfortable doing so.