Monday, August 31, 2009

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness --- Aristotle

Just ask George Gordon. He understood what living with Bipolar Disorder was all about. He, also know as Lord Byron, wrote "I must think less wildly. I have thought too long and darkly, till my brain became ...a whirling gulf of phantasy and flame." (from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)

Living with Bipolar II is difficult. Being able to recognize when moods are shifting is critical to surviving. I have never (knocking my head on wood) experienced a manic phase that put me into a hospital (or jail, for that matter). I count myself fortunate that I live with the type of bipolar disorder where my moods only swing from hypomania to deep depression. Manic phases can be bizarre and I want no part of them.

In my experience, the deep depressions are the most dangerous and life threatening. I have been in the depths of suicidal depression and I choose not to ever reach those lows ever again. I have a network of support here and it is not very likely that I would sink deeply into a depression without someone noticing and calling attention to it. In fact, my doctor has contacted my brother to make sure I was doing okay on one occasion due to depression and another because of another "tropical" illness.

In treating my type of bipolar disorder, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers are important. The drugs used to keep the bipolar I's' from reaching mania aren't necessarily effective (for me) when my needs are to keep me from falling into deep depression. A mood stabilizer that affects both mania and depression are what I need. Thank goodness, medications have been identified that assist us and more testing and trials have identified others that also may help.

"Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families", by Francis Mark Mondimore, M.D. is a book with a wealth of information about bipolar disorder. I have recently found it quite useful in understanding my illness and identifying (and confirming) the treatments that have been found to be the most effective. As with any illness, each individual is unique and requires treatments tailored to their needs and physical health. I am not so unique, it seems, but my bipolar coaster ride is adversely influenced by my having a wonky thyroid gland. Yep, just another little twist in the tracks ahead and behind.

I am fortunate that after years of suffering from severe depressions a general practitioner listened to me describe my periods of depression and my periods of "crazies". He sent me immedicately to a qualified pyschiatrist who did indeed correctly diagnose my illness. Over the years, I had seen 3 other pdocs and 5 talk therapists and none of them ever properly diagnosed my condition. Interestingly enough, that fact is not so rare either. It seems there is a significant number of folks with bipolar disorder whose diagnoses have taken years to be made correctly.

Live and learn. Yes, I will continue on this course and hope that the coaster ride doesn't soar too high nor plunge too deeply. What a helluva ride.

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