I'm starting to worry that I might have bipolar disorder (not sure which kind). I don't want to jump to conclusions or try to self-diagnose myself, but it would be really helpful to get my thoughts out and hear some feedback. Looking at my life thus far I see quite a few red flags...but I could be seeing patterns and symptoms that aren't there or aren't significant. I'm just not sure. Does this sound like bipolar to anyone else? Does anyone have any advice about where I should go from here. I'm at a particularly hectic juncture in my life (I'm totally broke, my Thesis Defense is in two weeks, and 6 weeks until I graduate and get thrown out into the real world, AH!) and I'm having a really hard time right now, and I'm just not sure what to do.
I was diagnosed and treated for major depressive disorder and general anxiety starting in the winter of 2008 shortly after starting college and continuing until summer of 2011 when I somehow pulled out of it. I suspect I've had one or two depressive episodes before, especially between 7th grade and my sophomore year of high school as well, but I was not treated.
When I'm depressed I don't do much of anything. I don't leave the house if I can avoid it, I skip a lot of class (which is very uncharacteristic of me), and when I'm at school or in public I go out of my way to avoid being seen by anyone or talking to anyone. I get horribly self-critical and self-loathing, and utterly isolate myself. Sleep-wise, I either don't sleep at all for days on end (when my brain just won't stop firing away), or I sleep upwards of 14 hours a day and have absolutely no interest in getting out of bed and doing anything. I cry all of the time, I gain weight, all the standard depression stuff, I suppose.
Also, for as long as I can remember, I've never been much of a sleeper. I can remember watching the minute hand of my alarm clock tick away starting at my bedtime at 9pm until 3 or 4am on a pretty regular basis, at as early an at age 7 or 8. Strangely, waking up was always a painless affair when I was growing up even when I frequently only slept from 3am-6am or so. I just wasn't tired. I don't nap. I'm not capable. It usually takes me at least 3 hours to fall asleep. I also tend to become nocturnal when I have a choice. During summers, I usually go to bed shortly after sunrise and get up in the afternoon.
My family history with mood issues (at least from what I know) includes two people who committed suicide whom I know very little about, an aunt on my mother's side with Bipolar Disorder type I (she had to be institutionalized when a manic episode crossed over into psychotic territory and she was seeing demons and jesus was telling her to jump off a balcony or something along those lines), and another aunt with chronic depression and anxiety. My last psychiatrist actually suggested to me that I might be bipolar II because of my depressions, weird sleep issues/ racing thoughts, and family history of bipolar disorder.
Right now, I'm not being treated for anything. After things started looking up last summer, I got off my meds (celexa and wellbutrin mostly) and was absolutely thrilled to finally be happy again. I stopped smoking weed, and drinking (which I did quite frequently when I was depressed), started exercising and eating right. I lost the 40lbs that I'd gained while I was depressed. And was just generally doing really well, it was great! My volume knob on my general anxiety was turned down from a constant 8 to a hardly bothersome 1, which was the least anxious I'd ever been in my life! I was painting a lot, seeing my friends a lot, dating etc. When summer ended and college started back up again, I continued to do well and managed to get all As for the semester, while still maintaining my social life and sanity.
This semester has been a bit more shaky. It's almost like the volume knob controlling my anxiety has been slowly turned higher and higher the closer I get to graduation. I'm also writing an honors thesis which has been quite stressful. Where things get really weird, is that one day a couple of weeks ago I just woke up extra rested with an extra spring in my step, and SO MUCH extra energy! I was talking a mile a minute, and felt like I couldn't stop talking (which is especially strange because I normally speak pretty slowly!) constantly moving and fidgeting, and feeling like the entire world was going entirely too slow for me. My self esteem was through the roof (also uncharacteristic of me), and my friends kept telling me they thought I was on crack. I didn't sleep for more than an hour or so for the next 4 or 5 days, and without giving it much thought I totally drained my already pitiful bank account balance. I didn't care at the time though! I was having a blast! I made plans to fly to Scotland, to drive to Canada on a whim, and kept wanting to do hard drugs like coke or E, which don't normally have any interest. After a 4 days of no sleep (and no hard drugs, mind you!), my nerves were getting pretty frayed. I was impulsively talking to myself (I wasn't hearing voices though) all the time, and I getting fairly confused, and just generally acting bizarrely. For instance, whenever I drove my car I felt it necessary to rest my left leg on the dashboard the whole time...which probably looked a bit odd. I finally crashed (sleep-wise, not car-wise) and slept for 13 hours one night and have been on an especially weird sleep schedule since then. 2 days no sleep, 1 day all sleep, 2 days no sleep, 1 day all sleep etc. (at least roughly). The past few days have been mixed. Sometimes I feel AMAZING, and others I feel like I can't stand being in my own mind. My nerves are just too frayed, but my brain doesn't know how to turn off. That's how I feel right now anyway.
I'm really reluctant to seek help, in part because I'm not totally convinced anything is really wrong. I'm not horribly depressed like I was a year ago and I'm definitely not suicidal. I feel like I could just be super stressed out due to impending graduation and all that. Maybe I'm blowing things out of proportion? I also just don't want to worry anyone close to me, and I realllllly don't want my thesis committee thinking I've lost my mind. Oh, and I'm not insured right now.
I just realized how long this post is, my apologies! I am greatly thankful to anyone who has read this far, and I would be even more grateful to anyone who can offer me some advice.
No one on a forum can diagnose you. I would suggest you get an appointment with a psychiatrist for an initial visit. They are usually an hour or two long and he/she would go through your history. Using what you say, s/he can make a diagnosis.
Thanks for the tip, but I'm uninsured and don't have any money...
Also, I don't want to be on meds, so I'm not totally sure a psychiatrist would be a sensible first step anyway. Last time I went to a psychiatrist I was just looking for advice about how to taper off my meds and he gave me a bunch of flack saying he didn't know why I would make an appointment with a psychiatrist if I didn't want to be on meds. I thought that was kind of weird though. I didn't go back to that psychiatrist.
It sounds like it could be bi polar I am diagnosed with bipolar ll I have hypomanic episodes meaning I never get all the way manic over and beyond . The way you explained it , it sounds like a full blown manic episode. Do you come crashing down and get more depressed then ever? Like major depression after you have a manic episode? After I have a hypomanic episode I get severely depressed to the point where I want to die. And then maybe a couple days later it gets a little better.
Criteria for Major Depressive Episode (DSM-IV, p. 327)
A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.
depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g. appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
Criteria for Manic Episode (DSM-IV, p. 332)
A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least 1 week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary).
B. During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:
inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)
It may be but since I'm not a doctor I would go see a doctor or therapist and if it is take any advice and any medications you need to , so you can get yourself better, because it is a very scary mental illness and you need to treat it just like you would if you had cancer. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. XOXO
The way things are now, most psychiatrists' only task is to diagnose and dispense medications. It is not surprising the psychiatrists ask why you were coming if you didn't want meds. If you want therapy, then see a therapist/counselor/psychologist. They can't dispense medications and only do talk therapy.
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