I knew when I went into the appointment what I was prepared to tell my doctor. That I thought I was bipolar. This wouldn’t be the first time we have had this conversation.
I didn’t exactly have a normal childhood. I am sure more will come out as this blog continues but in quick nut shell… I have been in and out of therapy since I was 5. At 7 years old I was admitted to Ridgeview Institute for approximately 3 months. There was family and individual therapy and on meds for years. I was sent back to Ridgeview at 14 because I had written a letter that I was going to kill myself. I did cut myself, I think this is the first time I have actually admitted that, but I didn’t actually try to kill myself. More therapy, more meds. I quit going to therapy in my mid 20’s more so because I couldn’t afford it. God knows I need it, But it’s therapy or meds and I would rather have the meds right now.
So let’s go to December of 2013. My husband had just left me. I saw my doctor, who I have been seeing since I was 13 and trusted (and still trust) immensely. I told her at that time that I thought I was bipolar because of my mood swings. Now I have been having mood swings all of my life, this is something that I will reflect on later. I would be fine one minute and then something would set me off and I would be this raging b***h. I didn’t like it and I didn’t know what to do. At the time she didn’t think I was bipolar because I wasn’t describing any manic behaviors. (Looking back, she was asking all the right questions, I just wasn’t recognizing the behaviors in myself even though they were definitely there). So we played around with medications to try to get the mood swings under control. We tried several and I cannot remember them all. Most of them made me feel very out of it and there were a couple that I just out right refused to take. Until she put me on Topamax. This did help a lot for a long time.
In February of 2018 I moved in with my best friend. With her help and after finally letting go of my denial, I finally started doing some research and keeping track of my symptoms. I could no longer deny it, I was completely convinced that I was bipolar.
- I could switch from being happy go lucky to the angriest person in the world or the most depressed person in the world for no reason at all.
- I was experiencing drug and alcohol problems, anxiety disorders as well as PTSD.
- A depressed state that could go on for just a couple of days or could lead into months. The longest it lasted was 3 months (this is right after my husband left me). I couldn’t get out of bed hardly to take care of my dogs and I only did that because they were like my children. I hardly did anything to take care of myself. My friends called wellness checks on me several times during that period.
- No motivation to get out of bed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Increased anxiety
- Feel completely hopeless
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Like nothing I did mattered
- In a state of mania I would experience:
- Increased activity
- Less need for sleep-I could go days without sleeping and not feel tired most of the time
- Overly euphoric or irritable mood where I was angered easily
- Racing thoughts; forceful, rapid speech.
- I would also partake in high risk behaviors such as:
- Drug use
- High levels of drinking
- Promiscuous sex
- I would skip work and not care about the consequences`
I kept a list of all the things that I was experiencing and took them to my next doctor’s visit and said, “I know that we have talked about this before and please do not hate me for trying to self diagnose but… I have been doing a lot of research on this and I am truly convinced that I am bipolar.” The notes were more extensive than above (when I see her again I will get a copy from her and update the notes above to reflect what I had given her at the time). I also explained that I had been accused of being on meth when that wasn’t the case, it was just a symptom that I was experiencing during an act of mania. She read my notes calmly; I was a nervous wreck thinking she was just going to call me crazy. But she calmly looked up and agreed with me. She actually felt bad that they had not caught it sooner. She had been my doctor for years. I assured her that I did not find it her fault because I had read in my articles that it is commonly overlooked for years and it is more often than not the patients fault. I even remember her asking all the right questions, it was just at the time I did not have the right answers. She asked me if I felt like this was something that had happened within the last few years (the man who I had viewed as the love of my love had obliterated my heart and was the reason I had spent 3 months in bed just before all of this occurred) or could I think back and see it happening times in my life before that. While I agreed that my husband leaving me was a catalyst, I couldn’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t feel like there was a switch from the “good Amber” and “bad Amber”. I could remember times going back all the way to childhood.
So we have added a new medication to the mix, whoopie. I hate that I feel this way. I know it isn’t my fault and that plenty of people who are bipolar live normal lives but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel crazy right now.
And it doesn’t change the fact that I feel like my whole life has been a lie. I can’t help imagine how many things could have been different had it been caught sooner. I blame no one at all but I still can’t but wonder what if….