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07/05/2011 04:22 PM

Trouble Accepting Newly Diagnosed BiPolar I and PS

JustJulie62Posts: 925

Hello. I'm reaching out to this group in hopes of support, advice and encouragement since I am really struggling with my recent diagnosis and subsequent treatment options (thus far).

My history: I'm 48, a professional (used to be), adopted and raised in an alcoholic home (no violence, but rage/anger existed daily) with a depressed mother (spend a day in bed at a time…not days)…however, I grew up and went on to live a relatively successfully life raising a son and working my way up in my career. I had a troubled relationship with my mother, as well as the residual pain of growing up in an alcoholic home to which I sought out therapy several times throughout my life. I was told I had symptomatic depression (following a death, job loss, etc.) and mild anxiety. I took prescribed antidepressants maybe three times in my life, for short periods…..although I self medicated with marijuana and alcohol (socially, for the most part) for most of my life. Pot became a mood stabilizer towards the end.

Fast forward to December 2010; for about a week's time I was having trouble sleeping, but would wake up with bursts of energy busily ticking off my list of things to do (at the time I was building a new website), I felt anxious and my thoughts were racing to the point of me saying to my husband “I'm going to call the doctor and make an appointment, with mental health on Monday.” “Why”, he asked. Because I just feel off, that something is just not right. Within a few hours after making that comment my husband went out to do an errand. Suddenly, I became convinced that he might have plans to hurt me (unfounded) and I remember haphazardly throwing together a few things I thought I would need and stuffing them into my purse. Didn't think to put any SHOES on, but I did have on socks. As my husband comes in the front door, I sneak out the back door, jump in the car and start driving with no real destination in mind. I decide to call the police to report I am concerned about my safety with my husband and they try and convince me to drive somewhere and pull over. I comply, but take off again driving endlessly up and down the freeway convinced there is a huge child molesting ring in my community (my PSTS stems from childhood sexual abuse). While these thoughts are buzzing through my head I realize they can't be real yet I feel frightened enough as if they are….very strange.

I end up crashing my vehicle into the side of the hospital convinced it was the only way to get help. I was transferred to the psych ward and involuntarily held for three days. That experience (the hospital) is another story complete….they were awful to the patients and was afraid for my physical safety given their lack of safety protocols. I was released but these feelings of unease, especially towards my husband returned so I checked myself into a different hospital and I was there for three days (better treatment than the first, but not by far).

After Zombifying me with Lithium and Seroquel (I insisted they stop the Seroquel and they complied) and talking to their psychiatrist I was released with the following prescriptions: Lithium, Depokate, and Abilify. I took all three for a month and felt FLATLINED….no sex drive, no emotions (good nor bad) – needless to say my family and friends were quite concerned. Now I am just on Lithium (900mg) and a small dose of Lorezapam as needed. My personality has slowly started to manifest itself again (optimistic, positive thinker) but not near to the level everyone (including myself) deemed normal. I had no grand illusions of becoming president or selling all my stuff to join a cult!

Apparently a few people took the time to read up on bipolar and commented they never saw mood swings, etc., and I can't remember having a full blown manic episode EVER in my 48 years. I believe I do have ADHD and sometimes exhibits hyperactivity in the form of talking fast, etc…but not mania style. That was a trip I don't want to take again. I have also never cut myself, had thoughts of suicide/homicide or been physically violent in any way, shape or form.

Then two days ago I experienced such deep depression, that I felt I couldn't move, having to force myself to do mundane tasks like emptying the dishwasher. The next day it subsided a little, and today it is much better. I can't think of anything specific that would have triggered it.

Right now on lithium I still feel rather flatlined….I don't really get too enthusiastic (about anything), nor do I get really blue (except these last three days). I have been on lithium since January 2011. I'm not thrilled about the weight gain either, although I've done little to address it (exercise!).

This diagnosis has rocked my world in a negative sense and caused me considerable intellectual confusion. I've lost confidence in my ability as a professional. It's a struggle to get things accomplished. My husband thinks he is the cause of my issues, and is, of course, concerned about my loss of interest in sex (ho hum, like I feel about everything on lithium).

I decided it was a smart move for me to avoid alcohol and marijuana completely, as I want to help myself heal and feel I've done myself a great disservice self-medicating in the past.

I am going to stick with my treatment plan for now; I might consider changing psychiatrists since the one I have doesn't seem present half the time we are speaking and forgets what I tell him during sessions “now what were you saying….”

Before this incident I would have said I had more good days than bad days throughout the past 3 decades. Now it's more like….oh, another day, who cares? Not a bad one. Not a good one. Just another day. Aren't you supposed to get excited when your husband takes you to beach for 5 days on a trip? Yes, you are…but I didn't. I had to fake enthusiasm – how sad. He doesn't deserve that.

Well thank you for letting me share my story. I sincerely welcome your insight, comments and feedback.


07/05/2011 04:39 PM
CatbalooPosts: 6809
Group Leader

I'm no expert, but your delusions about your husband wanting to harm you and the child sexual abuse ring in your neighborhood certainly sound manic to me. You don't actually have to have a depressive episode to be diagnosed with BP 1 since it usually manifests more as mania than depression. At least that's my understanding.

As for your lack of emotions, that is not good. Stability doesn't mean emotional numbness. It definitely sounds like it may be time for a new pdoc if your current one isn't really listening to you. Perhaps a new pdoc would be able to suggest some meds that won't make you feel numb.

I'm stable and I don't feel numb at all, just more "normal" emotions. No more extreme irritability, for example. I hope you can also be stable without the numbness.

Big hugs, and welcome to the group.

07/05/2011 04:59 PM

Hey, I'm glad you came to the group! The people here are very compassionate, caring, and offer good advice!

I agree with Catbaloo...the episode you just described in regard to believing your husband meant you harm, which seemed to snowball...that sounds just like mania to me. I'm not sure what you're thinking in terms of mania.

Suicidal ideation, cutting, homicidal thoughts, physically abusive (or emotionally, for that matter)...those are not "requirements" for bipolar disorder. Many people with bipolar don't have any of these issues. I believe Sparkarama has some good sites and posts regarding places to learn about bipolar and the issues and ways to help yourself heal. I haven't looked myself, but I'd take a look if I were might help.

Also, again, I agree with Catbaloo, only I feel a more urgent need, for you to find a new psych. I've been through several, myself, until I found one who would listen to me, and was willing to work with me. He also will tell me if he believes that even though I don't want the medication, that it works the best for me and I should take it. He listens, but he's not a pushover, either. I would trust his judgement.

You need a psych, especially in these early months, who listens to every word you say and doesn't have to keep asking you to repeat yourself. I'd be running from that guy.

Numbness is not something you should "settle" for. That's not the end result the doctors or you should be looking for. You should be able to be you or at least close enough that the difference doesn't bother you.

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of sex drive. It's been an issue between my husband and myself, as well. I can't say that the medications you end up taking won't get you back to however sexually active you were, but there's nothing to say that they won't, either!

Try to educate yourself about bipolar. Get a book or two, I know many people on this site know of several! I usually look up everything online (a little short of cash), so I don't know any really good titles or authors, but someone will.

I'm sorry I can't answer all of your questions and tell you exactly what to do and where to go and how to do it...I so wish I could.

But I am certainly more than happy to be here in any fashion I can that might help! I'm happy to listen and, if I can in any form or fashion, help. Feel free to pm me if you ever wish to! I know others will comment on this post soon, as well.

Hugs, (because we all need them!)


07/05/2011 06:34 PM

I am going to offer a different perspective to what you wrote besides the part about your husband harming you. You sound bored to me. The ho hum of everyday life can get the better of us. When I get bored, I kind of slump into a depression. Not everyone would be excited to be whisked away for 5 days on a beach because if you are like me you don't want the beach for that long - maybe just a day or two. Just my perspective on what you wrote. Try adding some excitement to your life. Maybe I can think of some ideas to help you later but can't think of none now.

07/05/2011 11:23 PM
Posts: 1444
Senior Member

Bipolar isn't so bad when you're stable. It was a relief to be diagnosed with bipolar because I finally knew what was wrong with me and what I can do about it. The sex thing is's really sad but I don't see how people consistently have sex with their SOs. I always lose interest and just stop (apparently that's abnormal).

Lithium zombified me. The last time I was on it I had been admitted on 5150. I definitely had no desire to harm myself once I was on it...or do much of anything for that matter. I willingly stayed on it because I had to go back to my toxic situation and I didn't wanna feel anything or potentially harm myself. Once I got out of the situation I went off it.

My pdoc put me on Lamictal as a mood stabilizer and I love it.

07/05/2011 11:48 PM
bagofcandyPosts: 1259
Senior Member

I'm also on lithium and feel slightly flattened but not depressed, and the lack of a springtime mania has been disappointing (until I consider I mayn't have an October depression).

I also work in a field where the mind is king (research science), and I sometimes go through prolonged periods where my mind can't function at the caliber it must. I always want to blame the medications for these periods of stupidity, but my former pdoc (who is on staff at the bipolar clinic at my university) assured me that the root is likely the disorder. He said it's a very common feature of the illness, and his group has shown changes in brain metabolism and structure in depressed bipolar patients that could underlie the phenomenon.

Anyway, I've been prescribed stimulants and a beta blocker to help me get through the work day. Maybe you should talk to your pdoc about these problems since some of it can be taken care of through meds.

If your pdoc can't keep up with your thoughts and you're not manic then it may be a good idea to change, if you can.

07/06/2011 05:48 AM

Just make sure you're getting all the water you're supposed to have with the lithium. The water is extremely important. I was tried on it for a while and was pretty much paranoid about the water thing. In the end, however, I leaped off of it, because it made my hands shake something awful. Problem is...they still do and i haven't had lithium in years. Oh, well.



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