Tag Archives: Mania

My bio: A personal history of my Bipolar Disorder – part 1

Just to give you a little insight of my background,  I have decided to write a little bio about myself related to Bipolar Disorder.  This way I hope you understand better where I come from in my writings.


Photo credit:  BigFoto.com

Even though I was born with Bipolar Disorder,  I was only diagnosed early January 2007 with BD II,  which switched to BD I after a manic episode in May 2007.

The manic episode started with a situation that I couldn’t handle that caused me to run away and live in my car,  turning paranoid,  not talking to anyone as I thought everyone was after me.

Unfortunately the only person I had somewhat of a trust relationship with at the time,  my counselor,  was gone for several weeks. I still don’t know what made me call long-distance to a friend who was living in Ukraine at the time.  But I did and she,  after several days,  managed to convince me to go see my p-doc.

He just saw me and put me straight on antipsychotics.  It was just in time to save me a trip to the hospital…

During that time I was on at least 5 different meds and taking about 15 pills a day.  I thought that was how it would be in the future.  Thank God, I am only on 3 meds and a total of 6 pills today!  Even though taking meds is not an issue for me,  because my focus is my quality of life,  still the less meds the better 🙂 .

After my diagnosis I started to research and read everything I could find about Bipolar Disorder.  Looking back in hind sight I realised that my first deep depression hit me when I was 15 years old.  Even before that age there are now clear signs that I had bipolar traits.  However,  as most other people, I was misdiagnosed for years with Major Depressive Disorder.

You see,  my hypomania was not so visible,  so it really wasn’t so strange.  I have always been a very driven and passionate person.  People saw and experienced me as ‘intense’.  In the ‘good’ times – read:  hypomanic – I achieved a lot.  Since I never knew any different I always thought that others were not committed or even lazy to some extent.  It was only after my diagnosis that I realised that there was a good reason why they couldn’t keep up with me!

I felt always very ashamed about my depressions.  During my school and college years I could still handle / hide it as my hypomania would usually compensate for times I was hardly able to do something.  But once in the working world I had to perform on a consistent basis and that is where I stumbled and fell.

Because I worked for the Dutch government and in my country one can not so easily fire government workers,  I didn’t lose my job in the process.  In other circumstances and in other countries I would have lost my job several times.

I remember taking on a new job about which I was really excited,  only to dissolve into nothingness not even three months down the road.  I was supposed to create an archive but was caught between the policy makers not wanting to part with their documents and the archive department not supporting me.  Little did I know at that time that such a situation drives a Bipolar totally nuts.  I thought of myself as weak and unable.

In the end I was transferred to a job way below my ability.  This reinforced the thought that I was not able to function properly,  for whatever reason.

My childhood was filled with trauma’s of sexual abuse, within and outside of the family.  There was also enough of verbal abuse and to some extent physical as well.  Unfortunately,  I had to divorce myself from my family around the age of 20 to simply survive.  I continued in survival mode for about 20 years before the shit hit the fan,  as they say.

To be continued on Monday….

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Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms

Depressed 😦

We all feel a little blue or ‘depressed’ at times.  Having a major depressive episode,  though,  doesn’t even begin to compare.  The word ‘depressed’ and ‘depression’ are used so loosely nowadays that I feel they have lost their real meaning.

So what does ‘real’ depression look like?  Bad,  dark,  sad,  angry,  irritable,  sleepy,  weight loss,  weight gain,  hedonic (beautiful word meaning ‘having no pleasure in things you previously received pleasure from’ ),  listless,  time just passes,  isolation,  hermit,  dropping out of social life,  not taking care of yourself (i.e.  no cooking,  eating habits down the drain,  no showers,  no brushing teeth),  no housekeeping,  hopeless,  restless,  despair,  thinking about death and ultimately (trying to) commit suicide.

Phew.  And the list is probably not even complete,  depending on who you ask.

What can I say?  I have felt it all,  sometimes all at the same time.  Obviously I have never committed suicide.  But I have come oh so very close several times…
Here am I,  but by the grace of an awesome God!!    

(Hypo)Manic 🙂  Are you crazy? 
The official meaning of the word mania, which comes from Greek,  is: “to be mad, to rage, to be furious”.  Giving me one more reason to like the name BD instead of manic-depression.
Hypomania means “below mania”.  Let’s start with that one first.

What hypomania means is: being very intense (for other people,  that is),  having a flight of ideas,  talking a-mile-a-minute,  racing thoughts,  needing less sleep (4-6 hrs),  very active,  driven,  throwing caution in the wind,  higher sex drive (the fact that I am single doesn’t make me sexless,  even though I don’t have sex with someone,  you know.  However,  I do feel a bit blue in the face for sharing this.),  constantly interrupting people,  irritable,  easily distracted,  being impulsive, over-sensitive to sound, smell and light (or in other words: heightened senses).

Examples from real life (Yep,  mine. Who else?)
What I share here I realised in hind sight,  after my diagnosis.  A sort of aha-erlebnis.  Aha,  so THAT is what was going on.  It makes sense now.

Throwing caution in the wind / easily distracted for me it meant  simply crossing the road without looking at the traffic, for instance.  A good friend told me once that she can tell by my driving what mood I am in. Oops!

On being impulsive,  I once decided I was going to be a missionary in England and terminated my health care insurance.  BIG mistake!  My insurance broker had to move heaven and earth to get me back in.  Also,  while a friend had loaned (sp?) me money because I was short of it,  I suddenly decided that I simply needed to buy this beautiful ánd expensive book.  When she later confronted me,  I only could look at her sheepishly.

Irritable? – I have been known to erupt in anger outbursts.  Very uncomfortable, especially since at the time I didn’t know what was happening with me.  Had to ask forgiveness many a time and thankfully was extended it just as many times.

Talkative –  you can say that again!  I remember very well that as a child I became at occasion a virtual chatterbox.  Now I start talking to complete strangers.  Not only that,  I share with them personal stuff.  Boohoo… this hurts, peeps.  When it comes down to it,  I am a little shy by nature,  so baring my soul to a complete stranger is a big no-no.

Racing thoughts My thoughts never stopped.  Even during sleep I could ‘hear’ my thoughts.  I never knew that wasn’t normal (whatever ‘normal’ is,  is up for debate of course, but alla),  since continuing thoughts while sleeping were completely normal to me!  I was a light sleeper in any case.  Occasionally I would sleep as ‘normal’ people do and wake up totally knackered and broken.  To me, thàt was not normal!  Hence my love-hate relationship with sleeping aids.  Like ’em because they make me really sleep at night,  hate ’em because they can make me feel sleepy during the day.

On to the Manic
Everything that hypomanic is,  but more in the extreme.  Especially:  irritability,  needing very little sleep (about 3 hrs), risky behavior (i.e.  improbable business plans),  over indulgence (spending sprees,  promiscuity), expanded self-esteem.  Mania can also include hallucinations and delusions.

I am sorry,  but I don’t feel qualified to say more than this,  since I don’t speak from experience.  However,  I do suspect that my hypomanic has manic tendencies.

My one (and hopefully last) manic episode
Actually,  I have had one manic episode.  It was about 4 months after my diagnosis.  I became delusional.  Totally paranoid that people were after me.  Not trusting anyone.  And consequently not talking to anyone.  I slept in the church for several days and lived literally out of my car.  There was a beautiful “Presence Room” for people to pray and sit quietly.  Since I had my own sleeping gear,  I sneaked into church around midnight,  slept on the floor and got up early enough to get out.

Unfortunate for me,  my counselor was on holiday.  After a couple of days I called a dear friend who was in Ukraine at the time.  She finally, after several days, convinced me to go to my p-doc (BD talk for psychiatrist – sweet and short).  When he saw me,  he put me immediately on antipsychotics.  That intervention saved me from a total break down and possible hospitalization.  A ghastly experience!!

Other posts:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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Bipolar Disorder: What is it?

What is Bipolar Disorder?
A mood disorder.  How does that sound?  Yeah,  well.  If you think about it,  we are all bipolar.  We all experience moods and emotions that change from high to low and back.  So we are all happily swinging about.  Or not – and there is the crux.  When the mood swings become uncontrollable we speak of a mood disorder. 

How do you catch, eh get  it?
In essence,  BD is a chemical imbalance in the brain.  It’s got to do with neurotransmitters,  those little things that transport impulses between nerve cells.  As it runs in families,  researchers believe there is a genetic component to BD as well.  BUT,  the real cause of BD has not yet been found.

What’s in a name?
The old name for BD is manic-depression.  This probably rings a bell with many people.  In 1980 when the third version of the Big Book of descriptions of psychiatric illnesses was written (DSM-III to be exact),  the name officially changed to BD.  There were several reasons: the word manic-depression carried a huge stigma;  it was hoped that  the word BD would give more clarity;  it was recognized that there is a much wider variety of BD. Personally,  I like BD more.

Types of Biplor Disorder and complicating factors
BD is described as a spectrum,  because of the various types and complicating factors involved.  There is BD I, II and cyclothemia;  and complications such as mixed states, rapid cycling and bipolar psychosis .  Okay, if I have lost you,  please keep reading and it will get totally clear, I promise!

BD I involves generally speaking deep depression and mania which can include hallucinations and delusions.  One instance of mania is enough to qualify for this diagnosis.

BD II is a somewhat milder form in that the person does not reach full-blown mania, which is therefore called hypomania.  Deep depressions are part and parcel of it.  Hypomania is hard to spot.  People can go without a diagnosis for many years or get misdiagnosed with,  for example,  Major Depressive Disorder.

Cyclothemia is a mild form of BD with milder symptoms,  but still enough to be able to disrupt your life.  Not easy to diagnose either!

A mixed state is when a person experiences either both (hypo)mania and depression at the same time or have them follow one another rapidly.  As in minutes or hours,  rather than days.

Rapid cycling means that a person has more than 4 episodes of depression,  (hypo)mania or mixed state a year.

Bipolar Psychosis is a break with reality and a loss of reasoning,  which can occur both during (severe) depression or mania.

Related posts:

Symptoms 

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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