Getting Diagnosed Is The Beginning Of A New Chapter

With great anticipation, I arrived at my psychiatric evaluation yesterday. I truly believed the doctor would guide me to supply the “right” answers and give me yet another prescription for antidepressants in the SSRI class. It seemed the appointment lasted about an hour. She asked me questions about when I first felt depressed- I answered “late teens or early twenties.” Some of the questions were familiar. My answers regarding how I felt when anxious were blurred with my responses for when I felt tense and irritable. I became aware of my rapid speech just as the doctor asked me if I was aware of it. My co-workers never commented on my rapid speech. Much of my life has felt like two speeds, slow and fast, working together at the same time. How quickly I could get manic or hypomanic- has often perplexed me.

Gathering Information

I felt depressed this past week. The depression can last up to 2 weeks. I admitted to feeling worthless, hopeless and inadequate, and even mentioned my preocccuption with death (not executing the plans, but simply how would the world around me move once I was gone). My depression never seems to get to the point where I need hospitalized. When the doctor said she believes that I have bipolar, she explained her reason.

  • My mother had a drinking problem. She had attempted suicide, and had relationship problems. She probably never got diagnosed and used alcohol to self-medicate.
  • My grandmother drank as well. Bipolar disorder runs in families and most people do not seek treatment for fear of stigma associated with mental illness. Drinking is a way to numb the pain. It is cheap and sometimes manageable, but most often it is not manageable. The person suffering from bipolar disorder usually experienced other additonal problems that come with abusing alcohol.
  • When on Lexapro, I suffered morbid nightmare- disturbing images of death, decay, etc. My doctor told me many patients she treats for bipolar have mentioned the same problem with certain SSRI antidepressants.

Following the diagnosis, she told me about 3 different types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder.

  • Lithium
  • Lamictal
  • Anti-psychotics

I was told I’d be given a prescritpion for Lamictal, which is used to treat neuro patients for epilepsy and it is used to treat bipolar.

I’m not exactly eager to try another medication, but I will pick it up when it’s ready. I also ordered 5htp from a vitamin shop.  Right now, I am happy to finally be diagnosed. I think I can continue managing my moods because I am entering my “manic” cycle once again. Maybe I will feel like being creative once in awhile. With hope, there is still concern. When I am depressed, I can’t write or think. Writing is one of the most important ways I use to help with my issues. I just wonder how much a pill can really help me right now?

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