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11/22/2011 08:26 AM

Newly diagnosed and really struggling

BlackRosesPosts: 134

Hey everyone, I hope I'm not wrong by just jumping in here, please feel free to point out if Im breeching any generally accepted rules. I don't want to get off of the wrong foot or come across as abrasive or impossible/rude. Long story(hopefully) short, I've been lurking here since I discovered you all in a quest for info/understanding when I was diagnosed 2 weeks ago(Nov 8th). I promise I'm not creepy. Odd maybe, but harmless to others.

I was initially told I had some sort of anxiety disorder on October 18th but at my next appointment the nurse told me the psych had changed his mind and gave me the new diagnosis(not sure of the type, if she told me I missed it-dont remember much after the word 'Bipolar' anyway, but I don't believe I fit the criteria for Bipolar I so I'm working under the assumption it's Bipolar II, I'm sure I'll find out next week.) I left the appointment stunned but later that afternoon it started sinking in and I ended up dangerously suicidal(the thoughts are chronic, but not at that intensity. They've levelled off the last three days and I'm finally confident that I will make it to my next appointment on the 29th.

I guess my point in all this rambling is to ask if any of you have any suggestions for surviving /coming to terms with the diagnosis. I've maintained from my first appointment back in July that I don't want drugs. Can I still hold that? I've been told that drugs will likely be recommended, and they may even be the best option, but I don't want them. I judge no one, and I'm actually envious of you guys who can handle the drugs. I personally can't reconcile myself to it. I'm having a hard time justifying my existance and taking resources(the tdoc and pdoc's time/oxygen/space/food/etc) away from others when the only thing keeping me able to fake normalcy and not kill myself is a heavy duty psychiatric cocktail.(I'm sure that sounds harsh, please know that it's purely a view of the condition in myself, and I don't view anyone else living with this in the same way. I consider it a fatal character flaw in myself.). I'm sorry. I should go now before I really offend someone or write more of a novel.

This has just been a hellish 2 weeks trying to come to terms with the fact that I have a lifelong problem and one that has killed my nursing dreams with a single blow. Thanks for taking the time to muddle through this. Any advice/tips for surviving and/or negotiating meds or really anything you think would be helpful would be much appreciated. Hopefully I will be in a much better state when I dare to post again.

By the way, my name's Jewel, nice to meet you all!

Post edited by: BlackRoses, at: 11/22/2011 08:28 AM


11/22/2011 08:53 AM
CatbalooPosts: 6906
Group Leader

Welcome to the group, Jewel. You'll find lots of information, encouragement and support here. Please feel free to PM me or any other group leader if you have any questions, etc.

Coming to terms with the diagnosis can be very hard, especially if it comes out of the blue. I had an easier time with it because I knew something was wrong. Having a name for it actually was a relief to me because it meant that it could be treated. I'm well aware that not everyone feels that way, though. For most people, it's a body blow.

Meds seem like the enemy, but they really are our friend. I'm so much more stable now that I've found the right combo for me. I feel better than I have in years, so I no longer mind taking my meds even though I sometimes feel like a walking pill bottle.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disease. Just like people with diabetes need insulin, we need our meds to be healthy. Without meds, our brains continue to be damaged by episodes and our mood swings get worse over time. An untreated bipolar brain eventually looks like an alzheimer brain in scans, but meds can prevent and repair the damage. The sooner you start taking them, the less brain damage you will suffer.

If you get on meds and become stable, I see no reason why you can't become a nurse.

11/22/2011 09:11 AM
LandelinoPosts: 128

Hi Jewel,

I was diagnosed with major depression in my early 20's (I'm 42 now) and have been taking medication for it since then. Still, when I was diagnosed with BPII a few months ago, it really came as a shock - even though I had suspected it for a long time. I got quite down about the diagnosis and the need to take meds "for the rest of my life" (even though I've been taking meds for 20 odd years). Since then I have felt many of the same things you describe. What helped me was to constantly remind myself that I am not my diagnosis, I am a unique person who deserves to live, no matter what. The purpose of the diagnosis is only to help us understand ourselves better and take appropriate action, including medicine if necessary.

The medications I've taken for so many years really helped get me back on track. I had dropped out of grad school in my 20's, but 10 years later was able to go back and actually finish. So don't give up on your nursing dreams. You may find that your diagnosis will help you get there.

11/22/2011 09:34 AM
Posts: 502

It is tough when diagnosed out of the blue, and its harder still to accept it. I got diagnosed out of the blue in March, and had drug problems, depression problems, now emotional problems. It has been a long ride, and one that I am wanting to get off. I am the rare one that has had all these problems, so don't think it will be as bad for you. Just take it one step at a time and you will get through it.

11/22/2011 10:38 AM
BlackRosesPosts: 134

Catbaloo- Thanks, this really was out of the blue. The initial anxiety disorder not so much, even though I've given them no reason to consider it aside from my behavior, I've personally suspected ptsd or something that looks an awful lot like it for quite some time now. I'd have to be in absolute denial to miss how disrupted my life is there, and I do suspect they'll proceed with some sort of anxiety disorder diagnosis as well although I really don't want to be labelled any more than I have to be. What I assume they're considering 'highs' I always just saw as my one respite from the crushing, barely functional, shower exhausts me depression(which is initially what I sought out my gp for, she labelled me as having a personality disorder and being untreatable) I never saw them as bipolar. It's only a few days every 6 months and I'm optimistic, I'm hopeful, I get things done, etc but I'm not reckless, and I don't regret anything when it's all said and done, except the horrid crash I know inevitably follows. I dont want to lose myself in who the drugs make me. I want to be able to take credit for what I accomplish, not have to chalk it up to a handful of pills.

I'd like to think you're right and I'd still be able to take the nursing course, but I'm afraid the diagnosis itself would make me ineligible. Especially since I was looking to specialize in one of two areas- Operating Room tech/scrub nurse or psychiatric nursing. Are they really going to want someone who is by definition unstable working in the OR or a psychiatric nurse with a serious, lifelong, psychiatric diagnosis of her own?

Landelino- I don't think I can blame my entire existential crisis on the diagnosis, I've never really wanted to be here anyway, this is just another reason to tell myself I don't deserve to be. I turned 24 on Sunday, and in my family that truly is having one foot in the grave. So I guess I likely wouldn't be on meds too long, but even another 20 years seems too long for me, I'd see it differently I think if it were 'as needed' or short term, but my understanding of bipolar is that it's for life, no hope of getting of the drugs. And as for the nursing, like I menioned to Catbaloo, I worry that the diagnosis itself will disqualify me, stable or not, do people really want an 'unstable' nurse in the OR, or a psychiatric nurse with a serious psych diagnosis of her own? Hopefully things look up and I'm proven wrong!

Analogdog- wow, that's gotta be tough to deal with. My goal is to get out with as few diagnoses and as few pills as possible. I don't like mental health(when I'm on the wrong side of things anyway) I don't trust them when I'm sitting on the wrong side. I've refused to see them for years, but when I sought help for what I saw as depression that was taking me from barely functional to non-functional, my gp labelled it borderline personality disorder instead and sent me to psych for confirmation-I think I went mostly as an 'I'll prove you wrong' sort of thing that wound up biting me in the ass. I never held any illusions of being 'normal' but I never saw myself as a lifelong psych patient.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. I definitely appreciate it, it's nice to know that however alone or hopeless I feel, there really is somebody who's been there-and survived. ~Jewel

11/22/2011 11:10 AM
Posts: 14552
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

Hi BlackRoses, Just want to put my two cents in:

Please, for the sake of your brain, remain open to the possibility of meds for your bipolar disorder. You have a number of biases against meds that are simply not true. For example, you'll "never lose yourself in who the drugs make you."

Simply put, you have a biochemical imbalance and need medication to correct the imbalance in order to function adequately and to your potential.

Moreover, the brain damage that occurs over time when the bipolar brain is unmedicated or under-medicated is very well established, and I encourage you to look into this to satisfy yourself. (Contact me if you want to discuss this further.)

In terms of your choice of profession, I personally see no reason why your bipolar disorder should hold you back from your career goals, so long as you are responsible with the care and treatment of your disorder. Through medication and treatment, many, many people obtain sufficient stability to achieve and maintain professional medical careers. Many would disagree that revealing your personal psychiatric history in the work place is even appropriate or necessary.

11/22/2011 11:40 AM
BlackRosesPosts: 134

Sarahtroy- Thanks for your input. I do imagine that I'll at least try them at some point although I don't want to. Psych meds scare me to death. I'm not disputing that there is damage that occurs, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. I guess I'm just not thoroughly convinced that the diagnosis is correct yet.(Though I do suppose meds would prove it one way or the other for me...) My only experience with this disorder is a bipolar I ultra rapid cycling friend who stopped lithium due to feeling like a 'zombie' and who is clearly out of control, her highs are scary reckless(I hope she's gone back on her meds since we lost contact). So I guess that's what I'm comparing myself to.

As far as revealing the diagnosis, I think there might have been some misunderstanding. I have no intentions of informing a soul, that includes my immediate family, what friends I do have, nor my current employer and co-workers (I'd rather they tear me down for being lazy and useless than accuse me of using a psych diagnosis as an excuse or a crutch), much less if I ever managed to have a shot at getting into a medical career. However, I do suspect that the diagnosis will make it out of my psych records and into my general medical records at some point, where anyone with access can see it. And there's too much risk that it will be found out either before or after. I'd rather not have it, than have it and have it hauled out from under me because they found out after the fact that I'm 'crazy'-of course that may just be me getting paranoid. It's been known to happen. ~Jewel

Post edited by: BlackRoses, at: 11/22/2011 11:43 AM

11/22/2011 12:19 PM
JustJulie62Posts: 925

Hi Jewel, welcome to the group. Initially I felt as you did upon diagnosis - and still question it to some point (considering all the misdiagnosis abound in mental health), but I can say that with proper treatment there is no reason in the world you can not function well and be an accomplished nurse (or any professional), and no one needs to know unless you choose to tell them. I understand not wanting anyone to point fingers saying my behavior or actions are a result of having BP - when that is such an easy weapon to fling if someone disagrees or feels threatened by you - especially professionally.

Many professionals and famous/creative people have lived wonderful lives who also suffered from BP...among a whole gamut of other types of mental illness. And everyone is different - they take different treatment options, some have differing symptoms, coping skills, don't look at it as a label or life sentence, you still will be uniquely who you are deep down.

I wouldn't worry that much about your medical info being found out, if at all. There are laws that protect you - including if you are a medical professional. The only risk you need to take is managing your symptoms and be prepared to address any ill conceived or rude comments that you might endure as a result. MILLIONS of Americans suffer from some type of mental disorder, it is most likely that will be the person inflicting their poisoned barbs towards you. Screw them and give them one of your pills! (kidding).

Again welcome to the forums. You will find a lot of support and encouragement along with some great suggestions from people who can relate. Best to you. Julie

Post edited by: JustJulie62, at: 11/22/2011 12:22 PM

11/22/2011 01:54 PM
Posts: 7033
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

The medications help you be the true you. Once you are stable you realize that so much of who you thought you were was the bipolar and how much more is open to you once treated.

11/22/2011 02:06 PM

I was misdiagnosed for many years as just having depression. I took antidepressants and never felt that I was going to get any better. It wasn't until I got my diagnosis as having Bp II that things made sense and now that I have found my combo of meds I am back to the real me again. I am stable my emotions do not cripple me anymore I am back in control of me.

I am in the process of going back to school after being a stay at home mom and I have to say that I have never done as well in school as I am doing now. Don't lose hope it isn't something that makes your life have to end. I look at it as a new opportunity to feel better finally.


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