Monday, March 10, 2008

A story of Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depressive Illness : Does it sound like you?

(This blog is for me to share my experiences and information I have found, or resources I have found useful. This is not a place for self-diagnosis. But if you recognize some of these signs and symptoms in yourself or your loved ones or friends, you/they may need medical attention, please consult the medical physician.)

How does one know if he or she has Bipolar Disorder of Manic-Depressive Illness? It took me 20 years to get a diagnosis. And my first diagnosis was proneness to major depression. It was after a manic episode several months after taking anti-depressant that my Doctor realized that I am actually prone to Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depressive Illness.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Early recognition of symptoms can lead to earlier diagnosis. And early diagnosis can lead to earlier finding helps and means to cope.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) produced a very useful article on the real account of someone with Bipolar Disorder and it gives important information on the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.

A Story of Bipolar Disorder publication cover

The article starts by asking "Are you feeling really “down” sometimes and really “up” other times? Are these mood changes causing problems at work, school, or home? If yes, you may have bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. "

James’ story:

“I’ve had times of feeling “down” and sad most of my life. I used to skip school a lot then I felt like this because I just couldn’t get out of bed. At first I didn’t take these feelings very seriously.

I also had times when I felt really terrific, like I could do anything. I felt really "wound up” and I didn’t need much sleep. Sometimes friends would tell me I was talking too fast. But everyone around me seemed to be going too slow.

My job was getting more stressful each week, and the “up” and “down” times were coming more often. My wife and friends said that I was acting very different from my usual self. I kept telling them that everything was fine, there was no problem, and to leave me alone.

Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t keep it together. I stopped going to work and stayed in bed for days at a time. I felt like my life wasn’t worth living anymore. My wife made an appointment for me to see our family doctor and went with me. The doctor checked me out and then sent me to a psychiatrist, who is an expert in treating the kinds of problems I was having.

The psychiatrist talked with me about how I’d been feeling and acting over the last six months. We also talked about the fact that my grandfather had serious ups and downs like me. I wasn’t real familiar with “bipolar disorder,” but it sure sounded like what I was going through. It was a great relief to finally know that the ups and downs really were periods of “mania” and “depression” caused by an illness that can be treated.

For four months now, I’ve been taking a medicine to keep my moods stable and I see my psychiatrist once a month. I also see someone else for “talk” therapy, which helps me learn how to deal with this illness in my everyday life.

The first several weeks were hard before the medicine and talk therapy started to work. But now, my mood changes are much less severe and don’t happen as often. I’m able to go to work each day, and I’m starting to enjoy things again with my family and friends.”

Many people who have bipolar disorder don’t know they have it. This booklet can help. It tells you about four steps you can take to understand and get help forbipolar disorder.

Four steps to understand and get help for bipolar disorder:

1. Look for signs of bipolar disorder.
2. Understand that bipolar disorder is a real illness.
3. See your doctor. Get a checkup and talk about how you are feeling.
4. Get treatment for your bipolar disorder. You can feel better.

Download this Free Booklet from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and read further:

A story of bipolar disorder.pdf

Read on Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depressive Illness.

Read on Treatments for Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depressive Illness.

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