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Recently Diagnosed - Questions

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Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby BipolarBiped » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:53 pm

Hello,

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar after hospitalization for a manic episode. I have a number of questions:

1) Will I ever be able to enjoy alcohol and marijuana again?
2) Will I have episodes if I am living healthily and medicated?
3) What is/are some thing(s) you wish you knew at the start of your bipolar journey?
4) When is the right time to disclose you have bipolar when dating?
5) Are there any benefits to having bipolar? I study Tai Chi (which I recommend for everyone with bipolar, if not everyone in general) and part of the philosophy of the ying and yang is that there are benefits to negatives, and negatives to benefits.
6) Will I be medicated for the rest of my life?
7) What does having bipolar put me at risk of besides episodes? I.E. Comorbidity

I'll leave it there for now, but feel free to ask questions of your own if you have any. This can be a thread for people to ask and more experienced people with bipolar to answer.
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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby Tyler » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:42 am

BipolarBiped wrote:1) Will I ever be able to enjoy alcohol and marijuana again?
2) Will I have episodes if I am living healthily and medicated?
3) What is/are some thing(s) you wish you knew at the start of your bipolar journey?
4) When is the right time to disclose you have bipolar when dating?
5) Are there any benefits to having bipolar? I study Tai Chi (which I recommend for everyone with bipolar, if not everyone in general) and part of the philosophy of the ying and yang is that there are benefits to negatives, and negatives to benefits.
6) Will I be medicated for the rest of my life?
7) What does having bipolar put me at risk of besides episodes? I.E. Comorbidity

I'll leave it there for now, but feel free to ask questions of your own if you have any. This can be a thread for people to ask and more experienced people with bipolar to answer.


1. I've never done marijuana, but I do drink alcohol. It all depends on your medication
2. It's possible, yes. I occasionally have an episode, but usually, something major has to happen, like a sudden death in the family, or something like that, to trigger it
3. That it can be a slow process, and is a lot of trial and error
4. I did it early on. Granted, I had one boyfriend for years, and haven't dated since. Bipolar is more commonly accepted nowadays, and it's not like saying "I'm a diagnosed psychopath".
5. There aren't many benefits, but I write fiction stories, and I find I get more creative with mania. However, that's it for me. There's nothing else beneficial about it, and there's literally nothing beneficial about being depressed.
6. More than likely, yes. It's not like insulin for diabetes, but some people are able to live without.
7. That I honestly don't know. I have yet to be told anything by my psychiatrist or family doctor about any other risks. The only major risks that you may face, as far as I know, are side effects from medication.
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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby Malasha » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:17 pm

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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby quietgirl2538 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:32 am

BipolarBiped wrote:Hello,

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar after hospitalization for a manic episode. I have a number of questions:

1) Will I ever be able to enjoy alcohol and marijuana again?

I enjoy 2 beers every so often and I'm perfectly fine. But this is just me. Everyone is different.

2) Will I have episodes if I am living healthily and medicated?

Yes, it's possible to have episodes. An example for me, is when I don't sleep for several days and/or have a hard time sleeping well for a length of time, I can get manic, multiple times in a row. It was not severe and I credit taking my meds for that. Depression sometimes followed suit from the manic episode. Depression can happen too while on meds, but again, it wasn't as bad as I've experienced it in the past, and it did eventually go away after about a month. That was a long time, but hey, I'm being honest about my symptoms.

3) What is/are some thing(s) you wish you knew at the start of your bipolar journey?

More research and knowledge of the disorder. I wish I'd been better informed. I wish I'd spoken up sooner when I experienced severe depression because there could have been intervention sooner and I'd not have landed in the hospital or I just got help by going to the hospital instead of trying to take my life.

4) When is the right time to disclose you have bipolar when dating?

For me it's when I've allowed a person to get to know me well enough to see me well or not well and let them know I'm a good person. It's only fair for others to get to know the 'healthy me' as well. Because having bipolar isn't a negative thing to have and it can be treated and you can live a healthy life with a job and running a household.

5) Are there any benefits to having bipolar? I study Tai Chi (which I recommend for everyone with bipolar, if not everyone in general) and part of the philosophy of the ying and yang is that there are benefits to negatives, and negatives to benefits.

Benefits are being more creative when I am manic and my writing. I am intense with my writing and will go with the flow and it just gives it this boost. Not always, though.

6) Will I be medicated for the rest of my life?

Yes.

7) What does having bipolar put me at risk of besides episodes? I.E. Comorbidity

I don't know the answer to this and highly recommend you also ask your pdoc about it. I'd definitely like to read what others have to answer on this. I have ADD and I do take ritalin. When my bipolar acts up whether it's depression or mania, my concentration is off no matter if I take my ritalin. It's as if it just stopped working. I still take it but I notice I don't have that feeling of calmness anymore while taking it.

I'll leave it there for now, but feel free to ask questions of your own if you have any. This can be a thread for people to ask and more experienced people with bipolar to answer.



I've been diagnosed since 2013. There was just no way I could have been diagnosed sooner. I had little knowledge about the illness, so I couldn't help it by speaking up about what I had experienced in the past as manic episodes and hypomanic episodes. I've always experienced depression to some degree at different times of my life. I'd have intense mood. Having intense moods are not mania and then depression but I notice this in myself and do wonder if it has anything to do with having bipolar. Just a question I have for my doctor the next time I see him.
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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby Paniic » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:44 am

BipolarBiped wrote:Hello,

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar after hospitalization for a manic episode. I have a number of questions:

1) Will I ever be able to enjoy alcohol and marijuana again?


I would stay away from both. Alcoholism is very high in bipolar people. Some doctors even say alcoholism itself is the same brain disease as bipolar disorder. Weed never did anything for me except make me psychotic (paranoid) and have anxiety attacks. Looking back I think it actually triggered episodes for me.

2) Will I have episodes if I am living healthily and medicated?


Probably, but medication will make them less intense and more manageable.

3) What is/are some thing(s) you wish you knew at the start of your bipolar journey?


That anxiety disorders are highly comorbid with bipolar. From Psychiatric Times:

Most patients who have bipolar disorder have a coexisting anxiety disorder.2 These include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia, panic disorder, and PTSD.2 Anxiety disorders, by themselves or in combination with a mood disorder, are associated with an increased risk of suicide and psychosocial dysfunction.


My anxiety attacks have been severe and I thought I was strange for having them or that I had been misdiagnosed. Later my doc told me that bipolars usually have anxiety attacks. It's not rare, it's actually very common. I was mad because all this time I thought I was "different" or out of the ordinary. The docs never told me anything until I asked.

Finally, I just wish I knew what I was in for with this. It's much tougher to live with it than I ever imagined. But don't get discouraged, I am probably flawed in other ways that most aren't. Lots of bipolar folks do have jobs, spouses and kids. I do not unfortunately.

4) When is the right time to disclose you have bipolar when dating?


If you're a male, never EVER tell a woman. If you're female, most guys don't care unless you are climbing walls or acting psychotic.

5) Are there any benefits to having bipolar? I study Tai Chi (which I recommend for everyone with bipolar, if not everyone in general) and part of the philosophy of the ying and yang is that there are benefits to negatives, and negatives to benefits.


Lots of historically brilliant people were/are Bipolar. Many artists, poets, and musicians. Van Gogh, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Lowell, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Wolf, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway (and MANY others). The actress Vivien Leigh was absolutely insane most of the time off-screen (her life was ravaged by manic episodes). Same goes for Patty Duke. Kurt Cobain wrote a song ("Lithium") about his illness and later shot himself. Usually when someone who has it all (fame, money, etc) suddenly offs him or herself, it is well within reason to be suspicious of latent or untreated bipolar illness.

However, don't let all of that glamorize it for you. Bipolar sucks. Many of those people I listed killed themselves or lived in institutions (that's what happened in the old days before lithium). Bipolar is a death sentence (or a life of hell) if you don't stay medicated. Thank God for modern meds.

6) Will I be medicated for the rest of my life?


Most definitely, at least if you're smart.

7) What does having bipolar put me at risk of besides episodes? I.E. Comorbidity


About 40% of bipolar people will attempt suicide over their lifetimes (which means it's a coin flip whether you will try to kill yourself). About 10% (I believe it is) will be successful and actually kill themselves. Lithium is the most proven drug to prevent suicides. Studies show it is more effective than any (by far) at specifically stopping suicidal ideation. So if you are one of those who has a lot of suicidal thoughts that aren't helped by your current regimen, ask your doc about lithium.

Bipolar people also do not live as long as control subjects (even when suicide is taken into account). There is a high risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes, obesity, etc. At first they thought that it was simply the medications doing it, but now they've discovered that there's something about the illness itself that causes these issues irrespective of medications.

Quote from Science Direct:

The researchers comprehensively reviewed 17 studies involving more than 331,000 patients. Evidence suggested that people with bipolar disorder have a higher mortality from natural causes compared to people in the general population of similar age and gender but without mental illness. The various studies indicated that the risk was from 35 percent to 200 percent higher. The risk is the same for men and women. The most common conditions leading to premature death were heart disease, respiratory diseases, stroke, and endocrine problems such as diabetes.


...

Biological abnormalities associated with bipolar illness might also be shortening lives, Katon noted. The illness can stress the immune system and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, a system that controls many body processes. Bipolar disorders also heighten the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which sets off the fight-or-flight response to stress.


They have learned a lot about bipolar thanks to MRI and PET scanning. They have learned that our brains are physically different from control subjects. Our brains are over active in some places and under active (and actually smaller) in other areas. I was reading a scientific paper on that just earlier today. It's quite fascinating.

Considering the higher all cause mortality for us, it is wise to exercise daily and eat lean meats, fruits and veggies. Stay away from the usual suspects like fast food. Watch your calories.
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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby quietgirl2538 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:28 pm

Paniic wrote: About 10% (I believe it is) will be successful and actually kill themselves.


Not to be a downer or be so morbid on this topic. Just stating facts I've read in a book called 'Night Falls Fast' by Kay Redfield Jamison (who did attempt suicide once in her life, but luckily was unsuccessful; thank goodness!) pg 101. , it states that the chances increase for those who have at least one attempt. I'm in that second category. I'm not fearful of that, but I'm just stating facts, is all. We shouldn't be scared of that, it's just bringing up how terrible an illness it is for those of us who have it. Some people may judge negatively to those who have this disorder, but it's not something we choose and it's not easy living with it. We should receive sympathy and understanding even though others can't relate. It's also a fact, that it's something that is hard to deal with and we 'suffer.' Because indeed, we do.
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Re: Recently Diagnosed - Questions

Postby turnaround » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:49 pm

Stand by for immense message… :D

1) Do not smoke the weed. I’m reasonably sure that the odd inhale of some does nobody any harm but don’t smoke it. Any kind of recreational drug is not good for your mood. I don’t know how old you are but your brain isn’t fully formed until you’re in your early twenties. Using marijuana/skunk/etc etc increases the risk of doing permanent damage to your electrochemical wiring. You may be perfectly okay – but you don’t know when your brain reaches a tipping point & contributes to your instability. I had a patient at work once, a lovely boy in his late teens. He’d smoked skunk for a long time & had developed paranoid schizophrenia. He might have developed it in any case but how do we know it wasn’t triggered by his drug use? Alcohol…be very careful. This is the only place where I’m going to say it but I am developing increased tolerance to alcohol & I think I have a problem with it. A relatively small-scale problem for sure, but I’m on the slope & need to get off it somehow.

2) If you are living healthily & medicated, the chances of having another episode are statistically reduced. But nobody knows when the next one will strike I’m afraid. Mental health is a nebulous area – we know that you might have one but we don’t know when or how until it happens. I hope it’s a long time. I had several fairly severe ones in my first 2 years and the intensity of them is fading with time because I am becoming better at spotting symptoms & taking evasive action. At first I was off work for 4 months (this was 5 years ago). Last December I felt myself going upwards & only needed 2 weeks off work. At the moment, I’m having a noticeable dip (probably stress-induced but I’m too stubborn to admit it) but all being well, I can go back to work after a week. You’ll become very good at recognising your own warning signs.

3) Oh wow…THAT’S a question. Perhaps…perhaps knowing that your mental health team don’t have all the answers & you end up knowing a bit more than them. Another one is – never, EVER forget that the curse of bipolar is also its blessing. No matter how ill you are, and I have been utterly suicidal in the past, all things pass. Your mood state will never be a permanent way of being. You will always return to your healthy norm. That realisation has saved me before. Batten down the hatches, ride out the storm, and you will always recover. When I realised that, I was staying in a wonderful de-escalation facility and in the middle of a rainstorm (excuse the drama), I physically felt myself lifted up and the depression lifted. It was almost divine. After that, I knew that I could do it.

4) I would wait until you both know that you like each a lot and want to make a go of a relationship. I’ve never had any problems telling people though & I’ve let it slip fairly early in the dating phase.

5) I’m going to be controversial. This is a place where we can be honest so out it comes. My highs never go beyond hypomania (I have bipolar type 2 – research the different sorts, there’s type 1, type 2 & cyclothymia) so they’re relatively mild – but WOW are they fun. For me (remember we’re all different), my senses become incredibly acute. I turn straight. Colours become very vivid. I remember sitting on a bus and being completely transfixed by the delights of traffic lights & the seeming-glow of a girl’s blonde hair. I could have gazed at it for ever. Music sends me stratospheric with delight. I can hear the silence between each note and the change of key just sends me into ecstasy. I spent all night once writhing around on my bed giggling with glee listening to the same opera track, had 45 minutes sleep and skipped into work feeling like I’d slept for a month. Then I went to see my boss, fell around laughing & ended up having 2 months off because I was started on quetiapine. DO NOT STOP YOUR MEDS TO CHASE A HIGH!!! Far too many people do this. The more relapses you have, the higher the chance of another relapse. My happy high then turned into a very ugly few days of vile temper. A high might be enjoyable, but each of mine has ended up ugly. So be careful. And if you go up, you’re going to come crashing down into a depression. So far I’ve been extremely lucky and it’s only happened twice.

6) I would say yes. There are ways of stopping medication but I guess it would only happen after a prolonged period of stability and done under extremely close medical supervision.

7) This depends on how you are between acute episodes and what medication you take. People who have near-constant background depression are more likely to smoke, drink unhealthily, eat badly & have long-term raised levels of stress hormones which is never good. As well as depakote/sodium valproate, I take quetiapine which is notorious for weight gain because it gives you a mammoth appetite. I gained nearly 10kg in the few weeks after I started it & the weight is still there. I’m not obese by any means but my body fat is in the wrong places. So, medical complications from being overweight eg diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease are potential problems. I already have type 1 diabetes anyway, I maintain tight control, my clinic keeps a close on me & I have no physical problems from the diabetes. So far, so good. If you find that medication-induced weight gain is becoming a problem, then get exercising. It lifts up your mood & keeps you healthy so you can’t argue with that. And if you’re physically healthy, exercise anyway. It’s a great way to stave off depression (says me who pays his gym fees and never goes).
CJ

Meds: Depakote, quetiapine
Diagnosis: Bipolar II

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