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I have concerns about my bipolar disorder diagnosis
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I have concerns about my bipolar disorder diagnosis

In December 2004, I was a senior in high school who was taking college level classes.  I took an amazing philosophy class which I found extremely interesting.  After learning so much about the opinions of other philosophers, I began learning formal logic.  I loved logic so much that I began to practice it as much as possible outside of class.  I practiced logic by writing detailed essays for and against certain ideas, like abortion.  As a result, I began writing more, I became more persuasive, learning new things became much easier, and for the first time, I began feeling confident on my writing and speaking skills.  I completely restructured my thought processes in a very systematic way.  

For a while, I got a positive response from friends and family.  They began to enjoy having conversations with me, complimenting my “mature” views on certain topics.  Mentally, I started to lose control after I systematically convinced myself that nothing can be known, “I can’t know whether things exist,” etc.  It was as if I were completely empathizing with the philosophers who I had read about.  I became scared and amazed at the same time.  My thoughts went from “I can’t know anything,” to “The more I don’t know, the more potential I have to learn,” to “I can learn anything because I don’t know anything.”  After convincing myself that “nothing can be known,” I started to spend more time alone in my room and sort of consciously put myself in a trance or in a state of meditation as I played with the piano that I had recently received for Christmas.

With no prior piano instruction, I completely learned Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” bagatelle in 2 weeks!  I would sit there and stare at the notes not thinking about anything else but associating patterns, making mental connections, and applying logic to learning the piece.  I was “in the zone,” so to say, and it was a state of mind that I could consciously put myself in.  When I put myself in my “zone,” I was my most intelligent, most creative, I felt most relaxed, and very confident.  For example, I used to have insomnia, and wake up at the slightest noise.  But when I was in my zone, I could let go and relax at will.  I began getting sleep.

That, for me, was an amazing discovery, which I wanted to share with everyone who I thought deserved to know, a mistake that I’ll never make again.  One evening, while in my “zone,” my parents decided to take me to the ER when I let them in on my epiphany.  The doctors there thought I was on drugs.  After doing several drug tests, which all came negative, the doctors decided to send me to a psychiatric hospital.  Looking back on the situation, I wish I had been on drugs.

But, before going to the psych hospital, when I went to the ER, I was extremely scared.  I knew that I was not behaving normally and I was scared of what they were going to do to me.  I tried desperately to convince my parents and doctors that I was very well, completely harmless, and completely sane.    Disappointingly, the more I tried to persuade them, the more “nuts” I seemed.  I felt trapped.  My “zone” self was overpowering my normal self.  My normal self knew very well that my behavior was that of an unstable person.  My “zone” self was trying desperately to protect me from doctors by means of persuasion.  I was talking a lot.  I can remember my mother crying, “He knows something is wrong,” speaking of me as if I were a sick puppy at the veterinarian’s office who couldn’t communicate.  
At this point, my instincts would not let me snap out of it.  I was in a state of panic.  

Moral of the story:  I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that I’ve always disagreed with, then and now.  I was put on a nearly lethal concoction of Depakote, Trileptal, and Seroquel.  Four months after taking meds, in May 2005, I decided to not take them anymore.  I could barely function.   I hate drugs.  A year later, my psychotherapist didn’t believe me when I told him that I hadn’t been taking meds for the past year.  Now, I’ve been without medicine for three and a half years and I’ve been absolutely fine, other than the fact that I think about my trip to the ER and psych ward as if it were yesterday.  It was a devastating event in my life.  That was the first and only time I’ve ever been committed to a psychiatric hospital.  My friends don’t even believe me when I tell them my story.  I just want to forget about it.  I regret ever having gone.

Recently I started having concerns about my future as I’m coming closer to graduating. Will my health insurance cost more because of this event?  Do I have the right to ask that my diagnosis be re-evaluated, or what?  What are the negative consequences of my diagnosis and what can I do about it?  I feel like my life would be so much better had I not gone to the ER that day.   It’s embarrassing.
Any advice is appreciated.  Thanks for reading!  
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11 Comments Post a Comment
607502 tn?1288251140
First thing to state is this - not taking your meds and being fine does not mean you are not bipolar, sorry to burst your bubble but I went 15 years unmedicated.

Type 2's can and do go long stable periods, they also tend to love the hypomania which you so beautifully described by the way, welcome to the cub.

Sure you can ask for your diagnosis to be re-evaluated but Im curious as to what you will do if they do not change it - based on what you just described I would consider you bipolar at least and im not a pdoc.

Mental illness is not embarassing its reality for those of us here and I'm sorry but based on what you have just written unless you were taking LSD its reality for you as well - what the negative impact of the diagnosis is depends on a number of factors and here are some I can see based on my history :

How long it will be between manic episodes
If the delusions next time are worse or dangerous
If you have people around you who will recognise the signs and get help

See none of us know what makes us go from stable to unstable - in my case it was stress load and one too many things building up in my life but other people are different.

Also do not forget that if you are bipolar and do not treat it you heavily increase your risk of developing other mental issues later in life including early onset dementia.
599945 tn?1240385954
I agree with monkeyc, you can be in remission for any length of time as is the case with many diseases and you must realise that this is a disease. i'd have to think that they dont just randomly tell a person that they're bipolar and give them strong meds unless they were sure. sounds like you weren't being monitored very often while on the meds either which is necessary as the drug regime sometims has to be changed and blood levels of various drugs need to be checked. if you are not ready to deal with the condition you could educate yourself about it, kay redfield jameison - the unquiet mind is an excellent book to read. i don't know how diagnosis will influence college applications etc, talk to your student counselllor about that. good luck with it,
462570 tn?1273636577
Lucky Dog!  I wish I was a BiPolar II!  I'd give anything to beable to go extended periods of time unmedicated and stable......
Oh Well.....I think I'll just stay on my meds and enjoy the mild stability I have at  moment coupled with the mild hypomania that connects me to "the zone" as you described it.  Atleast I'm not in the "pit" as I call it that leads me to "suicidal ideation and thought" with the medication.  
Higher vibrational patterns means drastically lower crashes.
Its a good day to be Bi Polar!
Love and Light
Avatar f tn

I think you are very talented and gifted and you are right to doubt the first diagnosis.

I dont know anything about health insurance but it is a very good sign that you are doing fine without medication for so long.  So be positive.

It sounds like you did have some 'episode' and this can happen, maybe you stressed your brain too much,  It does happen that a person can have this once and recover.  Though a lot of people on this board would not have this experience, theie illness is more long term.

I work with a very talented professional artist and he has also had one or two episodes like this i his life.  To understand yourself is the key.

Best of luck
607502 tn?1288251140
Being talented and gifted does not prevent mental illness, some of the most talented and gifted people of the 20th century were bipolar.

The entire description of this episode down to the hallucinations, delusions and behaviour could be right out of a textbook on bipolar.

Being smart does not preclude you from bipolar, hell a lot of us in here would likely do very well on an IQ tes.  So what.

I am sorry but you do not get 'episodes' of mental illness with the symptoms described above from over stressing your brain - my god considering the stress load my brain has been under for the past 2 weeks I should be convinced I am the messiah by now if it were the case.

Bipolar is long term but you do get episodes of behaviour like you described during the course of this disease.  People do not just flip out.  Sorry therese83 your artist friend probably also has a mental illness - if he has had episodes like these its  good bet.

You can get a new diagnosis - its a good idea to get a second opinion anyway but do not ignore what they say if you get a diagnosis you do not like, you can do what I did and cover your ears and not listen, pretend you do not have the disease, and go on with things but trust me if its there it will lurk in the back of your mind until it comes back and that can be a lot worse than the denial.  

Being smart does not protect you from mental illness any more than being white or green or having red hair or carrying a rabbits foot.
656024 tn?1224544147

I know its hard to accept a diagnosis of mental illness, even if the DX  seems dubious.

Do psychatrists get things wrong, yes.  But understand that you came into and ER obviously altered in your mental capacity, they aren't just going to ignore that.

The thing that I seem to hear from your post is not that they got the diagnosis wrong, but that you seem a bit ashamed about it.

To be diagnosed with a mental illness is somewhat of a shameful thing, and I understand that you would want someone to re-evaluate it and make it disappear.

Are you bipolar, possibly, even probably if that's what your docs said.  And if you are fortunate to not have another episode for long periods of time, thats great.

And i really do understand struggling with this information.

As for the insurance question.

Yes, having a diagnosis of bipolar can preclude you from getting insurance.  I know for most plans it makes you completely ineligible, sorry.

The best way to get around this is to get employer-based insurance, because then they have to cover you.  Sometimes they give you exemption periods saying that they wont cover anything pre-exisiting for a certain period of time (like 6 months)

I was worried about this when I started getting jobs with insurance, but so far it hasn't been a problem.  Actually with a couple of exceptions my insurance company has been pretty good about making sure I have resources to treat my bipolar.

I hope this helps.

Avatar f tn
Did I say having a clever Brain stopped you getting mental illness???

No I dont think I said that.  I believe quite the opposit actually.  I think people prone to mental illness are very insightful, can often see things differently in a good way/sensitive.

I just said that marc was clever/talented and gifted.  What is wrong with saying that???

It is possible to have one episode and then recover.  Maybe he is predisposed.  But it is possible.

My sister had very severe depression, suicidal + my God she lost so much weight.  She took 9 months + recovered.  This is 20 years ago.
She has recovered.  She has been stable since.

My friend well he is probably predisposed and he had his episode when he was having trouble in his early marriage.  He hasnt had a repeat.  So if he got stressed in that way again.  I mean 'emotional stress' then sure he might go over the edge.  But he doesnt need medication + how can you say he has a mental illness.  He can take other stress, PHD and stressful job, but things that matter matter.  He is a greaat support to me and I have spent so much time with him over the last three years.  He is better than all the people who have never been through this.

OK I'm not as knowledgeable as you monkey.  But couldnt someone have a 'phase' or an acute version rather than a chronic illness.  Believe me I understand the chronic part I have been on medication myself for nearly four years.  I know this is much more often the case as well.

I think you have to be careful especially when the brain is not mature.  Also we dont really know the cause?  So maybe it was there and then it was not?

I think it pays to be positive with people whereever possible and if you can ease the worry.  If someone can go on and feel well. why not?
454863 tn?1208310579
See I'm the same way.  I dont know if I have bipolar, but my musical abilities are astounding.  What it is is alot of very good musicians have problems.  Look at Beethoven and Mozart.  You are probably maybe the next, but you gotta realize something.  Being a musician and studying philosophy at the same time can be like a tag team force on your mental will.  What it is is you're probably going too deep into your psych with all that philosophy stuff. I dont mean to be straightforward, but you Stay Too much In YOur Head.  You gotta keep busy.  Try getting exercise, keeping yourself busy.  Theres alot more out there, you just cant see it.
574118 tn?1305138884
two possibilities and no third to them. Either you were misdiagnosed which is more probable, or that a miracle occured. Yet upon checking with wikipedia
it says:

A naturalistic study from first admission for mania or mixed episode (representing the hospitalized and therefore most severe cases) found that 50% achieved syndromal recovery (no longer meeting criteria for the diagnosis) within six weeks and 98% within two years. 72% achieved symptomatic recovery (no symptoms at all) and 43% achieved functional recovery (regaining of prior occupational and residential status). However, 40% went on to experience a new episode of mania or depression within 2 years of syndromal recovery, and 19% switched phases without recovery.

i have no comment only good luck
607502 tn?1288251140
If you look at the actual study here :

And not the Wikipedia Version you will note its about First Episodes and this is the abstract :

OBJECTIVE: Since improved prediction of illness course early in bipolar disorder is required to guide treatment planning, the authors evaluated recovery, first recurrence, and new illness onset following first hospitalization for mania.

METHOD: Bipolar disorder patients (N=166) were followed 2–4 years after their first hospitalization for a manic or mixed episode to assess timing and predictors of outcomes. Three aspects of recovery were measured: syndromal (DSM-IV criteria for disorder no longer met), symptomatic (Young Mania Rating Scale score <=5 and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score =8 weeks), switching (onset of new dissimilar illness before recovery), relapse (new episode of mania within 8 weeks of syndromal recovery), and recurrence (new episode postremission) were also assessed.

RESULTS: By 2 years, most subjects achieved syndromal recovery (98%, with 50% achieving recovery by 5.4 weeks); 72% achieved symptomatic recovery. Factors associated with a shorter time to syndromal recovery for 50% of the subjects were female sex, shorter index hospitalization, and lower initial depression ratings. Only 43% achieved functional recovery; these subjects were more often older and had shorter index hospitalizations. Within 2 years of syndromal recovery, 40% experienced a new episode of mania (20%) or depression (20%), and 19% switched phases without recovery. Predictors of mania recurrence were initial mood-congruent psychosis, lower premorbid occupational status, and initial manic presentation. Predictors of depression onset were higher occupational status, initial mixed presentation, and any comorbidity. Antidepressant treatment was marginally related to longer time to recovery and earlier relapse.

CONCLUSIONS: Within 2–4 years of first lifetime hospitalization for mania, all but 2% of patients experienced syndromal recovery, but 28% remained symptomatic, only 43% achieved functional recovery, and 57% switched or had new illness episodes. Risks of new manic and depressive episodes were similar but were predicted by contrasting factors.

Hospitalisation is a serious first episode - this study does not say what the anonymous wikipedia editor thought it did BTW as it only presents the small section from the conclusion and nothing more - it is in fact referring to recovery FROM THAT EPISODE not from Bipolar which does not go away.


574118 tn?1305138884
thanks for clarification
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