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02/22/2012 04:00 PM

explaining this condition to family - aargh!!!

Posts: 48

Like many people on here, I'm sure, I always knew that something was wrong, I just didn't know what. I had had anorexia and then bulimia for many years (ha, only just found out that anorexia is a form of depression, I can't believe I've got to this (youthful)ripe old age and only just discovered this). My parents and sister (who is a special needs teacher) thought I might have ME or OCD or ADHD. I looked them all up and thought yes, I definitely have symptoms of all of these, the only problem was that I didn't have them ALL the time. One of the sites had a link to a bipolar site and as my uncle had been diagnosed with bipolar I thought I'd have a look. BINGO....that's what I've got, bipolar. Went to doctor and was put on antidepressants only. I was euphoric at finally knowing what I have and more importantly WHY I do all the weird and wonderful things I do, so of course I immediately went on a massive high, followed soon after by a massive crash when the reality of this bloody illness finally sunk in. My bipolar II rapid cycling has been confirmed by the psychologist but I am still only on Prozac, so I'm worried about further episodes. They tried me on Lustral but I had terrible headaches and nausea which I already suffered from anyway.

When I told my exasperated family that I had bipolar, the same aforementioned mum, dad and sister all immediately exclaimed yes, of course you do, that's it, you're exactly the same as your uncle, same behaviour. So far, so good. But now I am getting from them, "you're just trying to make the symptoms that you've been reading about fit". "why can't you work at the moment?" "why are you capable of doing this (some pleasurable and comforting crisis control behaviour that I've learnt over the decades to cope with this chaotic mind) and not do this??? (some basic task that stresses me out). Clearly I'm not yet on the right medication but also I've only been diagnosed for 6 months so it's going to take me a long while yet to learn about and understand the illness and more importantly to unlearn my bad coping mechanisms and learn good coping mechanisms re sleep, diet, routine etc. How on earth do you explain this selfish disorder to someone, whereby when you're high, it's all about ME doing the things that make me feel good and when you're down, oh look again, it's all about me and how down/useless/incapable I am. And that even when I get the medication right AND learn tips to manage the illness instead of reacting to it in panic that I will STILL get some of these crazy ups and downs and that I am not emotionally unstable, it is just that it APPEARS that way because the misfortune of being born with this disorder is that our bipolar brains don't function like your average brain and seek to create problems for us instead of helping us to solve them, sadly ruining our lives for decades pre diagnosis. Any help on this would be gratefully appreciated. If it wasn't true you really couldn't make this disorder up....something that compels you to do everything to excess, shop, drink, gamble etc etc and you can just blame it on the bipolar...get out of here!!


02/22/2012 04:44 PM
Posts: 16598
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

Hello, your psychiatrist should have you on a mood stabilizer with your antidepressant. Without one, you can become manic/hypo-manic. I would ask him about this. I'm sorry that you have had a rough time. Having bipolar is tough and it takes a lot of strength. We are very strong individuals. It does explain a lot about our lives looking back, I agree. I hope your family is supporting you now, not saying you are believing things that you read. First things first, you need to find that medication mix that will work for you. It takes some time, so don't get discouraged. It's worth it in the end. I hope you enjoy this site and know that we are here to help you and support you. Welcome to the group!

02/23/2012 11:23 PM
Posts: 62

It is difficult explaining this to family. They either roll their eyes at you like you are making excuses or assume that you are using the "so called" diagnosis to get something.

I explained to my mother that I finally had an answer for some of my issues and her immediate response was "you aren't bipolar, not even anything like that". When I explained my rage issues, she said "you dont have anger issues at all". I thought, great, once again you listen to me like all I have ever done is lie to you. It hurt.

When I tried talking to my sister in law (hubbys sister), she actually rolled her eyes and changed the topic.

So I suppose when i go through my rage (hypo mania episodes) everyone just thinks it is my "time of the month" and I am being a bitty.

I have no advice. I don't talk to my family about it. I even have issues with my hubby sometimes..when I try to explain to him that I can't control this and I don't mean to say the things I say he will come back with "me either". I think he is beginning to understand as I try to just stay away from him during my rage time.

I hope your family will hush and support. That is really all we need.

02/24/2012 02:38 AM
Posts: 48

thank you so much for your kind and understanding reply. I am attending a self-help group where we just talk about our personal situation and offer up tips for coping. I noticed that at one, there was a husband of a sufferer attending with his bipolar wife. Just a suggestion. When I went to the group I finally felt like I was at home as there was a roomful of people that all talked about the same experiences as me. there was also a young girl of 20 ish and an older lady of 50 ish and both of them were there with their supportive mothers. I did ask my dad to come and he said yes but to not expect him to just sit there and not question why I can't clean my house. that would go down well then!

worse still, through educating myself about the condition I now know that my 7 year old daughter has it too. I'm not imagining it, she fits nearly all the 38 criteria that they look for. Also, of course, I was once a 7 year old girl with bipolar, so that alone qualifies me to know what to look for. so now, not only do I feel terribly guilty at shouting at her for her restlessness, inattention etc especially at homework time, but I've got to try and help my daughter to cope, not easy when I have little routine myself in this chaotic bipolar life...but also I know that I'm going to come up against critisism, ridicule and resistance from my parents


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