so about this Bipolar, then

It all started ages ago when I was reading something about antidepressants. It suggested that antidepressants often don’t work with bipolar depression. It struck a chord with me, because for as long as I can remember, not one single antidepressant has ever helped me. In fact, the only reason I know they’re not sweeties, is that I always get plagued with the side effects.
It came to a head about two months ago, when I went back to the doctor and said I was feeling low again. She went through the list of stuff I’d taken before on the computer, pointing out that I “hadn’t had much luck” with antidepressants. She then suggested a new one that’s recently come to the market, called duloxetine. Apparently, it’s an SNRI, not an SSRI, so might work slightly differently.
For three weeks I persevered with them, but in the end, they were making me more miserable because of the intense nausea, headaches, dizziness, and a nasty gaggy feeling constantly at the back of my throat. You know the one – where you can’t decide whether you’re going to yawn or throw up, and then do both for good measure. So, I stopped taking them. In the end, I was glad I did. I felt even more nauseus coming off the bloody things.
It was partly this which made me suggest bipolar to my GP. There were other things, too. Things like the suddenness of my mood changes. It made no sense that over the summer I felt fine, then in August, I suddenly felt like crap warmed up. A week after stopping the duloxetine, I felt high as a kite. I could do anything. I remembered the article I’d read, and did a bit more reading. Everything seemed to fall into place.
I know GPs hate it when you go in and say “I’ve been looking on the internet, and…” but my GP was fine, saying she trusted me to look on “proper” websites. I don’t know what I expected, but when she said, “yes, to be honest, I’ve suspected bipolar for some time” I almost fell of the chair. She asked if I wanted to be referred to a psychiatrist, which I declined. I don’t mind seeing someone if I need to, but as I’m not in the middle of a crisis, and I’m pretty much managing to get on with life, I don’t really see the need. We discussed medication, including mood stabilisers. Again, I didn’t think I was bad enough to warrant meds, but then often people in a state of mania think there’s nothing wrong. She told me to keep an eye on my moods, and that was about it.
Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and so many things leave me saying “woah..” like Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted. Firstly, I found a bit of research that was done with biploar sufferers. Out of over 4000 participants, over half had some kind of anxiety problem too. Another study found that a third of respondants also had panic attacks. I’ve also learned that mood changes with bipolar can be seasonal – the person more likely to feel depressed in the winter and experience mania in the warmer months.
The whole thing is leaving me with a lot of questions, and it seems the more I learn, the more I wonder. Maybe I do need to talk to a professional….

oh, look – it’s the internet!

Guess what?
No, go on, guess.
I’ve decided to start writing again. No, don’t fall over.
There’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, people still read this blog. Even with 18 months of not posting, they still read it, then email me to ask if I’m okay because I haven’t written anything for so long. I’m both flattered and touched – thank you.
Secondly, I seem to be starting a new chapter with my mental health issues. Last week, I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Far from this being a crushing blow to my esteem, it’s actually a relief – so many things make sense now. I’m still on a learning curve, though, and as many bipolar people find it helpful to keep a record of their moods, I thought this would be a good place to do so. The type of bipolar I have is type 2, which essentially means I don’t have full blown manic phases, instead I get hypomania. My doctor said she had suspected bipolar for a while, but as I wasn’t in the middle of a crisis, and was doing well generally, it seemed silly to burden me with another mental health issue.
“But what about the agoraphobia?” I hear you cry. Well, the CBT went incredibly well. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was that it took a lot out of me mentally, and I found it really hard to write it all down too. The upshot of it is that I am no longer agoraphobic. I am doing so much now it’s hard to know where to start. I can get the bus into town and go shopping. Last year, I started going to a yoga class by myself – where I knew one other person (and she didn’t know about my ‘issues’ at the time). I’m plodding along, but there are still things that scare the crap out of me, like actually getting a job. I think it’s the fear of failure more than anything, and that it’s so final – if I screw up or decide I can’t manage, I know it will make a huge dent in my self esteem.
I’ve decided to write about my recovery from agoraphobia retrospectively, and I’ll whack it all in the CBT category, so it’s easy to find. I think this is important for my own benefit, and also to show people what it’s all about. If someone is about to embark on CBT, or has a loved one doing so, or their doctor is rattling on about a referral, then hopefully my witterings will help.
I’m also going to change the layout of the blog. I’ve had the mauve design forever, and I got lazy with the scripts that do my comments and stuff, which is why it looks like crap when you click on those links. However, I’ve been out of the loop for ages regarding scripts and things, so I might balls it all up, you’ll just have to wait and see.
So, ding ding, round two!