A person with bipolar may have a sense that changes are happening to them, or NOT.
|Know thyself applies to all of us, but especially bipolars. Bipolars experience sometimes drastic mood changes. Other mood swings may be less drastic. Recognizing one's own mood change requires one to step outside themselves and view a life situation objectively. This process requires some thinking, and when one is flooded with adrenaline from some environmental stresser, it's difficult to stop and think.
In the beginning a bipolar might want to chart mood changes on paper or a computer application designed for that purpose. You may begin to notice patterns. I diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Depression. One cloudy October day I was staring out my window, relaxing my eyes on a gray-brown Corpus Christi Bay, covered with a gray sky of clouds and chaos. It were if my mood was being controlled by the grayness of the atmosphere. I wistfully recalled many years of falling into a depression a couple of months before Christmas. I began to realize, thinking on my past, that every fall I would loose my happy demeanor and depression would fill me with emotional darkness.
My files were handy, and I read through my copies of medical info and medications. I visualized some of those dark days, days I dragged myself through being a teacher. I remembered how the year before, I was clinically depressed but trying my best, and I was "observed" by the principal. I read through the social studies material in a monotone, neglected to involve the students with questions, and was relieved when the bell rang. During my evaluation discussion, my principal noted my physical demeanor was unimpassioned. I was quietly contradictory to my reputation as the Student Council sponsor, the one who laughed and got wet during the middle schooler's car washes. It happened in the fall.
I remembered a time in the early 1980s when I spent a few weeks in the care of the Baylor Hospital Psychiatric Department. I went in the hospital the last day before Thanksgiving vacation. Baylor took us on a bus ride to see Christmas lights, but I just cried. That night when I tried to go to sleep, a very real inage burned itself into my mind. I could see me, dressed for outdoors in my black and white plaid cape. I was laying on top of Christmas tree branches I had put into the bathtub to was off before decorating. The shower curtain was pulled back,and I had a clear view of myself. There lie my .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. still shiny new. There was a gunshot wound in my chest. I lay ther bleeding to death in my bathtub, in my mind. I tried to shake the image, but it kept coming back. It came back for days, maybe weeks.
I knew what the dream meant. I would loose all my problems by ending my life with one shot to the chest. If I did it in the tub, there would be less blood for whoever cleaned up. The image haunted my nights, and eventually my days too. I knew I would have to admit to someone in the hospital staff that I was really suicidal. I knew that I would be treated differently. I told and I was.
The hospital or I shared by suicidal visualization with my mother. I had purchased my gun when I lived in Houston, and this was the first my mother had heard about it. My father's collection of rifles were sold away after his death, and Mom and I had not even discussed having a gun in the house for protection. For years I had sworn that I would not own a gun, because an emotionally unbalanced individual with a gun ended John Lennon's life. However, in my thirties, with a wide variety of people in my life, I felt I needed the gun for protection. Having a shiny revolver in the drawer next to my bed made me feeel safer. If a burglar entered my home in the night, obe hit from a hollow point bullet would end their invasion of my home.
I admitted, that in my head, I had seen myself end my life with that gun. Part of that cure was that the gun had to go. My mom went in my house, found the gun, and took it to my aunt's house, two blocks away for safe keeping while I was still in the hospital.
My Aunt was in her 70s and my mom in her 60s at that time. Neither had experience with guns. I was never told the whole story, but my mother shot my aunt's bed. I inherited the bedspread, and to this day can prove the story. All things considered, after life got back to not-depressed and normal, I decided I was not a person who needed to keep a gun for defense.
Suicide statistics for bipolars are frightening for me. According to NIMH sources, one in five bipolars end their own lives. Keeping a weapon out of my hands will keep me from a drunk or high mpulsive act that would end my life.
Many other Thanksgiving birthday, and Christmas family and friend celebrations were interrupted by me and some kind of my bipolar behavior. It's not any thing I can control. I can take meds for my symptoms, but when I enter into a bipolar episode, there is nothing I can do to go back and repair damage. Once the episode starts, it needs to run its course, and to be medicated with appropriate medication.
Sitting in my blue chair that day, looking out on a gray City by the Bay, I, myself realized that the Daylight Saving time change has always set off my fall into winter depression. The hour back time change I now meet with a full prescription on antidepressants and light box therapy.
One of my psychiatrists was emphatic in denying I had Seasonal Affect Depression. He explained that the locations of Corpus Christi and Dallas, Texas, were too far south for the lessening of the sun's winter rays to effect a person's emotional outlook.
If a bipolar is unhappy with the treatment received from their psychiatric doctor, that peron has the option of seeking other medical care.
My personal attitude is that if you lack an exchange of trust and respect, you need to find a psychiatrist that can meet your particular needs, including dealing with your quirks. This has caused me to have more than my fair share of psychiatrists in a lifetime.
If I had been seeking an escape from my bipolar diagnosis, this doctor that didn't believe I had SAD, and he said he didn't believe I was bipolar. He did not have any of my hitorym exceot what he had observed.
He said, "You have borderline personality disorder." He leaned back in his big leather desk chair and tapped the tips of his fingers together. Our appointed time for this meeting wa rapidlu growing to a close.
This doctor had slowly but surely gotten me off lithium. It controlled my symptoms well enough, but after taking the salt-based drug for several years, I had gained nearly 100 pounds. My clothes went from size 10 teacher clothes to large scrubs. I had tried to lose some pounds, but I couldn't beat what the salt did to my body as a whole. I carried more weight, my back hurt, my knees hurt, and my face--especially my cheeks--were puffwd out like a squirrel with a mouth full of nuts.
That particular doctor and I never had a good relationship. One day we both got our issues out in the open, and I left my appointment in tears. However, his kind secretary help me set up an appointment with another psychiatrist in my medical insurance network before I left. I know better than to be without a doctor to monitor and maintain the meds I need to be stable.
Side-effect are not intended to rule your life. If side-effect are a problem, explain the isue to him in great detail. Some medications for bipolar disorder seem worse than the disorder itself. Search for a happy medium, and don't compromise your feelings.
If you can recognize your triggers, in theory you can change your environment, or medications, and avoid the worst of what can become a bipolar psychosis