Just wanted to post a little about myself. I am new to this site,but not the double edged sword known as Bi-polar. I am not on treatment nor have I been diagnosed,not yet at least. I really don't have much else to say ,but at least I know I am not alone with this,even though I feel like it.
Some make light of bipolar disorder and the havoc it can wreak on people's lives, mostly because people can do stupid things when they have bipolar disorder.
I've done some pretty interesting things during my own manic episodes. When I was younger, I usually made fun of my manic episodes as a coping mechanism.
But my last manic episode was not quite nearly as funny.
My recent manic episode was one of the worst that I have ever had. I called it the "Dude I lost my Hat" episode and I'm not referencing the movie with the similar name. It was awful. I'm writing at a public computer now trying to put the pieces of my life back together. And it's going slowly.
I feel like I'm living "Tough Love for People with Bipolar Disorder." To any friends and family members of people with bipolar disorder, I don't recommend the Tough Love approach. Love and support are extremely beneficial to everyone with bipolar disorder. I am sincerely grateful to the family members and friends who remained loyal to me throughout the manic episode.
I really thought that I was done with my bipolar disorder. I had panic attacks and other things, but I thought I was fine until I wasn't. I kept having more sleepness nights and more panic attacks. I got weird. I felt weird. I kept trying to contact my friends and family to get myself admitted to the hospital because I was scared.
And I'm still recovering. This time is taking me much longer because my circumstances are different. I wish I sounded more hopeful. It is not that I'm unhopeful, it's that I feel like there is nothing I can do about it. And, in a way, I can't.
I can't because it's a life-long disease. I've had it for almost twenty years. And it sucks. It's comical sometimes and some moments are fun, but it sucks. My last manic episode was actually a mixed manic episode. Paranoia and mania are extremely scary, especially when they are together. Seriously scary and not fun. At all.
Bipolar disorder won't just go away.
I'm stable now. Exhausted, but weary after dealing with it for so long. My brain hurts. My head hurts. And I'm frustrated with all the shit that I feel just got slapped in my face. There's nothing like a shit sandwich. And there's nothing like bipolar disorder to ruin anyone's day.
I'm not saying that it's easy for friends and family. I'm saying that it's hard. And it's surprisingly even harder for the person who actually has it, which is something that some the majority of people forget.
I hope that anyone who is going through or has gone through similar things shares their experiences here if they feel comfortable to do so. I know that it is a very personal illness and difficult to talk about.
So please feel free to write something and let me know your thoughts or experiences either if you are a person with bipolar disorder or a person who is close to someone with bipolar disorder.
And remember that it is actually therapeutic to write and create as a way to recovery.
Image credit: http://www.pptbackgrounds.net/flower-categories22.html
I was in my car listening to the radio the other day when I heard one of the most ridiculous car advertisements I have ever heard in my entire life. The catch phrase for the article went something along the lines of:
“Don’t let yourself become mentally ill. Buy a new car!”
Say what? The correlation in many advertisements is often way off base, but that was particularly odd.
The idea that causing someone more financial stress in hard times is going to make their lives easier is hard to believe. Where I live, many people are already worried that they are under water in their mortgages. This means that they originally paid more for the homes than the homes are worth now and that they are paying off loans for houses which are not worth their value.
Cars work the same way. A new car loses money the second it is driven off of the lot. The benefits of having a safe car are huge, but I am not seeing the strategy of spending money on a new car as a benefit in a hard economy unless they can easily afford it.
Not spending money on your medication will be more likely to make you mentally ill than using the same amount of money to buy a new car. A new car is the ultimate retail therapy and the gift of a huge monthly car payment and higher car insurance rates is the gift that keeps on giving.
For approximately the same price as a new car, I can have medical coverage and medicine. With that decision comes stronger mental health and the ability to handle stressful situations better.
It’s a personal choice; you can look cooler in your new car or you can choose to be healthy by buying things you can afford. The advertisement gave the exact opposite message. Buy a new car to avoid mental illness. And while the advice makes no sense, it is bound to get into the psyches of some people as they drive around town wishing that they, too, had nicer cars.
Buying a new car can add hundreds onto your monthly bill. If you have a great job, this is probably ok. But if you don’t have a great job and have any kind of need for medication, the ramifications of misusing your purchasing power for status symbols might be steeper than you think.
Use your brain when you hear advertisements and try to manage your budget wisely.
I was watching a detective show the other day and was less than impressed with the detective-work being shown in the story for a few reasons, most of which were related to the depiction of the mentally ill.
The plot of the detective story that I watched was fairly basic. Someone suspected that a strange neighbor who was supposedly mentally ill was going to go out and kill people in the neighborhood. In response, the police detectives placed the team of forensic psychologists on the case.
First, the suspect’s computer was searched to find any incriminating information. The problem with this was that the suspect wasn’t in fact suspected of committing any crimes. He had never committed any criminal activities, and wasn’t under suspicion for any criminal activities, so the search of his computer was illegal.
Second, the forensic psychologists' analysis seemed a little off-base to me. The forensic psychologists' analysis of the situation made it clear that the lines, “I”m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” are for a reason. The analysis made absolutely no sense. The analysis was supposed to show that the suspects’ journal indicated that he really had several different personalities because he used different tenses and pronouns in his writing. This, in turn, meant obviously that he was going to go out into his neighborhood and shoot everyone within a certain radius.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that that doesn’t make sense.
I was aghast. Not because the TV show was stupid, but because the TV show was reinforcing ideas about the mentally ill and crime. The idea that someone could perform break into someone’s computer to supposedly predict crimes that might or might happen is also repellant on many different levels.
The correlation between the strange use of tenses leading to serious kinds of crime was bizarre. I’ve never heard of that particular link before.
It is not illegal to be mentally ill in the United States of America, which is a good thing, since the DSM makes it clear that there are so many people who are suffering from a mental illness whether they are aware of it or not. That said, shows like this put a stigma of fear into the general public by spreading misinformation about mental illness.
The TV show was spreading fear about the mentally ill at a time when many social services for the mentally ill are being cut off.
Names and places in this story have been changed to replace both the guilty and the innocent.
As many of you are aware, I have bipolar disorder and was diagnosed with it nearly 20 years ago. It hasn’t been perfect, but I believe that I’ve dealt with as well as I can.
Earlier, I wrote about whether those of us with bipolar disorder should “come out of the closet with our bipolar disorder.” I was referring to whether or not we should tell people that we have bipolar disorder.
My new sad answer is, “No.”
Someone recently found out that I had bipolar disorder. It wouldn’t have been hard. It could have been from this blog. It could have been from the pills that were in my purse. It could have been by word of mouth.
I started hearing random comments about the kind of medication I was on at the workplace. I got into a work dispute with the same individual who then called me “violent” and “vitriolic” in front of a room full of people. When I questioned the same person about my work and whether the changes had saved, he said something to the effect of: “Of course it saved. Otherwise you would be crazy.”
The emphasis in the sentence was on the word “crazy.”
I had never told the person that I had bipolar disorder, but it was clear that he knew and that he was going to use it to his advantage. I had no idea what to do; it was a new job, I was older than many of the people doing my job, and had no idea that adults acted so juvenile.
Each and every day, I felt like he was trying to send me over the brink. I asked to be transferred to another department, but was denied. I heard comments about my Facebook posts, which I had erroreneously assumed were for “friends only.” I heard comments about my appearance.
I knew that the person had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) by their own admission, but I tried not to stoop to that level. I did, once, however, cough on my keyboard as a precautionary measure so that the individual would be too scared to touch it.
The person continued to try and manipulate me into my worst self. The individual was in a position of authority over me, so there wasn’t much I could do. When I did file a formal complaint to move to another department, he spread the rumors there.
It didn’t end up happily for me there. That wasn’t the only reason, but it did play a large role.
A recent report recommended that those who are grieving be classified as depressed patients. The upshot if this idea is implemented is that more people would end up being treated for depression.
Which doesn’t fly all that well with certain people.
There are those, most of whom have never been depressed a single fricking day in their entire lives, who believe that the there are way too many prescriptions being doled out for anti-depressants. I don’t know if the population at large is confusing anti-depressants with other medications, but in many cases, anti-depressants work.
There are side effects for anti-depressants which include sleep disorders and lack of sexual function. But the side effects of depression can also include a loss of interest in sex and trouble sleeping. Other side effects of depression include: low feelings of self-worth, an inability to concentrate, and a serious loss of interest in activities.
If anti-depressants can help people who are in the process of grieving, what’s the harm? (As long as they don’t have other diagnoses, like bipolar disorder, which makes prescribing anti-depressants more difficult.)
A friend of mine was talking about the death of her mom, which she said was the hardest time during her life; I asked her whether or not she had taken any anti-depressants for her sadness and depression. She seemed indignant when I asked the question and said that the grieving process wouldn’t have been helped by anti-depressants because she was depressed because of her mom’s death.
That’s fair enough. I’m not sure whether the medication would have helped her or not, but medication should at least be an option for people who are seriously depressed for whatever reason, especially because of the loss of a loved one. The consequences of severe depression are too serious to be ignored.
Pyschology Today has an in-depth analysis on the ramifications of changing the DSM 5 to include grief as part of depression in cases of severe grief that lasts beyond the ordinary amount of time. The author, Dr. Allen Francis, is concerned that if grief is included in depression that there would be too many false-positives in the system.
He cites an article by Pies and Ziskind in which the authors give a way for the DSM 5 to add criteria which would ensure that only grievers who were at risk for serious consequences would be included.
The NYT featured an interesting essay on evolutionary biology, behavior, and depression. The basic premise of the article is that many researchers are currently fixated on the idea that evolutionary biology guides actions and is responsible for many illnesses, but that illnesses like depression don’t fit into this mold because there often isn’t a silver lining.
Dr. Richard Friedman, the MD who wrote the article, illustrated his point by first recognizing that certain studies have demonstrated that patients who are sadder may have better judgment than those who are not; however, he continued by pointing out that the thought patterns of depressed patients are nothing to “embrace,” but something that should be addressed because the thinking of the individuals is often distorted. He continues by weighing in on the health risks associated with severe depression.
I agree that depression is something that must be taken seriously, but find fault a little bit with the doctor’s attitude towards depressed individuals in that he repeatedly stated that depressed individuals had a hard time making decisions. I believe that this is a gross over-generalization; it depends on the individual. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was thought to have been severely depressed at many times in his life, yet was able to make decisions that resulted in the end of slavery in the United States.
Many individuals who are not depressed also have distorted world views based on their religious or family backgrounds. How we think and treat others is often a result of our upbringing as well and not just a result of the chemicals in our brain.
That said, depression often skews a person’s thinking about his or herself more than anything else. A person who is depressed is likely to feel incapable of doing more than he or she already is and is more or less likely to have a more difficult time being pro-active.
As to whether or not there is an evolutionary advantage to depression, it’s hard to say. It’s also hard to find an evolutionary advantage to cancer or many other serious illnesses which affect the way a person is able to deal with life. The sad truth is in many cases there aren’t any silver linings, evolutionary or otherwise.
The only advantage that I can see to severe depression is that anyone who has come through and lived through a difficult depression has an incredible toughness that most people lack as well as a deep appreciation for when things are going well.
The LA Times has the low-down on a few movies centering on mental illness including “A Dangerous Method” starring Keira Knightley which focuses on the mental illnesses of one woman back when “hysteria” was a serious mental condition. To prepare for her role in “A Dangerous Method,” Director David Croneberg had Knightley watch old movies in which the female characters had been diagnosed with hysteria.
As director David Cronenberg describes it: "Hysteria has pretty much been either medicated away or the conditions that gave rise to it — repression and shame and the fear of making a misstep in a very rigid society — no longer exist."
Hysteria no longer exists as a diagnosis, and for good reason: many now view the diagnosis of hysteria as a way for men in the past to control and subjugate women. The idea that hysteria no longer exists because women are no longer so repressed is only partially correct; mainly, hysteria does not exist any longer because men are not allowed to lock women up in mental hospitals (or their bedrooms as in the case of the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”) for having more emotional reactions than men do.
Some of the conditions that were considered to be signs of hysteria included irritability, a slightly swollen stomach, and a tendency to cause trouble. To me, the first two signs mentioned above sound strangely similar to the conditions used to diagnose PMS. The last symptom, of course, sounds like it must have been a convenient excuse for a man to get his wife out of the way.
Several specific diagnoses have popped up which relate to both men and women and seem to fit the descriptions of actual hysteria. Again, the entire hysteria diagnosis was only from a male’s perspective; that I know of, there weren’t any diagnoses for men with too much aggression, for example.
I first learned of hysteria when I read “The Yellow Wallpaper” in school; in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a woman slowly goes insane in her bedroom (where she is incidentally locked up) and starts peeling off the wallpaper in her room. Whenever I read this for school, the woman’s condition was also described as “hysteria” and was taught as a way to show the differences between the psychiatric diagnoses of the past and today.
The film “A Dangerous Method” looks a little different; the story centers on the main character’s sexuality more than anything else. I'm not expecting anything resembling a realistic portrayal of what mental illness looks like from the outside.
But these normal bittersweet feelings are sometimes joined by actual holiday depression. Many people get the blues this time of year, and for whatever reason, they just can’t seem to enjoy the holidays like everyone else can. Here are a few reasons why, according to Mental Health America:
- Setting your expectations too high, whether they are about what you can get done, how much you can spend, or how much you get
- Anxiety about the future, with a New Year approaching and the focus on past failures so prevalent
- Loneliness, particularly if a loved one has passed away or you are single, divorced, separated, or otherwise alone for the holidays
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mild depression that develops when your body isn’t getting enough light (which may be treatable through light therapy)
Whatever the reason for your winter doldrums, there are several ways to keep them at bay. Though they may not help at all, it’s worth giving them a shot! In addition to light therapy, you might want to…
- Keep the holidays as low key and relaxed as possible. Don’t volunteer to do every meal if you can avoid it; take turns with another relative. Set spending maximums to avoid too much shopping (and debt).
- Share holidays with friends and family if you can. If you can’t, try to call or video chat with them if at all possible; and if not, spend the time with someone else, such as fellow volunteers at a shelter or food pantry.
- Try to be hopeful about the future. Set a reasonable, realistic goal, such as calling a friend each month, or volunteering for your community. Make a list of all of the things you have to be grateful for, as well as at least ten things that you love about yourself.
- Spend a little time relaxing, even if it just means lying on the couch for half an hour or taking a nap.
The following lists and plans should be shared with any loved ones that you have, whether they are friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, or wives. It’s especially important to catch the symptoms of an episode early, so staying in contact with friends and family is a necessary part of the plan.
A plan for people with Bipolar Disorder should include:
A list of emergency contacts including friends, family, and your doctor’s name and phone number. Your close and trusted friends should have the numbers of your immediate family in case they need to call them with concerns. Your immediate family should have your doctor’s name and phone number.
A list of your current medications and doses. Again, in case you cannot recall your doses, you need to have a list on hand that is easily accessible by your friends and family in case something happens to you.
A list of your medication history. The medication history list should include which medications were prescribed and when and at what dose. You may not remember all of your medications, but be as thorough as possible.
A list of strategies for dealing with either mania or depression. The list might not be for you, but instead might be for your loved ones who probably don’t have enough experience dealing with Bipolar Disorder to thoroughly help you. The list should include the above-listed numbers to call, links to websites with resources for whoever is supporting you, and strategies that have and haven’t worked in the past. For example, if you were agitated by such and such when depressed, include that on the list. A history of which medications worked for what should also be included. If you were just diagnosed, the list won’t be so specific, but can be added to with time. The important thing is showing your loved ones that Bipolar Disorder can be dealt with just as easily as any other health issue, as long as there is good support and a strong plan in place.