Bipolar diagnosis and what it means for me
Before I was hospitalized, my pdoc had labs drawn to make sure that I was okay. As the diagnosis, she put Bipolar I disorder, most recent episode (or current) depressed, severe, without mention of psychotic behavior. I didn’t think nothing of it. It was just a diagnosis to get my labs submitted for billing.
While I was in the hospital, one of the rounding docs for the weekend again had this diagnosis. Normally, I don’t think of myself as bipolar. For years, I thought I just had major depression, recurrent with psychosis NOS (not otherwise specified). But now that I have the bipolar diagnosis, I feel different about my treatment and what to do about getting better. Granted 98% of the time I am depressed. It is rare that I suffer from hypomania and although the mention of psychotic behavior is controlled by the abilify, I sometimes do have breakthrough psychotic episodes when I am NOT on the medicine. Since taking the drug regularly, I have not experienced psychosis other than my constant voices that I hear every day. These voices have always been with me since I was little. I just never told anyone because I didn’t want my parents to think I was crazy, or my sisters. Even though my youngest sister read my book, she still doesn’t ask me questions about my illness. I also talk about the psychosis in my book because I had a psychotic break in 2008 that forced me to stop going to college. I couldn’t handle the pressure of going to school and working full-time. It took a long time to get the voices under control, at least six months or more. And as soon as I had things under control, I would stop taking the meds. Kind of stupid in retrospect, but I am not psychotic all the time. While most people would have anxiety attacks, I would have paranoid attacks and become delusion and psychotic under tremendous stress. Again, this is when I am not medicated. If I do have symptoms even though I am taking my meds, I have another med that I take to even things out. So far this combination has worked for me.
Prozac is what brought about the hypomania in the first place. I remember being at a train station, feeling on top of the world, and thought I could stop the trains with my bare hands because God gave me that power. Once I came to my senses, I quickly let my doc know and we stopped the Prozac. We thought it was just drug induced mania and I would go back to my major depressive episode. But instead, I was having mood swings and rapid cycling. On to lithium and other mood stabilizers. It took ten years to find the right mood stabilizer for me. But even though I am on it, I still get profoundly depressed. I am chronically suicidal as well. But I think that has more to do with my life’s current circumstances than my mood disorder.
While I was psychotic, I thought I had schizoaffective disorder but I don’t fully meet the criteria for that. I still thought I had major depression. I had no idea Bipolar disorder had this subtype. I had heard there was Bipolar I and II, but I never in a million years thought it would be applied to me. But now that I know what I have, I feel differently. I feel like I have been robbed of something. What exactly, I am not sure.
I plan on discussing this with my therapist on Tuesday. I would love to see what she has been putting on the diagnosis bar. I just hope that I remember and we have time to talk about it because I think it is important. It makes me want to read the textbook about bipolar disorder that Kay Redfield Jamison co-authored. There is also a second edition of one of the bipolar books that I had back when bipolar was still called manic-depressive illness and, obviously, before the I and II distinction. I have no idea what the II would entail. I would have to look it up. I probably will be blogging more about this as bipolar illness has been one that fascinates me. I just wish I didn’t have it.