Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Well, that explains things

The condo may be decluttered, but my psychiatric life is still very, very messy. Back in November I quit Cymbalta after gaining 20 pounds on the med in four months. My psychiatrist didn't seem to care, so I fired my psychiatrist and got a new one, who I saw for the second time today. I have a new diagnosis. Apparently I'm bipolar.

Specifically, I'm bipolar type II.  Unlike what you commonly know of as bipolar disorder (aka bipolar type I), bipolar II doesn't have the full-blown manic episodes. I instead have what's called "hypomania," where I'll have a day or two where I'll be extremely happy, impulsive, chatty, be super social, and go on spending sprees. For days, weeks, or months between these hypomanic episodes, I'm either 'normal' or down in the dumps.

Tuesday the 4th was my hypomanic day. I got of work early to run some errands downtown so I was super excited. I celebrated this 'freedom' by going shopping at Macy's and dropping $250 on stuff I never planned to buy -- a new pair of boots, eyeliner, and running pants. I went to my doctor's appointment afterwards and just couldn't shut up when I was talking to the tech. I mean, sure, talking about medical stuff is exciting to me as a medical librarian, but I didn't give this guy room to breathe. I came home and just kept talking about what an exciting, wonderful day I had, and literally could not stop talking. I didn't want to go to sleep at my usual time that night, I wanted to stay up. And the next day, I crashed hard. I was depressed, couldn't concentrate, and I binged for the first time in a month.

It all makes sense now.  It also explains why the antidepressants never really seemed to do a good job. Apparently ADs don't really work for people with bipolar disorders.

The next step in the process is to start on a mood-stabilizing, rapid-acting "anti-psychotic" medication: Abilify. If this works we'll gradually taper me on to something that has less chance of weight gain, possibly Latuda. The 20 pounds I gained on Cymbalta that still haven't come off are not helping my body image in recovery. This doc is willing to listen and wants to make sure that I don't put on any extra weight from the meds.  As soon as anything seems fishy, she wants me to call her and we'll find another med. Phew.

I think for some people a bipolar diagnosis can be a traumatic experience. But I'm glad now because I know what's going on with me. We can now treat it with appropriate medications. Hopefully this will also help calm the shopping sprees. I look back now and realize that I don't buy stuff when I'm depressed, I buy stuff when I'm really happy. Now that I know that the "really really happy" is a hypomanic episode I can see it for what it is and understand why it's important not to act on those desires. The food binges that happen when I'm severely depressed will hopefully also become less problematic.

I'm not expecting meds to fix everything, but I'm looking forward to a more mellow life experience, and getting back to being me.




8 comments:

  1. Firstly, I'm so happy that you have this new chance of hope! I love how you knew what you needed instead of just going with the lack luster doctor. YAY! I hope the new meds work out and don't make you gain weight :)

    Secondly, you seriously described me to a T. Seriously. I, like you, don't get manic in the typical sense, but rather I get a few days of just feeling REALLY happy! Those too are the days when I do my shopping (which for me is like spending $40 haha). It's just sad because I want to feel THAT happy all of the time, so I focus on those days as "who I really am" and the depressed days as "who I don't want to be". Keep me posted on how it goes because I may seriously be going that route too!

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    1. You know, I wonder if we were separated at birth or something? lol. I know exactly what you mean by trying to take the hypomanic days as the days where I'm really me. I've only been on Abilify for three days now but it's making me realize that the real me is somewhere in the middle, she's just never had a chance to come out before. I hope you too can get a diagnosis soon and get a med that works for you. There are also a lot of workbooks about living with bipolar disorder that I've found at the library. You can probably find a mood chart online to start to give your pdoc or your GP more info to work with. Let me know how it goes.

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  2. Fantastic that you've found a good doctor, and a diagnosis that makes sense! I hope the medication works for you :)

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    1. Me too! Thanks for the positive vibes.

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  3. No experience or useful comments really. Lots of hugs and I hope that the new Dr can help you sort things out.

    Thinking of you. xxx

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    1. Hugs are wonderful. Thank you for the good thoughts! I have very good feelings about this.

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  4. Wow! Like organisedcastle I don't really have anything useful to add other than that I'm really happy you've found a diagnosis that fits, and really hopeful that the new medication will help set you on the right path. Much Love to you... xoxox -Cat

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    1. Thank you! I think this may be the missing piece. Looking forward to seeing what's next.

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