Medical Questions > Mental Health > Bipolar Disorder Forum

Diagnosed Bipolar II, but still not sure...

Hello everyone,

I just discovered this forum, and wanted to share my experience and have your opinions about my situation, because I'm really confused right now.

I was recently diagnosed with bipolar type II, but I'm still not sure it's the right diagnosis.

I had 3 major depressive episodes, at 16, 18 and 21 yo. In two of them I had experienced unexplainable physical pain.

In the 1st one I experienced severe headaches with no reason, along with anxiety and insomnia. I saw a neurologist, an ophthalmologist and an ENT specialist and everything was OK. My GP prescribed Tegretol which worked after a few weeks.

In the 2nd one, I suffered from backaches that even tramadol and morphine couldn't stop. I had all the symptoms of a sciatica (I was only 18 !!! ), and went through a bunch of medical tests (X-ray, CT, 2 MRI's...), 10 days of hospitalization and again there was no sign of a physical disease. A GP gave me Deroxat, he thought I'd be depressed because of the pain. I stopped taking it because I didn't think I was depressed then (now I think I was totally wrong). I've had the backaches for over 7 months, and couldn't walk on my right leg. Only acupuncture helped, and I was able to function again.

In the 3rd one I had no physical pain, I just started waking up early in the morning (between 3 and 5 am ), then I became more and more depressed. This is the first time I had the diagnosis of major depression (first time I've seen a psychiatrist).

These 3 episodes were the most severe, and happened at the same period of the year. I also had less severe depressions in between.

When I told my psychiatrist about my medical background, he said I had a major depression that's occurring every time in a different form. But when I saw him last time, I somehow gave him some more information that led him to the diagnosis of bipolar II.

The problem is I don't remember being manic, not even hypo-manic. I don't really know if the racing thoughts, talkativeness and the over-joyed attitude are a symptom or just part of my personality. Sometimes I feel that I could do anything, that I'm very intelligent, I set very high goals, get involved in many activities, make lot of plans, go out a lot, have sex a lot, smoke a lot and experience pleasure in shopping (unusual for me). But I feel good because I have pleasure working and it has a good impact on my life.

But when I'm depressed, it's the complete opposite, everything gets harder, I feel dumb, useless, I can't do anything at all and I'm unable to experience pleasure.

I really can't tell if I've had hypomania. When I'm reading the symptoms I recognize a lot of my behaviors but I don't know because I can't be objective with myself.
This is why I'm not sure about my diagnosis.

The reason why I'm worried about all this, is that I have the feeling that sometimes my life gets out of control. In the first depressive episode I was in high school and I missed a month and a half. In the second one, I've lost the whole first year in college. In the third one I was close to losing another year of college. Now I am wondering how it's gonna be next time, the depressions are so severe that I become unable to function, sometimes even suicidal.

I am currently on Prozac and Zyprexa, I feel quite well, but I'm really worried about how it's gonna be in 6 months, in a year ...

Any similar experiences or just your personal opinion would help me a lot.

It's a very long post, thank you so much for reading
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First Helper User Profile Ozy
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replied February 25th, 2012
Experienced User
Heh, doesn't really seem that long since you used paragraphs. Wink

Indeed, it is very hard to be objective with oneself, that's part of why interaction can be so valuable.

So I saw this part: "I don't really know if the racing thoughts, talkativeness and the over-joyed attitude are a symptom or just part of my personality. Sometimes I feel that I could do anything, that I'm very intelligent, I set very high goals, get involved in many activities, make lot of plans, go out a lot, have sex a lot, smoke a lot and experience pleasure in shopping (unusual for me)."

Those really really sound like manic symptoms, really they do. And it's fairly common to not remember such things as being a manic episode, to feel like that was just part of being who you are. Unless it's a severe rage/anger sort of thing, people pretty much have to point out my manic episodes before I can see them, and even then it can be hard to see that I wasn't "just being myself."

Really, the best thing you can do if you're questioning your diagnosis is ask your doc to explain to you why that particular disorder, and not a similar one, what is it that makes it that one. You could seek a second opinion, too.

Curious, are you in therapy? It sounds rather like your symptoms are progressing, and meds can't do it alone. How are those particular meds working out for you? I don't really have any experience with prozac, but zyprexa and I go way back--it made me a fat zombie, but crushed the hell out of the voices.

(oh, yeah--your post didn't seem remotely long, as you were kind enough to use paragraphs)
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replied February 25th, 2012
Thanks for your reply Ozy,

I used Deroxat at first, didn't see any improvement, and then I've seen another doc who prescribed Prozac, and added the Zyprexa after 3 weeks when I told him I was having suicidal thoughts (thank god not anymore )

I've seen a huge change with the Zyprexa (with 2.5mg only), I had the deepest sleep ever (didn't happen in a long time), the doc also told me to keep regular sleeping hours because when I mess with that everything gets worse, my sleeping habits really affect my functioning.

Currently I'm not in therapy, my GP also says that the meds can't fix everything...but I don't really know what to think about all this, it's all new to me, I've never heard of bipolar before, and I am really confused right now... Maybe I'll ask him next time

I don't know if I should talk to him also about my personality, I think I'm a bit obsessive, very perfectionist, obsessed with cleanliness and order, always have to do things on my way. It seems like this is generating lots of stress for me, do you think this might trigger my bipolar symptoms ? Is there any relation between this and bipolar ?

Thanks again for your concern
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replied February 25th, 2012
Experienced User
Okay, confused, never heard of bipolar before, not sure what to think...I've been there. I can tell you I wish I knew then what I know about bipolar now, would have made a huge difference.

I your current situation, one of the best things I can suggest is to get out there online and learn about bipolar disorder--you can learn more about recognizing your symptoms, different types of bipolar, how to talk to your doctor, things that trigger episodes, there's a lot of info to be had. There are a lot of sites to browse through, I usually recommend starting with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance site (the National Institute of Mental Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness all have pretty good info too).

Yeah, I do think you should talk to him about those personality issues--anything that's stressing you can trigger bipolar symptoms.

I'm with your doc on the importance of a regular sleep schedule, can't emphasize that enough. It's important for anyone with a mood disorder, and just essential for those with bipolar. Not having a regular sleep schedule can really exacerbate your symptoms.

Hope things get better for you soon.
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replied February 26th, 2012
Hi,

I visited all the websites you said

It explained everything so well, I don't feel as guilty as I felt at first about my condition. It made me realize that bipolar is a REAL mental health condition, not some kind of vulnerability or weakness as I thought. The worst thing about depression is when you feel that you're responsible of it and it makes you even more depressed

Thanks Ozy for those really helpful replies, I hope things will be better for you too (curious about your story, did you post it somewhere ?)
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replied February 26th, 2012
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Really glad to hear you went and checked out those sites, and that you found them so helpful.

No, I haven't really posted my story, just bits and pieces here and there in replies. Maybe I should.

Anyway, here's a short(ish) version: had a major breakdown in 2000, diagnosed as Bipolar I with psychotic features (commanding voices, visual hallucinations, days and days without sleep, unbelievable roller coaster of highs and lows, fits of rage, it was scary bad). Therapy, meds, different meds, more therapy, more meds, blah.... It did help, some. Didn't seem to help as much as I thought it should, meds would lose effectiveness after a while, and I was getting very frustrated.

Some years later, and back together with my ex-wife (who has bipolar II, btw). Concerned about my lack of progress, she's been doing tons of research online. I go to the doc with what she and I talked about, and come home with a new diagnosis: paranoid schizophrenia. This makes much more sense to me, in light of some of my other symptoms (and it's not altogether uncommon for severe bipolar to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, or the other way around). Note that this is also one of the reasons I urge people to learn more about their symptomology--my course of treatment could have gone differently had I been armed with better info. Med adjustment at this point helps some, need to get my butt back in therapy, though. Last med adjustment was Friday, dropped one and doubled up on two others--should help more with the nasty paranoia, the vicious show-and-tell voices, and should help the shakes as well (bonus!).
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replied February 26th, 2012
Well I see you're in a much harder situation. I really hope you'll find a treatment that works and learn to cope with this condition. Must be really scary to hear all those voices...Just keep holding on

My GP told me : "The only way to cope with your condition is to lie to yourself about it"

Honestly, I don't know how to follow this advice, hopefully it will mean something to you...
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replied February 26th, 2012
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Well honestly, my initial response is to put your GP's advice right up there with "if you think you're crazy, then you're not," which is to say, in the trash bin. Denying your condition is only going to serve to make it worse. Maybe, however, he was trying to make some point about how that was the only way to keep from being overwhelmed by it, or something? Really not sure.

If you ever find out what the hell that's supposed to mean, let me know.
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replied December 3rd, 2013
I have bipolar ll, depression, anxiety, AD/HD. I have a life of continuos roller coaster if highs & lows. Stress sets me off into a total melt-down!! I cry very easily, feel all alone, hopeless and I start isolating, and sleep tons, until I can't sleep anymore. After many years of being told it depression and trying a whole range of Meds... The final thing that worked best for me: Effexor XR which is the best mood-stabilizer which made a huge difference in my life. To make sure I slept well BC I had racing thoughts.. Seroquel but the huge downside is over the past 15 years I've gained 100LBS!!! It's vital that u have a really good therapist that u see on a regular basis .also, support groups. U need to talk to others w your condition. Make sure u r telling your dr. everything, so they can best help uWink
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