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Avatar universal

Do I have Bipolar Disorder?

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder about 15 years ago.  I was placed on Lithium, which did help stabilize my mood, but caused serious side effects.  I was changed to Tegretol, which slowed me down to a crawl.  Multiple other meds were tried for the highs and lows.  After about five years, I stopped the medicines completely.  Things were quite rocky at first, but things have been stable for several years now.  I have experienced brief periods of decreased sleep, pressured speech, hyperactivity; alternating with periods of hypersomnia, fatigue, anergy.  Nonetheless, I am able to work, function, and provide for my family.  My work ethic is good and I receive commendations for the job that I do.  My family has no complaints regarding my performance at home or attitude with them.  My question is this.  We all experience highs and lows in our life--does that necessarily make one mentally ill?  I believe that the mental health community is quick to put "labels" on individuals, but believe that many of us are just experiencing life as it happens.  If I were truly Bipolar, would I not be experiencing more difficulties with my life?  Thanking you in advance for answering my question and for taking on the job of responding to questions in this forum.
Sincerely, Jeff
5 Responses
242532 tn?1269550379
Personally and professionally, I couldn't agree more with what you are saying about unnecessary and harmful labeling. What we are talking about when we describe symptoms and behavior patterns is the way that humanity suffers....the human condition..the ups and downs of life, sometimes just little storms while at other times gale force winds.

But you can make a case for the psychological profession trying to make sense of these patterns in order to look for causes and to test whether certain remedies work better, or work at all.

That said, just a tiny word of caution.  On one hand don't ever reduce yourself into the label, or think of yourself "a disease";
On the other hand, stay vigilant and get help if you need it if another gale comes along.

Hope this helps.
Avatar universal
Thank you Dr. Gould for putting a "human spin" on what has the potential to do much harm--labeling.  I will heed you words of caution with the hope that future medical intervention will not be necessary, yet leave the door open for that possibility. Thank you for providing answers to this forum and your program, "Mastering Stress and Depression."  I have checked your program out and believe it to be a very helpful and cost-effective means for assisting people through the ups and downs of life.
Avatar universal
Jeff: about labeling people, I'd say that on taking labels with a mature point of view one gets to know and accept the trends of one's own personality, which means that you know in advance what you yourself will behave like under all of the circumstances of life. If under sress you get depressed (most of people do), then you can have a handful of countering measures to help stabilize your life, which means whatever you like more (name it: fishing, yachting, sex, etc. i.e. be hedonic in a certain manner), and consciously make your self take them along with the stessful situation. The key to doing so is that, as you conciously "go to the good" to counter "the bad going", you should keep your mind focused on "the good", and this will help you replenish your energy to get concentrated to cope with "the bad" when you get back there, and you'll more probably succeed it satisfactorily for yourself. Regards.
Avatar universal
About 10 years ago doctors said I had bi polor they put me on very strong meds. with in Afew months I gained 130 pounds I could not walk with out falling most of the time I did not my name in Dec.96 was put in hostpal when released my family was told I had altimzer and would only live about A year
Well thanks to me son he refused to let them put me away and took me to live with him he took all the pills away BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPEND with in 3 week I begain to thank again I did not know what year it was I begain to lose weight went from 259 to 145 what I weighed befor in 4 months I was able to come people who know me could not belive it was me when I went to the doctor he did not know what to sayI am on lithum & welbrution and getting along good would like some one to tell me what went wrong had my son not rescured me I would be dead I wonder other are in rest homes because thay had no one to help them      
                       RT, 2 Box 800
                         Point Pleasant Wv.

Avatar universal
Difficult topic. I have been treated with LiCarbonate, Depakote and Wellbutrin SR for 8 years. I initially fought the drugs, the side effects; missed the highs, the cognitive sharpness, my younger looking skin, body, etc. I was taught by my very wise physician that BPD is considered a fatal disease; as the illness progresses it almost always leads to suicidal lows, or equally disruptive/dangerous highs. I have learned to value my stability, my relatively calm equilibrium. I now spend my time and energy investing in my children, my wife, friends, my creative pursuits -- instead of the overwhelming battles I previously had with my mood, affect, depressions, and draining highs.  I believe psychiatric intervention has helped me because I have a good physician, who carefully diagnosed by case, and has helped me to correctly apply and manage the meds. The meds are a tool for me to achieve the stability, and subsequently the quality of life that I was unable to achieve without them. I highly recommend that all BPD patients pursue quality of life -- long term over short term -- as a goal for assessment and treatment. The only important "labels" should be "alive" and "living well".
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