Submitted March 28, 2015
I think this is a good starting point to talk about my new diagnosis of bipolar II. I was just released from a psychiatric hospital three days ago. What helped me most while I was there was talking to the other patients who have bipolar and asking them what their symptoms are and how they deal with them. I have scoured the internet looking for posts from others about their symptoms and decided to share mine.
First, I voluntarily admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation. My length of stay was six days, during which time they evaluated my mood disorder and medications. In general, it was a scary, yet positive experience for me.
I will start from the beginning of this past year, although I believe my symptoms started when I was 15 years old. I was repeatedly misdiagnosed as having major depressive disorder as a teen and into my adulthood. As I have gotten older (I am 28 years old), my symptoms have become worse and worse.
Let’s start with the previous year of my life. I moved to a new state with a boyfriend I had been dating for about a year and a half. That itself started a depressive episode, but I figured that was more situational. Our relationship was rocky; we fought, I had outbursts of anger, I threatened to leave, I even physically hit him all in my depressive state. Another depressive episode was due to work. I wasn’t really doing something I was passionate about. And finally, the worst depressive episode that recently occurred was due to stress from a chronic inflammatory/nerve problem that I was just diagnosed with. I have read bipolar depression is related to stress, and this past year all the situations mentioned were stressful.
So, I want to share what my symptoms of bipolar depression are:
- Social isolation: I don’t want to take any phone calls, I don’t want to go outside my bedroom, I don’t want to interact with anyone.
- Mental sluggishness: My thoughts slow WAY down. It is like I am in auto-pilot just trying to make it through the day. I feel completely brain dead.
- Fatigue: If I am not at an activity I am required to be at (such as work) I am in my bed sleeping. I can sleep 12–15 hours a day and spend the rest of that time watching TV in bed.
- Dissociation: I have feelings that what’s going on around me isn’t real, like I am in a dream or I am watching myself — like an out of body experience.
- Severe and debilitating depression: Feeling hopeless, like I am never going to get out of this state of mind, and suicidal ideation.
- Inability to complete routine daily tasks: It’s hard to do normal things like exercise (I am a runner and have done half-marathons and was training for a full marathon), personal hygiene, going to work (missing, calling in, and when there my productivity is lower).
- Paranoia: My paranoia is related to health — I have panic and anxiety that I am sick (I obsessively took my temperature for a month), that I am going to go blind, I am dying, I will feel tingling and think something really bad is happening, my dissociative symptoms cause panic, and whatever negative thing my mind makes up I will believe it.
Now, this past year hasn’t been all depressive episodes. I have had periods through the year where I feel normal and then there are the times of hypomania. I would also like to point out about eight months ago, after a depressive episode, I thought I was cured of my major depression that I had been diagnosed with my whole life. I felt great… so, I stopped all medications. BIG MISTAKE! Instead of what I thought was a miracle cure from depression, I had fallen into a hypomanic state. Now, I have had these feelings before, but like I said the symptoms have become worse and worse since I have gotten older, so in the past I had never stopped taking antidepressants, which I think helped level out the mania.
Now I want to share my symptoms while in a hypomanic state:
- Complete euphoria: Everything around me looks better, is more beautiful. Music sounds better and it’s like I can feel the music.
- Racing thoughts and ideas: I come up with all sorts of things I could do or sign up for — new careers, quitting my job and traveling, new projects, starting a business, new activities. That’s all great, but I never complete or follow through with these.
- Energy: I was getting up at 6 am to work out, work a 10-hour shift, then party until 3 am. I was also drinking more, partying more, was the life of the party, always wanted to be out having fun, staying out all night. It was endless energy and decreased need for sleep.
- Sexual energy: during my hypomanic phase, I had multiple partners and increased libido. I had the attitude of “I don’t care, you only live once.”
- Risky behaviors that are out of character for me: I like to go out, but heavily drinking and partying until 5 am is completely out of character for me. I was also drinking and driving and feeling invincible. In my normal state, I NEVER drink and drive, and I know this is a reckless behavior. Some people say they have problems with over-spending — I never did exhibit this behavior while hypomanic.
To sum up, I went from being the life of the party to socially reclusive. Right now, I am in a severe depressive state and actually sitting in my bed writing this blog.
After discharge, I am set up to start therapy this week — both individual and group — and see a psychiatrist regularly. The hospital had me start on Lamictal for mood stabilization and Zoloft for depression. I am also taking Klonopin for my severe anxiety related to my depression.
I would love to hear feedback or comments from others! I will keep this blog updated as my journey with bipolar II is just beginning.