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Old 05-04-2007, 05:09 AM  
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CASSIE711 HB User
Feeling little lost lately-

Hi All-

Well, I guess my title kind of says what I'm feeling lately. Long story short, I've been to several doctors over the last 10 years, usually they'll start me out on anti-depressants but eventually switch me to bi-polar meds. I started taking anti-depressants at around 16 years old (for about 6 mos- prescribed through the family doc), but then stopped and didn't take anything again until I was 19. The doc started me out then on anti-depressants, but when that seemed to "make me more hyper" (although it seemed to help my depression/confidence), he put me on depakote. That made me a little sick at first, and I guess my mom isn't the type to accept that something could be wrong with one of us, so she convinced me I didn't need it and "everyone has their problems, we just learn to deal with them", so I stopped. I began a new job 4 years ago out of college, and at that time started drinking pretty heavily (at first, I just did it when I went out with friends, then I started drinking at home alone, and after a while it became a nightly habit). I was told in my first year of work by one of my managers that people noticed that I was "up and down" (I guess mood-wise?)/ emotional, and the work place wasn't a plce for that. I was pretty good (well, okay) at hiding it after that (usually I felt dead from drinking too much the night before, but if I cried I left the room, etc...). A little over a year ago I started to have really bad problems at work: For some reason I kept working and working (sometimes staying awake all night, not necessarily to meet a deadline but jsut because I just felt I wasn't doing enough, I always had to do more). Well, I kept pushing myself, and after working this way for about 4 months I just stopped (basically I became extremely unproductive). I started drinking more, taking a lot of sleeping pills every night (they didn't seem to be working, and actually now OTC sleeping meds don't work at all- but now I've started Seroquel and that's great so far), and was coming in late for work. I'd have to leave at lunchtime and drive around for an hour or so, I just felt like if I sat there a moment longer I would break down and I just couldn't. This lasted abiout a month, eventually I went to HR within my company and took some time off. When I did I had the doc put me on Zoloft (I just thought this was the best bet for "immediate" results) and that worked okay for about 6 weeks, but a few weeks after I came back I started having hypomanic episodes (induced by the Zoloft my new pdoc said- by this time I switched because my other pdoc was a jerk- another long story), and decided one night to take a lot of sleeping pills (I didn't do it to kill myself, I just couldn't sleep and I thought taking a lot would at least do something- I still can't explain the thought process). Anyway, after this with the help of my tdoc I found a new pdoc, who started me Lamictal and Risperdal, and I took another week off from work (this came out of my vacay time, which was fine, I needed it...). I stopped taking these meds within a few weeks (the risperdal made me dizzy in the mornings, and when I went back to work this didn't work out well) and eventually just cancelled my next appt with the pdoc and never set another one.

Fast forward to a few months back- I was doing better (better than I was for the early part of last year, but looking back now I still wasn't doing that well), my HR dept called me in because a manager I worked for in October was "concerned" because we were working one night at like 10pm and I just started crying and couldn't stop (not sure why he waited a few months to say something- he shouldn't have said anything at all, because we were close and he should have understood what that would cause). Yes, it was "unprofessional" but I just got so overwhelmed and felt like I couldn't finish everything that needed to get done, and was just so tired of always working so much (70+ hours/week) and feeling like I wasn't doing enough/well enough). Anyway, when HR called me in I just felt like the were questioning my stability "you're bright, you do good work but you have horrible confidence and can't handle stress at all. We're high stress, do you really think you can handle this job?" I was actually doing a lot better on my engagements by this point (but still working a lot- I spent Thanksgiving alone, stayed up all night that night working on stuff I thought should get done) so I was completely insulted. I work for several managers and due to one manager's overdramatizing, and since I'd taken time off last year, I felt that they were basically calling me "unstable" and that seriously bothered me. Anyway, I quit- which they then tried to tell me was not at all what they wanted me to do, but I didn't care. I wan angry because I felt that they would always question my stability, and never consider that I actually did a better job than a lot of people, I just didn't present myself well/articulately, always seemed nervous/stressed, etc. My last day was a few months back, and I should have found a job by now (I'm in a pretty high-demand profession- probably because most people are smarter than to get into it and should have easily found a job within a few weeks. Well, not sure if it's because I quit without a new job (even though it was completely voluntary and I had several upper level people trying to convince me to stay- and are more than willing to be references for a new position) and this looks odd, or because I interview sooo badly (same issues they noted in my job- I lack confidence, speak way too fast to be articulate, don't finish my sentences, etc). I'm trying to work on these issues, but I didn't start meds again until a few weeks back, and before that I wasn't sleeping at all (not even like 30 minutes) the nights before interviews and my brain just felt so jumbled and my thoughts just seemed to go so fast I couldn't talk right... ugh!!! But I just have to keep trying and hope someone eventually finds my "high-energy/hyperness" appealing... I'm taking new meds now for the past few weeks, hopefully these will calm me/help with my confidence soon.

Anyway, I don't know a whole lot about bipolar, but this is the 3rd pdoc who diagnosed me with it, so I think this time I should try and learn more about dealing with it, etc... I just don't want to seem like I'm using it as an excuse, and when I read these boards I totally don't think people here are using it as an excuse, I just think that they're different from me (ie have real problems), and I'm not as severe as they are...

Also, in the last 3 weeks I've stopped drinking completely (after drinking every night, when I stopped I was drinking about 3 bottles of vodka/week, and that's before counting what I drank with friends at dinner/at bars when I went out). It was hard, obviously, it still is extremely hard (there are nights when I just REALLY want a drink and start thinking "How bad is one drink? Doctors say it's actually good for you to have a glass of wine, etc") but I know if I drink one I'll drink more and I just don't want to be that person anymore. I actually already feel better since I stopped (this is a combination of things- new meds, normal sleeping- I no longer go to sleep at 2 just to wake up at 4 for several hours, etc, and I've started a weight loss program and have lost 13 lbs already- not many, but I'm working on it!). But also in the last few weeks since I've stopped drinking I feel like I'm having more hypomanic episodes- I have to be constantly moving/talking and I just feel like my head is going to explode or something. I just talk so fast/so much (tripping over my words) I have trouble talking to people (even family). I know I need to concentrate on "slowing down", I just can't seem to. And I'm studying for my certification right now, and I really feel like everytime I sit down to study it takes me all of 3 minutes to jump right back up- in these moods I can't concentrate, can't talk well, can't write well (my hands are shaky), it's jsut frustrating. I like having the energy (just not the crash/depression that comes with it?), I've actually put it into reorganizing and cleaning and painting lost of picture frames (I don't need them, I jsut keep painting them because it seems to help- although now I've started coloring these geometric coloring pages which seems to help for some reason too... odd...) Anyway, I have an appt with an alcohol counselor today. Even though I'm doing really well on my own (not one drink in 3 weeks!) my pdoc seems to think an alcohol counselor is a good idea- I'm not sure about that, we'll see after the appointment I guess

Sorry, didn't mean to post my life story, just feeling lost/lonely at the moment, and like I have no one to talk to. It really seems like my family doesn't understand this at all (they've never tried to learn about it etc- I'm sure a lot of people have the same situation) and forget about getting my roommate to understand- he's actually said to me before "what's to get depressed about?" I dunno- I'm just babbling... I need to shower now for my appt, though...

 
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Old 05-04-2007, 06:17 AM  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: WI
Posts: 2,779
tsohl HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

Hi Cassie,

I could totally relate to almost every single word you wrote. It is very lonely to have bipolar disorder as so few people understand it, even your own parents. While you seem very self-aware of your feelings and behaviors, I get the feeling that you haven't fully accepted your diagnosis and you haven't committed to learning all about it.

Your story sounds very similar to my son's...except he pushed a little harder and further and fell a bit farther before realizing he had to stop self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and that he needed to seek more aggressive treatment.

It sounds like you realize you need to get a better handle on the BP rather than letting it dictate how you lead your life. And you recognize that there is a "siren song" connected to hypo-mania or mania that is difficult to give up.

What isn't clear is whether you understand that BP is a brain disease. It is a biochemical imbalance in certain areas of the brain that results in disordered thoughts and unbalanced emotion. No matter how hard you try, you cannot "get over it" nor can you will it to go away. You need the proper medications to fill in for what your body is not supplying on its own. Also research is now showing that we need to think of bipolar disorder as a degenerative illness when left untreated. In an unmedicated individual, as s/he ages, the episodes of mania and depression last longer with shorter intervals of "stability," the episodes become more intense with more severe symptoms. You can actually see changes in the frontal lobe of the brain with the new spectral imaging. So, you can see, BP is a very real "illness" with severe consequences when left untreated.

I hope you have found a pdoc that you can work with and that you will work to find the meds that are best for you. This can be a long and frustrating period of trial and error. My son, who is 25, went through 4 pdocs and just about every med that is approved for the treatment of BP before finding a pdoc that had additional training in neuropharmacology. This pdoc was able to find the perfect combination of meds for my son and he now has been stable and episode-free for two years. He has also remained drug-free and has a beer about twice a month! He is once again looking forward to a bright future.

Please keep posting with your questions and comments. This is a great place to come to be with people who will understand what you are going through. I'll post more later -- I need to run for now.

take care,
Tsohl



I feel one of the best ways to approach BP is to learn as much as you can about the disorder and about the medications that are used to treat it. This way you can evaluate what your pdoc is suggesting and you can work as a partner with him/her.

 
Old 05-04-2007, 08:11 AM  
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 15
CASSIE711 HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

[QUOTE=tsohl;2962606]

What isn't clear is whether you understand that BP is a brain disease. It is a biochemical imbalance in certain areas of the brain that results in disordered thoughts and unbalanced emotion. No matter how hard you try, you cannot "get over it" nor can you will it to go away. You need the proper medications to fill in for what your body is not supplying on its own. Also research is now showing that we need to think of bipolar disorder as a degenerative illness when left untreated. In an unmedicated individual, as s/he ages, the episodes of mania and depression last longer with shorter intervals of "stability," the episodes become more intense with more severe symptoms. You can actually see changes in the frontal lobe of the brain with the new spectral imaging. So, you can see, BP is a very real "illness" with severe consequences when left untreated.
QUOTE]


I tend to be overly self-critical: I completely understand BP is a brain disease, an illness that someone can't just wake up one day and will to go away, for some reason I just tend to accept this when it comes to others. Like, when I read these boards, I completely support everyone and know everyone's trying their hardest to live with/take care of their illness, but for some reason I won't apply the same to myself... if that makes sense. I just tend to feel that way about everything, that maybe if I tried a little harder I could do better... I guess I haven't accepted it in myself, but I think I do a decent job of accepting it in others (kind of like how I'll say "Oh, I probably drink a little too much" when referring to myself, but have no problem recognizing when it's a "real" problem with my father- I just feel for me it's not a real problem, because there are people who try harder and still have a harder time with it, if that makes sense?) I had no idea, though, that there have been studies that identified it as degenerative illness.

I just feel like I've been lucky, I did really well in school and had a good job and everyone just thought I was going to be this super "successful" person (in quotes because I think they equated my career with being successful, even though I didn't really have a handle on my life/finances- spending too much/drinking, and if I could just get those things under control I'd feel like the most successful person in the world!)- I know I'm working on it now, and I'm totally devoted to learning more about BP/ how to accept it in myself and working with my pdoc to find the right meds, so I guess that's the first step.

Congrats to your son for his success! I think I remember from another post that you said he attended AA meetings either presently or in the past, does he feel these helped/provided a good support group (he's about the same age I am, so it would be interesting to have insight from someone in that age group)? I tried a few meetings about a year ago, but didn't really find a good fit- but thought of maybe trying again to look for one where I felt more comfortable/identified with people better? Also, I don't think at that time I was really willing to stop drinking either, and didn't think I had a problem (I only went because my pdoc told me to try a few, and I didn't want to go back and say I didn't), so that didn't help at all. I just really want everything to turn around, I know it won't happen right away and will take some "work" on my part (ie not giving into the urge to drink...), but I am hopeful this time, and that's something I didn't really feel in the past. Good luck to your son, it really sounds as if he's doing really well and at this rate he will definitely have a successful future.

Thanks for posting, I do think that once I accept the diagnosis completely I'll do a better job of getting better- and I go to a full dose of Lamictal in 3.5 weeks, so I'll see then how it works. And a job would be good

 
Old 05-04-2007, 08:22 AM  
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 78
colleen617 HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsohl View Post
Hi Cassie,

I could totally relate to almost every single word you wrote. It is very lonely to have bipolar disorder as so few people understand it, even your own parents. While you seem very self-aware of your feelings and behaviors, I get the feeling that you haven't fully accepted your diagnosis and you haven't committed to learning all about it.

Your story sounds very similar to my son's...except he pushed a little harder and further and fell a bit farther before realizing he had to stop self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and that he needed to seek more aggressive treatment.

It sounds like you realize you need to get a better handle on the BP rather than letting it dictate how you lead your life. And you recognize that there is a "siren song" connected to hypo-mania or mania that is difficult to give up.

What isn't clear is whether you understand that BP is a brain disease. It is a biochemical imbalance in certain areas of the brain that results in disordered thoughts and unbalanced emotion. No matter how hard you try, you cannot "get over it" nor can you will it to go away. You need the proper medications to fill in for what your body is not supplying on its own. Also research is now showing that we need to think of bipolar disorder as a degenerative illness when left untreated. In an unmedicated individual, as s/he ages, the episodes of mania and depression last longer with shorter intervals of "stability," the episodes become more intense with more severe symptoms. You can actually see changes in the frontal lobe of the brain with the new spectral imaging. So, you can see, BP is a very real "illness" with severe consequences when left untreated.

I hope you have found a pdoc that you can work with and that you will work to find the meds that are best for you. This can be a long and frustrating period of trial and error. My son, who is 25, went through 4 pdocs and just about every med that is approved for the treatment of BP before finding a pdoc that had additional training in neuropharmacology. This pdoc was able to find the perfect combination of meds for my son and he now has been stable and episode-free for two years. He has also remained drug-free and has a beer about twice a month! He is once again looking forward to a bright future.

Please keep posting with your questions and comments. This is a great place to come to be with people who will understand what you are going through. I'll post more later -- I need to run for now.

take care,
Tsohl



I feel one of the best ways to approach BP is to learn as much as you can about the disorder and about the medications that are used to treat it. This way you can evaluate what your pdoc is suggesting and you can work as a partner with him/her.
I agree with every word that Tsohl wrote. It is very important to accept your diagnosis and work towards lessening your symptoms through meds, meditation, less stressful work, etc.

I have had bipolar for many years although, like so many others, was diagnosed as having depression. You are fortunate in that three pdocs have given you the bipolar diagnosis. You sound like a very intelligent individual. As Tshol suggested, read all that you can about bipolar and the meds to treat it.

As far as other people with bp looking very different from you, please realize that symptoms will vary from person to person, and the degree of some symptoms will also vary.

Please take care of yourself. It sounds like you give 150% to your work and are a dedicated professional. Maybe its time to give that 150% to yourself. You deserve it. Take good care of yourself.

 
Old 05-04-2007, 09:31 AM  
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tsohl HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

Hi again,

In hindsight I made a very bad mistake when my son was in high school. He had several friends from about 7th grade on who had mental health issues, and were later diagnosed as having BP. Our son was always very mature for his age, was a great student, athlete, etc., had high-achieving friends, etc and was very good at covering, as I was to find out much later. His sophomore year in high school I discovered that he had cut himself. I had never heard of this before and I reacted badly...something like "What are you doing? What is wrong with you? How could a son of mine do something like this?" etc. I had no idea how this affected him, nor did I think this was anything other than adolescent angst. Well, he vowed he wouldn't tell me anything ever again because I was incapable of understanding...so he went on his life coping as best he could. In his case he smoked marijuana when he got anxious or whatever as it calmed him down and made things a little easier to handle.

And so it continued. He graduated near the top of his class, got into a top liberal arts college and we thought he was well on his way to a fabulous career and life!! His junior year in college he decided he needed to seek help so he went to a campus pdoc who diagnosed him and prescribed lithium. He told my son he had to stop the dope and alcohol or he wouldn't treat him further. Our son refused to stop smoking pot so they were at a stand-off for his remaining time in college. Upon graduation and getting his first "career" job, problems only continued to mount. He was under so much stress. He could handle it before because he could structure his classes so they were in the afternoon, and he had lots of free time. But suddenly he found himself in an office that was very old-fashioned and rigid about what hours you worked. Before he'd even started I noticed him talking a lot about no more vacations, no more free time, and I could see this was already bothering him. But I just thought it was the strain of transitioning from school to the work force -- well you know what happened....he lasted til about March when the wheels fell off the wagon. He was using pot all the time to cope and his new supplier was pushing other stuff when he'd go to pick up the pot...so god knows what all he was taking...it is a miracle he didn't kill himself, not intentionally, but just bad luck! Finally one night he flew into a rage because his new kitty peed on the carpet. he reacting so strongly and flew into such a violent rage that it scared him. He called us the next morning and said he was checking himself into the private psych hospital that he knew of from visiting his friend from high school there. Needless to say, we were shocked and stunned. We had NO IDEA this was going on and that he was in such a bad way. He was so capable that he was able to function ok and fool everyone -- until one day, it caught up with him.

When he got back out, the HR person knew where he'd been due to insurance issues and it set up a situation that eventually resulted in our son losing his job. --long story that I won't go into now --he worked about 3 more weeks and in effect got fired. At this point, he knew he had to turn his situation around, that he couldn't continue on his current path...so he did. He quit drugs cold turkey and only because his pdoc kept bugging him, he went to a 12-step program which was AA. He didn't have a drinking problem but the 12-step programs all operate pretty much the same -- Now, the part that you asked about: he had gone several times in college but had hated it. But this time he knew he had to do something, so he tried out a couple different meetings in different parts of the city where he lives. Eventually he found one that was almost all 20s and several late teenagers. The sponsor he was assigned was in his 40s and there were a couple other "adults" that had been in the program a long time. For whatever reason, this time he kept going. A number of the younger people turned out to have BP, too...and they'd go for coffee afterward and it helped him form a new group of friends who were learning to do something social other than meet up in bars. He did the 30 meetings in 30 days bit, several times. I can't recall now how long he went faithfully, but after awhile he didn't feel he needed it any more and he wasn't about to become a "lifer" and stick around to help others. So he doesn't attend any longer...but I see how he has incorporated some of the things he learned in AA to his daily life.

I too had a drinking problem -- which is to say I drank too much every single day and had been drinking more and more as the kids got older and my parents had health issues. And one day I just said "that's it" and I stopped. My ob/gyn once told me that you need to stop when one drink is too many and 100 are not enough. So I do not drink at all and it works for me. I would not be able to have one glass of wine 5 nights a week. My internist has told me that most people cannot quit like this -- that they need the support of AA or another type of program...and even in those programs the success rate isn't very high...so I was lucky, and my son has been lucky.

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you the background. I am happy to help you in any way I can. I have read just about every book out there, so if you need suggestions, just let me know. Oh, and now my son and I talks freely about his BP and how he's feeling. Ever since the day he went into the psych hospital, the lines of communication have been flowing.

Lamictal is a very good drug for most people. I hope it works for you. What you wrote reminded me so much of my son. He still talks fast, but slow enough now that mere mortals can keep up. He was always bubbling over with ideas and creative thoughts, too. Don't be fearful that the drugs will take this away from you. They may slow you down a bit but they don't change who you are. My son may be the only one, but in a way he embraces his bipolarity. He feels in some ways it has taken him places where most people never get to go.

take care,
Tsohl

 
Old 05-04-2007, 09:36 AM  
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tsohl HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

Oh by the way, Cassie, I think you still will be this "super, successful" person. You just need to learn how to manage your BP rather than letting it control you and what you do!! Just think of it as a little pothole along the road of life's journey!

 
Old 05-08-2007, 08:38 PM  
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CASSIE711 HB User
Re: Feeling little lost lately-

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsohl View Post
Oh by the way, Cassie, I think you still will be this "super, successful" person. You just need to learn how to manage your BP rather than letting it control you and what you do!! Just think of it as a little pothole along the road of life's journey!
Sorry it took me so long to reply to this, I wanted to give a decent reply and I've been studying like mad these last few days for a section of the CPA exam. (bleh!!! But almost done... I hope! ) I think it's great that you and your son have such open line of communication, I know it must have made a world of difference to him to know you supported him and understand what he's going through. In my family, my sister is the one who's supportive/accepting, and I know how thankful I've been for her support!

Thanks so much for what you said above, I'm feeling better today (I was really down when I wrote the initial post- I think it was the stress of my impending exam mixed with being told I should do the alcohol treatment program that got to me that day). I know I'll get everything back on track after this, it's good that I'm taking time to "sort everything out", get my drinking under control, and actually taking my meds like I'm supposed to. I'm so glad you posted your son's story. I can relate to a lot of it, and when you talk about how he's progressed so much in the last few years and how he's on his way to getting everything back on track I feel I can do that as well.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the supportive post! Hope you're doing well...

Cassie

 
 

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