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Taking Stock

I'm Bipolar - A Journal

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Updated May 15, 2012

August 7-12, 1999 - 12 Weeks After Diagnosis

AUGUST 7
You know, it feels like I've just fallen back into a very familiar mood ... complacent in my withdrawal, content with my own company, wary of strangers and easily annoyed by interruptions - in other words, antisocial. This is a mood that I used to stay in for long periods at a time; if I'd ever stopped to characterize it, I would have called it a slight to medium depression.

Back then I had an untreated sleep disorder and undiagnosed fibromyalgia on top of everything else - a terrible thing for a night person working ten hours a day, four days a week, 7:30-5:30! So my depression could flare into near hysteria if anything exacerbated my nightly struggle to get some sleep. But as long as I was left alone, I could be content with my own company - and the television, and a whole slew of library books.

Now the fibromyalgia is under control, the sleep disorder is being treated - although I have to say Zyprexa isn't putting me to sleep as well as Trazodone. (Then again, on Trazodone my dreams were so intense that I never felt particularly rested.) I'm getting more exercise than ever before in my life via my daily walks. And I'm experiencing a creativity that hasn't been around for more than 20 years.

This sense of familiarity with my current mood/mindset is making me think back over my life in the context of the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder instead of clinical depression. And one of the first things that comes to mind is a poem I wrote for a class during my senior year of college, which you can read here. The poem is a perfect description of "racing thoughts" - the sensation I always called "racy-brain" - thoughts and music and voices swirling through the head. It was written in 1972. That's 27 years ago, and racy-brain was very familiar to me by then - so I've had that manic-depressive symptom for a long, long time.

AUGUST 12
I saw the psychiatrist yesterday. Two issues were important. The first was that given the way my life is today, I can't go on feeling antisocial all the time. The second was that even though I have been walking two to as much as four miles a day for several weeks, I have not lost a single pound - I remain about 45 pounds over my ideal weight (all thanks to Prozac?). This is not good for my health (or for my self-esteem!). I also mentioned that on Zyprexa I was lying awake a long time before finally getting to sleep.

Soooooo - another major medication change:

  • Depakote might be blocking the ability to lose weight, so he changed me to Neurontin, which is thought to be weight-neutral.

  • Because I have been antisocial and irritable, he reduced Wellbutrin from 300 mg a day to 150; apparently crabbiness is a possible side effect of Wellbutrin! (Doesn't that seem strange for an antidepressant? I will check it out.)

  • The third change is a switch from Zyprexa back to Trazodone. We will monitor to see whether I start having exhausting dreams again.
It all makes me realize - I don't know what "normal" is. I only know mild depression, paralytic depression, angry depression (which is uncommon for me), and hypomania. Full-blown mania, once - in 1981. I think. I have no idea what it would be like to be un-depressed and un-manic at the same time. And is that state my goal? Would I like that state? I don't have a clue!

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