Please help me to help a friend

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dee1979
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/12/2005 4:45 PM (GMT -7)   
My friend was diagnosed with bipolar in march after her first "episode" I am trying to educate myself on this disorder so please bear with me. She is 25 and a loving wife and mother with 2 kids. She has been hospitalized 2 times and has exhibited behavior that i am shocked by. She was realeased yesterday and honestly i don't think she is any better at all. She is extremely paranoid. She is currently on Depicoat(spelling?) and I don't think it is working. I am becoming so stressed out trying to help her. Please, please can you give me advice. I really don't think any of the meds are working and i know know they've tried a bunch. I would really appreciate your help as i am losing hope.

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 8/12/2005 7:43 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi, Dee - your friend is very lucky to have a friend like you; we don't always have that, since most people don't understand and just can't deal with us.  Bless you.

"Shocking" behaviours are a part of the disease, can't be BP without them!  What has she done?  Can you elaborate on what she is like right now, that has you concerned?  Paranoia is a part of it, too, she should be taking an antipsychotic for that, and for sleep among other things, (Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Abilify).

BP is extremely hard to treat; it's complicated and all of us are as different as fingerprints, because we all have different aspects of it, which are numerous.  There has to be a "cocktail" of meds that work on all the symptoms.  As if that wasn't enough, the symptoms are always changing because our brain chemistries are always changing, so the meds are always needing a "tweak" in the dosages, or just a total change of medicine altogether.  It takes alot of trial and error.  People seem to have this idea that if we "just take our meds" we will be all better.  Not true!!!  It has to be the right mix.  Lithium doesn't work for everyone, and if it does work, there are other meds to be added, too, alone won't treat everything. 

The key is to be in very close and frequent contact with the pdoc, esp in the beginning.  If something isnt working, don't just continue taking it, tell the pdoc and try something else.  It's the only way to find the right mix.  Keeping a mood journal is a good idea, we forget day to day how we were sometimes.  Family members or very close friends are the best at detecting our moods, not us.  Many times, we think we;re fine when it's obvious we are too high, and may be completely unreasonable.  We think we're making sense, but nobody else is smart enough to get it.  It's tough dealing with us, I think my husband is a saint. 

Please tell us more about your friend, not just what she takes, but what she was like before the hospital, and now, all of her symptoms.

Have you read about bipolar, other than the websites who tell you "either too high and euphoric or very depressed".?  That is so vague, it doesn't really say anything.  There is so much more to know.  I am so glad you found us, I really look forward to hearing more from you.  :-)

Shannon


dee1979
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/13/2005 9:34 AM (GMT -7)   
Before bipolar she "had it all together" Thats the best way i can describe it. what seems like out of nowhere"she lost it" for lack of better terms. She had an affair, spent tons of money, stuff like that. She became really obsessive about the affair. Her dad has bipolar but hasnt had an episode since he was young b/c he has found the right meds and takes them faithfully. They can't seem to find a good balance of meds for my friend. She claims to hear voices and thinks peple are out to get her. maybe this is the guilt of the affair? She has no concept of what is real and what isn't she calls me multiple times a day to ask me questions. she has never shown any signs of aggressiveness to those around her including her children. She is going in today to another hospital for evaluation. She also believes her regular therapist is "out to get her" I honestly wonder what triggered this. I am not sure if therewas some kind of traumatic event that she has surpressed or just that shes 25 with a husband and kids and lots of responsibilities and she has had for lack of better terms a breakdown. I told her today that her mind is stronger than this disease and i know she will beat it. I told her that whatever is causing this needs to be"moved on from" Meaning if something terrible happened in the past, then idon't let it ruin her future. In the begining i thought it was some attention thing. Now i am really losing hope as she gets worse day by day. The whole not being able to tell the difference between reality and delusion, really scares me.

I have read about bipolar. My friend seems to fit the mold but how can you be sure? I am really stressed out and her 'talk" is getting me down but i know i need to be strong for her and her family. Is there a possibility that she might never come out of this?

Also i can't ever say that I have seen her very depressed other than the bits of depression we all get. It is like she became delusional overnight. I know she feels hopeless but i have asked her straight out if she is suicidal and she says no and i believe that. She had a pretty much normal childhood, nothing really out of the ordinary. I can't get any background on abuse or rape b/c she claims she has been but is not sure if it really happened.

Her husband is stressed out to the max and i am not sure how long he can take this. she was a stay at home mom and he works full time so there lives are upside down right now.

Thanks for listening shannon and others. Please, please any advice would be welcome i am determined to help her in some way. :) Dee

Arenace
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 249
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:10 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Dee, Hang in there. The right meds sometimes just take time. When I was hospitalized I had a very good nurse who told me that getting better takes time no matter the body part and that includes the brain. Please understand that a mental illness is NOT something you can just "get over". It is very real and often very debilitating. And yes, it can ruin lives. Patience and an effort to understand are the best gifts you can give your friend right now. I am not experienced enough myself to even be able to suggest what may be wrong, but the more information you list the better able those here that are will be able help you. Please understand that as it was for me the decisions that she is making may seem like perfectly justified and logical decisons. And the paranoia will seem perfectly logical to her also. You don't see what she sees, or feel what she feels. She may in fact not even understand why you aren't "getting her" right now, after all, she seems perfectly normal to her!! As for the depression hides in places you wouldn't think of too. Like having an affair in the middle of a perfectly good marriage. With internal questions like "Why can't I be happy with this man, he seems so perfect" of course that sexual promiscuity is also a sign of mania, darn another double edged sword for we bipolars!! I'm not making light of what is clearly a very serious situation, but the reality is that it is complex and each of us, as it has been mentioned in several postings is very different and respond very differently. And to top that off it is a constant battle to keep fine tuned. But, for me well worth the effort. Good luck to you and to your friend. Stay strong, it's really important.

Sandra
Bipolar Brings New Meaning To The Ups And Downs Of Life!!


dee1979
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Sandra, thanks so much. I only tried the 'get over it' as a new approach to the situation. I can assure you that i never said it that way but more of a "I want you to beat this disorder" I am trying not get consumed by all of this as i have my own family and i can only take so much. i think at this point i will just be her shoulder to cry on and her listener as i should also not be giving her any advice b/ i am no professional either. It all seems so extreme right now and i wonder if maybe she has schizophrenia. Would someone clarify the real differences on this? I wish you all a happy weekend full of happiness, relaxation, and chocolate!

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:24 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, Dee.  First, I understand you want to help her.  The best way is to just be there, support her, listen to her.    The absolute worst thing in the world is to say things like, "you are stronger than this, you can beat this" or "You don't have any reason to be depressed, just think positive, think about all you have and how lucky you are."  These do not apply to BPs.  It has absolutely nothing to do with attitude, strength or "negative thinking".  Its purely a brain disorder.  It's every bit a physical illness as diabetes or heart disease.  Not only do we not "snap out of it", it is permanent and increases in severity with age.   Those kinds of sayings make us want to hit people, haha!  You will never know how miserable it is, whether too high or too low unless you have been there.  PS I'm not yelling at you, but you need to know this. :-)
 
It is very common to start having symptoms in the teens and early/mid twenties.  Her behaviours, spending and affairs are totally classic, in fact in the last post I made to you, I had already asked about those two specifically, then thought better of it.  I have bankrupted us.  47K on credit cards in 3 months.   We do sleep around.  I totally lost count of the number of guys I had by my early twenties.  I have also run off with some total loser, when I have a saint for a husband.  I have totaled several cars, and road rage and dangerous games was a daily occurance for me.  It is not a conscious choice, it's a compulsion.  Do you really think anyone wants to destroy their lives?
 
There is no proven link between childhood and the illness, but some studies suggest bad, abusive one can trigger it.  No real proof, tho.
 
Yes, hearing voices, paranoia, losing touch with reality are all part of it, with BP I, the most severe form.  I have had all of them.  I thought I was a witch with supernatural powers and a special connection to the divine.  (That's also considered grandiose delusions).  They are suspecting a link connecting schitzophrenia and BP.
 
If your friend has been in the hospital and is doing that badly, I suspect she is not taking her medicine.  That's another thing we all do, we are in denial for a time, sometimes years.  Medicine also brings us down, almost like everything is in slow motion and we're slow, too.  It's a horrible feeling.  Not to mention many times it causes a "crash" - horrible depression that always follows a manic episode when it ends.  BP depression is not like regular depression, it slows the entire brain function, cognitive thinking and physical ability.  We can literally almost not move or think.  Mostly bedridden in these cases and it can last for months.  We cannot take antidepressants like other people, it causes a mania.  Only one, welbutrin, but it is not quite a strong.  It works if not in a deep depression like that.  She is afraid to be slowed down, it is NOT pleasant.  We don't know anything else!  They will NOT release a patient that is still manic, delusional or unstable in any way, so the only explanation is that she is not taking it.  They keep you on the same meds that stabilized you in the hospital.   Someone needs to watch her swallow it every time.  The combination could definitely be changed, of course. She needs to be seeing her pdoc and being closely watched by her husband, and you as much as you can. 
 
I recommend that he take the Family medical leave act to be with her 24/7 until she is better, and to keep in very close contact with her doctor.  She will need this monitoring to keep her out of trouble.  My husband took a month off for me, it did help.
 
I hope this helps some, please ask anything else you like.  There is a wonderful book by Kay Jamison called "An Unquiet Mind"  That is a must read for anyone close to a bipolar person, it's a detailed account of what life is really like, not just the blanket "mania or depression" explanation.   She is bipolar herself.  It is about her real life struggle, and everythng that goes with it.  She is a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, specializing in bipolar disorder.
 
I'm so glad you took the time and care enough about her to write in.  :-)
 
Shannon
 

dee1979
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:24 AM (GMT -7)   
..also she told me she had an MRI which revealed a scratch on some part of her brain??? Her hubby confirmed this also but the Dctors said it wouldn't afffect her in this way but i guess who really knows right?

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:28 AM (GMT -7)   

That's right, with all the MRI and PET scan studies of our brains, there is nothing they can actually see in us; they suspect a combination of chemical imbalances and neuron misfires.

 

Apparently you posted while I was replying to the previous post; read my post there, too.


dee1979
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/13/2005 10:36 AM (GMT -7)   
wow thank you. i am backing off of the "beat this thing" approach i promise. My friend also claims to be in touch with the paranormal and thats about the only thing that can make me smile when talking to her over the phone b/c of the stories(I have to find some humor in it somewhere)

Ok so i guess it is confirmed she had bipolar disorder. It just rips me apart seeing her so paranoid and scared. Her hubby is really doing the best he can. I might start taking her kids a couple days a week to give them a break it they decide to accept my offer.

I have to run but you ladies have already made me feel better. I guess i just needed to hear it from someone who truly knows. Thank you and i will keep you updated as soon as i hear how today went. thank you

psychnurse
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 8/14/2005 8:32 AM (GMT -7)   

I'm soooooo glad we could help and that you understand as well as anybody without BP can. 

LOL it seems that most of us get involved in the paranormal and, obsession about any type religion is very common. 

Bless you for asking about taking the kids - trust me, she needs some quiet time.  Noise and chaos triggers mania, or makes it worse.

Thanks  for trying to find out how to help her, going straight to the source! yeah    Do keep us posted, we always like to know how they are.

Shannon


kittycat27
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 438
   Posted 8/15/2005 4:52 PM (GMT -7)   
 Sorry to hear of your friend, and my post is a little late due to my computers new makeover. Anyways, I am Nickie, 27 yrs old , dx about 2-3 yrs now. Starting to get a feel for when my meds need an increase or decrease, that stuff takes time. I think I have always had BP. I had the classic symptoms, but I think mine was triggered by a very traumatic event(PTSD). I like to play doc, lol. Seriously I kinda know it happened that way, cause after that " traumtic episode " occured , shortly after I was dx. I just never went to the doc before , for anything like that, my parents just thought I liked to annoy the hell out of them or something. I guess they thought I liked to live on the wild side. Whatever! I also have a child, she's 3. I have never been hospitalized for BP, but for alcohol I have. Anyhow, I really wanted to say that it is to be admired that you are willing to help, not just for the kids , but for your friends well -being. I really didn't have much support, ,my mom is mine now. Everyone else I think , just thinks I am nuts or I like to difficult or something. It might also be good to have her husband get some type of something sweetie, because trust me he is gonna need it. Usually the ones we love the most , are the ones we hurt the most. Gosh, I think I am sounding like Shannon, hell that actually might be a direct quote from Shannon. If it is I have a great memory. lol I seriously am cracking up here. " " lol. Anyhow, he will need to read up on BP himself, and find relief . He will also need a break. I am not kidding, I want to take a break from myself everyday but my haed won't let me. I hope everything gets a little better as the days go on, and you become more informed and she gets the help that is needed. Welcome to the forum. :-)
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