Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Bipolar View

I've had two mental disorders since childhood: generalized anxiety disorder and unipolar depression (aka major depression, clinical depression). But the problem was that my symptoms didn't fit unipolar depression very well. I showed many of the "atypical" signs of depression, such as excessive sleeping, excessive weight gain, and nonresponsiveness to antidepressant after antidepressant. I was classified as treatment resistant. That's a fancy way of saying that you suffer forever because the medical establishment can't help you. What finally saved me was the classic mood stabilizer, lithium.

Recently, I went to a new psychiatrist and now have a new diagnosis. Yay! Instead of unipolar depression, I'm classified as bipolar (the old "manic depression"). I have bipolar II disorder. I have the same severe depressions, but I also have phases of elevated mood. My up moods aren't as intense as mania, nor are they as destructive. I got lucky, I guess. Ha.

My psychiatrist says that the daily mood swings: up-neutral-down, reflect temperament rather than bipolar disorder. The disorder is only responsible for sustained mood changes. But then he acknowledged that people with mood disorders are much more moody than others, even when they're well. Hmmmm. So the rollercoaster that is me is due to both bipolar II and temperament. I'd like to see some data on that, please. Where does the disorder end, and plain ol' personality begin?

So, I'll get to the point of this meandering introduction. Due to who I am, I'm very good at getting excited about things and seeing the positive in life. I'm possibly even better at seeing the negative in life and getting depressed about things. What's almost impossible for me is to, as my husband says, "stay on an even keel". I see some people working on important issues from a negative stance, while still others insist that we must only consider the positive side of life if we want to effect change in the world. Uh, hello? This is like many other dichotomous issues. Both sides matter. Since I see the extremes naturally, I'm going to try to focus on both positive and negative perspectives of important issues on this blog. Hence the blog name, The Bipolar View.

Join me for this ride!


J.R. Kinnard said...

I'm there, dude!

manxome said...

Where does the disorder end, and plain ol' personality begin?

That's the perpetual question. Add to that mix those more extreme "normal" mood shifts that are a reaction to environmental stressors. Then separate that from the fact that the disorder pretty much makes everything a stressor.

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harleyless said...

I was finally recently diagnosed with BPII. I am trying to find a good med combination. My current cocktail worked great, but now seems to be petering off. This is where I see that there is a difference between disorder and temperament. If my disorder is under control, I defiantly have better temperament. Things tend to roll off me rather than be absorbed and taken to that dark place. That's when trouble starts. I too am searching for that "even keel". My Wife refers to it as not taking things so personally, because I do tend to see the negative and take it to the worst possible ext ream in a nano second. How is that lithium working? My doc started me on Seroquel. I don't know if its doing the job now. I think this because once again I seem to be more focused on the Neg once again.