Essay I wrote on BiPolar (BP)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DammitJanet, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Some people say, "I woke up on the wrong side of bed today." I used to say, "I woke up on the wrong side of life." That's exactly how I felt for many years. I knew from a very young age that something was wrong with me. I used to go through severe suicidal lows, but never followed through with taking my life. So, year after year, I muddled through life, a very miserable person, just surviving.
    I read many self-help books, but still no relief. Now I'm 44 and after years of struggling, I finally have answers. Im trying to take my life back.
    There are actually names and diagnoses for what I battle. I have mental illnesses called bipolar affective disorder - also called manic depression - without psychosis. But, I also battle related psychiatric illnesses like Borderline Personality Disorder (which is an emotional dysregulation disorder), and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). It's common for people with mental illnesses to have co-morbid psychiatric symptoms. I also have had a hysterectomy, fibromyalgia and arthritis throughout my body and I'm entering menopause, all of which contributed to my mental health condition. I always thought I was a little crazy. Now I know I am for sure, but there are reasons for it and treatment is available.
    What is crazy anyway? People don't believe that I'm mentally ill because I don't look crazy! They just haven't seen me during one of my rages, looking like a raving lunatic. I've been able to hide it well by wearing a mask for many years. I should get an Oscar for best actress. It's a role that became harder for me to play the older I got. I became more and more emotional. I gave an all-star performance while raising my kids and dealing with all the doctors and various schools and mental health professionals for them. I also did this while working. You must show no sign of weakness at all cost. So I would go to work, wearing my armor, then come home and fall apart. I was hell for my family to live with. They bore the brunt of my pain. Trying to hide bipolar disorder is like trying to force a beach ball under water. In the last ten years, the depression hit an all time low. Suicide was always on my mind, but I was too chicken to follow through with it. For me, suicidal thoughts became as automatic as breathing. The fact that I have family was the only thing that kept me grounded. Fortunately I haven't become a statistic.
    I figured out all of my illnesses on my own, mainly through medical books. Doctors wouldn't listen. I was terrified to admit to many of the “crazier” things I did in the privacy of my home because I was afraid someone would take my kids from me. I had visual hallucinations when my kids were small because of extreme stress. I used to see blood dripping from the walls and know absolutely that it was their blood but I also knew that what I was seeing wasnt real so I just hid it from everyone. I never told a soul. When my youngest son was diagnosed with bipolar, I read The Bipolar Child and it was like they had been living with me as a child. It described me that accurately. Now I had a name for what was wrong with me. I started my search to get help.
    My first foray into help wasnt that successful. I went to a therapist who told me to ask my general practioner to prescribe an antidepressant. I had no clue that taking that advice would lead me into a four month long vacation in hell. At first I thought I had found a magic pill. I started feeling wonderful! But wonderful soon skyrocketed into full blown mania with little to no sleep, grandiose thought patterns, delusional thinking, reckless actions, total disregard for my family or job. I was completely out of control. It was awful. And I simply couldnt stop.
    I also started having physical problems at about this time too that wouldnt respond to any treatment. My knees would swell uncontrollably. I couldnt walk. My back would hurt so badly I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings, my hips would lock up on me, I had painful places on my body that hurt to the touch and I felt like I had a constant case of the flu. I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There was a psychiatrist who happened to share office space with the doctor who diagnosed me with fibro and I had my boyfriend take me in to see him because I was literally at the point of wanting to die if I couldnt get relief from this unrelenting emotional pain. I was reeling back and forth between bouts of severe mania and depression from the antidepressants they had me on and I had no idea why.
    That man saved my life. Much to my surprise this doctor listened to my history, was supportive and confirmed my diagnosis. Then, together we worked out a prescription regimen for me to start with the realization that it may take time to find what works for me along with the proper dosage. It's a total ****-shoot, purely trial and error. What works for one person might not work for another. My Doctor and I are a team. That's critical in finding the right doctor. Unfortunately, I had to switch doctors due to losing insurance. Now my medications are up in the air again and Im trying to reach stability once more.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Bipolar affective disorder is a type of brain disorder or biochemical imbalance; it is also believed to be a genetic disease. It's extremely hard to diagnose and treat. This illness is a curse and a blessing all rolled into one (manic depressive individuals tend to be highly creative). It's characterized by severe mood swings that cycle back and forth between extreme highs (mania) and severe lows (depression). Bipolar affects some people as early as childhood. Some with bipolar disorder experience normal moods between cycles. Some might experience mania once in their lifetime, while others experience it once a year, or even once every few months. Some are called rapid cyclers. I'm an ultra, ultra rapid cycler who experiences mixed states, which means I cycle so fast that I actually have depression and mania happening at the same time within a 24-hour period. I had to record my moods in order to track my pattern of mood swings.
    When someone with bipolar disorder is manic, they're in mental overdrive. Ideas are coming fast and furious. It's hard for them to keep up. It's hard for people to keep up with them. You're revved up. You're tripping over your own words. You become a total work horse or workaholic. That mental state can be productive if you're not too manic. The energy is great. but the problem is that the mania keeps building until eventually you spin out of control and just can't function. Then the depression sets in. You go from an extreme high to an extreme low. You come crashing down. Some turn to alcohol to take the edge off the mania or to nurse their depressing woes. You feel invincible one minute and like your sinking into an abyss the next. You actually feel like you're coming out of your skin when you're manic.
    I've lived a life of utter chaos, on a constant emotional roller coaster, a train wreck if you will. I would go through fits of rage. I came close to verbally abusing my kids. I felt like a deer caught in headlights. It feels like a panic attack a hundred times over. I felt like God played a cruel joke on me. I've actually lost it to a point where I've floored my car from 0 to 60 down alleys and streets. I've put my fist through walls and doors, kicked in my car door so hard with my shoes that it looked like my car was wrecked. I hit a filing cabinet so hard that I almost broke my hand, stabbed the dashboard of my car because it wouldnt start. . These are examples of how impaired your judgment gets when you're manic.
    I have been extremely hypersexual. I did anything to kill the pain of depression and to help lessen the mania so I could sleep, because I would be so amped up for no apparent reason.
    You also have to learn what your triggers are for mania. Stress, certain medications, panic attacks can be triggers. I was usually treated for major depression. The doctors would prescribe antidepressants, which I found out can trigger mania. So I would get worse instead of better. If you're Bipolar, you have to balance an antidepressant with a mood stabilizing drug like Lithium, lamictal, depakote. Another time, I was given a cortisone shot for my arthritis. The medication triggered a manic episode. I also have to keep my life as stress-free as possible.
    Those who are manic have the capability to completely destroy their lives and others' - job loss, divorce, ruined family ties and friendships to name a few. The biggest problem is saving the person from themselves. Suicide (includes reckless behavior) plays a major role in bipolar disorder, along with psychosis. Psychosis can cause someone with manic depression to be committed. Psychosis can include visual and auditory hallucinations as well as paranoia. Imagine sitting in a doctor's office and all of a sudden you hear voices or feel something crawling on you. However, my biggest problem was the paranoia. It affected my judgment. It caused me to alienate everyone.
    I've always been a high-strung, successful workaholic. I'm a type "A" personality. I used to be a workhorse for whomever I was working. I felt I was superwoman and for many years I was. I would go through spells where I felt so vibrant and vivacious with people. At times I was on top of the world. But then…like clockwork, I would come crashing down. I would go through suicidal depressions and literally hide from people. I would retreat to my bedroom or home. I wouldn't go out for anything but groceries and necessities. If I had to work, I was quiet and would race home after work. The black cloud was suffocating me. I hit rock bottom. Part of the reason things got so bad had to do with hormones. I had the worst periods. I realized part of these mood swings were cyclic based on my menstrual cycle, triggered by my hormones, which compounded the bipolar disorder. Hormones + Bipolar Disorder = Livin' La Vida Loca!
    I have always been terrified of people. I was sweet and nice to everyone but wore this mask to hide my illnesses. I had them all fooled.
    Once you get an accurate diagnosis, you're halfway there. Finding the right combination and dosage of prescriptions puts you another quarter of the way there. Next, throw a little psychotherapy in the mix and you're home free.
  3. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    Very, very good. It was like a window into the roller coaster world of BiPolar (BP). Thanks
  4. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    I can't thank you enough for being open and honest enough with all of us to share this very personal journey through HE77. Reading what you've written helps me to understand difficult child 1. There are many, many days when I have a hard time just being in the same room with him!!! Your essay makes me see things in an entirely different light. Mental illness has got to be one of the worst types of HE77 a person can possibly go through. Not only does it have a negative impact (the understatement of the day) on the person suffering from it, but also it has a negative impact on those closest to them. Living with a mentally ill person can be HE77 too!!!

    You are a very intelligent, insightful, and caring individual with a great sense of humor. I always read your responses to posts carefully, not only for the laughs, but also because of your wisdom. I'm very, very glad your part of the CD family. WFEN
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you, Janet! This is very helpful in seeing what this can do to a person and what they live with. How old were you when you started npticing cycling in yourself?
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I always knew I was different I just didnt know why I was different. I was always told I was bad. My earliest memories of doing something that could probably be labeled with the bipolar is running away at ages 5 and 6 and then when I was 6 I tried to "kill" a foster child my parents took in by putting perfume in her kool aid. She had taken my brand new doll carriage, I had cried at the unfairness of it all because she had got a brand new doll stroller but I got beat with a belt for not sharing. I blamed her. I put about a teaspoon of perfume in her koolaid and ran away. I just knew she would die!

    This is just a small glimpse into what my childhood was like. I never had a picture of a birthday party with me smiling. Never.
  7. Jena

    Jena New Member

    thank you so much for sharing all of that being so completely honest and open. i'm sorry i'm jumping onto this one so late in the game. been wrapped up in my little roller coaster.

    it truly is an insight into the workings of a person with BiPolar (BP). i too have extreme highs and lows always thought it was triggered by life events, most friends have told me i run even most of the time yet stress kills me flips me out and sends me into a quick thinking almost driven state and also panic attacks, who knows if i have it i'm getting checked out soon. my little one's got it. it's a hard long road i'm so happy for you though that you weren't a statistic on this in a sense you fought the battle and came out the other side.

    people like you are an inspiration to me as i deal with my difficult child everyday.

    lots of hugs to you for being you

    Jen :)
  8. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Wow. Thank you. I am always struggling for patience with husband and difficult child, and this helps. That is amazing.