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Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

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Old 11-02-2007, 03:43 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 7
animalari HB User
Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

Some background info: Starting in high school (I'd say probably in my junior year), I started feeling "sadness" more than I'd expect the typical high school student to feel over very non-typical high-school girl concerns. I cried at the drop of a hat for days on end, and would sometimes stay awake for days on end finishing creative projects and going way above and beyond on all of my school work, swinging from one extreme to another with only brief "normal" periods in between. (But I'd still get stupidly sad and suicidal during those "up" moments; if I messed up my project I'd cry and hate myself and spend five hours trying to redo the entire thing.) It was then that I first realized that I could potentially have something going on that a doctor might need to check out, but when I told my mother about it, she said, "All of us get sad sometimes." I thought then that because she disregarded the episodes that I've learned to refer to as "manic", that it was just typical depression that I had, and never thought otherwise until I started reading about Bipolar disorder in the intro to psychology class that I took my senior year of high school.

It wasn't until my junior year of college that I ever actually did anything about the problem. Because my mom wouldn't agree to let me use the insurance plan I was on under her, I went to see the free counselor at my university for help. Initially, she agreed with my original thought that I was sufferring from depression, and suggested that I ask my family doctor about getting on an antidepressant. I was put on Lexapro, and almost immediately was totally out of control in a manic state. Unfortunately for me, this episode was on the same day as my psychology midterm (I was a psychology major for a while) and when the exam was put in front of me, I turned into an even worse version of that insane perfectionist who had so many brilliant thoughts in my head for what to say on the essay-only exam, but no brilliant ways to actually pen them down. I couldn't focus on any thought long enough to actually write. I was sweating, my hands were shaking, and I couldn't do anything besides shake my knee up and down and rapidly tap the table with my pencil. I left the room after ten minutes of staring at my paper, with scratched-out scribbles all across the paper, with my name and, "I'm sorry" written at the top. (I was an A student in the class until that point; in failing that exam, I really felt at that moment as if I were failing my professor more than I was failing myself.)

After two injections of Benadryl from the campus nurse and some kind of prescription-strength sleeping pill from the friend who drove me to the office, I was finally sedated enough to finally tell my therapist everything that I had been feeling and doing the last few years of my life. She told me then that the extreme manic episode had been triggered by the Lexapro and that I would need to see a real psychiatrist instead of getting drugs for the issue from my family doctor. After a long visit with a great doctor (who I still look on fondly, even though I haven't seen him in years), I was put on either Topamax or Lamictal (I was eventually put on the other, but I don't remember which came first) and Revia which he said would likely make me stop cutting. Whether it was the Topamax/Lamictal or the Revia that actually stopped the cutting, I don't know, but with time my desire to cut for that "release" was replaced with very thoroughly thought-out plans of suicide. I discussed this with my psychiatrist after three months on both drugs, and he told me to stop taking Revia immediately, and switched me over to either the Topamax/Lamictal (whichever I wasn't taking before - with the new one there was a possibility of an unpleasant rash, he said, but I never experienced it; I remember reading about it here but can't remember which it was referring to and if I go back to check, I will likely never finish this post). He also suggested that between med-review visits with him, I may consider ditching the campus therapist and seeing a licensed psychologist instead. I did. The med change was excellent for me, except for feeling stoned pretty much all the time; I stopped cutting and was more self-motivated than I ever had been in my life without ever falling into a real manic episode.

I didn't like my psychologist (probably because she was female, I think, and female doctors tend to bother me for a reason I have never been able to understand), but before I stopped seeing either my psychologist or my psychiatrist, she gave me quite a few amazing "tools", as we called them, for coping with my bipolar disorder. Many of those tools, she explained, could help me deal with my BD without having to remain medicated. She knew how much I hated being dependant on any kind of drug, long-term, and it seemed like she tried during our brief time together (maybe a year of twice-a-month visits, maximum) to make it so I wouldn't have to stay on them to live a successful life.

I'm 24 now, and for upwards of three years now, I really do feel like I'm living a mostly positive life. I've stopped many of the dangerous behaviors I used to participate in (cutting, smoking pot, extremely fast and careless driving), and while I wouldn't call myself successful (I am currently unemployed after quitting a job; I had to quit school my second senior year for financial reasons), I've got a lot of dreams in my life that I'm doing my best to make happen, I've found an amazing man who loves me and seems to want to really understand my BD, and I'm no longer suicidal.

So there's the extremely long back-story, which I'm sure I've still left a lot out of.

Now, for a million questions:

I know doctors have diagnosed me with BD and BPD, but I really do not understand the distinctions. They seem very similar, except with BPD not having the manic episodes. If that isn't the only difference, what else is there? I would like to be able to pin-point exactly which irrational behavior goes with which issue.

Those of you who are bipolar type II (which, as I recall, is the type my psychiatrist diagnosed me as -- we rarely talked about differences in types I and II), do any of you treat your BD with "coping strategies" the same way I have for so long, or do you rely on medication only?

What exactly are the differences between types I and II?

My fiance knows that I'm BD/BPD and is willing to get the full story and help me to deal with my problems as they come. But the story seems so long (and mostly boring), so I really just don't know where to start with it and what to say. I've never been in this type of situation before, where I had to explain everything to someone. (Guys I have dated previously were either bipolar themselves or were psychology majors. Go figure.) Where do I start?

One thing I've noticed over the years is that I'm a lot more self-conscious than I used to be. I used to be the wacky girl who was nervous around people but could still deal with new people without breaking down. Now, even around people I'm familiar with, I'm constantly wondering what they're thinking of me or feeling about me or even just the situation in general. I've also noticed a dramatic increase in the number of panic attacks I've had over the years. In your experience, would these symptoms just be signs of growing older (ie - adults tend to be less "wacky" around new people, do they not?) or could they go hand-in-hand with a progressively aging bipolar/borderline brain?

I'm worried, probably to the point of obsession, about passing this hereditary disease down to my children. What are the realistic, scientific odds of it? Do any of you other bipolar folks out there have bipolar children or bipolar parents?

Thank you all in advance for any responses!

(Forgive any typos please; it's 6:41am and I've not slept yet; I think I've caught them all, but I know that part of my brain is already dozing without me! :P)

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Old 11-02-2007, 03:46 AM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 7
animalari HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

I'm so sorry that post is so long. I wanted to get everything out in the first go so there wouldn't be any need for people kind enough to reply to my questions to answer with questions of their own, but I didn't realize I had rambled quite so much! If anyone made it to the bottom of that post without skimming, I commend you!

The Following User Says Thank You to animalari For This Useful Post:
talkaboutit (11-20-2011)
Old 11-02-2007, 04:58 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2004
Location: New York
Posts: 5,807
goody2shuz HB Usergoody2shuz HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

Hi, I just wanted to give you a warm welcome. There are two books that come to mind that might help you and your boyfriend understand the differences between BP & BPD. One is "Walking on Eggshells" by Jane Isay and "The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide" - by David Jay Miklowitz. Both can be found in your locala library.

As far as differences, BPD seems to have more fear of abandonment associated with it as well as narcissitic behavior in which the person must be the center of attention and cannot look at how their behavior may be hurting others. The person will also resort to self injury in many cases.

BP, on the other hand has more of a mood pattern from low to high with short periods of normalcy between, much as you have described in your post. There is a sticky towards the top of this board that has a list of symptoms AND there is also a Borderline Personality Disorder board that may give you more of an idea of what the differences are. There are a few posters here with both disorders who may be able to address more of your questions.

As far as BP without meds, well lets just say that eventually you will learn that BP without meds is not going to be fair to you or your fiance, that just as a diabetic needs their insulin in order to survive so does somebody who is BP. You may be having a longer period of normalcy but the fact still remains that and unmedicated BPer is far more or a problem than any med the person could be on and that the longer that BP remains unmedicated the more difficult it will be to treat and the more damage that is caused to the brain AND the more severe the episodes one will have over time. Through research it has been found that each episode of mania that one experiences causes more degeneration to the brain centers that control one's judgement, reasoning, thought processes and emotions.

It is my belief that when a person enters marriage or a relationship that they do so by presenting themselves at their best. The other person deserves that and you are lucky that your fiance wants to read and learn all that he can about BP and BPD. The truth of the matter is that stress will trigger episodes and I don't know of any life that doesn't hold a certain degree of stress.

Anyway....that is my perspective on things and I am sure that you will get many more. I am not BP myself, but have a 16 year old daughter who presented with many of the same symptoms as you. She was hospitalized 4 times before diagnosed, was arrested for shoplifting, self injured and had two suicide attempts the second induced by an antidepressant given to her before being properly diagnosed. I also have an older daughter who hasn't had a true depression or mania who through SPECT Imaging was diagnosed ADD/mood disorder. Both have significantly improved with the use of meds....Lamictal and Seroquel seem to be the combination that has helped my younger daughter reach stability....she hasn't had an episode in over 7 months and is doing quite well. She worked two jobs over the summer, has a boyfriend, is an honor student and pretty much presents herself as a "normal" teen if there is such a thing. She does have some self-esteem issues to work through but other than that seems to have her life back before BP became a part of it.

I wish you luck and KNOW that you will get lots of wonderful support and advice here. I commend you on what you have done to manage the BP thus far and your insight into managing it with coping skills learned in therapy. I agree that learning coping skills is imperative to managing BP even when on meds since medication alone is not going to take care of everything that comes with BP.

Keep us updated and I hope that some of what I shared here has helped answer some of your questions.

(((((HUGS))))))) ~ Goody

Last edited by goody2shuz; 11-02-2007 at 05:03 AM.

Old 11-02-2007, 06:28 AM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Jville, Florida
Posts: 104
naturemomma816 HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

First, I want to wish yaou a warm welcome to the board!
Second, there is a "sticky post" message on the mainpage of this board, (should be 5th from the top), it's titled:
"Attention Newbies! Please Read: Bipolar Disorder Symptom Primer".
Reesie did a wonderful job at breaking down the differences between BP I, II, and cyclothymic disorder. It should be very helpful. I know it was to me.

As far as everything else, I agree w/ goody. Also, life w/out meds is not a good idea. It's not fair to you or others. Lord knows everyone around us puts up w/ enough, we owe it to them and us to take care of ourselves. It may work for a while, (not being on meds) but eventually we rear our ugly heads in despair. When you find the perfect med it should feel like you aren't on any - I think. I am still in search for the perfect meds myself.

As far as the obsession of passing it to your children, I was the same. I have a six yr. old little girl, she is amazing. I hope she never has this, but if she does I am the best one to walk her through it. She has been my savior. I take much better care of myself since she has been in my life. She was a gift from God, protection from myself if you will. Deciding to have children can be a difficult undertaking. You will find what works best for you and your husband, in the mean time relax and learn about BP, then you will be able to make an informed decision.

My biological mother, as well as my biological sister (I was given up for adoption) were BP. My mother commited suicide when I was 6 and my sister still around somewhere, though I don't know where. We severed contact about 4 yrs. ago because she refused to get help. She was abusive to her daughter and didn't like me telling her what to do. Eventually her child was removed from her home. I miss her everyday, I can't think about it without crying. Anyway, enough of the poor me's - yes it is inherited, and also progesses with age.

I know if you stick around here, you will find the answers you seek. I wish you all the best.

Old 11-02-2007, 03:22 PM   #5
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chandler, Arizona U.S.
Posts: 44
lb07maricopa HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

Hi everyone,

This is my first time posting on this thread. i started with the ADHD threads as i am on medication for it. i was first being treated for anxiety and depression and OCD; the meds helped a little for the 1st 4 years especially with the irritability and depression. Recently, my younger sister was cutting and burning and was hospitalized for a week and diagnosed with ADD and is now on meds for ADD and depression. so, i told my psych, i want ADD medication, not the stuff im taking cause i think i have ADD. I have always told him that i am so restless and cant relax, he never listened to me; just told me 'you gotta stop drinking and find other ways to relax; .. ok, sure; no problem.
After i insisted a couple of times, he finally relented and gave me the adderall. I feel so much calmer now (I still constantly bounce my knee) at least im not a nut job by the time i get home. i can finally be relaxed enough to not need a 12pk a night - yes, i have developed a high tolerance for alcohol after so many years of using it to self-medicate. i got to the point where i hated the taste but didnt know what else to do to stop the insane restlessness; i was exhausted and my shoulders were killing me from the tension. The reason im posting on this board is that im confused between what ive been reading on BP and ADD. Are these two illness combined?
I was reading about the symptoms of bi-polar disorder and I was just thinking - what, everybody goes through these emotions - does the whole world have bp disorder? i mean really - these symptoms seem so normal to me, everyone goes through sadness and irritablility and reckless behavior at some point in their lives, so im not sure what to think; from what ive read on BP disorder, it sounds like every human being.
I mean, i never thought of committing suicide, but i have many times felt that id rather not be alive - i just wanted to be nothiningness. i never cut or burned myself but i did act reckless many times and did dangerous drugs (meth, cocaine,) never hallucinagenics.
Doesnt everyone at some time go through all this stuff? Anyway, thank you for reading if you read my post. any comments advice, words are appreciated. I appologize in advance if anything ive written is offensive to anyone.

Old 11-02-2007, 04:20 PM   #6
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: WI
Posts: 2,779
tsohl HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

Hello animalari,

Welcome to the board. I think Goody pretty much covered what I wanted to say.

It is important that you learn as much as you can about your diagnosis. There are many excellent books on the market, factual websites and usually local support groups where you can gather information. The more you learn, the better able you will be to work as a partner with your pdoc. Learn about various treatments and the medications that are commonly used. There are many different medications to choose from, so if one doesn't work for you, there will be other options. Keep hunting until you find the med or meds that work best for you with the fewest side effects.

Bipolar disorder is not a one-size fits all "dis-ease." It can take a great deal of patience while waiting to find that med or meds that work well for you. Sometimes it is necessary to switch pdocs if you don't feel like you're getting anywhere with the current one. But the key is to keep trying. Sooner or later, you will find what works best, and then it will all be worth it.

There are various coping skills you can learn that will help you to live successfully with your disorder, but there is no cure. You can learn that certain things will trigger an episode of mania or depression...and you can learn to avoid those things, or at least, to be prepared for what is coming.

Another book that is often helpful to couples is Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie Fast. It will show your fiance what he can do to help you learn to identify and manage your triggers, among other things.

Researchers are all in agreement that there is a hereditary element to bipolar disorder. You can find statistics on various websites, or in books. On occasion, you will read about a family where all the children have bipolar disorder. The good news is that research is getting more and more sophisticated so by the time you want t have children there may be some wonderful new developments that we don't even know about yet.

Please keep posting with comments and questions. There is much to be learned from some of the wise people on this board!!

xx Tsohl

Old 11-02-2007, 04:35 PM   #7
Join Date: May 2004
Location: New York
Posts: 5,807
goody2shuz HB Usergoody2shuz HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

lb07maricopa ~ ADD and Bipolar share so many of the same characteristics, in fact, often the two disorders are misdiagnosed as the other (more often BP as ADD). And the two disorders do involve the same areas of the brain which are those that are in charge of thought processes, moods, judgement, emotions etc. BP, however, often involves fluctuations in the two poles of depression and mania....ADD has hyperactivity that could appear somewhat manic but not to the same degree.

I have two daughters one has been diagnosed BP with ADD and the other more ADD with a mood disorder since it involves the mood centers of her brain. The one with Bipolar was cutting and had suicidal attempts as well as hypomania which allowed for the diagnosis of Bipolar. The other was much more impulsive, irritable, stuck in her ways lacking good judgement and always having to be doing something. She was like a wound up clock always ticking. Both were self medicating with alcohol and pot at a young age which is common with both disorders if left untreated. And also, as in our case both disorders can co-exist.

The only way to truly know is to be professionally evaluated by a board certified psychiatrist. It seems that you go to a psychiatrist already but perhaps you need a second opinion.

You say that everybody goes through these things but the problem lies when it interferes with your life in a significant way....sure everybody has tried risky things or experimented with alcohol and/or drugs at some point in their lives but it is when it consumes your life and you cannot find any relief from the behaviors that you KNOW that you have a problem. The signs and symptoms you read about are not for just a period of your life, it is when they are your life and start to interfere with being able to live a stable life that is productive and happy.

I hope this helps to clarify things.

Good luck with everything ~ Goody

Old 11-02-2007, 07:16 PM   #8
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 7
animalari HB User
Re: Bipolar Disorder + Borderline; Treating BD without meds; other newbie questions.

Thanks to everyone who has replied. Luckily, my fiance has done a little research of his own and it was suggested to him by another board that he pick up the book mentioned above, Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder, and he actually went out and bought it; I just found this out today after reading some of these posts to him. I'll definitely check out the library at least, if not the bookstore, for the two books that were mentioned on BD and BPD.

We've read through these posts together and while he assures me that I'm not narcissistic (and rather says that I'm quite the opposite; though don't some people argue that incredibly low self-esteem in itself is a form of nar*cissi*sm?), he can see all of the other major "symptoms" that were mentioned here (for both disorders) quite active in me.

I really am lucky that I have him, and that I found this board. As much as I'd like to remain off of my medications forever, if this BD truly is as degenerative as everyone seems to say, more and more so with every manic episode, I know for the sake of myself and for him, and for the family we may have in the future, I really must get medicated. This, more than anything else, will be the hardest change to make in my life. I'm not at all in denial that I have an issue that is difficult to handle myself, without medication, but I really do have a hard time submitting to the idea that it will be impossible for me to continue to age without being medicated.

Thank you all, again, for your suggestions and for your kind and helpful words.

Last edited by animalari; 11-02-2007 at 07:18 PM. Reason: Why in the world is narcissistic allowed, but not the other form of that word??

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