Handwriting Issues & BP Symptoms
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Q:  Handwriting Issues & BP Symptoms

Dr. Phelps,

In an article about Dark Therapy, you mentioned laboratory evidence (hormones and handwriting) supporting a patient's experience of rapid cycling. What's the handwriting evidence?  I ask because I have noticed over the last few years (I'm 41), that I have developed a hesitant, haulting style of writing...not what I say, but the mechanical act of transferring what's in my head or what I'm hearing onto the paper.  My job requires that I take notes quickly and I often have trouble forming the words and putting the right letters down.  Sometimes I have to search for the right words, but mostly it's a frustrating experience of not forming them properly.  I don't seem to have the same issue when composing on the computer.

I have been diagnosed with BP II by a couple of psychiatrists, and after initially resisting their diagnoses have come to see how many of my complaints and issues are covered by the BP umbrella.  I've been on Lamictal for a few months after years of stuff that did not help much.  The writing issues preceded the Lamictal.  By the way, my thoughts tend to race a bit and to trip over themselves, and the writing issue is almost like the physical equivalent of that.  Also, at times I have to really focus to read things carefully and thoroughly instead of skimming them.  All these things seen to be getting a little worse over time.

Are these BP issues, or am I just overworked and need a vacation?!


Dear Wayne -- 
Surely you're overworked and need a vacation.  Most people with jobs are, and do!  But is there something else as well? If you're clearly "cycling", seeing these symptoms wax and wane, then most psychiatrists would agree the next step is to get more mood stabilizer effects in there (including by using the
Dark Therapy approach, which you already know about). 

The handwriting thing I mentioned was just about that particular patient, whose writing changed from manic to depressed days. In your case it sounds like the issue is more "central", i.e. up in your head, and as you explained, the handwriting is just one more way of seeing whatever's going on in your head show up. In that case targeting the central issue, perhaps through targeting cycling, sounds like the next step, except for the fact that the problem doesn't seem to show up on the computer. That doesn't make sense and might require a different explanation. Unfortunately I haven't got a good one.  Perhaps this, just raking over what you wrote: perhaps you notice the problem when you're taking notes because that's trying to follow someone else's thoughts, whereas when you're on the computer, you're composing your own thoughts? It might give a clue were you to try to handwrite your composition, or type your notes while listening. But you've probably already done that. Sorry not to have something more useful there. 

Dr. Phelps

Published February, 2007


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