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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

What Type of Bipolar Disorder Is It?

Each bipolar disorder illness is unique!

Uniqueness of Bipolar DisorderWhen nearly anyone thinks about bipolar disorder, they think of the symptoms of “regular” bipolar disorder.  Not that any person with bipolar disorder is “regular” (and most would not want to be), but there are several different subtypes of bipolar disorder.

One big problem with bipolar disorder is that each illness is unique.  Psychiatrists may classify them into categories – but they don’t always fit.  Here are some case scenarios: (bipolar episodesbipolar groups)

•    Jennifer has episodes where she is extremely agitated and unhappy and never seems to sleep very much.  These periods seem to last for a long period of time – but can alternate with months where she is simply unhappy and doesn’t feel like doing anything.
•    Max has had periods of depression before.  A lot of times, they go away after a couple of months and then he seems normal but recently he “disappeared” for a couple of weeks after some really bizarre behavior.  His friends never knew that he was any kind of bipolar until he told them he had been at the hospital.
•    Ben has periods of depression that can last for several months but when he is not depressed, he is productive and seems quite outgoing.
•    Sandra’s mood state can switch erratically.  One day she is all about shopping and the next time you call her, she is still in bed at noon.   This is a constant issue – and you never know what you are going to get.

These are three examples of bipolar disorder that don’t seem to fit the “normal” pattern.  None of these patients seems to be “regular” bipolar.

Bipolar disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as:

Bipolar Disorder TypeBipolar I Disorder: manic or mixed episodes that last at least 7 days – or if manic symptoms are severe enough to need hospitalization.  This, usually, includes periods of depression that last at least two weeks.
Jennifer and Max both fit into this category.  Even though Max never had a severe manic episode, having a bipolar episode that warrants medical attention, he qualifies for the Bipolar I category.  Jennifer has mixed episodes – rather than euphoria or traditional mania – she has periods of “dysphoria” where she is agitated, irritable and irrational but with an excess of energy.

Bipolar II Disorder: depressive and hypomanic episodes in a pattern – but manic episodes are not severe.
Ben has Bipolar II disorder.  He has periods of depression that are debilitating, but his non-depressed periods are quite productive, and he doesn’t exhibit manic behavior.

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: (Bipolar Disorder NOS) symptoms of illness don’t meet any other group, but the symptoms are clearly not within the standard range.
Sandra has BP-NOS.  She is what is commonly called a “rapid cycler,” meaning that she switches back and forth from mania to depression much faster than other people with bipolar disorder.

There is also a very mild form of bipolar disorder known as cyclothymia.  It is a cyclical pattern of hypomania alternating with periods of mild depression.  Many people would not even realize this is a problem.

Bipolar disorder is hard to classify.  It may be easy to determine that someone has a problem – but the uniqueness of each bipolar case makes it more difficult for even a patient to identify with the diagnosis.  Each type of bipolar disorder is, usually, treated the same medically. With an anti-manic agent (Lithium), anti-epileptic (Lamictal, Depakote) or atypical antipsychotic (Abilify, Zyprexa) – and sometimes with an antidepressant.

Melissa Lind

Lots of People don`t Know they are Bipolar

It seems to be a lot of people that don`t know what bipolar disorder is

There are people that I know that probably are bipolar, but they just don`t know it.
They have never been to counseling at a mental health professional to get diagnosed, because no one has told them that their problems, in fact, can be a mental illness.

Mental Mind SpiralOften-lot, grown-up people (age from 30 years and up) are not informed about what bipolar disorder is all about. They don`t know what it means, what it includes, how to get help and where to get help. Often-lot, not always.
The whole thing started probably when they were young, when bipolar disorder and all other mental illnesses were hush-hush and taboos’.

Of course, taboos and lack of information are not only a concern for those who might be bipolar, but for all kinds of mental illnesses that I know about.

If one suspects that a family member, a close friend or a coworker, has a mental illness, it is not easy to tell the person about what one believe/suspect.

Some people might suspect (themselves) that they have a mental illness, but are too proud to admit it, and for that reason not seek help from a counselor. They will probably never take any advice from others either regarding such sensitive personal things, having all taboos’ fresh in mind.

So, how do we approach these people – what are we supposed to do to let them know about our thoughts? Letting them know that there might be a “solution” to their problems. That it is somehow treatable – using medications. Tell them that it`s not their fault – they have an illness. They may at least feel better just by knowing.

Since IBipolar Mental Illnness suspect that a friend of mine is bipolar, should I contact a mental health professional just to ask for advice about how to approach my friend? I must admit; the thought has crossed my mind in several occasions related to some friends of mine, and especially in the case of member of my family.

I didn`t expect it to happen, but not long ago I got an opportunity to ask this special person in my life (my family member) how he felt about me asking a psychologist questions.

Just to get sorted things out. His answer was: don`t!
He didn`t want me to ask because he meant he had everything under control, and wanted to “mind his own business”. It wasn`t said in a rude way, he wasn`t angry with me, so, since he is an adult, I had to let it go.

Was that the right decision to make? I don`t have an answer to that question right now, so if anyone out there have an input to come with, please do – right here on this site, or on our Facebook page.

Lots of people that don`t know what bipolar disorder is

Mental Disorders Failure to Take Medications Consistently

Don’t skip your meds – even if you are sick!

It is cold and flu season in the Northern part of the world, and though that isn’t the only time people get sick, it brings up an issue common in Bipolar disorder and other mental disorders.

Medication - Mental DisordersOne of the biggest problems in maintaining a level mood state or semblance of “normalcy” in people with mental disorders is the failure to take medications consistently.  In a lot of instances, mentally ill persons will stop taking the medication on purpose because they are “better” and “don’t need it”.

As mentioned many times before – this is, usually, done in secret. Without consultation with professionals, friends or family members who do not find out until someone with a mental disorder has gone “off-track” and had an “episode”.

But, another cause of medication non-adherence is forgetfulness. Forgetfulness wouldn’t seem to be a big deal as many medications are “forgotten” one day and resumed the next – blood pressure medicine, birth control pills, and antibiotics etc. All with each of their own ramifications.  In the case of the forgotten anti-depressant, anti-manic agent, anti-psychotic, a different set of events comes into play.

Mentally ill people may “forget” the first day but by the second day, the thoughts of “I am OK” start to intrude.  This may lead back to the first case of non-adherence where the patient then decides to quit purposefully taking their medication – obviously without telling anyone.

Mental MindWith your illness, you may not feel like getting up.  You may not feel like eating.  You may not feel like taking your medicine – but you should.  You must.  Even when your mental illness seems secondary to a physical illness, the medicine that keeps you functioning on a semi-even level is vital.  Allowing yourself to skip, even one day can ultimately cause a “relapse”.

If you skip today because you don’t feel good, you may skip tomorrow.  If you skip today and tomorrow, because you didn’t feel good, you will probably hear the voice that always says, “I am doing OK,” because you are OK – for today.  A week or two, maybe a month or two – you won’t be OK.  You haven’t been in the past and likely you won’t in the future.

No matter why you skip your meds – don’t.

There are legitimate medical reasons not to quit without supervision – such as drug withdrawal and increases in seizure potential which are real, unpleasant, and possibly dangerous. But the biggest reason is the same as it has always been.  Eventually, it will lead you back down the path, and you won’t know until you are already out of balance.

One of the biggest challenges for a bipolar or schizophrenic (or many other) patient is to ignore the impulse to give in to “See, I’m OK and I don’t need this”.  In your rational mind, you know that you do.  You may resent it, but you know.

You may have to remind yourself of how far you have come – and remind yourself that this wasn’t the first time that you had to dig yourself out of a mess.

Remember how it was, how awful it was, and how hard it will be the next time to recover.

Melissa Lind

The medicine that keeps you functioning is vital – even if mental disorders seems secondary to physical illness!

Bipolar Disorder Research Funding – Poorly Directed

Prepare yourself for a bit of a bipolar rant!

An article entitled “Bipolar Disorder in Youth Not as Chronic as Thought” in Medscape Pharmacists e-newsletter came across my email and while I was initially quite interested, I soon became annoyed.
Bipolar and Borderline (BPD)A recent study done at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that bipolar disorder may not always be a chronic condition. While this may look like good news and you might see it pop up in the media as a big positive – cheerleader kind of thing, it really isn’t.

The study followed 413 children and adolescents who were 7 to 17 years of age and diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time of study enrollment.  The patients and family members were interviewed about every eight months, for eight years.  What they found was that some of the patients were “ill” most of the time, some were “well” most of the time, and some were both ill and well.  Sorry, but that result isn’t astounding.

I find a couple of things wrong with the published results.

  1. They didn’t say whether the patients were stabilized on medication during the study – what medication, whether the medication was changed, whether the patients took the medication – in fact the publication doesn’t mention medication at all.
  2. The data collected was based on “interviews.”  Sorry, but being bipolar inherently predisposes you to lack of complete transparency.  Bipolar patients are likely to hide and lie – whether it is purposefully or subconscious behavior, it is a known problem.
  3. The patients were ages 7 to 17 when entering the study, meaning they were 15 to 25 at the end.  Many of the patients went through puberty during the study and what pubescent child or the post-pubescent adolescent is truly stable…or honest for that matter.  Interviews with the family may have partly balanced this but we also know how “well” our families may know us…some, not at all.

What I did find a little more relevant was that the patients tended to be “well” more of the time if they:

Though true, this is not astounding either.  It is easily recognized that if your family has a history of mental disorder, you are more likely to have a mental disorderBipolar disorder and substance abuse go hand in hand, and sexual abuse makes nothing more manageable.

Incidentally they also showed that patients would be more stable if they:

•    Had less history of severe depression, manic or hypomanic symptoms
•    Had fewer subsyndromal episodes

So basically, if the patients had a history of fewer episodes, they would have fewer episodes……really?
Not discounting the fact that any academic attention given to bipolar disorder, especially in juveniles should be welcome, I am disappointed because the study results didn’t show anything.  This is all information that anyone could guess – and the funding for mediocre “non-results” could have gone elsewhere.

This sort of news can easily lead to an “it will go away” thought process, lack of medication and lack of attention to and acknowledgment of the real and long-term challenges that a bipolar patient can face.  Yes, let’s all believe that bipolar disorder is not a chronic medical condition… let’s undo all the progress that has been made.

Melissa Lind

Academic attention given to bipolar disorder should be welcome!

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Mental Health

Mental Health and Childhood Sexual Abuse – Don’t Carry the Secret

Recently I saw something on Facebook that was very sad.  It was a video of a 50 plus year old man named Scott – also called “Spider,” who told the story of his life through written cards, in a fashion similar to Ben Breedlove’s “This is my story” about his heart condition. In the video, this tough looking man, confessed the trauma of his own sexual abuse and the damage it had done to him over the years – drug abuse, divorce, culminating in an arrest for beating his child’s sexual predator with a bat.

The story was naturally sad but is all too common.  In fact, statistics shows that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested by the age of 18 and worse for girls with 1 in 3.  The other sad fact is that many, many children who are sexually abused don’t tell anyone.  Either they are threatened or ashamed – or both.  They carry the secret for much of their lives.

Trauma, abuse, neglect – biology didn’t account for its infliction on children.  As children, our brains develop best in a loving,
supportive environment with plenty of nutritional food and quality exercise so that our bodies become the best they can be.  Childhood Trauma - Mental HhealthAround the world we see the damage that poor nutrition, neglect and physical abuse can do to children.  What is not so obvious is the damage wreaked by sexual abuse – it is a hidden traumaSexual abuse is hidden by the child, hidden from the adults, hidden from other children, and sometimes even hidden by the child’s memory.

Secrets are always dark.  Carrying secrets can ruin a relationship or ruin a career.  Carrying secrets imposes a burden of stress on your body – your heart doesn’t work as well, your adrenal system gets burned out, your sleep is affected.  Carrying a secret like that can change a child’s brain.

Studies have shown that abuse or childhood trauma actually causes physical changes to the developing brain.  It can make the child unable to grow to what they would have been.

So what does this have to do with mental health?

The effects of childhood trauma are hard to predict.  Mental health is hard to identify – particularly the cause.  In some cases, we can easily point to the parents and say “Mom and Grandma have clinical depression; it is no surprise that the daughter has depression.”  Schizophrenia has been shown to be driven by over 100 genes and a child with one schizophrenic person has a 13 percent chance of developing the disorder.  Some people are “born” alcoholics in that they are missing an enzyme that allows them to process alcohol properly and will nearly always become addicted if they drink.

In other cases – we can’t identify the cause.  You have some cases of mental disorders that develop in people with perfect childhoods.  You have people with horrible experiences who are remarkably healthy – rare, but true.  In many cases though, someone with a history of child abuse will develop some mental disorder – but the type is very hard to predict.

In “Spider’s” case, he became a drug addict, had an anger problem and felt that he had to prove he could “conquer” women (his own words), leading to the destruction of his family.  Likely he suffered from depression, anxiety disorder, and possibly Mental Health - Child AbusePost-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Telling the “secret”, not carrying the weight may, just may have kept him from his self-destructive behavior.  Unfortunately, it may not have stopped his daughter from being a victim, but it might have allowed him better tools than a bat to deal with her problem.

In severe cases, extreme trauma can actually cause the personality to “split,” in “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID), which was previously called “Multiple Personality Disorder” (MPD).

(Photo-source: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/08/scott_spider_spideralamode_facebook_molest.php)

Sexual abuse has another problem – that children are often disbelieved which worsens the trauma.  Unlike physical abuse, unlike neglect, unlike starvation – there are no “obvious” signs.  There are signs, but you have to know what they are.  Children who have been sexually abused do exhibit signs:

•    changes in behavior or personality type – a normally outgoing child becomes withdrawn, a normally gregarious child becomes angry and sullen
•    bed wetting and nightmares (oddly the bed-wetting may be punished)
•    refusal to go to school, church, sports or club activities or to a certain friend’s house
•    sudden clinginess or a sudden desire to be left alone

Too often, adults don’t ask.  Too often, children don’t tell.  Sadly, sometimes adults won’t listen.  If you know of a child that has
sudden behavioral changes – ask.  If you are an adult, believe.  If you are a victim, tell.  Even at a late date, telling can change your life and resolve some of your “issues.” I think in the end, “Spider’s” main message was “tell your kids to tell.”

What does this have to do with mental health?

Sexual abuse can contribute to:

PTSD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia, Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Attachment Disorder… and many more.

History of Child Abuse – Free PDF

Melissa Lind

Mental Disorder and Hope

The Whacko is BACK!

By Bruce Anderson (The Freak in the Corner)

Bipolar Whacko Says HelloHey there, you.  How ya been?  You’re looking a little rough, but you know what?  You’re still here.  And that’s a start.  And it could be the start of something wonderful.  You may not believe it now, but have I lied to you yet?  Well… not intentionally.

There was that first bit about Bipolar Disorder which turned out to not be true in my case.  I had been misdiagnosed.  If you have Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD), chances are your doctor went through about half a dozen diagnoses before he finally arrived at the one you’re stuck with now.  It’s very easy to misdiagnose.  What isn’t easy is living with it.  But guess what?  YOU CAN.  And in most cases, with treatment and a conscious effort to change negative patterns, YOU DO get better.

Just like me!

Oh, come now.  Don’t go all crazy congratulating me.  Crazy is MY job, remember?
But seriously, if you work hard, listen to your doctor and your support network of friends, you too can be awesome again.

Boy, I tell ya… it was darkest before the dawn, though.  Remember how “Justine” had left me and I was still hopelessly in love, but at least I had the Hollywood deal working?  Well… in a fit of pique, I told the director exactly what I thought of the changes he was making to my script.  He didn’t like my choice of words much.  So the deal is a bust.  My movie may never be made, but I’m cool with that.  The movie he wanted to make wasn’t the movie I wanted to make.  And I’m OK with that.  And since I renewed the WGA registration, no one can take and make my movie without me.

But man, that sucked.  And I fell apart.  And drove Justine crazy some more.  And I continued to drive her crazy for several more months.  She had sworn to stop talking to me, remember?  But I’m sure you also remember I can be very manipulative.  I’m VERY good at it, but it’s nothing I’m proud of.

Anyway, rock bottom happened.  I got a beautiful luxury apartment on the fifth floor and all I saw from the window for a long time was the parking lot and how inviting the jump was.  But I didn’t jump.  I got back to work.

Mental WhackoAnd even though I was still all messed up over Justine, I put on a happy face and went to work, because the kids needed me.  And that started to feel good.  And then it started to feel GREAT.  And I still wanted to tell Justine all about it, and that would set me back, but then I’d move forward again. And at the end of the school year, not only was I happy, but the happiness spread.  I was everyone’s favorite teacher.

And though I “lost” my kids, many of them have come back to see me… and tell me again that I’m STILL their favorite teacher.  And that, my friends, is a wonderful feeling.

But alas, the worst has come to pass.  I must now move from my beautiful apartment, which is located in a center of art and culture and is honestly the only place I’ve ever felt was truly home.  And this scares me.

I just gotta keep telling myself it’s for the best.

Because it is.  My girlfriend bought a farm and we’re moving in.

And no… it’s not Justine.  She never took me back, and I’m very glad of that.

Remember how I once said that I have a tendency to romanticize my romantic partners? Well, after a good long time, I took off the rose-colored glasses and began to see things as they really were.  I’m not going to go into details about it.  That would just be rude.  But I finally realized that not only was she not “The One,” she really wasn’t even that good to me.  Is she a bad person?  No.  Does she know how to treat a boyfriend?  Also, a resounding NO.

But I found someone who does.  And she’s got her issues, too.  And we occasionally fight, but we are like-minded enough to get along on most issues, and on the things we don’t see eye to eye one, we respect each other’s opinions, because we respect EACH OTHER.  And this time, it actually goes both ways.

BPD-Whacko Horse FarmerIs it scary to be jumping into a relationship again? Yes, but I’m not exactly jumping.  We’ve been seeing each other for about a year now.  We’ve taken the time to get to know each other.  And importantly, we’ve both been honest about our issues.  Yes.  I told her I have a personality disorder.  And she’s OK with that, but doesn’t put up with my bullshit, which is something that makes me love her even more.

And we COMPROMISE.  She’s moving to my town, because I have a job that makes me happy like no other before it and she doesn’t want me to give it up.  But I gotta give up the city life, and I don’t want to.  But I will.  Because she’s a farm girl, and I’ve learned to appreciate “farmy” stuff.  Horses are cool.  Like REALLY cool, and I would’ve never known that if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone.

So, your faithful whacko is going to learn to do “farmy” things.  I can already put up fence posts.  Next thing you know, she’ll have me milking the chickens and stuff.

And you thought I had gone all serious on you.

Well, I am a bit more serious now.  Or more to the point, I don’t feel the NEED to be funny.  The funniest people are often the saddest.  Because they can’t feel joy themselves, they spread it in others, if only just to see it so they remember it exists.

Poor Robin Williams is proof of that.  May he rest in peace!

If only he had known that you DON’T have to die to get it.  You just have to make a few changes, face your demons, take your doctor’s advice seriously, maintain your support network, stay busy, and maybe milk a few chickens.

You’re gonna make it, amigos.  I am.  And if this freak can manage it, so can you.

Until next we meet… KEEP FIGHTING!

Bruce