Hazel (Waving Wendy / Drowning Doris)

Posted April 22, 2010

I was diagnosed bipolar about 4 years ago. I was a little spooked by how it was discovered – me and my partner had been going to Family Therapy to try to help us both manage and live with my depression. I had been treated for depression for about 16 years and been on and off Prozac during that time. For most of the 12 – 15 months of therapy I was either depressed, or stable, I suppose. However, I was very hyperactive on this occasion – kept talking rapidly, couldn’t keep still etc. etc. I was pulled up sharp by the therapist’s expressive face. She was a trainee, although in her 4th year, so almost fully qualified. She looked scared – I didn’t register it until my mood leveled out, but the immediate referral to a psychiatrist rather broke into my feelings of euphoria. But I was still manic when I saw him and he was very gentle and kind. I got the impression that the Prozac I had been on and off for a number of years could have increased the manic depression and I was angry at that. However, he pointed out that I had probably never sought help when in a ‘manic’ phase and he was right, of course.

He talked of Lithium which I had heard of and said that it was rarely prescribed these days and prescribed Depakote. This drug increased my weight a lot and I was put on Lamotrogine instead (still a bit overweight, but that could be my age and lack of exercise – when depressed I can barely get out of bed). Prior to that, I had been treated on and off for 16 years for depression.

Over the last 4 years I have lost my job, gone bankrupt and come out of denial about my illness. The depressions have become more frequent, but I am learning to manage them better with the help of cognitive therapy and a lovely psychiatric nurse.

The manic phases are being kept at bay by the medication, I suppose, and I have to say I rather miss them, especially as I seem to have had more frequent episodes of depression in the last few years. When depressed I take Citalapram, but am not sure of its efficacy. I really would like to see how the disease progresses without medication as it seems to me that there has been, if anything, an exacerbation in the episodes of depression, if not the manic phase of the illness.

I would really welcome other people’s take on medication. I would very much welcome others experience about this. (Being British, of course, I am the recipient of free treatment and a very small income from disability allowance/employment support as I am not currently working.)

My website, Waving Wendy / Drowning Doris, is actually a Google blog which I am writing anonymously, but I would very much like other people to read it. I don’t mention the disease too much and it is mainly a stream of consciousness rather than a diary, as that is rather more prosaic. My private daily diary would not be very interesting as I just detail my daily life and try to engage with how I feel and what my sleep patterns are like. The main point of it is to try to pick out the pattern and try to work out and (possibly) prevent the excesses of depression/mania.

Thanks for listening!


  1. Dear Hazel, As regards the use of medication, my husband who is a manic depressive has been on lithium since 1973 regularly. In 1998 his Doctor added Depakote. He also takes some Wellbutrin for depression. The medicine has helped him to live a normal life. When he had his first episode, he was wrongly diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic (1966) and again (1968) He was treated with several shock treatments and then when he was released from the hospital they gave him one pill to go to sleep and another to help him get going in the morning. It was pure agony. That doctor had a heart attack and died. Then it was we found another doctor who correctly diagnosed him as a manic depressive. Lithium was just coming out at that time in this country USA. That was 1971. My husband didn’t like taking any medicine for this sickness and either took it spasmodically or not at all and finally quit all together. The result was he had 5 episodes within 7 years. These were all hospitalizations for the mania which caused severe psychotic behavior of about 2 months each time and then a lengthy depression afterwards, lasting from a few months to a year. Finally in 1973, his 5th hospitalization, he began to take lithium regularly. And then went for almost 20 years with no episodes. It allowed him to hold down a very responsible job as a computer programming analyst and programming manager. I’m sure if he had not decided to take the medicine, his work career would have been really messed up.

    For my husband each mania episode was triggered by a very good event with the exception of one time. He has been able to live a normal life with the help of this medication. We feel it is a gift from God. He has helped both of us throughout all this.

    There is a medicine right for you, so keep searching. But in the meantime do not go off your medicine. It will just play havoc with your life. My husband once started a manic depressive support group in our city and in that group every one who went off their medicine always had another episode sooner or later.

    This disease is almost totally controllable with medication. So you can have a normal life.

  2. stay on the boring medicine–if not you might do somethin to hurt yourself and all those who love you

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