Aug 16, 2011
Monday August 15, 2011.
I am 27 years old. I suspect that I may be bipolar. Specifically, hypomanic bi polar, where the fluctuation in mood are more dramatic in the depressed end of the spectrum and less dramatic in the manic end of the spectrum. This means that in my manic phases (or cycles) I experience the mania as a helpful and more productive feeling - rather than a destructive spike in energy and ideas that is uncontrollable. For example, tonight and over the last week I feel as if i am leveling out after a extreme low. Tonight, afterwork for the first time in months - in left my apartment to exercise. Also, during my shower I was supremely inspired and energized to both write a song on garageband, write this analysis, start charting and daily journaling my moods to confirm the suspicion of routine highs and lows, and repair all of the neglected relationships that have resulted from the low I am currently exiting. If I am correct, I am exiting a 5 months low that began in April, reached its peek (antipeek) in June and July, and it is now rising to moderate and above moderate leaves again. So if you pictured this as a wave (imagine a sound wave - graphed over a year - I believe I experience 4 or 3 waves (whats the right word, crests. anti crests) during a year. This belief is both influence by my limited research I have done the common cycles of clinical hypobipolar and by the the obvious patterns that I have experienced over the last 7-9 years. ( I fear that I am be trying to make the diagnoses of bipolar fit my situation because I want an answer, but I am now convinced that the evidence and patterns are not merely psychosomatic.
It seems fitting now to document some of the clues that have lead me to asking this question - am I a bipolar?
Over the the last 7-9 years, I have experienced a number of paralyzing and damaging bouts of clinical depression. My depressive stretches began during my sophomore year of college and have continued in fits and starts to this very moment. I have previously believed that I was experiencing classic clinical depression, and all of my subsequent ups and downs over the last 7 years were all an aftershock of the major depression (perhaps my worst, or perhaps my first (and seems because I had no idea or support, medication, or coping mechnisism at the time). However, this belief or hope or assumption that I must be on an steady or semi steady onward trajectory towards a healthy mental state, can no longer seem to be the truth. The last 4-5 months have been perhaps some of my worst and more depressed since that initial depression in 2003. Thus, if I merely recovering from the situational depression I experienced at Mount Union as a 20 year old (triggered and furthered by immaturity, drugs, booze, breakup, and an unclear future), I would by this point not be experiencing such dramatic, consistent, and destructive highs and lows. A third theory could be - that I am indeed just very prone falling into moments of clinical depression (and I have not developed the support system, or coping abilities to fight these depressions. That is to say - that maybe I am not hypomanic depressive, but merely depressive. The lows and cycles of my lows are undeniably clear. The patterns when and how they manifest is also become predictable and clear. I can say definitively that I need help and support. I am sick - the question is this illness and how do I live with it.
They involved - perhaps in this order or perhaps as a collective:
1) extremely anxiety. fear of going to class, seeing friends, panic about leaving home etc. Extremely anxiety about cell messages, emails, and contact with those that know me and care for me most. Interacts with acquaintances, such as coworks, and landlords etc, are easier to maintain because it is easier to act or pretend that anxiety and depression and guilt and shame to not exist. (basically, i am able to pass or act in these situations…literally, turning on on and off a personality of confidence and maturity at work and unwilling or unable to continue that person at home and with my friends and family. The more you know me… the more guilt I feel for isolating myself when the anxiety begans…. the more I fear your intrusion into the safety of my depression and anxiety coping mechanisms. The more i withdraw the more guilt I feel… It more guilt I feel, I more depressed I feel…the more unable I am to make contact… Everyday the cycle of anxiety, withdraw, guilt, anxiety becomes stronger and more difficult to control.
2) a desire to be completely alone - (perhaps a way to minimize the anxiety).
3) Guilt and shame for wanting to be alone or neglecting loved ones,,, or inability to maintain contact ( because contact would require sharing my state of mind…it is easier to disappear for months than to force people into the depression. Ironically, this strategy undoubtedly extends the depression through isolation. That is… if I in a community situation, a situation with purpose and contact - I think the depressions are less likely or able to continue to worsen.
4) Even with this knowledge - gained over the last 7 years… I feel completely unable to stop this cycle. This is now complete clear to me because situationally - before this last period of depression… all signs of positive reinforcers were in place. Job, girlfriends, community, pride, goals. plans etc. However, in 4 months all this things were lost in the cycle of anxiety, withdraw, shame. anxiety. So if the social and situational positive reinforces truly should or can stem the onset of a major depression for at least the 4th time in 7 years am once again in the situation of rebelling everything…
*** In my depressive states, I have consistently deployed the following the behavior:
Frequent, thoughts of suicide.
Early on these were thoughts of my own funeral and the aftermath of my suicide, reactions…etc. and more recently they are day dreams about the act itself. A gun to the head (always to the right temple). pills and booze. I often think of preparations for the suicide. Selling everything, or boxing everything up, cleaning my apartment to leave no work, no trace for others. Also, sometimes I imagine drowning myself. These are the three most common suicide day dreams. These thoughts of suicide are not done in despair or anguish, but always in relief and calm. I use them as a coping mechanism, I believe to relieve anxiety - I can do this and it would not continue…I would not have to go to X or do Y or talking Z. They make me feel better…and ironically… help me function.
Are these serious thoughts…there have been moments when Yes, they were active and serious potential realties. I certainly have drunkenly swallowed handfuls of pills in half serious and spontaneous efforts to kill myself. The worst resulting in me sleeping (or passing out) for 24 hours (that was a mix of red wine and an antidepressant) I last remember drinking with my roommate at around 7pm… I woke up and saw 7:00 on the clock. It was dark. I was confused, unable to walk, think, etc, correctly) I believe it was 5:00am and I needed to get ready for class, but in reality it was 7:p. At the peek of my first major depression I planned and intended on killing myself by C02 poison using a garden house, duct tape and my car. I drove to my home town to buy and execute the plan… but i ended up driving all night and eventually reaching out to my father for help. During this drive and plan…I was actively asking myself if my ideas was a something I was going to actually do or if it was just a cry for help. I honestly still don't know…but it seems that it was indeed a cry for help because I drove home and eventually reached out for help. However, I have recently learned that the suicidal impulse…and the act of a true attempted suicide attempt are usually within 1 hour of each other or even a few minutes of each other. This theory fits with night of wine and pills….in a few drunken minutes staring into the bathroom mirror the impulse came and the act of swallowing the pills then took place. I believe that perhaps one of the only reasons I am alive is not because these suicidal thoughts and impulses are merely cries for help or anxiety relieving strategies (this could be) but also because I have never had access to the right tools and opportunity to execute the suicidal impulse before the impulse fades. That is… if I had access to a gun in the past…would the implies and the opportunity have already combined to kill me? Yes, I think so.
Let's chart the last 7 years.
2002 - High school graduation.
No experiences of depression at all. 16-18 were extremely productive and energetic years. Including leadership and success on soccer team, identity as leader and captain, a social and active personal life, including partying, drinking (binge drinking lots, drugs weed and pills), while maintaining a B average and academic success.
Questions: Could the latter years of high school and first two years of college been a truly manic episode. Evidence - Outlandish social behavior, streaking, mooning (a lot), drinking, drunk driving, etc. Jackass stuff, First years of college - extreme binge drinking, inseam behavior, stair sledding, jumping out of windows, long periods of no sleep, etc.
Could my difficulty in remembering some high school memories clearly (including and mostly none alcohol or drug memories). I am able to recall drunk moments - much better than normal moment from high school ( ie classes, friendship, vacations, soccer games). Is this memory haze the result of time, booze, drugs, or could it be a symptom of a mental illness?
2002-2004 First two years of college -
Sidebar:::I have not actively thought this much about myself, my actions, my future, and my state of mind in months… I have not typed this much in months. I have not thought this clearly in months. Why is it… is it because am on the up swing of this latest wave? or is it because I worked out tonight and played soccer for the first time in months and my body is responding to the exercise high. Or can we say that the reason I was able to exercise is because I am now on the upswing and the combination of the upswing and added exercise boast is responsible for this document. Will this search of a diagnoses of bipolar be the biggest chicken and egg chase ever… ( was the fluctuation in brain chemistry that starts my depression and my harmful depressed behavior) Or is it indulging my harmful patterns of depressed behaviors that triggers the lows in my brainchemisry) I do believe some doctor will tell me… we actually don't know… However, given the time I have now been writing and the reach and ambition of this document at the moment AND comparing this last 3 hours with the last 3 months (where I have not spoken to any of my friends at all… barely spoken to my family,,,,and barely applied myself at work. watched endless hours of TV (literally many whole series), and hardly left my apartment in summer time (other than for work, the library, and food). Given all of those things are currently true (there are friends who I have not returned multiple call still…and there are concerned friends that I have literally hid from when they come to my apartment…. Give the lack of thought TV (and the extremely isolation) of the recent past compared this somewhat systematic analysis of my mental state and the fact that I am indeed writing this with the intent of people reading it (fathers, doctor, friends??) Given the change…the extreme dichotomy I am currently trying to understand while living it…seems to me evidence that something has changed in my ability to think…my physically ability to think and act. and my goals… SOMETHING HAS CHANGED---this document if nothing else is proof that SOMETHING HAS CHANGED because of its sheer ambition, length, and thoughtfulness. I was not capable of writing this a week ago… or 4 weeks ago… but am unable to stop now. SOMETHING HAS CHANGED.
PERHAPS AMAZING IDEA…
To journal everyday for a year - in order to document, analyze mood, thoughts, etc. However, a regular blog frame will not capture the phases… we need a way to visualize and quantify the ebb and flow off the cycle. My idea is that both th edgily content will capture a snapshot and a longitudinal qualitative analysis… but we create a daily qualitative analysis - that can help scientifically determine the persons place on the mood cycle (such a quiz could include - # of people spoken to today, # of chores, errands, small jobs accomplishes, # of hours spent out side of house, # of of house spend exercising. # of new ideas, # of thoughts of suicide, # of house spend outside. SCale of mood. (could # of words typed per day, and pass of typing be used as an idicator of mood. the faster and more you type the more manic you are… the slower and the less you type the more depressed you are… day without anything could later analyzed as missed because of lack of intreats, energy or over interest in something else.) all of these factors could be combined to to created a algorithm that could accurately track and graph mood over time… thus the blog become both a therapeutic tool for the depressed or bi polar person as a well as a medical tool of doctors and the patient to use to track a persons ups and dowse…. changes in medications would be listed with the daily entries - and doctors could monitor the persons daily reactions to the medications as well as the quantative data to see if the medications are effective… if the application of a medication is followed by a stabilization in the mood rating and a leveling of the graph - then the it can be successful.
patients could also have a place to tag sideeffects per day so that doctors could day monitor the persistence and onset of sideffets to certain medications (database with medications, and possible sideeffects when medication is added by doctor then a drop down is available on blog entries for side effects experienced.
the coolest and most valuable part of all this is that if the text of blog entries are color coated according to mood (thus if the qualitiave questions reviled a midly range the words would be green… if the quiz demonstrated a depressed mood they would be blue or purple or black….if the quiz demonstrated a manic state of that post or day then then the words would be orange or red. This a colored timeline could be created by viewing the blog from a widespespective and watching the changed of color. If a patient sees a consistent pattern of change of color of a certain period (1 year) (most manic, depressive states last 3-6 months) then we can diagnose that person with bipolar and begin treating…and tracking the results of medication.
also, the daily quiz could be charted as a points on a graph….looking for the wave like pattern to determine ups and downs.
so graph and color visualization for doc and patient. if understanding is important for bipolar patients than this will allow to to see actually see their pattern in a qualitative way… they will also be experiencing therapy by participating in the treatment and writing daily.
History (a resume like short analysis of the past 7 years (in my case) when was a I productive when was I depressed,, when i was i on medication, when was I employed, when was i in a relationship, where was a lving, in school, grades in school. going back and creating this history and applying the same coloring coating and a similar quatiative test (# of times, empales, hospitalized, arrested, gas) with the qualitative assessment of the period.. Ex during aug-jan 2002 working at XXX with XXX living XXX playing soccer, reined droning, meeds…. I believe I was Depressed…..
If we a combine a good, easy to use, fast, daily quizew( assessment) of mood (quantative) with a persons daily reflections, stories, opinions and (tangible track able racking system ---- to day I feel # on scale 1- depressed 10 - manic, More or less then yesterday - this week more or less then last week…
by comparing the results of the TESTs results and the persons' assessment results we will be able to see if the patient is able to have an accurate view of their mood over time… Will I be able to see that I am fluctuating… while it is happing or will the daily test reveal that I am fluctuating different than I think i am
visualization will be so cool
can i get funding to have this made…. is this a thesis idea?
How much would ante charge to make this… i need to pitch this…
can i make a prototype for me for 10000 - and then expand that to sample of bipolar a patients through network of psychologist…it test it and then publish the results.
I have just figured out me career. out of the blue… will this idea fall by the way side like ocf has…for the time.
the difference is that I need this… I am already producing the content… I just need the tracking system. I need to see if their is already test question for bipolar - and s rating system. I need to keep blogging and take an existing test or make my own test. I need to track the date and then when I have enough and I have funding I need to turn this into an application - a blog application…
could this medical blog and tracking idea be applied to other illness (certainly the application of medications, sideeffect, and improvements could be tracked easily for everything.. .and since the patients would be doing all the data input from home -docs would have it easy