AnnieS asked this question on 5/2/2000:
Hi, I'm a 36 year old female with a history of drug and alcohol abuse(12-25), several dysfunctional relationships, Sexual abuse(11), rape(21). I have been clean and sober for the past 11 years, gone through extensive psychotherapy(of which I found to be very benificial), I was relationship-less for 5 years and became quite sucessful and independent throughout that time. My question is this: up until very recently I believed, (and have been diagnosed with), Major Depression. I remember feeling depressed as far back as I can remember. My mother describes my moods like this, "you're up & down, up & down." My best friend of 34 years has always sworn I was Bipolar, and everyone else I know is always saying, "you're so moody." Until very recently, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of being Bipolar, (nor would the therapists), because of what I, and they, thought to be, an absence of manic episodes. I hang on to my "happy times" for dear life. They don't last long, and I'm never sure why they're there. But until recently, I never questioned the lack of reason, I just grabbed on to these very brief periods and enjoyed them while I had them. However, recently I have become more aware of these times because I am unable to sleep for very long during these times, I fall asleep for a few hours, awake, and am unable to get back to sleep. That's if I'm even able to get to sleep much before dawn. I've also noticed that I can be feeling happy one moment and have it turn into extreme irritability the next. Irritability to the point of being enraged. I'm over active, easily distracted, almost foggy or hazey at times. Recently I read about Biploar II. Do you think there's a possibility that I have this type of Bipolar? I feel like I'm on a mood roller coaster much of the time, and swing in and out of these moods so rapidly sometimes that I have difficulty distinguishing how I truly feel about most everything. It leaves me feeling very indecisive and confused. There doesn't seem to be any apparent reason for these shifts in mood. Up until now I've refused medication for the depression for fear of becoming active in my addictions again, but am returning to therapy to explore the possibility of meds, as the depression has become much more severe over the past two years, and I'm not sure I can handle it without the meds any longer. I intend to discuss the possibility of Bipolar with my new psychologist, but would like as many opinions, and as much input as I can get before I go. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated, and to all of you that have already answered me; Thank You so much!!!! Annie S.
aprilgirl63 gave this response on 5/3/2000:
Annie, you write very well and identify the symptoms of your illness. What i wonder is why your previous therapsits dismissed the possibility of you haveing bi-polar disorder. I think you may have hit on a very common symptom of bi-polar, which are the irrational/ rational thinking and the severe mood swings. I have not been diagnosed with this disorder but do have depression/anxiety disorder. I have recently dated a man with bi-polar disorder and he aslo abuses alcohol which causes an incredible problem with his meds. It may help for you to research the symptoms of bi-polar disorder on the net to further understand it and by all means explore this with your new psychiatrist; taking meds for an illness is not like addiction, I have a brother who has been clean and sober for 11 years, and he often feels as you do about taking ANY medication, but if you had high blood pressure you would no doubt take meds for it, right? or a heart condition or asthma, etc. You have a bio-chemical brain illness that sometimes responds well to medication. I would strongly suggest you investigate the ways you can treat your symptoms regardless of what they are....because you will be dealing with them, and learning how to get your life back. aprilgirl63
AnnieS asked this follow-up question on 5/3/2000:
If your user name, Aprilgirl63 happens to represent your birth month and year, I just thought I'd tell you that I'm an April girl, 1964. I believe that the reason my previous therapists dismissed the possibility of bipolar is, that at one time the only criteria for manic episodes was quite severe. Every time they'd ask me if I suffered from this type of episode, I would naturally reply with a "no!!" It wasn't until I read about bipolar - type II, that I began to pay closer attention to my "happy times." As I also stated previously, some of these symptoms, such as the inability to sleep, the frequency of the depression, and the frequency of the swings. I've been told, and have also read, that the symptoms of bipolar may not manifest until your 30's, and that Major Depression can later lead in to bipolar as you grow older. Thank you for your response and reassurance about the meds, I, like your brother, hate to take ANY kind of medication. The thought of possibly having to take medication for the rest of my life horrify's me. Thank you, too, for the compliment on my writing. I've always wanted to try some freelance writing, especially now, since the depression makes it almost impossible to maintain steady employment, but I don't have a clue as to how you would go about doing something like that. About the guy you dated; tell him that NOTHING in this life could be more horrifying, not depression, bipolar, loss, than living the nightmare an addict lives. Best wishes for his recover. Also, tell your brother, "way to go!! Thanks again. I'd love to hear from you again.
aprilgirl63 gave this response on 5/4/2000:
I have read about depression leading to bi-polar disorder as well. This is something to consider. I felt you were an aries....weird huh? I, too have reached the point where my depression has interefered with job performance, so it would be wise to talk about this to your therapist. Writing is a good outlet and you can look up places on the web to submit your work.... I would even look into submitting your work to magazines. They have addresses in the mags for where to sen dyour work...it may take awhile to get published but you never know....... the meds question will take time to discuss and decide upon. I understand your hesitation, but for me, the only reason i'm holding together most days is because I get help from my meds jsut as anyone else would for taking penicillin or insulin....we have a medical illness...... and it is not shameful to treat it. Think about it....bye for now, aprilgirl63
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