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Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 7/9/2007 12:25 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi there, I am a newbie to these forums (within the last couple of weeks) and read both the depression and Bipolar forums. As a result I have posted this message on both as not sure what the crossover of people is.

To cut a long story short my husband and I have been together for 20 years and he was diagnosed as having Bipolar Type1 2 years ago last month, although he has suffered with it since he was around 13 years old (he is now 38). As is usual with this disorder we have had many many turbulent highs and lows but the real problem we are struggling with is the depression side to it all. We can cope with the highs but I would say that for most of my hubbies life he has spent more of it depressed than high. I also suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and have struggled with depression so reading people's stories here fully appreciate what a totally exhausting and devastating illness it is.

In the past 2 years I would say that my hubbie has been depressed for about 80% of the time and maybe had 3-4 high periods. When he was first diagnosed it was like a huge light had been switched on, finally finding out that everything that he had felt and most things that had happened in his life was due to the Bipolar. We found out about the BP due to a few separate instances and then went to his doc who referred him to a psychiatrist. He was prescribed Effexor and is now taking Lithium as well but he has also taken Epilim and Zyprexa in this period.

I would say that for the first 6 months after this everything was great and he said that he actually 'felt' normal for the first time in his life. However, we really now think most of this feeling was down to the relief and euphoria of getting a diagnosis and also educating ourselves on the subject. Gradually since then he has had some very bad periods of depression of which he is in one now and the meds just don't seem to be having any effect at all. He is also suffering from terrible insomnia to the point where we think there is no point continuing with the medication as it seems to be doing nothing but make him unable to sleep. I was always for the meds but now am severely doubting their effectiveness. He sees his psychiatrist about once a month but the level of her care is really just writing him a prescription - she hasn't really helped in any other way. We did move house and ask if we could possibly change to someone else but were told by his doctor that he was very luck to even have been put in a psychiatrists care and there was no chance of getting another one! We live in Queensland, Australia and the mental health system is severely lacking in funds and staff.

Anyway, at the moment things are really bad for us. We don't have any real family or friends to rely on, it is just the two of us and my hubbie just feels that there really is no hope for him feeling any better. He also says that even if he could feel better now then he would just be dreading the next depression and he just can't cope with that, he is so tired, exhausted and sick of fighting it all of the time. Due to situations that have arisen in our lives due to family stresses (his family is a complete nightmare, his dad and 2 sisters are undiagnosed but definately suffer from BP and his mum just buries her head in the sand and hasn't spoken to him since he tried to talk to her about the bp 2 years ago). His dad has been out of the picture for 8 years and has never tried to make contact since him and his mum got divorced.

He says that he feels so lonely all of the time and the best description of him is that he is 'too broken' from everything that has happened/how he has felt to ever feel better again. He says that there is nothing he wants to do in life, he is totally worthless in the world and that if he didn't wake up tomorrow it would be a blessing (for everyone - especially me, his words). He cannot face trying any more medications as going to see the psych just seems like trial and error - he really has given up on our life and feels genuinely like there is no hope for him. No amount of positivity from me seems to make any difference now to his state of mind.

We are both feeling at the moment that maybe it would have been better to stay in the dark about the diagnosis as we feel that we had our hopes raised by the doc and psych only to find ourselves in a worse situation now.

He is such an amazing person to me, has a wonderful heart and we are soul mates. I cannot imagine life without him but just feel helpless as to what we can do now as he has made such a huge effort in the past 2 years to only end up back here. So I wondered whether anyone has had similar experiences with feeling positive after diagnosis and then ending up feeling worse after supposed help and treatment and any thoughts on what we could do now, if anything?

Does anyone have positive experiences to share of getting well AND staying well?

Thanks for reading.

mogli
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1191
   Posted 7/9/2007 8:56 AM (GMT -7)   

Dear Honey Bee,

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I can relate, honestly.  I'm going to post this reply here, I did notice you posted this in the depression forum as well, I may post some replies there too.

So, I remember when I was dx with bp, I too felt relief b/c I was dx w/major depression initially for about 6 years.  And the bp is definitely what I had been dealing with maybe all along.  So I felt SO confident that now we knew exactly what we were dealing with.

I know a TON about this illness and depression.  I have read SO much and talked so much with nurses, therapists, my pdoc and with other patients/sufferers.  When my bp dx came, I thought "Okay now I have to learn about this" so I am as involved in my treatment as possible.  When I have appts w/my pdoc, I usually completely understand our discussions and his decisions.

I did not know until I started learning, how complicated bp is.  It's a totally different ball game than depression, especially with meds.  Way more difficult to find the right combo of meds for bp than depression in my opinion and my pdoc's as well.  It's terrible.  If you'll notice at the bottom of my posts, I am not on any meds for bp right now.  It was too much for me.  The reasons I couldn't handle it are

-like your husband, my pdoc only checks with me once a month or so

- the side effects are too much for me, can't sleep or too fatigued to the point that I couldn't even do housework, I felt like a zombie...a lot of the meds do that, put you in a daze, some increased my anxiety so much

-here is the biggest reason-you don't treat bp with only anti-depressants b/c that will cause hmania or mania (so true) so my pdoc took me off the ad's and put me on mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, in my opinion, I needed at least one ad in there b/c the mood stabilizers etc, made my depression unbarable, my pdoc does not agree and won't include an ad in my med mix

SO I went off meds because the meds were making my emotional state very risky.  Honestly they are mood drugs, very risky stuff if you ask me.  I don't feel that way about ad's, but all the other psychiatric meds are pretty scary stuff and the researchers and pdocs honestly don't know nearly enough about them.  That is the truth.  No one knows exactly how these meds/and the illness works.  That thought alone to me was pretty scary. Not to mention that I was having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of just wanting to give up (I don't want to hurt myself) on those meds.  They really did a number on my depressive symptoms.  And the side effects made me so physically ill, I couldn't do that to my body anymore.  I had to go to work and function.

Everyone is different of course, and I am not suggesting anything to you about meds or no meds.  That has to be discussed with your husband and the pdoc.  I was repsonsible when I quit my bp meds, talked with my pdoc, went of slowly and I may try them again someday.  But it was a decision I had to make for myself.  And I am glad I did. 

The result-My moods are very unstable.  I still get deeply depressed.  But I can function better (symtpoms sometimes make that a little hard) but I don't have any side effects making me sick.  When I went off the meds, I got into a bp support group at the hospital that my pdoc referred me to.  There I learned some tools to help me manage my sypmtoms better.  And it was extremely helpful to interact with other patients.  I am now seeing a counsellor which isn't really therapy but at least I can vent there.  I feel almost in control of my illness since going off the meds.

My bp is similar to your husbands, mostly depressed.  It's so hard.  And I live with my bf who, just like your situation, can deal with the highs just fine, but when I'm depressed, it doesn't work.  We fight, I feel alone, and it's just actually really hard. 

I know you mentioned the health care where you are is lacking.  Try to ask about some type of counselling.  The pdocs are just there for meds really.  I think your husband would benefit from talking with someone about his illness, his family.  A support group would be the best, don't know if his pdoc knows anything about that, but definitely ask.  He needs to be able to get rest at night otherwise he'll be more sick.  Sleep is one of the keys.  Exercise helps too.  He's probably feeling agitated and doesn't have any energy, but walking can help with that.  Depression won't let him want to go for a walk.  I had to learn to make myself, and somedays I still can't.  You also mentioned stress, major trigger.  It sounds stressful about his family.  Mine was that way for years, I had to put boundaries in and stay away for awhile and focus on myself.  It worked.  Easy to say I know.  But his health is more important than anyone not willing to support or anyone that can add stress.

You are doing the best you can to support him, and I am glad for that.  Love him and hopefully you guys can find some more professional support somehow.  The pdoc needs to try to help him sleep and needs to know exactly how the meds are making him feel.  I know it's hard, even when you tell them everything it seems they just add on more drugs or put you on new ones.  Be assertive and tell her what you want and don't want.

I hope I helped and didn't confuse.  Sorry it was so long...Take care and keep in touch, you're in my thoughts both of you.  Tell him to hang on.


Mogs
 
Bipolar II, Anxiety/Panic Disorder
--currently not on meds for bp--


loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 7/14/2007 4:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey Honey Bee,

You posted this a few days back, things getting any better? Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your spouse.

LFW

joe1976
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 7/18/2007 9:38 PM (GMT -7)   
hi honey bee,

for me the longest I experienced depression was probably for a whole six months... and I felt that the raising of hopes whenever I saw my pdoc/therapist were the only moments of that... well.. of hope.

I empathise with you and wish the road wasn't so tough as its been for all of us...

I hate it when people tell me when I'm down that it will pass... then when I'm a little more level-headed I believe it does. That belief is something thats very elusive... but true

I just got off a 3 month bout of depression.. and am enjoying the last 3 days of euthymia.. normal mood (bit elevated at times)

I believe in love and I feel a great deal of love in your relationship... don't give up... keep posting and I feel many people will come to your aid... its not a solution i know... its hard

sorry if I can't offer any better advice than to cling onto hope and give yourself room to grow as well... avoid stressors like his family for now if possible and take things one step at a time. I remember a few posters here saying things like take regular baths, get out for a few minutes... and for me... hold him whenever you can... just hold him

luv

joe
__________________________________________________________________
Bipolar Type 1
Social anxiety/agoraphobia
100mg Lamictal 3 times daily
500-600 seroquel at night
2.5mg diazepam 3 times daily, 10mg at night


wmnak
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1123
   Posted 7/18/2007 10:40 PM (GMT -7)   

honey bee,

my heart really goes out to you.  sometimes i wonder how my long-suffering wife can stand to stay with me.  after about 35 yrs, maybe it's just habbit.  :-)

IMHO, with bp often less is more.  after mt last major episode in which i attempted suicide, my psychiatrist first diagnosed me as schizophrenic, then, about a mpnth or so later, as psychoaffwective.  about 6 months later i sat down with my therapist and went through the dsdm to find a dx that included the symptoms that i displayed.  that's when i got the tag of havionmg bp.  i am seeing another pdoc now and in my first session he confirmed a bp dx.

what does all of my cr*p have to do with you?  when i was first diagnosed,  the psychiatrist rxed an entire pharmacy of psychotropic drugs.  i remember there  was lithium, effexor, and,i don't know, a bunch more.  i was a zombie.  opne day, a few months a\fter the diagnosis, the psychiatrist's PA observed that i was a zombie and overmedicated.  my wife jumped right in and said that that's whjat she had been trying to tell the dr!  i was too zombied out to know my name.  my meds were cur to effexor and lithium.  later, i dropped the effexor.  recently, during a severe depression, my new dr rxed an AD.  that lifterd the depression and, thank all the gods that be, i have been pretty much ok since then (normal ups and downs of bp, but nothing earthshaking).

depression is a terrible illness, by itself or with bp.  get it treated, if hymanly possible.  also, a month between visits to the shrink may be too long for you right now.  in addition, research ha s found that chemical intervention along with talk therapy is the best treatment regime for bp.  didin't the new zealanders get that study?  it's been quoted on this forum before (maybe 6 months or so ago).

the best of luck, mate.  i hope andpray that you get as much as possible out of that health care system.

warren


That light at the end of he tunnel?  It's an on-coming train.
 
 


Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 7/18/2007 11:21 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi there to Mogli, wmnak and joe1976 and thank you so much for your heartfelt and considered responses - they DO help and thanks so much for taking the time to respond.

It has taken me a while to reply as I find that when my hubbie gets into the depths of despair it tends to consume me as well. We work together as well so this is probably why it tends to affect me more. I do try to keep myself a little distance but find it too hard after a while when he is in such pain. So I struggle to get much else done unfortunately but this is my fault not his obviously. In terms of the length of the depression although my hubbie has been taking 300mg of Effexor a day his depression this time has been the worst ever and we were only discussing that it has probably been hanging around for the past 7 months which is also the longest period he has had so far in his life. I have posted a comment about Effexor elsewhere but did read somewhere that a) your body can get used to certain drugs after taking them for a while and b) when taking Effexor if you change the dose it can actually then have the reverse effect and have the opposite effect and make you more depressed. Would be interested to hear of any experiences anyone has had with this drug in this way.

I will post an update in the next couple of days when I have more time but just wanted to let you know that I have been reading your posts just not had a clear enough mind to reply.

In addition my hubbie and I are pretty sure that he also suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder - do any of you suffer from this? All the listed explanations describe him exactly and the psych has as much as confirmed this but said that there was NO treatment available. However this issue definately makes the BP depression worse, do you have any experience of this yourselves?

Thanks again, Honey Bee

:-)
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