Since I've been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I've looked for current blogs or personal stories about others living with the disorder. I have not found any that are current, most stories are from 2007 or 2008 and those people are not updating their blogs anymore. So, what I'm going to do is try to keep a current blog that helps to explain my Bipolar Disorder in hopes of helping other newly diagnosed people that they are not alone. I'll probably open up this blog to be public, which is a huge step for me, but in terms of helping others I think it needs to be done.
Since my diagnosis, I've read almost every single book written about Bipolar. I'm trying to follow the steps that are encouraged that help manage this disorder. It's been a whirlwind since I have been diagnosed of trying to figure out life with this life long disorder. Not that I'm worried that I won't be able to live with this, but how to effectively manage and live my life the fullest that I can. Sometimes, I do feel very depressed, this is more often than not. I also have periods of extreme hyperness (hypomanic) which happens every once in a while, but does happen especially when I'm feeling really good and have recieved tons of good news.
My story is this: I was first diagnosed as depressed almost 10 years ago. I was extremely depressed and was brought into the emergency room of the hospital. I had already made an appointment with a psychiatrist for January 11. It was now December 26 and winter break. I had a good 2 week wait before I could get in to see him, with nothing much to do during break. So, going into the emergency room and being admitted to the hospital was a good thing. The ER doctor had a few suggestions for me: go home with an appointment with a psychiatrist earlier than January 11 or to be admitted to the hospital for depression. I was suicidal and telling everyone to leave the house. One roommate I kicked out that night! He came back, during the time that I was in the hospital and I later apologized for doing that to him. I ended up in the hospital for nearly a week and a half. I met some interesting people in the hospital. At that time, the hospital saved my life. It kept me busy during the break with activities and I was well supervised as I was taking my first doses of medicine, Celexa. After nearly 6 days, I started to feel like my old self and more relaxed and able to be around people. I was discharged from the hopsital with 3 days left before school started again. I walked home, we lived about half a mile from the hospital. And had my first appointment with the psychiatrist that I met on January 11 and I am still seeing him today, nearly 10 years later.
Since that inital diagnosis of depression, I've had several (2) recurring episodes of depression. I would take my medicine for approximately 2 years, and then gradually stop them, with supervision. They would always come on for seemingly no reason, but I would feel the depression and not be able to do much at all. I lost concentration, could not problem solve, had issues with talking with people and making decisions. After about a week, the medicine would help and I'd be back to my normal self. The diagnosis of bipolar came this year after I asked my psychiatrist if I could begin weaning myself off the Celexa that I had been taking for nearly 2 years. We decided that I would take half of my dose and discuss the rest later. I took the 20 mg dose during Christmas break in Las Vegas, visiting my family. During this break, I was extremely focused on making blankets for my family, designing an interesting pattern for fleece blankets. During those three weeks, I made about 6 blankets for friends and family, staying up for hours making blankets and feeling really good about myself. My family and I would play games and open presents, and I would buy more fleece to make more blankets! I would stay up for hours at a time making these blankets.
About a month after this, my mom and I went to visit her brother, my uncle, in Mississippi. I was still feeling real good. Mom and I had a great time, and then I came back to my home. I became depressed and let my psychiatrist know. We increased the dose of Celexa back up to 4o mg. After a week, I was still not feeling better, and we increased the dose to 60 mg. At this point, my psychiatrist took a trip, and told me to text him to monitor my depression. I felt guilty for sending messages and sent some, but not enough for how I was truly feeling. After nearly 2 weeks, I was extremely depressed and the second I walked into his office after his trip, he could tell that I was not feeling well. He immediately added to my medication of Celexa. He added Wellbutrin. I shared with him that I felt guilty for texting. He told me that he expected a text from me daily, which I complied with. I started the new dose of Wellbutrin at 150 mg and then shortly after that went up to 300 mg. I didn't do too well on Wellbutrin. I became suicidal, having extreme suicidal thoughts, which I texted to my psychiatrist, especially when I had to drive long distances. I was extremely fortunate to have my father and psychiatrist expecting my arrival home one night as I felt extremely suicidal. They both were expecting a text back from me on my arrival home. When Wellbutrin didn't help situations, I was prescribed Remeron and taken off Wellbutrin, I was having a dysphoric reaction to Wellbutrin. Remeron did not help matters much, I continued to be depressed and was taking 60 mg of Celexa along with the Remeron dose.
After a week of depression, I began to feel hypomanic, except I didn't know that's what it was. I was staying up late and waking up early. I was making purchases impulsively and not really caring where the money was going to come from. At work, I became very goal directed and started working on the book room and kept purchasing bins, plastic bags, and labels for the book room. My whole life was the book room at that time. I let my principal know that I had just been diagnosed with Bipolar and that I really couldn't take a leave of absence to help my recovery except to continue to come into the school and work, because I knew thatl living alone would not help matters much. Since I was diagnosed, I've had numerous medications to help control the manic symptoms as well as the depressive symptoms. This journey of finding the right medications took nearly 4 months. I can't remember all the medications I was taking, but I had a new dose or prescription each time I went to the psychiatrist. I was happy that I was seeing a psychiatrist at this point because of the help I desperately needed at this point. I faithfully texted my psychiatrist daily, letting him know how I was feeling. I remember making a purchase of a carpet and a curtain rod so that I could transform my living room. I also remember that I wanted to change my house around. And that transformation was going to happen soon! I shared my ideas with my parents and they agreed that I would get more usage out of the rest of the house if I did that. I talked to everybody about my transformation! Hypomanic anyone?? I gave my credit cards to the person that was with me so that I would not spend carelessly, or I kept my wallet in the car so that if I wanted to purchase something impulsively, I would have to come out to the car to get my credit card. If I had to go to the car to get my credit card, I would have to think seriously about the purchase that I was about to make and if it was worthwhile. Most of the time, I just got in my car and went home. But having this system in place protected me more than I know. It helped me save some money.
After the hypomanic stage and my inital diagnosis of bipolar, I continued to be hypomanic until I started feeling depressed. The changes of medication were continual until we could find the right combination of medication so that I could feel better. Finally, the psychiatrist and I hit pay dirt, kinda, when I started taking Lamictal, Seroquel, and Celexa. The Celexa dose is increased or decreased depending on how I feel, more hypomanic or depressed. Lamictal is the medication that is the mood stabilizer for me. I am on 200 mg of Lamictal, Seroquel helps with both manic and depression. I am on 600 mg of Seroquel. The Celexa dose changes, but at the present time I am on 20 mg of Celexa and I'm feeling pretty good. I feel normal. I just started feeling "normal" just 3 weeks ago. I certainly had quite the roller coaster ride with medications and experiencing the ups and downs of bipolar. I always had to protect myself so that I would not put myself in a dangerous position. Knowing what would preciptate a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode has been quite the learning experience for me. Understanding that a depressive episode almost always follows a hypomanic episode, was eye opening. Making sure that I was protected in the event of a hypomanic or depressive episode was extremely important to me. I gave my psychiatrist's phone number to my dad and my sister. I reached out to several friends and told them what was going on and how I was feeling. They have been critical in knowing how I'm feeling for the day and have always made sure that I'm good.
I think several things protected me as I was going through these ups and downs. I told close friends about what was going on with me. I told my family about my diagnosis. I gave phone numbers of who to contact to some family members. I was proactive in protecting myself. If I was feeling suicidal, I would not allow sharp objects near me, giving them to family members instead. If I was feeling hypomanic, I would take steps to protect my money and spending.
So, that's my story of my diagnosis of depression and bipolar. I hope I can help someone else who is looking for information.