Can you be Bipolar and still seem normal, just depressed now & then?

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Jarvy
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Date Joined Jun 2004
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/16/2004 4:12 PM (GMT -7)   
Please accept my apologies for not familiarizing myself with the board before jumping on, but I got so exciting today when I was reading (another location) about bi-polar disease. I have been long diagnosed as depressed/anxious. Also suffer from severe Panic Disorder, largely under control these days, but I always wondered based on my mood swings if I could be bipolar. I figured I must not be because I don't run off and buy cars, pick up guys and go for rides through the desert (Patty Duke's "A Brilliant Madness") Now I find out there are lesser degrees. I know you can't diagnose me, in fact I have already made an appointment with my phscyhiatirst, but I am so excited. My whole life has been a serious of toughing it out interspersed with really having my stuff together and accomplishing alot. I'm 55, so it's not like I haven't been around the block. Non of the anti-depressents have made a bit of difference. I just figured there's something inherently wrong with me. It sounds silly I bet, but I hope I do have it. At least there is a reason why I commit to a social event one day, and than just can't make my self go. I feel like such a yuk.

I'm new here, but I'll be back. It's like a new lease on life. I was just about giving up on my self since nothing has ever helped.

No, no, not suicide. That's silly. You don't get to come back you know. At least I don't think so. Plus I've got hobbies galore waiting for my next bout of enthusiasm, 5 of the most beautiful cats in the world who love me more than anything (well, I like to think so), and a really sweet significant other.

But I would be thrilled to hear from anyone and to make friends. I have felt all alone all my life (sob sob).

Thank you whoever put this board up, and thank you God, Allah, Buddha, etc., for letting me trip onto it at this most critical time.

Ely
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2004
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/29/2004 6:54 AM (GMT -7)   
Your comment regarding committing to a social event with best intentions, then not being able to structure yourself and DO IT, is all too familiar. I too am in my 50's. So there is too much history to go into. There have been very productive, successful times in my life. Now, for serveral years, it is helter skelter. My last diagnosis was bipolar, after trying all treatments for ADHD over several years. It is so frustrating to know one has the abilities, but not seem to be able to harness and direct them anymore, isn't it? I even question if there was brain damage during anesthetic or an allergic reaction when my heart stopped.

I am not being treated for bipolar or ADHD presently. Just trying to follow any one direction. That seems too complicated at this phase of my life. I hope it is a phase!

Did your symptoms seems to become more severe during and after menopause?

Perhaps chatting with others will help understanding.

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/27/2004 6:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Commitment! UUUGGHHH what a dirty word. Certainly not one of my strong suites let me tell ya LOL I use to make those now i'm always non-committal, that way I don't break my word....which of course leaves me as much of a loner as one can get I suppose. But I too have my cats LOL And they love me even when I make a total fool (which is pretty often I reckon) of myself LOL.

I too have difficulty stayin on task even though I like to think of myself as a multi-tasker lol but no matter if it's 1 task or multiples things never seem to get completely done around me. go figger huh

Welcome Jarvy and Ely....looks like this is a newbie thread. but that's ok we'll be newbies together huh.

Jarvy I was diagnosed about 8 yrs ago of being "bi-polar on the low side" to this day I really have no clear understanding as to what exactly that means, scientifically speaking that is.... I know that I have more depression than mania but that's all I really know. And looking back on my past behaviors (which I thought were "normal" ) I can see the mania (that's putting it nicely
tongue ) I think my major problem is I just don't remember stuff. If it weren't for a journal that I start over and over I would have no recollection of any behaviors.
We've gottta just hang in there and try to understand us.
~T~

LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/28/2004 10:28 AM (GMT -7)   
I hate to poke my nose in where it probably don't belong but I have a couple of questions along the lines of the main topic here. First my wife is easliy distracted, I noticed that was mentioned in the post above. Is that a common thread to people who are bipolar? Next, my wife appeared to be normal, with no outward signs of depression or mania, for thirty eight years. Only within the last several months did she have problems with depression and it was usually associated with the Zoloft and drinking. The mania only occured after she was on the zoloft ( and again she was drinking daily), is this how it usually shows up? Did the zoloft and drinking cause her to have a mania episode? I have read in many different posts about "triggers". Do they trigger mania or depression or both? How does one learn what the triggers are? How can I determine what the trigger was for the first episode? Does anyone have experience with a "seasonal trigger"? Can episodes be triggered by stress and / or anxiety? Up until this all happend my wife seemed fairly consistent with her emotions, she always appeared to be middle of the road, not depressed and not overly happy, she did have problems with her OCD and anxiety. I think we have the ocd and anxiety under control now and my question is, Can you be bipolar and be normal without exhibiting signs of either mania or depression? If anyone has personal experiences to any of my questions and doesn't care to share them so I can understand a little more, I would really appreciate what they choose to share.

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/29/2004 5:50 AM (GMT -7)   
Land, I"m new here but I don't think you're pokin yer nose in I personally appreciate your thirst for understanding. I don't know anything about triggers, I too have seen it mentioned a whole lot. But as far as being bipolar and seeming "normal" well I personally believe that most of what goes on is within me and I don't think too many people see when things aren't "normal" with me. I guess I've become good at hiding it and having this totally different facade for those around me.

I don't think anyone knew the aggitation I felt as my kids were growing up. The feelings that made me lock myself in my room for fear I'd hurt them. (boy I've not said that one before) Or withdrawing into my room so that nobody knew how I was feeling and always had a good excuse as to why I was doing it. So to be honest I'm not sure if I acted normal or was seen as normal by others. I honestly don't believe the people around me see or know of the turmoil that I'm going through. And I as a mother and wife always always put my family first, they don't need the burden of what I'm experiencing.

I'm not sure I've accepted the full scope of this illness, because when I tell anyone about it I always say "they tell me I'm bipolar on the low side, whatever that means" After I took done this questionaire for one of my docs I asked him..."well??" all he told me was "you're not too bad" WTF what does that mean??? Without understanding what all these covert statements are, how am I suppose to understand and accept?? So I'm not sure I've accepted it yet. I'm not even sure I believe it yet. Although, I know I've gotta make a change because my life is really not what I want ... it's one of those "stop the world and let me off!!" situations.

But that's just my 2 cents, I dunno if it helped to answer any of your questions , but your questions made me "think" something I try not to do too often tongue

~T~

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/29/2004 6:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Oh, I forgot to mention....as far as I know the only things people noticed about me was I would start projects and never finish them and I would close myself off from others.....that's all I know that anyone else saw.
~T~

SpaceyCase
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 10/29/2004 8:35 AM (GMT -7)   
The actual definition of bipolar states that people suffering from it will often have periods of 'normal mood', or at least, MORE normal for them, depending on the intensity of their illness. My psychiatrist sees more depression in me, with a few episodes leaning towards hypomania and mania. This is bipolar II. For me my manic swings tend to be dysphoric - where I become extremely agitated and irritable. My mind will race, I will be restless, but outwardly I really won't appear typically manic, because I'm definitely not giddy or overly excited. Instead my excess energy is focused on how everything around me is driving me nuts.

So, bipolar illness takes many different forms and degrees of severity. Most likely your doctor will just try giving you medication to best treat your individual symptoms best. Even if you do get a bipolar diagnosis, its not like it makes everything simple and they know precisely how to treat you. Every person is different and it takes some work.
Oh, and yes, Zoloft CAN trigger mania. Most anti-depressants can trigger mania, so its definitely something to watch out for if mania comes on shortly after taking one.

Just my two cents, hope it helps :)
-Em

LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/29/2004 9:10 AM (GMT -7)   
I have a dumb question. My wife's mood has always been middle of the road, neither depressed without external stimuli, or never elevated above a normal level. She was like this up until April of this year when she started on the Zoloft and Clonazepam. Has anyone diagnosed with bipolar ever had a consistently middle of the road mood and then suddenly one day everything goes wrong and you have a manic episode? Can bipolar exist without ever displaying any symptoms of depression? Can you be bipolar and always be at one extreme or middle ground, eg manic, without ever experiencing the opposite mood swing? Is it possible for medicines to trigger a manic episode? With all I am seeing about Zoloft and the suicide lawsuits, I am curious if it along with drinking could have contributed to my wife's issues. I am almost certain that she never suffered from any form of depression until she started on the Zoloft and was drinking.

SpaceyCase
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 10/29/2004 9:05 PM (GMT -7)   
LandM74 -
The first question that comes to my mind when reading your description of your wife's mood is simply - why was she put on Zoloft? I'm just wondering if maybe she was feeling some things that she wasn't letting on to you, or maybe even fully aware of herself. Depression can show itself in a number of different ways, and sometimes a lack of strong emotion actually comes out. Depressed people can lose interest in things easily, and they get tired easily as well.
Perhaps your wife didn't go through this, but it can be good to ask her thoroughly about it and try hard to think about what you've seen.
The actual definition of bipolar is TWO poles - referring to two emotional extremes. In reality, the illness shows a wide variety of symptoms, but in general, what goes up must come down. But then, not everyone follows a strict pattern. I would just recommend talking to a psychiatrist about it.

But yes, medicines definitely can trigger manic episodes. Antidepressants, like Zoloft, specifically have the risk of triggering an episode, so if that is what is happening to her, you should take her to a psychiatrist asap. Just my advice - mood disorders are confusing and painful.

-Em

LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/30/2004 3:06 AM (GMT -7)   
Emeria, thanks for the response. To answer your question, my wife was put of Zoloft and Kolopin for treatment of OCD and Anxiety. Once on the medication she started going through subtle changes until she had her manic episode ( or actually behaviors that were not like her). Up until she started on the Zoloft she was like she had been for the last 10 years. I have questioned her repeatedly about depression and all she can recall about depression is that when she felt down there were external situations causing the down feelings, not just something that came up that she couldn't explain. She had a normal level of energy she and I were doing the things that we always did, there was no outward change in her emotions or activities until after the Zoloft was increased to 150mg /day. I am so darn confused and can't help but feel that it was caused from the drugs and alcohol.

odettesmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2004
Total Posts : 274
   Posted 10/30/2004 6:09 AM (GMT -7)   
jarvy, i'm glad you posted here. you described so much of how i have been feeling at times. after i was diagnosed as rapid cycling bipolar, i spent hours on the internet searching and searching what was happening to me. all i know is that it's gotten to the point that depression seems to be my "normal" state, and i almost welcome it. but with that comes shutting down by cutting off all contact with humans. then i realize that cats can't do more than give their company and listen. both are good, but at times it's just not enough. then start answering phone, etc. i have been avoiding commitment to any causes, even those i used to give a lot of time to. i'm just afraid that i will let them down, or not be able to give of myself, especially if i'm cycling. hope your pdoc can search for what possible medical help is available for you. be aware, it's not a perfect science, so be prepared for a lot of trial & error. i'm still not totally stable, after years of this. you know, meds lose effectiveness, new ones come out, etc. let us know how your appt. went. linda

paulagarcia
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 10/31/2004 3:40 PM (GMT -7)   
I am so glad to read this.  I have not been diagnosed, but I work in a hospital and when I describe my symptoms someone always says, Oh you are bipolar.  I am taking lexapro at the moment and it seems to help.  But, my feelings (sad, upset) don't seem to come to the surface as they should.  I was on paxil and it helped also, but seemed to make me tired.  I would wake up in the morings and have this feeling that something wonderful was going to happen -even know nothing was going to.  Eventually this would be replaced by despondency.....deep....I just could not seem to find the middle of the road.  I don't know if it was bipolar or just me, but the medication does seem to help.  Hormones help also.  I am not taking them at the moment and I can definitley tell a difference.  Just helps to read and see that others have experienced some of the same things I have. 

LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 11/1/2004 11:26 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello everyone, I have more questions that I would really like to have answered by someone with personal experience. The more I read about bipolar and the more I try to understand, the less the symptoms seem to represent my wife's behaviors for the last twenty years. I have been reading on borderline personality disorder and her actions tend to represent this more accurately than bipolar. Her moods have always been stable and she has told me she has never suffered from depression. She has had problems with ocd, anxiety, and phobias, all symptoms of bpd. From the fear of abandoment, the phobias, the anxiety, the inability to maintain an intimate personal/sexual relationship for an extended period of time (our intimacy has always been cyclical, good for a while then slacks off, we fight about it and it's good for a while then slacks off we fight about it and you get the picture) and the list goes on to more closely reflect symptoms of bpd than those of bipolar. One thing that concerns me the most about her diagnosis of bipolar, is that she went to the hospital on a Monday at 3:00 pm and was admitted, she was to the point that she was almost ready to have a nervous breakdown where we had argued and fought all night and early the next morning. She was still taking Zoloft and was legally drunk when we went through the emergency room, even though she had not had anything to drink since 11:00 am the previous day. She saw her psychiatrist around 9:00 pm that first night and the first thing he did was stop the Zoloft and wean her off of the Kolonapin. She only saw the psychiatrist about thirty minutes each day until Thursday when he made the diagnosis. I would tend to think that the information that she provided for at least the first two days would not be very credible seeing the condition she was in when she arrived there. He never asked her anything about the previous 19 years, only about the last four months. The five days she was in the hospital they never asked me a single question about the state of her moods for the last twenty years or anything else. Should her emotional history have been evaluated to determine if there were mood swings, depression, or manic sysptoms in the last twenty years. Should I not have been questioned thoroughly about what I have seen and lived with for the last twenty years. Could the doctor have mis-diagnosed the combination of borderline personality disorder (a symptom of both bpd and bipolar is promiscuity) and alcohol abuse while taking Zoloft as the symptoms of bipolar? If this were your wife of twenty years would you seek a second opinion? One of the major symptom of bpd is the fear of abandonment probably caused by a seperation or sense of loss while a small child ( my wife's parents went through a nasty divorce when she was very young, leaving her with her mother, and her two younger brothers going with their father). My wife has told me and our counselor numerous times since she was relased from the hospital that she was always terrified I would leave her even though we had a good marriage and she knew that I loved her. I can tell that her mother influenced her greatly with the ocd and the phobias. One of the things I have noticed about her mother is that she is is always checking things multiple times, and she is always overly frightened of everyday things and situations, such as her husband backing the rv into the driveway, and usually the first words out of her mouth are "oh my God be careful" or "oh my God watch out" and sometime she goes so far as to cover her eyes. She is also terrified of thunderstorms, as in the past she would get up in the middle of the night, call and ask to come over, and then drive 15 miles to our house if there were a thunderstorm coming through, as if it were safer at my house than hers. She now has my nine year old daughter frightened of thunderstorms and I am trying to show my daughter that there is nothing to be frightened of during a normal storm. I know my wife's mother behaved this way as my wife was growing up and probably planted all of these seeds for phobias in her head. I also think that there is something else that I have not uncovered yet because my wife has severe anxiety when her mother calls on the phone, and when her mother is at our house my wife can't sit still from the anxiety and I have noticed that her hands tend to shake when she is in the same room as her mother

. Any thoughts about this confusing situation would be greatly appreciated.
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