Marion's Bipolar Story

People have talked about "the good old days". Trust me when I say they weren't that good, the good days are in the present and the even better days yet lie in the future. Our songs are yet unsung.

I am (at present) a 47 year old man who was first diagnosed as bipolar 7 years ago when I experienced the first (and only, so far) manic episode of my life.

I suffer from chronic joint aches and felt I might have arthritus. I asked my wife (who is in the medical field) to get me an appointment with a rheumetologist. She explained that you can't just get an appointment with a rhuemetologist, you must first go to an internist and get a referral. So, I went to an internist who did a series of blood tests, x-rays and even a clinical sleep study (generating 2400 pages of graphs). He stated I do not have arthritis. The results of the sleep study concluded that there was enough irregularity in my rem sleep which was a common tendency with patients with clinical depression. The doctors conclusion : due to the lack of much needed rem sleep, it caused tenderness around the joints. He prescribed Trazadone (an anti-depressant) to help me sleep. I took 1 tablet and it did not help me sleep. By the time I made it into the hospital a week later, I had been completely sleep deprived for a week; and, it took 2 deputies the size of linebackers and handcuffs to get me into the hospital.

<sidebar> Sure, there are many people who would have sued the internist for malpractice; but, I really don't believe in suing people unless absolutely necessary and, what he did is common practice (prescribing anti-depressants to help patients sleep). Besides, this was not foremost on my mind at the time, dealing with the upheaval in my life was.

Up until this manic episode I had become a heavy drinker (a gallon of whiskey a week) and life didn't seem to have purpose.

Over the past 6 years of psycotherapy I have come to learn :
1. My father had been bipolar
2. so is my sister and brother
3. My mother(in a home) has been diagnosed as schitzophrenic.
4. I had spent most of my life chronically depressed without being aware of it.
5. Without having the aid of being on mood stabilizing drugs such as Depakote, I have no tolerance for anti-depressants and it drop-kicked me through the roof.

Being diagnosed was actually a relief. It was almost like discovering a brother I never knew I had. It made things clear; I had lived with frequent thoughts of suicide all my life and had always felt this was perfectly normal. But, when the doctors told me "no, this is NOT normal, you have a disorder", I'm alright with that. Today when my thoughts turn to suicide my intellect takes over and dictates my actions : I have a disorder, this is abnormal thinking and what I must do is to work this out in a manner which is more normal.

I am a slow cycling high performing bipolar patient in touch with reality and my feet firmly planted. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol since before my hospitalization 7 years ago and I restrict my caffeine as directed by my doctor. Sure, I have missed the elation of the mania (but never to the point that I was willing to again go out of my mind) and over the past 7 years I have found that this elation has become less and less important to me and has been an ever-fading memory.

My wife drove me to the hospital the day of my commitment and she has since told me that if I should ever have a similar episode, she would call the police to take me as she just can't deal with it. I have tried to imagine things from her point of view and can only imagine that if she had been the one how I might have dealt with it at the time (and since then) and it seems to me that it must have been extremely difficult for her. I thank God for having her by my side through this ordeal.

Many studies indicate that bipolars are creative and that this creativity manifests itself in many ways (art, music, literature, etc...). I have demonstrated talent in art and photography; but, very little motivation to pursue. The most common manifistation for my creativity has been in home repair, development of computer applications out of need and desire and general applications (such as a portable waterbed for camping).

I find myself obsessing over frustrations and this is the most difficult part of my condition to deal with. What I do when the frustration seems to get to be a little too much to bear is 
to take a xanax. Yes, better living through Chemistry.  But seriously, I am glad we have drugs to take to control ourselves. The doctors have told me that even if you take your medications there is always the likelyhood of a reoccurence; But, I'm doing all I can do to keep that from happening.

Remember : The good days are at present and the even better days are yet to come. Our stories are as yet unsung. 

Wishing everyone the best the new year has to bring.
 
 

Marions Story
        Date: 
             Sat, 1 Jan 2000 23:42:11 -0600

 

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