Has anyone found the balance? Or is this a rhetorical question?

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 204
   Posted 5/26/2005 5:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello all, I'm new to this whole forum, but I'd like to already thank you folks for opening your hearts to perfect strangers. I've been flipping through the posts and find a great deal of comfort in knowing there's an entire of army of people who share similar struggles. I'm (about to be) 25 and have been diagnosed Bipolar II for almost two years now. I think that I've been struggling with the whole thing since I was 17, but its only once I got into the real world that it came to the forefront when I was having trouble functioning at work. I was originally diagnosed with moderate depression and prescribed effexor which was a god-send at the time. The dose was increased three times and epival was added as a mood stabilizer when I was diagnosed BP. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have a stupendous support system of family and friends and a well paying job with benefits to help take care of the medical costs and give me a little spending buffer during my hypomanic sprees. I'm lucky that I've been relatively responsive to medication and have not been plagued by the darkest depression since I started the antidepressant. Physically, I'm doing well all things considered. I'm growing to accept the fact that there is no "normal", but rather "average" where the bulk of the population lives on a daily basis.
My problem lies in balance - I still have an infinitely difficult time maintaining some semblance of balance in my life. Somehow keeping it all together. I work closely with my psycologist and psychiatrist to be sure that meds are right, but it seems like as soon as something starts to work right, it all falls apart again, and I either end up feeling low, or hypomanic. A good portion of my troubles are related to the Seasonal Affective component of BP II - I live in Northern Canada and the swing between long and short days is severe - the usual outcome is mild depression starting about November and then another mild mania that starts about late April. I feel like I'm running a race and I've only just started since the longest day of the year is still almost a month away. My frustration stems from the fact that I do all the things that I'm "supposed to" - I don't drink, I avoid caffeine, I don't smoke, I exercise, I eat well, I take my meds at the right time, etc. etc., but it seems that inevitably I end up as I am today - and I'm completely beat after a night of restless sleep hiding from the daylight. I go to bed early and then I wake up unrested and am a zombie at work - I feel great by the time the end of the day rolls around, but then am unable to have a decent rest at night and then the whole thing starts over.

I don't know where the balance should be. My medication keeps me feeling as "average" as can be expected and I do ok at work, and I can function more normally and generally keep the pieces of my life together, but it tends to make me numb and saps all my emotion and makes me rather mechanical. I'm content with the way I am at this point since its helping me to achieve some of the professional goals I've set for myself, but it has wreaked havoc on my relationship with my boyfriend. At the end of the day - he has me, (a shadow of the person he started dating before I started the mood stabilizer) buzzing around the house, high-on daylight, not having a care in the world, and oblivious to the fact that we share a (tiny, little) house together. I have zero interest in sex which only drives us further apart and I end up more focused on making sure the floor is free of crumbs, than if he is happy in our relationship. He is a loving caring person who has tried to come to terms with the way I am, but is still as confused as when I first told him (that's a whole other epic post).
I guess the question I pose, is whether there is ever a balance to be found, or is this the challenge we will forever face as people with BP. Has anyone been able to strike the proper chord between a professional life and private life all while waging an all out battle against the chemicals that rage in our heads? If there is - send me a post.

Thanks for giving me a place to vent and share my struggle...

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 5/27/2005 9:26 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Putter

Wow, you sound like you really have a hold on this thing. I for one have not found the balance, but I was only diagnosed in December of 2004. I also live in the same area and find that the seasons bring about all sorts of madness. I also felt like a zombie, but feel much more like myself now, despite my cocktail of drugs (Lithium, Seroquel, Mirapex). However, my thinking can still be slowed somedays, and this scares me professionally as I have to be on my game, so to speak.

Has your boyfriend done any reading on BP? For a class assignment I actually chose to teach my fiance about BP, and it helped a million b/c he was able to see it from my perspective and a medical perspective, the hard facts. Living with us I think can be trying at times, but he must love you very much to stay and ride it out with you! As far as the sex thing, is that drug related or psychological?

Anyhow, welcome. I hope someone here can shed some light on your question!


Regular Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 204
   Posted 5/27/2005 9:52 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks so much for your reply - its nice to be able to have a place to take some of the load off when you're trying to sort this stuff out.
My boyfriend is a great guy, and although he has done some reading on the whole BP thing and I have offered as much info as I can, and offered him to come to my appoints with me, he still can seem to grasp the situation. He's a "fixer" and can't handle not being able to "fix" me. He has learned that sometimes he just has to let me cry and that's the best that anyone can do. In the midst of one of my "moments" he has all the answers and he's "going to go to my next appointment" and he's "going to do what it takes", but then by the time the appoint rolls around, he doesn't feel comfortable going and he doesn't like what the drs are saying about me and doesn't think that there's an accurate diagnosis... and on and on... He has some obscure ideas in his head that I haven't been able to influence in the least and I think that they are the source of much of our frustration - just when I think that I've opened his eyes to the wonders of modern chemistry and how it has enabled me to live a more "average" life, he says something totally ignorant about the situation and I realize that I'm not much further ahead than I was a year ago.
I'm pretty sure the root of the whole sex thing is drug related, but then it turns to a psycological issue the longer it goes on - a vicious cycle, much like the rest of my life. The drugs strip away all the emotion and fun and then you're left as the "broken" half of a dysfunctional relationship and then it turns into guilt and frustration and eventually intimacy issues. I've talked to the dr. about it and I've done some research and I'm going to see if there isn't another antidepressant I can try that might have fewer effects on my libido - I've heard good things about Wellbutrin.(?)
Thanks for the good words and best of luck with daylight savings scool ...

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 5/28/2005 2:22 PM (GMT -7)   

Boy, can I relate. My fiance often does not understand the "disorder" and "me". At first he was convinced that the diagnosis was wrong, but I think he i s coming around once he heard me talk *honestly* about how I have felt for the last 16 years. I was so good at covering all of this mess up, even my own mom had no clue. Give him time, I think sometimes it must be hard to admit that your loved one has something so unpredictable, drug focused, and destructible.

Anyhow,about your antidepressant, I have to share my experience, just b/c it has been so good in the sex dept. My pdoc has me on Mirapex, which is actually for Parkinson's, its dopamine effect is positive, and as an adjunct to therapy looks promising apparently. Anyhow, with my doses and drugs, I was sure my sex drive would disappear. But, it is actually very "normal", not nearly like the Celexa which crushed it entirely! Anyhow, just something to think about. If you google it, there are a few articles.

Talk to ya later!


New Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/7/2005 11:13 AM (GMT -7)   
hi my name is Sandi and i have had bipolar for several years i am only 20, i found out a terrible stat though 11 percent of people who chose not to continue treatment kill them selves, i have finally found a balance note what can set you off and take precautions to stay away from them or if you are one to wake up mean and crabby think of really good things before you fall asleep i have a husband and i can be really mean to him but he understands i dont take any pills or any thing i took controll of my life and every one can it just isnt advised for most when you get really down though try keeping a journal or a photo album it might help it has me to some extent

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 6/8/2005 6:06 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi, Putter!

I'm sorry you are still having trouble - it can take a long time before you feel like a person again while trying to find the right meds. 

I can attest, I have battled BP for 20+ years now, only in the last year did I get on and STAY on medication until I could really get stabilized.  I felt just like you, a shell of a person with no feelings of my own.  I thought I was going to die.  But, I am not one to sit by and suffer, so I bug the hell out of my pdoc, haha!  If something just wasn't working, we would try something else.

That's what you have to do - rapid cyclers constantly have to change dosages on their meds - and I mean frequently, especially if SAD is a major component of your BP.  God, you sound like me - totally affected from day to day depending on how much sun there is.  Day three of no sun and I am low low low.

The Effexor is causing your sexual dysfunction; try Welbutrin works great for me.  You really don't want that to be a problem on top of everything else - it's too important to relationships and your health.

In time your b/f will come to terms with it, since he hasn't left already (joke); that's how men are - if they can't fix it, they lose perspective!  I went through it, too, but many of them are wonderful support once they learn more.  But please don't take him for granted - pay him the attention he deserves.   Be happy you have one who loves you for you and in spite of you!

Balance is relative - it feels much better than the other two!  Well, euphoria aside....

Don't be discouraged; if you don't feel right, talk to your pdoc about changing doses or the meds themselves

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