Ravings and Rantings

Welcome to my cloud! It's got a nice silver lining somewhere.....Some ranting, some raving--mostly positive stuff,lots of jokes (I can't stay serious). Nothing going on here that a pina colada or mohito can't fix.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

As Long As I'm Awake

According to my doctor, I'm 'bipolar 2'. Thank God! Why "Thank God"? Look at what bipolar 1 is:

From http://www.helpguide.org/mental/bipolar_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression) is a condition in which a person typically experiences dramatic "mood swings" from periods of extremely elevated moods (mania) to extremely low moods (depression). In most cases, bipolar disorder first appears in young adults, but children and adolescents might also suffer from this disorder.

Signs and symptoms of the manic phase (Bipolar I): never experienced any of these except the spending sprees:
euphoria, feeling "high"
agitation, edginess, irritability, restlessness
racing thoughts, talkativeness
increased energy, sleeplessness well OK this is an issue now..
inflated self-esteem; grandiosity; poor judgment
reckless spending sprees or other activities with high potential for painful consequences Spending sprees yessir!
delusions or hallucinations
drug or alcohol use
increased sexual drive
aggressive behavior
inability to concentrate well

Hypomania (Bipolar II) refers to an episode with less extreme symptoms than full-blown mania.
Although bipolar disorder can be diagnosed from just a manic episode, most persons with this disorder also experience the other extreme, depression.
Signs and symptoms of the depressive state:
abnormally low mood
sadness and hopelessness
excessive feelings of guilt and worthlessness
difficulty concentrating or making decisions
changes in appetite or weight (increase or decrease) Have had this--losses of 65-80 pounds in less than 3 months
fatigue; changes in sleep patterns (increase or decrease) This is what I have now and usually get only in November and April.
loss of self-esteem
diminished interest in daily activities
withdrawal from others
drug or alcohol use
suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts.

A person diagnosed with a Bipolar III condition is identified as "unipolar." He or she experiences recurrent episodes of depression only, but has a family history of mania or hypomania. Never had this

What is the typical course of bipolar disorder?

There is no standard presentation for bipolar disorder. Some people have relatively few or mild episodes. Others may experience rapid cycling (four or more episodes within a year). People can also experience a mixed state, where symptoms of both mania and depression are present at the same time. (Can you imagine what these people go through?)

What causes bipolar disorder?

Abnormalities in the brain (lovely huh?)
The cause of bipolar disorder is under investigation, but there are strong indications that it is a brain-based disorder. It seems that several factors act together to produce the illness. Possibilities include:
an imbalance of neurotransmitters
a genetic disorder
a dysfunction in the mitochondria
Other triggers
When an individual is predisposed to bipolar disorder, an episode can be triggered by:
a major life event
stress in large doses
an antidepressant medication
seasonal fluctuations in light (mania is more prevalent in summer, depression in spring, fall and winter)
sleep loss (so it reinforces itself!)

How is bipolar disorder treated?

The good news about bipolar disorder is that it is treatable. Proper treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people who have the disorder maintain a good quality of life. Without treatment by a psychiatrist experienced with this condition, however, the symptoms can become more severe. But each person is unique. A treatment that works for someone else may not work for you. Although this can lead to heartbreaking rounds of hit-or-miss therapy, there are so many treatments and combinations to choose from that there is bound to be something that is right for you.

Medications may not be the total answer, but they can get you on your feet again and help prevent relapses. It is best to view them as one part of the treatment and wellness equation. Treatment of bipolar disorder usually includes a combination of approaches, such as: (except for ECT this is what I'm doing)

medication (mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and/or anti-anxiety medications)
cognitive behavioral therapy (to challenge and change negative thought patterns and inappropriate behaviors)
psychoeducation (learning about the illness and its treatment; recognizing and preventing relapse)
family therapy (to help family members cope with and manage the stress of bipolar disorder)
social rhythm therapy (to improve interpersonal relationships and to regularize daily routines, to avoid manic episodes)
ECT (electro-convulsive therapy, sometimes used when other treatments are unsuccessful, to "re-set" the brain's electrical system)
nutritional supplements (under investigation to determine if they can help alleviate or prevent bipolar episodes – see below )

One challenge in treating bipolar disorder is that the person often enjoys the excitement of the hypomanic or even the manic state, and does not want to give up those feelings to a medication that will level off moods and may have troublesome side effects. In addition, many people are in denial of the problem, or feel stigmatized about having a "mental illness" and refuse to acknowledge the need for treatment. Education about the cause, consequences, and treatment for bipolar disorder can help these individuals:
come to terms with the condition
recognize symptoms when they appear.
Practical suggestions from families
Encourage the person with bipolar disorder to maintain a strong support system of family members and friends and to use it whenever he or she needs help.

Be a loving, caring family member or friend yourself. See Helpguide's Building and Preserving Joy and Excitement in Adult Relationships eBook on building strong trusting intimate love relationships.

Help the individual find ways to distract or engage him- or herself when the red flags of depression go up, e.g. play a sport, work out, go to a movie, visit a friend.
Try to convince the individual to stay on medication if it is relieving symptoms and improving quality of life and point out symptoms as they begin to emerge.

I can see why this is considered to be serious--without treatment it could/would be life-threatening. Also feel a new-found sympathy for my late father, trying to deal with this on his own.

Am very glad I'm not dealing with this on my own and that I don't have this as severely as others do. Thank Heaven for medical science!



  • At 4/05/2006 05:19:00 AM, Blogger Vest said…

    I have given you the courtesy of reading this through,twice, however it seems to me that most humans at some period of their life experience some of the particular disorders mentioned, possibly brought about by outside disruptions to their normal daily routine, some poeple can become more affected with these symptoms than others and there is no standard cure for this dilemma.
    Nice read. L Y

  • At 4/05/2006 09:35:00 AM, Blogger lime said…

    wow, well, i am glad you have the less severe form and that it is treatable and you feel positive about the outlook. hoping treatment is effective for you.

  • At 4/05/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said…

    Vest, LIme, thank you both for reading through all of that. It was a long post!

    Vest you're right, most people do have at least some of those symptoms at one time or another..not sure what that means.

    Lime, thanks I agree. It's just sinking in how serious that stuff is and how lucky I am.

  • At 4/05/2006 03:38:00 PM, Blogger tshsmom said…

    My son-in-law can go high and low several times a day. With SME's depression, I never thought their relationship would work. Boy, was I wrong! They recognize depression in each other, before it gets out of hand, and help each other out of it.
    I guess you are sort of lucky. The manic part can be just as dangerous as the depressive part. Having only half of this to deal with is a good thing, I guess. It still sucks big time for you though.
    I'm here for you pal, anytime you need to vent, or have a shoulder to cry on.

  • At 4/05/2006 04:48:00 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said…

    Ah, Bridg, I was sorry to read this. I know this one. And I know depression very well. It sounds like your treatment is well-rounded. Many would just take the drugs and not get the talk therapy, which is a HUGE mistake. And if they ever bring up ECT with you, come talk to me and I'll tell you all about my experiences with it. I hope it never gets that bad for you.

    Is is related to menopause at all? Can you remember having these symptoms previously in your life? If not, is this a coincindence? Interesting.

    Do take care of yourself, my friend, and as tshsmom said, I'm there for you too.

  • At 4/05/2006 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said…

    BTW, you have had this diagnosed by a psychiatrist and not just a GP, right?

  • At 4/05/2006 07:31:00 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said…

    Thanks so much, tshsmom and WC. You guys are such good pals! WC, it was the psychiatrist that diagnosed it. I've been seeing her since 1990, ironically for depression, which she felt I was over until this not sleeping stuff started. We both thought that I had dysthymia with menopause until she went over her notes and realized the April and November patterns, combined with my dad's history. The sleeplessness is worse than it's ever been in my life, which I think means that menopause is probably exacerbating the bipolar2 thing. The Paxil was working quite well, other than April and November sleeping issues, and the occasional shopping spree (thank God I can manage those) haven't had manic issues.

    Did date someone a few years ago who had a lot of health issues, among them bipolarity (1). My shrink lectured me that I wasn't taking his bipolarity seriously and that it is a serious health issue. Heh heh heh now I find out that I have it! Well, at least it's a mild form and is more or less under control except for sleeping and that's going to be under control soon.

    Was up until after 4 again yesterday. Have another psychiatrist appointment tomorrow.

    Very glad that I kept the talk therapy going, both of you are so right.

    Thanks so much for being there and the shoulders, I may need them. It's just sinking in that this is a big deal.

    WC am so sorry you've experienced or had experience with ECT. One of Murray's friends died from a mishandled session of that. I don't trust therapy that no one understands...

  • At 4/06/2006 11:12:00 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said…

    I had 9 rounds of ECT 8 years ago. I shudder to recall what I can of it. Although it did get me functional again, I would not do it again because of the memory loss.

    Glad you're seeing a specialist for this. Many people would not. You are wise, and wise to take this seriously.

  • At 4/17/2006 09:15:00 PM, Blogger Disability Blogger said…

    The spending sprees do seem to be fairly common. My mother-in-law bought about 200 hundred separate items on ebay, mostly purses, handbags, and shoes. Fortunately, we were able to sell it all back on subsequent auctions. It was around this same time that she was dx'd with bipolar, which in her case may have been triggered to some extent by addison's.

  • At 4/17/2006 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said…

    DB, not sure what addison's is but will check into it.

    Purses are my thing!! Well, so are books, big time. I feel sorry for whoever has to get rid of my stuff when I go (I don't have kids).

    Can't say I'm thrilled to be bipolar but at least have an answr for what is going on, and that's good.


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