The Power of Diagnosis

By April 28, 2017Blog

Calling all manic-depressives! Personally, I like that term better than bi-polar. But that’s just me. When I tell someone I live with bipolar disorder I wonder if they really know what I’m talking about. When I tell them I live with manic-depression I think that explains it all.

Mania – a period of great excitement, euphoria, delusions and over-activity. Yes. That’s it. And spring brings those symptoms on. Here in Montana spring is extremely unpredictable. Right now it’s gray outside and my energy is low. My energy could be low because it’s evening and I had my 3 year old granddaughter with me for a few hours today, or, more likely, my energy is low because it’s gray outside. If the sun suddenly came out and bathed everything in sparkling spring light my energy would surge. I’d go outside and see what I need to do in the yard or I’d take one or two of my many dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. Then, when the sun is again covered by rain clouds, I will lose my energy immediately. And right now, sitting here in my living room, it just began to rain again. Ugh. And the dogs don’t like it either. I try to remember that just above the clouds the sun is shining and touching the other side of the clouds, making them very white.

The really great part of all this is that I do live with manic-depression but the above symptoms are about as bad as the mania gets these days. I have a good psychiatrist who keeps me level. But no matter how good the medication I still have those moments of mild mania, nothing like I used to have – delusions and euphoria especially.

Depression – feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep. Wow. Depression sucks. Before I was put on a lifesaving combination of medications I tried everything to combat my depressions: light boxes, lots of coffee, sun on the backs of my knees, alcohol that just made it all much worse, and I would force myself to take walks which were torture.

I remember going on medication for the first time. I was given anti-depression medication first that began helping but quickly shot me up into mania. Then I was put on anti-mania medication that brought me back down but, not so far down that the anti-depression medication didn’t catch it. And that was the beginning.

Before I found a good psychiatrist I thought my odd and out-of-control behavior was because I drank so much; vodka, gin, wine, rum. My husband-at-the-time and I dragged ourselves to AA and I am now 16 years sober. Alcohol is a problem all by itself and I did myself a huge favor by quitting the drink but it didn’t cure my wild ups and downs.

All it takes for me to realize that medications actually work, is to look back to when those of us mentally ill people were put into asylums, no medication on board. Can you imagine that? I have imagined it and think it was barbarian and cruel; but no one knew anything else. My grandmother was in an asylum several times. She was put into lithium baths that actually did give her some relief from depression.

I take lithium as one of my medications so luckily I don’t have to linger in a bath for relief. Our modern medications are miraculous. If you ever feel like you’re on the wrong meds talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor go to a nurse practitioner. Keep up with your symptoms, chart them. I have done that and found it very helpful, especially when I was just beginning the routine of taking medications or when I had to start something new or make a change. Medical people appreciate charting. In fact it was my first doctor who asked me to chart when I took a medication, date and time.

It’s the next day now and it’s Easter! Now the sun is shining! I went to church and now am going up to my daughter’s house for Easter dinner. I’ll get to see my granddaughter and eat not only the main course but I will be bringing a cake shaped like a rabbit – what more could I ask for??

Please feel free to write me on this BC2M site if you have any questions. Thanks.

One Comment

  • Terri M says:

    Thank you for sharing. So glad you have a handle now on your M.I. Mental Illness runs in my family, so am familiar with what that is like. I have a daughter with BP along with other co-morbid mental health issues, i.e. OCD, Anxiety/panick attacks, and I suspect BPD. Has never seen a pychiatrist, but did see a good psychologist for several months on a weekly basis. She quit going when the therapy started to have her talk about difficult issues. She is a ‘head in the sand’ type. She puts up walls instead of talking about anything; so it makes it hard for me to broach the subject. She is 30 yrs old, smart, beautiful, and an alcoholic. She cannot maintain a relationship, when her friends cease to be ‘useful’, she discards them. I hate for her to waste more yrs of her life struggling to be in it. Any ideas on how I can facilitate help for her? I have done the 12 week Family to Family class through NAMI; that was so helpful, but still, no real help for her. Any ideas on how I can coax her into getting help? (She is a master at putting people off, especially me, by using tactics like, “I’ve had a very bad day, now is not a good time to talk”, or it is some physical ailment like cramps from period that makes it a bad time to talk. Amazingly, she has her period coming on 365 days out of the year! Any advice for this worried mom?

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