I have manic-depression and have had some of the same experiences you mentioned.
One is almost a requirement: You go to the psychiatrist depressed. He gives you an anti-depressant. That is, he doesn't bother to ask, well, do you ever stay up late? Do you ever have racing thoughts?
That is, since you are depressed, he doesn't bother to check if you might really be manic-depressive. I don't know what they do in med school.
So, if you're miss-diagnosed, you'll be miss-medicated, as you know. I went probably 15 years like that, when they finally came up with manic-depression, then they finally came up with giving me Lithium, which also stopped my panic attacks.
You said, "Will my mood swings get worse before they get better?"
I guess you're talking about swinging from depressed to manic? Well, if you're taking medicine, that's supposed to stop. Are you still having mood swings?
Are you still depressed at times? Are you still manic at times. I don't have those swings, so it seems the medicine is working.
The medicine keeps me in them middle so I can function.
You said, "Should I tell anyone else about the changes (Friends, other family members, people at work)?
I don't understand. Changes. Changes that you are taking medicine that helps you? The fact that you are taking a month off from work?
And that would be a good question. I don't know what I would say. You're doomed if you do and you're doomed if you don't. If you say, "I traveled," that doesn't make any sense. If you say, "I'm sick," they might not be able to handle that.
I might tell a close friend or two at work, "I had a little too much stress," the others I might just say, "Family problems."
Any tips on managing my condition in addition to what I'm already doing? (Exercise - if so does it matter what type; diet changes - less sugar, carbs...;
Any tips on working with the condition, I would find somebody else to worry about, like school, work, volunteering helping animals or at a hospital, or senior citizens home.
That way, the mental energy flows outwards toward someone or something else, not inward concentrating on your problems. It's the same amount of mental energy, it's just going in a different direction.
One, you're down and out all day worrying about your problems, The second, you're worrying about someone else's problems, and you feel like a king trying to help that person. Big difference.
You say, "(Exercise - if so does it matter what type; diet changes - less sugar, carbs...;"
Exercise helps me. And the being that helps me with my exercise is my dog. I feel so guilty if he doesn't get to take a walk each day, and to "rescue" my dog, I take him for a walk every day, and I get as much benefit out of it as he does.
I noticed if I don't walk the dog that day, I don't sleep very well that night. I notice I get to see some neighbors by walking my dog, who I wouldn't have gotten to see and sometimes talk to.
And some of those I talk to, get to be friends, and sometimes I need a friend when I'm in trouble. And it all started with the dog who needed to be "rescued." Simply walking around the neighborhood can be the same thing.
But I have exercised in the house and that helps also. Can run in place, knee bends, twisting, walking around the house, for 10 or 30 minutes.
You said, "diet changes - less sugar, carbs...;"
I eat no sugar (except some foods like cottage cheese have low amounts) , started with an ear condition (sounds are too loud) which sugar aggravates.
Also, it was sugar, weight gain, lack of exercise which got me diabetic 15 years ago and I've been diabetic ever since. Once you get it, it doesn't go away. (It might in rare cases.)
Also, sugar is equal to tooth decay. With my sound situation, I cannot go to the dentist with a decay, for the drill will be too loud. So, it's either don't get a cavity, or they'll have to pull one or more of my teeth out.
So, I brush, floss once a day, and ADA approved mouth wash (they have a new one with Floride in it called Zero by Listerine which I find really does help prevent tooth decay, with brushing, flossing and mouthwash once a day and minimum sugar intake.
If I feel a tingling between my teeth, I know there is a cavity coming on and I get on it.
I use to drink soft drinks and Cool Aid with my meals. Now, I only have water, and I'm glad of it.
You said, "diet changes - less sugar, carbs...;" My son who lost 40 pounds came up with a no carb diet. I lost a few pounds, but I had more energy from not eating carbs like bread and rice and potatoes.
You said, "Does it matter if I take the meds in the morning, afternoon or evening?"
I take mine all at night. The 1/2 of Lithium I'm supposed to take in the a.m. but I have a health condition which hampered that, so my psy. said I could take it at night, also, because, she said, it's "time-release" and doesn't get all consumed during the night.
However, ideally, she wanted me to take the 1/2 Lithium in the a.m. probably to help keep me level during the day. So, you and your doctor can work that out.