Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis - Enter the Antipsychotics - Part 2
Lamictal was indeed a miracle for me. It allowed me to finish my bachelor’s degree, get a job in my field, and even become a skydiver. In retrospect, it was an amazing time to be me, to be in remission.
Everything was good, until it wasn’t. I felt myself slipping about two years into the Lamictal treatment. For no known reason, the medication simply stopped working. This is a common problem with psychotropic meds and something else no one likes to mention.
Enter the Antipsychotics
In came the antipsychotic medications. I had refused them up until this point in my treatment because I knew how bad the side-effects of antipsychotics were and I knew how prone I was to experiencing side-effects of all kinds. But after trying every mood-stabilizer, and a handful of antidepressants, my treatment options were very limited.
I didn’t take well to this treatment. Every drug just posed new side-effects and different pains. We moved slowly, increasing the dose on one and then trying another, attempting to see if I could tolerate anything or if anything would work. I mostly couldn’t. It mostly didn’t.
And then one day, after changing jobs, I broke. Shattered into a million pieces. Unable to function. Cries for help were everywhere. No one could put Humpty Dumpty together again.
Enter the Psychiatric Hospital
I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I had never wanted to go to the loony bin. I had no desire to find out what they did to people in the jail-resembling building tucked behind the hospital - where the shameful crazies were taken. Hospital meant a loss of control, a loss of autonomy, enforcement of drastic measures, and a forced admittance to myself and others that I was seriously unwell.
They did what most hospitals do when presented with a suicidal patient – they pumped me full of antipsychotics. I remember being shaken awake by a nurse the first morning after the Seroquel and not being able to see. I was too drugged to explain this to a nurse whose only job it was to rather violently get me out of bed. Eventually I figured out I could see my feet if I looked straight down. And later, still, I figured out that I had been so drugged that I couldn’t open my eyes. So many things that no one mentions.
After two weeks, I convinced my doc to release me. No, I wasn’t “better”.
And since that time, I’ve had moments of sort-of-OK-ness and decidedly un-OK-ness. I’ve had more cocktails than I can remember, four different doctors, 50 pound weight gain (thank-you antipsychotics), induction of hypertension, and no good ideas. It was, and still is, amazing how uncared-for I feel by health care professionals.
Enter the Psychiatric Treatments No One Wants
I have also tried ultra-brief pulse unilateral shock therapy (electro-convulsive therapy, no improvement, very traumatic), and vagus nerve stimulation (involves surgery, no effect), and mountains of therapy, most of which were completely unhelpful and sometimes made me worse. I don’t blame the therapists of course; it’s just the course of the disease.
And now I sit rejected by a psychiatrist again, and actually in no one’s care. The last one I saw told me she couldn’t help me, I wasn’t going to get any better, although I might get a job, and I should get off the meds because of the side-effects. No, I don’t recommend that for me or anyone else.
I’ve been out of work and devastatingly suicidal for months, and no one, it seems, will even attempt to help. I’m a crazy without a country. And it sort of gets bleaker from there.
12 Years of Learning
So, lessons? Drugs are evil but necessary. Therapy is often good, but not always. My brain is so messed up that no one knows what to do.
That is where I live today. I really don't recommend it.
Tracy, N. (2010, June 24). Adventures in Bipolar Diagnosis - Enter the Antipsychotics - Part 2, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/06/adventures-in-bipolar-diagnosis-enter-the-antipsychotics-part-2
Author: Natasha Tracy
I am a writer with an expertise in bipolar disorder. I have been studying bipolar disorder, depression and mental illness for more than a decade.
However, I am in no way a medical professional.
Everything I write is to be considered my thoughts around a subject often backed up by medical statistics and studies. Nothing here is a recommendation, and any changes in treatment should go through a licensed medical professional only.
Many people have been right where you are right now. Once you receive the right diagnosis it absolutely is a relief, answers. But there absolutely is grief at having to deal with the new problem. What you're feeling is how most people feel. It's an answer with more questions than answers.
The "what ifs?" Those'll get you. Those'll trap you. Try to take things one day at a time. Worry about where you are, this moment, the next moment will be here soon enough.
Trust and lean on the people that you can. And take a breath. It's going to be OK, you just have to slow down and put one foot in front of the other. And give yourself a break. Rest. You've been through a lot. It's OK to be tired.
And it's OK to be mad at god. I'm not a religion gal, but it's normal to be angry at whatever force "gave" you a disease. It's faith-shaking. Maybe talking to someone from your faith community would be helpful.
You're welcome. I'm glad you've found some solace in my words. It's what they're here for. Drop by any time.
Thanks for your comment, it inspired a whole article: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/01/why-are-we-forced-to-take-such-bad-medication-for-bipolar/
Why is Lilium the only drug actually developed for bipolar? All the others have been borrowed. Why is it that there is practibally no treatment for biplar depressons? Even though a large percentage of women are more likely to suffer from Bipolar 11 than Bipolar I. I've never found Lithium or Lemectil to be effective, usually they make me my depressed far worse. Is it possible that Big Pharm can't make a profit on new drugs strictly for biopolar. Or there might be other drugs, more effetive drugs, that could be adapted for our use. (But then the Pharmacies would mke no profit).
I think that the mental health community is corrupt, short sighted and possibly just plain stupid. We sifer the consequences.
I think we should be asking these question and stop being victums of the mental health system. Whey should be wasting years of our lives?
Soothing is probably not something anyone has called my writing before, but I'll take it. Glad it's helpful for you.
("Just" clinically depressed? Nothing "just" about that.)
Wow. That's quite a story. Thanks for sharing.
I have some suggestions for you to think about:
1. You have to find _stability_ in your life. This mean a routine and rhythm that can be counted on. It's actually good to be married because sometimes your partner can help with this.
2. Keep a _vigilant_ and _unflinching_ sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day. - no sleeping in on weekends.
3. If you're drinking, stop. It won't help you.
4. In my biased opinion I don't think the military is for you. It is way to stressful and has too many variables you can't control in it.
5. Keep in mind that some antidepressants (your Celexa) _can_cause_cycling. It sounds like you need to see your doctor ASAP and get that adjusted.
Also, if you haven't tried CBT I recommend you look into it. It's a very specific should-term therapy that does have a lot of success with some people.
Good luck. You can pull through.
Yes, it can be really tough to write about. I've been doing it for seven years and have almost 2000 posts on the topic so people think that it must be easy. But it isn't.
You can do it though. Just try a little at a time.
Shame is a common feeling. I have it too, although less now. I will say though that you are not your brain, and your brain is what is sick. You mind is yours to keep.
Admitting that your mind has somehow failed you even though you know it's not your fault still carries a lot of shame.
I found your entry interesting thus I've added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)...
I found your entry interesting thus I've added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)...
Thanks for taking the time to share your story with everyone. I'm sure there's something from it we all can learn.
I pray that this true testimonee will be of some use and inspiration to these pages
Just a word of hope to your readers to say that through our struggles does come hope. I am 48 yrs old and after my first breakdown in 1992 then 6 months later sectioned again, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Having already been divorced my fiancee of 4 years left me and I was forced to leave my employment of 15 yrs due to my condition. I had to cope with the stigma of mental illness and to cope with the loss of my old life and friends.
After the psychosis came deep and morbid despair, terrible side effects of medication and much trial and error. Dark thoughts of self destruction and two failed attempts of self euthanasia were just the start of a very rocky road to some normality.
There were many negative thoughts of worthlessness, no self esteem, certainly no future of a job or a relationship.
Different medications and depots were tried and to add to my lack of confidence and esteem was the massive weight gain. Life was then one vicious circle, no meds = section 28. Sticking to regime = fat bar steward.
I was always very sporty, football, swimming, badmington etc and a very physical and heavy job meant a very healthy looking man of 30. By the ace of 34 I had been sectioned 4 times and was a blobby 36 inch waist. I had lost the ability to shop, cook or care for myself and my only escape from this living hell was a group for people with similar health issues every thursday morning. Slowly but surely i began to learn better social skills and slowly but surely without realising, I was shopping, preparing and cooking for that same group of people and things were a little brighter for me, all except the then status of being unemployable blobby nut case retard paul.
I was by my own make up, meant to work and have a loving relationship and a family to provide for. These desires gave many negative but relivent issues which in turn brought immense stresses upon me and of course hospital a plenty.
The self help group was one successful step along the way to normality along with a couple of voluntary work places I had for 3 to 4 yrs, as well as attending the Thursday group. Positive thoughts were now beginning to take shape which gave me more insight and direction to regaining what I once had, a life.
I started taking my Thioridazine regularly, but as low a maintenance dose as possible and resigned myself to having to take my lithium blubber making tabs. I also Decided to go to the gym even though the meds make it seemingly impossible.
After A few weeks my weight gain stabellised and i wasable to last a little longer in the gym. I was now able to converse to the ladies about my life, my work and confident enough to ask for a date.
The road that I am treading on since then (2001), has been one of adversity but promise. After 9yrs attending the thursday group it felt like a coffee morning to me with nothing more to offer. I was able to ask for job references from the various charity work I had been doing and I have now been working part time for the last 7 years as a supervisor of adults with learning disabilities for a local charity which collects recyclable glass, paper, textiles etc. In 2003 I married my present wife Michelle and we have become grandparents to Dylan who is 6 and Harry who is Just 4 months. during these last 7 years life has not been all blue skys, there has been a few hurricanes along the way too. There has been four lengthy spells in hospital but with my new found faith in God, (Baptised 2005), My new family and my lovely wife Michelle to "monitor" my moods, My life is full of hope and purpose. I am now taking quetiepine and lithium, still fighting the weight but with my new faith in the healing that God has given me I know that should there be a blip then my time in hospital will be
and have been much shorter stay. It is now 29 months since my last visit,
Have faith in yourself, your loved ones and in God Christ Jesus
Thanks for sharing your story and giving everyone the message "don't give up". It's always good to hear.
This is a little of my story.
I started out by going to a regular for profit hospital because of a suicide attempt. From there I was transferred to the county crisis mental health center. From there I was transferred to the county psychological hospital where I was locked up until my Dr. released me. I had to use the county Mental Health agency for Dr. visits, meds, hospitalizations, etc. I spent a total of 5 months out of 8 months locked up. I also was homeless and lived in a half way house for almost 2 years.
These are my diagnosed illnesses.
Bi-polar w/major depression, asthma, hypothyroidism, but also, I am dealing with add, ulcers, severe esophagitis, severe gastritis,Barrett's esophagus, bph, stress induced acne, and lastly I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.
Many times I feel like things are never going to get better but I have learned to focus as best I can on the here and now and how things could be much worse. Today I just deal with and endure what I am feeling and thinking and I know if I start making a suicide plan I need to get to a hospital. I tried self medicating and ended up in the hospital needing blood transfusions, acute liver and kidney failure, acute acidosis, seizures and dt's, auditory and visual hallucinations.
I am still suffering from occasional very serious manic episodes but my real problem now on a regular basis is major depression. Three years after seeking help for my mental illnesses after 15 years of denial they still have not found the right combination of meds but we continue to work on it. However, I realize today that I have the will to live again. Something that had become very foreign to my thinking. I am willing to go to any lengths today to continue my recovery, to accept I have a mental disability (even though I am still very ashamed of this fact, although I am working on eliminating that shame) and to be an advocate for myself, researching anything and everything I can to educate myself on all treatment options.
I have suffered the side effects of tardive dyskinesia (which has mostly gone away) lithium toxicity, dissociation, akathisia, dysphasia, and confusion just to name a few.
I am learning to tolerate my illness. Unless I am suicidal or hallucinating I can see that the meds have taken the ultra highs and lows away. I self medicated with alcohol and drugs and all that did was make the disease worse while also making my over all general health worse.
I know from talking w/others with similar conditions it can be a long slow process to get the medication that works the best for each individual and his/her particular symptoms. I cling to the hope that things are going to continue to get better, even though progress is very very slow most of the time.
I just wanted to share some of my story with you to let you know you are not alone, there are many out there that share this disease.
I think writing this has probably helped me more than you. It has shown me that indeed things have gotten better.
Bless you and I will pray for you just as I pray for god to help me get though what I have to get through.
Don't ever give up.
I do completely understand your frustration with drugs and side effects. Believe me, I do understand it.
If you feel comfortable, drop in from time to time and let us know how it's going.
I am frustrated with the side effects of meds, particularly since my physical and medical health has declined exponentially over the last 2 years... but I do NOT want to ever be completely out of control again, and recognize the need for some kind of professional help and monitoring during this non-medicated experiment!
Good luck with DBT. I hope it works for you.
It has been a challenge so far, and I was recently "broken up with" as well, by the therapist who teaches the DBT classes. I refuse to let this deter me from my mission though, and will continue to study DBT on my own. If you care to read more about my adventure, you can find me here:
Good luck to you! I empathize with your struggle and can only say... hang in there!
It sounds like this is really hard for you and your son. I'm sorry to hear that. Can a bipolar live a happy life? That's a question I can't answer. Some absolutely do.
It sounds like maybe the thing to focus on is preventing his manic episodes, and the best time to do that is when he's not in one. You haven't mentioned medication but there are many drugs that address mania specifically. If his current medication isn't working, your doctor can try another. If you and your son don't feel like this doctor is helping, try another one. New doctors have new ideas. No one wants to see a bipolar have a severe mania once a year.
And I hope you and your son are getting therapy. You need your own therapy to help and support you through the difficult times and to help you work out the difficult history you've had. Try finding a support group in your area. You are not the only person to be going through this - in fact, you're not even the only parent.
This disorder is extremely difficult and debilitating to us and those around us. But you can make it through this. Your son can make it through this. There's light therapy and dark therapy and in-patient and ECT and many medications. There are options. Take a deep breath, get professional help, and move forward.
And honestly, you can't help anyone until you help yourself first. Don't let another person's illness, even your son's, make you crazy. You can't help him if you do.