Confessions of an Eighteen-Year-Old Bipolar Disorder Sufferer

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    Jan 27, 2011 5:27 AM GMT
    Hey guys,

    I just joined and all, but I felt that, given the openness of this place and the fact that this is a mental health forum, I'd start to post about my struggles with my bipolar disorder on perhaps a daily basis. To start, let me introduce myself: My name is Kody. I was born in April 1992 and was originally diagnosed with anxiety disorder in July 2009. Fast-forward to December 2010, a horrible breakup that nearly destroyed my sanity and a slew of Christmas company that threw me over the edge and the doctor has diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. I'm currently on Symbyax to treat it and have a generic Xanex to combat the horrid attacks should they come on.

    So, how did my Wednesday go?

    It was stressful. Last night, I had a good hour-long talk with my friend whose husband is mentally ill about disability and decided to take the plunge and try to apply for it today. A part of me is feeling guilty for doing it, because there's people who are so much better off than me, but the other part of me that told me to do it isn't guilty at all. I'm the product of an abusive relationship, I've been physically, mentally and emotionally abused my my father, mentally and emotionally by my mother, and was horribly bullied, belittled and harassed at school. However, while this doesn't excuse the anxiety I suffer, it does give me a reason to believe it's all right for me to apply, given that nowadays, I can't even walk into a crowded area by myself and not think about having an anxiety attack. The one thing--ONE thing--that's keeping me from going to the community center gym is the fact that I may have to deal with crowds, but you know what? I'm going to try and do it. No, let me rephrase that--I WILL do it, tomorrow, when I wake up and I've chugged a few Pepsis.

    I'm not sure what else to say. Hopefully this is all right for a kinda/sorta introduction. Hopefully people will be able to offer advice, let me let off steam, that sort of thing.

    I look forward to meeting all of you.
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    Jan 27, 2011 5:45 AM GMT
    Skip the Pepsis!!

    Try POM pomegranate juice instead. Lots of sugars, natural ones, and all kinds of good. It does make a difference. Pepsi will give you a crash and jitters. Nothing like a chemical anxiety trigger, lol!

    -Doug

    You'll see a lot of people like you, anxious and putting their best foot forward (because they don't want to look anxious) so you won't be able to tell. Interesting, eh?





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    Jan 27, 2011 8:17 AM GMT
    I drink Diet Pepsi. I have to have my caffeine, otherwise I get even more anxious. I'm not much in the mood to go through caffeine withdrawals either, especially given my moods as of late.

    As to other things, I've been trying to fall asleep for the last four hours and it hasn't been working.
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    Jan 27, 2011 11:52 AM GMT
    Hi Kody!

    I am bipolar as well. It seems to run in the family. My mother, a number of aunts, and one of my sisters have it as well. I am on LiCO3 for it. I hate crowds as well, but can tolerate them well enough.

    I have a buddy who has PTSD with acute anxiety disorder. Perhaps you two can chat. He has an interesting program for dealing with it. If interested, drop me a line.

    Most of all, know that you're not alone and there are ways to make it better. I am available as well if you just need to talk to a sympathetic ear.

    Hugs,

    Andreas
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    Jan 27, 2011 11:55 AM GMT
    HELLO! Welcome to RJ icon_smile.gif
  • spades

    Posts: 227

    Jan 27, 2011 12:57 PM GMT
    Hi Kody, welcome to RJ

    I too am bipolar, but over the years I have learned to control it, still get the anxiety attacks in crowds, but not as bad as before. You will get through it, it takes time, supportive friends/family and a willingness to overcome it.

    Good luck man, drop me a line if you want to chat.

    HUGS
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    Jan 27, 2011 3:08 PM GMT
    I had a good friend with bipolar. Her docs tried every medication available, including the most advanced cutting edge drugs (as well as the traditional old drugs). She was being treated by a leading researcher in the field. The meds made her so sick -- like her soul and health were being sucked out of her. The only thing that seemed to lessen the symptoms was small doses of pot, used medicinally in this case.

    GABA, a food supplement, works really well for anxiety attacks -- attacks will become mild or cease altogether. GABA is a common amino acid found in food that becomes depleted from chronic anxiety. GABA works in the brain to calm the nervous system during stress. Once depleted, anxiety attacks result (according to the book I red on the topic). If interested, take 500mg on an empty stomach before bed. It can be taken in the morning as well for severe cases. You may feel slight dizziness for 10 seconds or so shortly after dosing, but this quickly goes away. The NOW brand works well, Source Naturals brand seems too strong. Take GABA daily to build up your reserves, but cease when no longer needed. Too much GABA causes mild depression. Other than that, it has far fewer side effects than prescription meds.

    Good luck.
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    Jan 27, 2011 3:22 PM GMT
    SimplyKody saidI drink Diet Pepsi. I have to have my caffeine, otherwise I get even more anxious. I'm not much in the mood to go through caffeine withdrawals either, especially given my moods as of late.

    As to other things, I've been trying to fall asleep for the last four hours and it hasn't been working.


    ...which is what caffeine can do - keep you up. Try tea or coffee then instead of diet pepsi, which is NOT good for you or your teeth. Don't drink it in the evening.

    -Doug
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:31 PM GMT
    Hey Kody!!! Welcome to RJ!!!
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    Jan 27, 2011 9:44 PM GMT
    I overcame my anxiety and went to the local community center and worked out for about an hour. Yay me! haha.
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    Jan 27, 2011 9:47 PM GMT
    Alan07
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    Jan 27, 2011 10:05 PM GMT
    I dont want to be the bearer of bad news, but as far as 'disability' is concerned you won't get anywhere..
    If you'd like to discuss this privately I'd be glad to but not here in an open forum.
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    Jan 27, 2011 10:16 PM GMT
    I feel for you, but is it possible to apply for SSI disability unless you apply under your parents?
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    Jan 27, 2011 10:20 PM GMT
    Hi, welcome to RJ!
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    Jan 27, 2011 10:47 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidI feel for you, but is it possible to apply for SSI disability unless you apply under your parents?


    I already did. Guess it's up to them to decide whether or not I'm a serious enough case. :/
  • titus8229

    Posts: 84

    Jan 27, 2011 11:02 PM GMT
    My advice to you would be to nix the drugs. The mind is a very complicated thing and mood altering drugs are very poorly understood. The effects they have from person to person vary dramatically. I was in a rough spot a few years ago and I found my own way through without drugs, I hope you do the same icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 27, 2011 11:25 PM GMT
    titus8229 saidMy advice to you would be to nix the drugs. The mind is a very complicated thing and mood altering drugs are very poorly understood. The effects they have from person to person vary dramatically. I was in a rough spot a few years ago and I found my own way through without drugs, I hope you do the same icon_smile.gif


    Uh... the drugs are helping me. Why go back to being miserable/anxious all the time? I feel better than I have in years.
  • MattDawg

    Posts: 6

    Jan 28, 2011 12:02 AM GMT
    I'm a little disturbed by many of the messages which seem to dismiss psychiatry. "You don't need the meds". Would you say this to a cancer patient? Or a diabetic?

    It seems that a few participants in this post are eager to give advice in this matter, and with such confidence. The only good advice is "follow the advice of a good psychiatrist and other therapists." They studied for years in order that they might give sound advice as to whether one ought or ought not try medication therapy.

    I've struggled with ADHD and cyclothymia for a some time. Have been on and off pills, ignoring my psychiatrist. I learned to trust him though and give meds time. Are they perfect ? no. But medication therapy for mental illness is one of the great achievements of modern medicine, and one should approach it with an open mind.
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    Jan 28, 2011 12:08 AM GMT
    A bit of a disappointment today. My roommate has the car and is nowhere to be found, so there's no way I can get to therapy, not even by bus, since I don't have the cash for it.

    Ah well.

    As to people not recommending meds, I've been in the same boat before. I SWORE I'd never take meds when Lexapro fucked me up, but Symbyax is literally my Godsend.
  • Vaughn

    Posts: 1880

    Jan 28, 2011 12:25 AM GMT
    MattDawg saidI'm a little disturbed by many of the messages which seem to dismiss psychiatry. "You don't need the meds". Would you say this to a cancer patient? Or a diabetic?

    It seems that a few participants in this post are eager to give advice in this matter, and with such confidence. The only good advice is "follow the advice of a good psychiatrist and other therapists." They studied for years in order that they might give sound advice as to whether one ought or ought not try medication therapy.

    I've struggled with ADHD and cyclothymia for a some time. Have been on and off pills, ignoring my psychiatrist. I learned to trust him though and give meds time. Are they perfect ? no. But medication therapy for mental illness is one of the great achievements of modern medicine, and one should approach it with an open mind.

    As a cog neuro science major, if he can do it without the drugs he is welcome to it. He may very well be better for it. I recommend he sees a therapist who prescribes speech to help him with learning effective coping mechanisms (DBT Skills) and methods of curbing his moods. The skills he learns there is worth far more then drugs as they will stick with him for the rest of his life. By recognizing the problem he is one step toward taking control of the problem.
  • MattDawg

    Posts: 6

    Jan 28, 2011 12:52 AM GMT
    Vaughn said
    As a cog neuro science major, if he can do it without the drugs he is welcome to it. He may very well be better for it. I recommend he sees a therapist who prescribes speech to help him with learning effective coping mechanisms (DBT Skills) and methods of curbing his moods. The skills he learns there is worth far more then drugs as they will stick with him for the rest of his life. By recognizing the problem he is one step toward taking control of the problem.


    As a mathematical logician (I'm trying to be funny not catty... my wry humor often gets lost in print), let me point out that your observations do not contradict my point at all. Clearly if one can do without meds then he shouldn't be on them. All I am saying is that this decision should be made with the guidance of a physician or psychologist. Someone suffering of acute clinical depression, for instance, might reject any intervention outright on acount of his feelings of helplessness. Such a patient might not be in the position to decide for himself that he can "do without the meds."

    Someone afflicted with astigmatism will likely wear glasses his whole life. Perhaps he could get by without them by squinting all the time, making his life harder than it need be. But it is no pity if he decides to go ahead and wear glasses until the grave.

    I agree that especially with some newer drugs very little is known of the side-effects of long term use (and it is here that my eyeglasses analogy above becomes tenuous). This is a calculated risk, and one that should be brought to the patient's attention.
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    Jan 28, 2011 1:03 AM GMT
    Welcome Kody!
  • cityguy39

    Posts: 967

    Jan 28, 2011 1:09 AM GMT
    Welcome to RJ Kody
  • neosyllogy

    Posts: 1714

    Jan 28, 2011 1:23 AM GMT
    MattDawg saidI'm a little disturbed by many of the messages which seem to dismiss psychiatry. "You don't need the meds". Would you say this to a cancer patient? Or a diabetic?

    It seems that a few participants in this post are eager to give advice in this matter, and with such confidence. The only good advice is "follow the advice of a good psychiatrist and other therapists." They studied for years in order that they might give sound advice as to whether one ought or ought not try medication therapy.

    I've struggled with ADHD and cyclothymia for a some time. Have been on and off pills, ignoring my psychiatrist. I learned to trust him though and give meds time. Are they perfect ? no. But medication therapy for mental illness is one of the great achievements of modern medicine, and one should approach it with an open mind.


    It's been too long of a day and I'm in too much of a hurry to post a more elaborate (and appropriate) response, but I strongly disagree. The data on the effectiveness of psych meds is indecisive at best. The "science" of psychiatry is in no way on the same footing as more conventional medicine. As a both a neuroscientist and someone whose been close to many people with varying degrees of mental illness and watched their treatments and struggles I find the case for medicating mental illnesses dubious in most instances. Increasing evidence suggests that they may actually do more harm than good. From a psychopharmacological perspective most of the meds actions are poorly understood if at all (unlike, say, most cancer medicines). As for therapy... well, as you can imagine, it's difficult to empirically, reproducibly test (not that you can't, but it's much slipperier than just doing a double blind drug trial).

    The short version: while I generally agree with the "wait, there are experts here who know way more than you do" this is a case where I tend to disagree with the advice I see many people given. If you remind me I'd be happy to look up some literature references to support the position later. NOTE: I'm NOT making a case for or against in the OP's case (I didn't even read more than a couple lines of his post, just skimmed the thread). There certainly are cases where therapeutic and even chemical intervention are almost certainly the right choice. However I've seen, and there is literature to support, many cases where drugs that are counterproductive are proscribed or, especially common in my personal experiences, drugs prescribed that my reduce depression or suicidal ideation, but in turn impair the persons ability to function in their chosen lifestyle causing greater angst and alienation (mind you this comes from a set biased by knowing lots of scientists and academics). As for hospitalization and other severe interventions I have fewer opinions and less data, but have only heard negative things personally. (Of course, severely depressed people can tend to be rather negative...)
  • TrentGrad

    Posts: 1541

    Jan 28, 2011 1:29 AM GMT
    titus8229 saidMy advice to you would be to nix the drugs. The mind is a very complicated thing and mood altering drugs are very poorly understood. The effects they have from person to person vary dramatically. I was in a rough spot a few years ago and I found my own way through without drugs, I hope you do the same icon_smile.gif


    I'm really, really happy for you dude, but please don't give advice like this.

    I was on meds a few years back, decided I didn't need them anymore as I was eating better and exercising...and one day I nearly jumped off a highway overpass. I had very specific thoughts about wanting to be done with life, and the fear that I felt about jumping off that overpass was no greater for me than was the fear of slipping into a bathtub that may have been a little bit too hot.

    Of course, my younger brother, who was feeling down and didn't feel like going to see "a shrink" instead ended his life one afternoon. The only reason we're aware of his disdain for psychiatry was because he wrote several goodbye letters to us, and in one of the letters to my sister he said specifically he didn't feel like going to a shrink could help him feel better.

    Maybe he wouldn't have felt better...but I can attest to the fact that, when you need to be on meds, and the meds are the right ones for you at that point, it's like having this great weight lifted off of you!