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    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.81)
    #bipolar disorder

    I had a different experience than govspy when I went to my doctor for depression. He also said I might be bipolar, and said I could try meds if I wanted to, but otherwise said to try therapy first, and above all, to exercise and eat more cleanly. Less sugar, less processed food, lots of veggies, less meat intake, and preferably organic. For me exercise helps a lot, but the hard thing when I'm feeling depressed it to get myself off the couch and to actually do it, but I always feel great afterward.
  1.  (10597.82)
    # Bipolar I guess I could have prefaced my post by saying that I also work with a lot of convicts that get diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and blame so much of their negative behavior on their "condition" and refuse to take responsibility for their actions that it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the diagnosis itself. Obviously some people legitimately have a condition that requires medication, and that sucks, and I don't mean to cast aspersions on anyone that suffers from the actual condition and not suffering from the prevalence of our "medicate everything" culture.
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      CommentAuthormattrd
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.83)
    #bipolar

    @ govspy — thanks for your insights. Although I indulge in drinks casually (no drugs, including marijuana), and I've certainly tried "self-medicating" with alcohol & more in the past to the point of abuse, I think I've managed to handle that on my own, with the exception of a regular smoking habit (which I'm sure promotes irregularity in moods). I think my smoking habit is tied to self-medicating too in relation to studies involving nicotine and anti-depressant behaviour. I'm also terrified of stumbling around, drooling like a lobotomy patient, or more to the point, loosing some essential spark and a wonderfully imaginative mind through the use of meds.

    @Argos — thanks, the doctor was endorsing the use a mood stabilizer pretty heavily, but the speed of the diagnosis process definitely left me scratching my head. I also find exercise & diet are of huge benefit, and I also find the time they help most are the hardest times to find motivation to do it. These sudden shifts of moods have been debilitating for a long time, since my early teens, caused difficulty in concentration & control over thought patterns. I've come to the conclusion, since stumbling through my 20's that, "This isn't who I am, it's something I have to deal with and change my relationship with." I guess I'm looking for ways of becoming more self-aware of cyclic episodes and preventative measures to deal with them. My post looking for solutions is perhaps premature because I have yet to really get into therapy.

    I think the clinical side of things has its uses, I just don't really know much about it, and was looking for possible methodology whether holistic, DIY, "this really worked for me" beyond the obvious. AND of course, people's own experiences, which is beneficial. Thanks guys.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.84)
    #bipolar

    I know what you mean, sometimes you just want to know ho to deal with the episodes as the come. (As a caveat, I'm not actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but I do suffer bouts of depression). Sometimes what I tell myself, and this really helps some of the time, is "It's just chemistry." It reminds me that I'm not actually a failure in life, that I'm not a good-for-nothing with no talents, and that my depression is merely an effect of improperly balanced brain chemistry.
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      CommentAuthormattrd
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.85)
    #bipolar

    @govspy— it's necessary to be critical and scrutinizing of the "medicate everything" culture, particularly state-side where kids as young as 5 can get diagnosed with BP and dosed up like lab-rats. Things like this are tricky, BP as a diagnostic tool/label hasn't been around long, but despite all that, if the label fits, what do you do then? (Scapegoating all your problems being the worst of the options.)

    @Argos— yes I've done some reading into the brain chemistry side of things (layman's stuff) & became fascinated with the idea of neuroplasticity, & it seems there are some ways of actually changing the chemical balance in your brain through various means (not necessarily through pharm), none of which I'm too clear on, but I suspect this information isn't all recent and has been practiced in different forms for a long time under different names. These are things I muse on.
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      CommentAuthorglukkake
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.86)
    #bipolar

    I'm not bipolar (that I'm aware of) but I am definitely "off". For self-awareness, a lot of it has relied on my friends to point out when I'm doing things weirdly and differently. One of my biggest assets has been that when I get into terribly paranoid episodes to try to convince someone else why they should be afraid of all the things I'm afraid of. When they logic their way out of my paranoias, it helps me calm down. From this, I have also developed absolutely no shame in sharing some particularly crazy thoughts to anyone from close friends to complete strangers on the internet. But honestly, the oversharing helps. Additionally, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. When you go back over your notes you can start to notice a pattern. This is how I discovered that if I get less than 6 hours of sleep I'm likely to have paranoid fits, bouts of confusion where I question reality and even mild hallucinations. From 5 hours of sleep.
    This is also when I discovered that if I do things like not eat for 12 hours I'm also likely to trigger more 'manic' periods of rage, anxiety and aforementioned confusion.

    It is really frustrating to admit to having these sorts of flaws, especially in my city and my profession where everyone is having dick measuring contests based on how many hours they've been awake and working or when they last had a meal or other really terrible habits that make you so "hardcore" and that I just honestly cannot do anymore. I have to get my sleep. I have to put food in my system not just keep subsiding on moar Guinness no matter how happy it would make me. No matter what I'm going to miss out on by being responsible.

    That said, a lot of this stuff might just be brain chemistry problems that you're born with, that you did to yourself, whatever. And the number of acai berries you add to your diet will never change it. If the pills work, take that route and deal with the environmental stresses using cognitive therapy. Otherwise you're walking on a broken leg without a crutch and that's never going to get fixed. The best part of self awareness is realizing what you are in control of and what you're not in control of and making sure you take ALL the steps to get back to a livable state. But without acknowledging both, it's a harder route.
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      CommentAuthorGreasemonkey
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012 edited
     (10597.87)
    @Glukkake - ever been tested for hypoglycaemia? Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause varying degrees of crazy, and food/sleep issues are usually the trigger.
  2.  (10597.88)
    #bipolar

    It's quite hard to find the right route through it, you need to find what works for you in terms of a balance between medication and other strategies or treatments such as CBT. Would agree totally with Glukkake to write things down, look for patterns, when you are struggling, that can really act as a good anchor point to help you navigate back out of it. Also, as Argos says, diet is really worth looking at, especially cutting intake of refined sugars and simple carbohydrates.

    Medication is a tough one - have been on and off it for 12 years now; prior to that I didn't have any diagnosis and had refused to acknowledge that there was anything wrong (ironically, I got really ill after stopping drinking heavily - that had been staving off depression for ages but wasn't sustainable) I've got to the point where I've accepted it's necessary to keep me stable and relatively comfortable. Yes there are side effects, and I think I've found a dulling effect from them - but the symptoms of the illness were far worse. And on the upside, I'm so fucking level and balanced now, I'm almost on rails, which can be quite useful in a manic work environment...

    Exercise has definitely worked for me, as has self awareness and 'cognitive reconstruction' - capturing, then dissecting unhelpful thought patterns and coming up with a more balanced view of them that can be recalled and used as a balance. Also planning activities to ensure that I'm not withdrawing from things that are pleasurable or productive.

    @govspy - it might be true that anybody could fit themselves into a bipolar diagnosis just on the list of symptoms, but as with diagnoses of clinical depression a lot depends on the duration and extremity of the lows and highs. Someone who's been up for 36 hours convinced they're Jesus (or my own experience of spending four weeks holed up in my flat looking for ringing telephones that weren't actually there) doesn't really fit within 'normal' parameters...
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012 edited
     (10597.89)
    #bipolar

    Some good advice from all. I've been treated for depression for fuck-knows-how-long, but I know it's been decades. I'm currently on 20mg of fluoxetine (Prozac), which I'm sure has it's benefits, but a good diet, sleep -not too much, though- and simply talking with people are more beneficial.

    It may sound weird, but I've been doing some therapy (on my own), where I force myself to sit quietly in a chair and to just accept it if I'm going through a bad bout. One thing I've discovered about feelings is that, no bad how they are, they will inevitably pass.

    @glukkake: Hope you are well. I've yet to (knowingly!) try cognitive therapy.
  3.  (10597.90)
    #bipolar

    Everyone's comments on here have been spot on, and really wonderful to read.

    Something I've been thinking of recently, that plays into this:

    So, I've got some hormonal imbalances. TMI: Since puberty, only have gotten my period about three times a year, and I've got a goatee. After doing a great deal of research, I discovered that soy can increase estrogen levels, and women with polycystic ovary syndrome often have great success taking soy supplements instead of Clomid to get pregnant. So, I stopped avoiding soy, started drinking soymilk in my ever-present cup of tea, and... voila. For the first time in my life, I'm getting my period on a monthly basis.

    I've been thinking a lot about this. I've always been a "look first to your diet" kind of person, but this has really blown my mind. The idea that one small shift to my diet could be so effective in altering my hormonal chemistry is astounding. Hormones have so much effect on mood, thought process, sexuality, energy, sleep, etc... I understand that not everyone is going to have the same degree of sensitivity to stimuli as I do, since I'm a bit of a broken person, but EGAD.

    I used to get much more panicked and shakey and nervous and agoraphobic and have manic episodes. I also used to eat like shit, never exercise, and drink and do drugs LIKE WHOAH. Not wrenching my body in a million different directions and trying to keep even has allowed me the ability to internalize my panic, or just say in my head "y'know what? I'm going to be late. Hours late, perhaps. Accept it, and take your time finding your fucking keys, or you will freak and never get out of the house."

    Like Flecky and Glukakke have mentioned, looking at yourself and figuring out your triggers can really help. Even if you can't avoid those triggers, you'll be able to rationally realize that perhaps there's a contributing factor to your state, and find it easier to weather the storm.

    I've no idea what kind of psychological pain you are in, but Lithium seems like a rather severe first step to me. I would perhaps look on message boards and see what kind of improvement other people found through non-medicated means first. There are so many minor deficiencies and sensitivities that the body can manifest through mood instability, that it's worth it to investigate. However, if you do need the medication, well then, fucking take it. Me, I need painkillers to function like a normal human. After trying all sorts of non-med means, I've come to the conclusion that nothing else works but drugs. Strong ones. Sometimes, that's how it is. There's no shame in that.
  4.  (10597.91)
    Sometimes, that's how it is. There's no shame in that.


    Amen to that. It pisses me off no end when people insist that 'their' way is best. It isn't, it's just what works for you.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.92)
    #bipolar

    @Rachael: I enjoyed that, especially what you said about staying in control over important, simple things like finding your keys. And yeah, Lithium is definitely a severe first step. I know a few people who are prescribed it, but they suffer from extreme psychosis.

    I used to love a social drink, but I've always found that self-medicating myself with alcohol can be hideous, especially if feeling depressed or lonely. And the benzodiazepines (Valium etc.), are definitely not a answer for chronic depression; maybe for short-term, bad anxiety. I spent most of last year detoxing from Valium, and it was worse than coming off heroin.
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      CommentAuthormattrd
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2012
     (10597.93)
    #bipolar

    Thanks to everyone for their input.

    @Glukkake— I really appreciate what you're saying. The acknowledgement part has taken a while for me to come to, thus finally trying to come to an understanding instead of blindly fighting. I still resist(?) the impulse to write, but I'm making progress. A close friend of mine told me "trust paper" and I'm starting to realize how serious a maxim that needs to be in my life. Plus I'm, uh, kinda a writer at heart.

    @JP & flecky— It's good to hear your personal experiences, and it really reinforces things I've thought about or heard elsewhere, which is what I need. It helps to just talk about it.

    @Rachæl— Diet and exercise (and acceptance) are huge, & I've certainly grown wiser in that area but could stand to learn much more, especially in terms of mood stability. Some people's hormones & moods are thrown way off just by having wheat in their diet, it can actually be a cause of depression. Lithium was just an example of a "mood stabilizer" drug, I have yet to follow up with the psychiatric doctor about what prescription he would recommend. I just wanted to come back armed with more knowledge. Which I already feel better about :)

    Thanks for everyone's feedback, I'll be sure to comb over everything again and write the important stuff down. It just really feels that the time is NOW to confront things and pursue a healthier, more even & more aware path.
  5.  (10597.94)
    #bipolar

    I'm currently undergoing a lengthy and exhaustive process of diagnosis by a clinic that specialises in bipolar treatment precisely because mood stabilisers like Lithium are such an extreme solution. I have friends who have been on Lithium. It is not something I would wish on anyone. I have a head injury that means I have no brakes - anything I'm going to do I do big. This can be brilliant or catastrophic but it's rarely in between. I'm not sure what a diagnosis of "organic bipolar" would actually entail but it's not one I'm keen to have applied to me despite my behaviour and mood closely following the pattern of bipolar II.

    I've undergone interviews, blood tests, a full neuropsych workup and soon a CAT scan. I've quit smoking, quit drinking, cut most of the coffee out of my days, started CPAP for sleep apnea, started going to the gym and cycling to the studio when I can. Anything to avoid Lithium.

    My advice, and I cannot say this emphatically enough, is DO NOT TAKE LITHIUM ON THE SAY-SO OF A GP. Get thee to a specialist if you can, and in the meantime stay off the nasties and get exercise, sunlight and constructive company in abundance. There is a lot of ground between suicidally insane and chemically zombified. You need not be one or the other.
  6.  (10597.95)
    #bipolar

    Are there other mood stabilizers that are not so extreme as Lithium? It just seems to odd that there would only be one type of meds out there, all things considered. And I'm a depressive, not bipolar, but I would agree with the overall consensus so far. I do take meds, and they do help some, but the meds I take are significantly milder than Lithium. Ultimately, finding a good therapist (and you might have to try different ones) is going to be the most help. It's very possible the first one you try won't be any good, and you need to try someone else, and that's ok.
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      CommentAuthordorkmuffin
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2012
     (10597.96)
    #bipolar

    While I agree that Lithium is an extreme mention for a mood stabilizer, I do have to think it might just have been a mention? As in an example of a mood stabilizer.

    I'd say definitely check out a psychiatrist. A good psychiatrist won't take a GP's word that you've got bipolar disorder and will want to make some observations him/herself.

    Besides. Therapy really only does damage to the wallet in my experience. I've had generally pretty good experiences with therapy, but still.
  7.  (10597.97)
    #forgotit

    I'm catching up on some comics I need to read, and I can't remember its name.

    It's in the future, methinks, about a girl playing like a mmorpg and she kills someone in the game or something, but then it turns out like some of the game stuff is real or something?


    Aack brain not working, help me?
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      CommentAuthorGreasemonkey
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2012 edited
     (10597.98)
    #bipolar

    My former boss was hospitalised and at death's door a couple of years ago, suffering from what the doctors at first thought was a severe case of Parkinson's (he'd been shaky and weak for at least a year previously, and had deteriorated markedly in the two months prior to his hospitalisation). A visiting specialist saved his life by running some tests and concluding that my boss was in fact having a reaction to the lithium he'd been taking for some years to treat his depression; they cut the lithium and my boss was back on his feet in a couple of weeks.
    • CommentAuthorDC
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2012
     (10597.99)
    @government spy- that premise reminds me of Nate Simpson's Nonplayer but I haven't read it so I can be wrong
  8.  (10597.100)
    #forgotit

    Could that be one of Cory Doctorow's? Where they're coin-mining and she's on a suspect mission that basically destroys real income people's income because that's their job?