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Bipolar Disorder Stories

 

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I'm a 17 year old female and am amongst the still short-term strugglers of bipolar disorder.  But despite only having had problems for a little over two years, my symptoms have been quite severe - almost to the point where I cannot imagine myself struggling with the disorder for much longer.
 
I have only reached out for professional help two times, and neither times have I continued to receive their support. BP itself has made it impossible for me to continue therapy for longer than a month at a time. I have also never been properly diagnosed with BP, because I have not given the doctors enough time or proof of symptoms to be diagnosed with anything besides depression. Therefore the only kind of medication I have taken is an overthecounter anti-depressant called 'Lexapro', which did not prove helpful in the least.
 
One of the reasons my case has been so difficult for me and my family to deal with properly is because apart from the BP-like symptoms, I have been both anorexic and bulimic for three years. The EDs have been cycling in and out alongside my hypomanic and depressive states and most of the time, it's hard to know whether my ED has caused my ups and downs (BP swings), or whether my ups and downs has caused my ED to resurface.
 
My ups and downs cycle in average two-three month patterns, where for the first couple of months I'm in a hypomanic state, going outside everyday, shopping and spending excessive amounts of money, wearing makeup, and losing a large amount of weight caused by anorexia, feeling invincible, and then the next couple of months I'm back to locking myself up inside the house, binge eating, gaining lots of weight, crying, and completely cutting off all my connections with the outside world. Due to this unstable cycle I have dropped regular school and had to take up homeschooling, lost all friends, have been unable to work for an allowance, and feel worthless and hateful toward myself most of the time. I have never actually seriously attempted to hurt myself, but have thought of death many times.

I don't want to keep struggling with this into my adulthood, because I want to be normal, and I want to pursue fading dreams and become a successful adult with a successful job and a successful life. I've never had a relationship and wish to be loved and to love as someone who has confidence being themselves. But even though I wish for all this I know that mental and psychotic disorders cannot be cured as easily with meds or other physical procedures. It's much more complicated than that.
 

Hi, my name is Melly and I am a 25 year old mom of two children. I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder last year after after being misdiagnosed several times before. I remember always thinking that I was different from everyone else, even at a very young age. 

I had a pretty bad childhood which involved being abused (emotionally and sexually) but most of the things that I have been through seemed like they happened to someone else. I have this defense mechanism where I can "remove" myself from a terrible situation and it's as though the terrible thing is happening to someone else or that the terrible thing is just a dream. I know it's very unhealthy to do this but I don't do it on purpose; there are some things that are just too bothersome for my mind so it kind of does it itself. Well, enough about that anyway. 

My story is very lengthy but I will spare you all the small details and try to keep it short. With that being said... I started getting really bad in 199! 9. I was diagnosed as having depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and periods of psychosis. I was having auditory and visual hallucinations (which I have had my whole life) and was cutting myself. I was scared to death to take a shower (have been my whole life, again) and would go without showering for weeks at a time. Nobody even knew this because I still kept myself clean and I never smelled bad or anything. I was so paranoid at night that "they" ("they" would be aliens) would be coming for me or my children that I would stay awake for days at a time so I could be on "guard duty" with a knife in my hand. I would hear them telling me that they were coming and I would see their faces every time I closed my eyes. 

My doctor put me on Seroquel and Zoloft and I did a little better for awhile. Then I started acting really hyper and acting and thinking even more irrational so he just kept raising my meds until I was a zombie. I ended up slicing my arm open with a razor blade while visiting a friend and had to be rushed to the hospital. I weaned myself off of the meds after a year because I started having a lot of problems (physically). I didn't know it at the time but my doctor had prescribed me a dosage of Seroquel that wasn't approved and after taking it for a year it had caused me some serious damage. I still have problems because of that now. 

Well, after all that I was okay for awhile (three years) and then I started having episodes. It started when I got a promotion at my job. At first I thought I could do it and did do the job very well. Then I started hearing things talking to me and started to have nightmares. I was staying awake for days at a time and not eating and wanting to party all the time (not typical behavior for me-I've never been a partier). I went on shopping sprees and when I ran out of money, I wrote bad checks or got pay-day loans. I talked very fast and nobody could keep up with what I was saying. I was having racing thoughts and screamed at people when they tried to talk to me because they were interrupting my thoughts. I started to call off work a lot so that I could go shopping and I didn't have any focus to do any work. I couldn't sit still. Then all of a sudden, it all stopped. I slowed way down and became horribly depressed. I couldn't go to work because I was too depressed and I was seeing things and crying all the time. All I wanted to do was sleep but what I really wanted to do was die. Then I started "rapid-cycling". I was depressed one day and manic the next. 

I called my mom from work and told her I was going to kill myself (I don't even remember) and she came and took me to the hospital. They kept me for awhile, switched my meds several times, and let me go after a week. I was still messed up when I left so a week later I went back to the hospital for a month. They kept switching my meds around (I've been on at least 25 different meds) and finally found a combination of 7 drugs that worked (except they made me a zombie). That was last year. 

I lost my job, my house and everything I worked so hard to get. I've been sued 3 times in the last year for things I did in my manic phases and I don't have any recollection of them whatsoever. I wasn't on any meds for awhile but my episodes just started again so I am back on an anti-depressant and waiting for the mania to come as it always does when I start an anti-depressant. I am unable to work and am considered permanently disabled due to the severity of my condition. I had to move back in with my mom because I am not able to take care of myself or manage my own money. I have had a tough time and I have a long road ahead but I never lose hope. I know that eventually I will get better and things will be okay. Thanks for listening to my story.--Melly honeybsmileygirl@yahoo.com feel free to email me!


My name is Jeanine and I am a 50-yr. old woman with Bi-Polar II disorder. I have only recently been diagnosed with this disorder since I overdosed on pills and was hospitalized in 2002. I had always dealt with mood swings and depressive periods, but never attempted suicide till then. My marriage had fallen apart and I was having trouble dealing with it, blaming myself for everything. I always dismissed my emotional roller coaster as a hormone imbalance because as a young girl of 20 I suffered from a blood clot due to taking birth control pills. From that time on I believed my mood swings, my migraines, and my frequent depressive states were all hormonal related.

The fact of the matter was I had grown up with the idea that mental illness is a shameful illness and something people reject. The stigma surrounding the illness kept me in denial and from seeking help, along with my husband's lack of encouragement and constant criticism.

I grew up feeling different, knowing I felt things deeper than the normal person. I didn't know why. I always felt bad about myself and learned to take on everyone else's problems as my own. I felt obsessive and compulsive much of the time. I felt rejected much of the time. I could not connect with people and therefore had trouble forming close friendships.

I believe my mother and grandmother suffered some of the characteristics of Bi-Polar disorder but it was something that wasn't talked about then and almost hidden. I take Zoloft, Seroquel, Lamictal and Klonopin to manage my illness. It seems to be a good combination for me. I believe the key to helping people with Bi-Polar is accepting them as people with just another chronic, biological illness which they need medication for. The Bi-Polar person needs to feel loved and accepted even though they may have disabilities just like other disabilities people may have. The stigma surrounding Bi-Polar disorder is injustice to the victims and it is my goal to make whatever small effort I can to change that for the future victims of this disease.

Two weeks ago my 23-year-old son, John, took his own life. He had been diagnosed with Bi-Polar also in the past two years. He struggled with rapid cycling and had made poor choices recently which he felt very guilty about. He also was having trouble finding a job that fit his perception of what he deserved, having graduated with honors from an excellent University. He was a charming, out-going, high energy, handsome and intelligent young man. He had so much potential and his death is such a loss for his family and all who knew and loved him. There were little hints and signs I should have picked up on to realize he was very depressed and having suicidal thoughts, but I was trying to "be a good mother and stay out of his life, and let him make his own choices". Everyone was always telling me you have to let go. He was seeing a doctor and was on medication, so I convinced myself he was o.k.

In retrospect, I wish I had gotten more involved in learning about Bi-Polar when I first learned there was such a thing. Instead, I was still fighting the stigma I felt for having it in my own life, and neglected helping my son. There is guilt you face as a parent when you lose a child, always, but when you lose a child by suicide, the guilt becomes a daily battle, and the questions seem endless. Yet, nothing will bring your child back. 

I know that I can't change the past, but I know that I can make my son's life and memory special by trying to help others who are just learning about this painful illness and trying to deal with it. That is the goal I have set for my life and I am looking for ways to do it. I am determined to make good come from this tragedy for the love of my John.

Here is a poem I wrote in his memory shortly after his death.

In Loving Memory
(John)
(Sept. 7, 1980-Aug. 19, 2004)

QUESTIONS

Why was a handsome, charming man
Gifted by God, above
Unable to see the blessings he had
Given with so much love?

What would cause a brilliant, young man
To become so very confused
That he felt so lost and overwhelmed
By goals he needed to prove?

When did life start to hurt so bad
That it all be came a blur,
With a painful, disappointed heart
He felt he could not endure?

Who would not have instantly
Run to be by his side
And help him rise above the pain
That he so masterfully denied?

How can we make something good
Come from this tragedy?
We must posses a willing heart
To search for those in need.

Where will we all find the strength
To grieve our tremendous loss?
Our hearts are aching as we mourn
Our turbulent, precious John.

How do we now say good-bye
With our eyes so filled with tears?
We must treasure good memories of our John,
Then allow our God to draw to draw near.

Guide us dear God in how to make
His memory worthwhile to you.
Show us how to ease other's pain
Through understanding, compassion and truth.


Recently it's come to my attention that I may be bipolar. I'm 19 and living on my own far away from my parents who I sought to escape when I came to college. Depression runs in my family and they have been on my case for ages trying to get me to see someone about it. I decided to do my own research and I was astonished, the symptoms for bipolar read like me own personal rap sheet. All of what I thought were my most endearing qualities are symptoms. I still wasn't sure however, as I didn't seem to match any of the requirements of depressive moods and periods. After talking to my friend however I was shocked to find how many emotional collapses I had had, that I has simply forgotten about. He keeps a journal daily an in it he has letters I've written him when I was certainly on the brink of something. Besides him, my friends haven't taken the information very well, none of them are serious and they think it's just another one of my dramatic stunts. I'm hurt, but I understand where they are coming from, none of them has ever seen past the bright cheerful facade which I wear like a tight suit. Many of them aren't aware of my breakdowns, my suicide attempts, my thoughts of death, memory loss, etc... I've gotten into a terrible cycle of spending every dime I make and not being able to account for it. The other day I checked myself into a psychiatric facility because I didn't want to return to my apartment alone. After four hours of being shuffled around, filling out insurance forms and talking to people, I finally saw a doctor. At the same time, I panicked and fled against their advice. After talking to my doctor I've been referred to several good mental health doctors whom I am going to begin seeing.

At first I was confused and upset, ambivalent and silly about having bipolar. At the same time I am relived. There were so many things up in my head which didn't make sense that now fall into place. I'm confident with a little time and help, I can get things back into order before I completely lose control.


I don't know whether I am at the beginning or the end of my story but here goes.

I am 46 years old, and live in the UK near Wales. As far as I can recollect I have been bi polar all my life, this is decided in hindsight as I have only just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a lifetime of not knowing whets been happening. Only now can I see the patterns, and things begin to make sense.

Over here mental health is almost a dirty word, and peoples understanding of it can be very ill informed. Today for example I went for an occupational health review to decide whether I count as disabled, and am covered by our countries disability discrimination laws. The MD conducting the review at one point stated, and I quote "You cannot have a mental problem you are far too intelligent" visa vie all mental patients are idiots. And this is the doctor making the decision on my future. Actually I really must have seemed intelligent to the jerk, as I knew more about my condition than he did.

As I say its all new to me, my psychiatrist has offered me lithium treatment or Carbamazepine ( I think), but I am scared of the side effects. I am scared of what I might lose, and that basically is ME. I have never known I was manic, I just thought it was how I was. I knew when I was depressed, but everything else was me. All the women at work know me as a tease with a near the knuckle sense of humor, but luckily they see my OTT as a bit of fun, but in reality I have a major problem controlling myself. Unfortunately the role of my job is changing and I am going to end up dealing with customers outside the cocoon of the company environment where people know and accept my foibles as harmless fun. I will be faced with meeting other young ladies, in a less controlled atmosphere, and I don't trust my self enough not to say or do something wrong, which will end up in a nasty situation.

I have already ruined one marriage with violence and womanizing (again unchecked / un diagnosed mania ) and I have spent 18 years with my second partner fighting these two demons alone. On the former I have won, on the latter I still find it hard to say no (though of late I have managed to say it). God knows I am neither young or good looking, but there is something about my mania that women seem to find enthralling or attractive. Perhaps it offers them an air of danger, or perhaps, from reading your other stories, its just the same romantic illusion they attach to poets and painters.

As I say I don't know whether the diagnosis is the end of a lifetime of suffering story, or the beginning of a new unknown world to come story. Either way its where I am, and at least having read these pages I now know that I am not alone in the world. Also having read many of the qualifications you all hold I am also certain that I can be intelligent and Bi Polar, because you all appear to be.

If any one has any help or examples they can let me have to a) get me through the Lithium decision or b) rub this idiot MD's nose in his discriminatory BS please feel to contact me john.hoskison@bt.com.

Once again thanks for being there tonight as your letters have helped me through a sticky patch, better to type this than another suicide note.

All my love to you all, and god grant that we all find peace and strength in good friends and fellow travelers

John


I have been bipolar for the past 10 years (as far as I remember anyway, although my mother says that I have always been "moody" - who knows?). My behavior has always been extremely erratic, but when I was a teenager my parents probably just chalked it up to being, well - a teenager. It started out harmless enough - I used to change the color of my hair every few weeks (my friends called me the "dye queen" and thought it was actually somewhat funny, but I happen to be very impulsive - and I think I was always trying to be someone else, anybody but me).

When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. When I was 18 years old I was diagnosed with Bulimia (I went from weighing 103 lbs and being 5 feet 8 inches, to weighing 160 lbs - then going down to 115 lbs again). I saw a Psychologist at this time in my life (for about two years). She didn't seem to help me much, so I gave up on the whole "talking it out" thing. I figured I would make myself better (I have always been very head strong, and once I made up my mind - no one could change it).

I can't even tell you some of the completely outrageous things I have done while I was in a manic state. Besides, I would be typing all day long if I were to write them all down. Most of the time it was like I was a puppet and someone else was pulling the strings, but in a way that statement makes it seem like I don't want to claim responsibility for my actions which is not what I am trying to say. But my fellow Bipolar suffers, I know you know exactly what I mean by this.

For the most part I consider myself hypomanic, which is good I guess. I am rarely depressed (knock on wood), except for when I am PMSing, but I guess that is somewhat normal. I don't take meds on a regular basis (because I like being hypomanic, that is when I do my best writing and as corny as it may sound, writing is a big part of my life. Without it, I wouldn't be able to be me, and then who would I be?) although if I feel a little depressed, I take a Xanax here and there (I try not to drink, because it either gets me into trouble or I start smoking again, so I try to stick to the Xanax when I am feeling pressure, stress, or depressed) because the depression is what scares me the most - the last time I was severely depressed, I either lost too much weight or gained too much weight. I also tend to hide from the world and not talk to anyone - not even my family (which is what being depressed is, but I tend to be somewhat introverted anyway), which frightens the hell out of me because I always get scared that I'll get stuck in that phase, wallowing in my rock-bottom depression, never able to escape.

Anyway, reading the other stories on this site have made me feel at ease and not so alone. I could completely relate to them, and perhaps some people who visit this site will be able to relate to mine. I am happy to be able to contribute my story and thanks for listening and letting me vent a little of my pent up mania today:)


i am a 43 year old mother of three, (11, 20 and 22 years of age) . i am a web designer and computer technician. my first suicide attempt was at age 6. i have suffered mania and depression all my life. i am completely self-educated as i could never happily exist in group educational experiences. fortunately reading and research have always been my joy and salvation.

For many years i had no idea what was wrong with me. i feel very empowered in my manic phases, and feet clever, (mentally and physically). In this phase, people find me very charismatic and i love myself and others, and am very creative and productive. i can also make the most incredibly stupid business decisions at this time, and some of my "creative ideas" can be quite unrealistic. My manic phases can also jump to extreme irritability and impatience with others. of course, all i can see at this stage is that everyone is an idiot, and engaged in a giant worldwide conspiracy to piss me off. this is when my "charisma" wears off and i end up alienating many fine people. fortunately, all my life i have had at least of couple of understanding friends and family who have stood by me, despite the confusion hurt i must cause them.

When i inevitably crash into depression, i am filled with remorse and horror at the abusive and mean things i have said to people and spend a lot of time "cleaning up" after myself, explaining, apologizing, trying to make it up to them. some people have responded favorably to this, others have rejected me forever after. (i can't really blame them).

I have had life long insomnia, and so do not sleep for hours and hours when depressed. i force myself to shower everyday and clean up the house and perform the minimal duties i can get away with and then just read book after book after book. i find this almost like meditation to me, and the only way i can get through this period. otherwise my mind is occupied with planning suicide. i have written out my will and final instructions about a gazillion times. i know every method of suicide there is, i am sure, and sometimes i wonder how it is that i am still here.

I have never been hospitalized, as i have always been afraid that if anyone knew how "crazy" i am i would never get out. i have sought medical help, and tried almost every medication that has been devised. i found them all horrific in one way or another, for me and my body chemistry, and totally quit taking them about 6 years ago. i NEVER drink alcohol, but i do self-medicate with marijuana, this being the only substance that brings me any relief from both the mania and the depression. some might say that this could be the cause of my disorder, but i suffered from it (bi-polar) long before i smoked marijuana. i also make sure to take vitamin supplements. calcium with magnesium and zinc, a good multi, mega b's and an omega fatty acid combo. Entering peri-menopause has really exacerbated my problems lately (hormonal changes have always affected me intensely) and so i am taking the "mini pill" right now to see if that will help. apparently my estrogen is fine but i am producing virtually no progesterone.

I am trying to recognize my different phases at the early stages, and try to control them, and at least warn my family and loved ones when i feel an "episode" coming on. sometimes i am successful and sometimes not, but i am determined to somehow gain control over this condition. it is so helpful to read of other's experiences with this disorder, and makes me feel less alone. it let's me know that other's do understand and relate to this. it is a hard one to explain to someone who has not been there. i wish all of you peace and healing.


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