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Moegitto's avatar

Are there any people dealing with Bipolar Disorder type 1?

Asked by Moegitto (2300 points ) November 21st, 2011

I’ve been having my mood swings again, I was just reaching into the fluther to see if there are any people that use techniques or rituals to calm themselves down, kinda get back in control. I never really have good days, mostly better than worse days. My personality is friendly but I’m always in a bad mood, sometimes on the edge of volatility. Anyone out there with some help?

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9 Answers

silentwanderer's avatar

Meditation works though requires discipline, but is better than medication. Sometimes it is good to just sit down for silent time, clear your mind for at least fifteen to twenty minutes and disengage from all activity. Just rest. You could try some relaxing music, if you can afford it going to get a massage, etc.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have bipolar disorder.

I will say this sternly to @silentwanderer, “Unless you are a psychiatrist, do not under any circumstances tell a bipolar person that something is better than their medication.”

I have been in the depths of the hell of this disease when I literally thought my brain was on fire. I have been hospitalized twice for different reasons including suicide attempts. I have been to the black pit of despair where no light shines. I have been through the highs where I was dangerously delusional. I have had wild ideas of special powers that I possessed.

I was diagnosed 11 years ago. Over the years the most important things I’ve learned are:
I take my medication as prescribed,
I exercise,
I keep my appointments with my caregivers like psychiatrists and therapists,
I don’t drink alcohol,
I eat well,
I sleep well,
I share what I’ve learned with others,
I take care of my daily needs,
I meditate,
and
I remind myself that emotions aren’t permanent.
Maybe some of those things will work for you, too.

You’re welcome to send my a PM if you want to talk further.

I wish you the best of luck.

Moegitto's avatar

@silentwanderer Meditation is the worst thing for a Bipolar person. We can’t control our emotions, so sitting alone thinking is probably not the best thing for us. Plus there’s 2 types, the one most people are accustomed to is type 2, the one where you can go from happy to pissed in about 2 minutes. I have type 1, like Hawaii Jake said, I can go from unbelievably good feeling to incredibly depressed. Type 1’s are more susceptible to suicide than type 2’s. I have always wished I was never born, been on the verge of killing myself a couple of times in high school, despite the fact that I was pretty popular then. My main problem is that I have a problem (as my therapist said) showing depression, so my “Personality” fools people into thinking I have type 2 bipolar. When I get depressed I get really mad/defensive, my therapist said this was my personality throwing up a emotional shield to stop myself from getting hurt anymore. I don’t have too much of a link with reality anymore besides a couple of people, because for some reason people just don’t like me. So I can’t judge my own emotions anymore.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Moegitto : May I ask how old you are? Does medication seem to help your mood swings? When were you diagnosed?

I was having a bad case of mania about a month ago, and I called my psychiatrist who added a new medication just for a short time. It got me through the worst of the mania and kept me stable. Sometimes, my doctor will add a medication for short periods to get me through the worst highs and lows. I think the key there is that I’ve known about my disease for a long time, and I really trust my caregivers.

Are you able to get any exercise? It’s amazing how much better I feel after a 20 minute walk.

Are you able to do one nice thing for yourself each day? I’ve been in the situation where my one nice thing was simply brushing my teeth. It was the only accomplishment I could do for the day.

keobooks's avatar

My husband is a therapist who has many bipolar clients. One of my oldest friends I’ve known since high school is bipolar (type 2, sorry). I don’t have it myself, and I am NOT a medical professional. So take everything with a grain of salt and talk to your psychiatrist before making any major changes.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, this is what I have gleaned from just being around people.

1. The most common cause of bipolar relapse is not taking your meds—so don’t stop taking them.

2. The most common reason people stop taking bipolar meds is because the side effects can seriously suck. In the very recent past, this used to be considered normal. Not anymore. There are so many new breakthroughs out there and so many new options in medication. The side effects don’t have to totally suck. Talk to your psychiatrist about the side effects if you have them.

3. Not being able to feel emotions is NOT what it’s like to be “normal”. This is called “flat effect” and is one of the BAD side effects of some medications. I just mention this because lots of people with bipolar disorder have the mistaken belief that not having the disorder will mean that they must become emotionless robots. When they get this awful side effect, they think that their worst fears are coming true. If you feel no emotions at all on your medication, TELL your doctor.

4. If your doctor acts like you are annoying or that your concerns aren’t valid, do what you can to get another doctor. You deserve the best treatment possible. If your doctor doesn’t respect or listen to you, he or she is not the right doctor for you. The right doc makes all the difference. Even if you ARE being annoying, your doc should treat you with respect.

5. The best outcomes for treatment always include a therapist working in tandem with the psychiatrist. Some of your crappy feelings don’t come from the disorder or the meds—they come from life and meds don’t solve everything. They just give you the ability to deal with the right tools for coping. The therapist can teach you coping skills. A good relationship with your therapist is vital. But even a crappy one is better than none at all.

6. @HawaiiJake ‘s posts are awesome. Find people like him and surround yourself with those folk. They can help you out

Judi's avatar

You might find some help Here Julie Fast has written about a comprehensive plan that puts YOU in charge of your treatment. She combines medication and recognition of trigers to help manage the disease.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve known just a few people with bi polar but they share similarities that I see as important, both in positive and negatives ways as far as treatment.

Medication to feel best was an experiment in doses, often frustrating and it changes with age and circumstance.

When feeling good, there is a temptation to lower med doses or go off meds all together. Don’t do this!

When feeling bad, there is a temptation to up doses or panic and consider holistic or odd treatments. Don’t do this!

wundayatta's avatar

I’m bipolar II. My “crazy” group has a number of bipolar I people in it, so I am pretty familiar with it. There is really no difference on the depression side between the two forms. The main difference is that the mania of Bipolar I goes a lot higher and they get a lot of significant consequences as a result.

They can get paranoid. They can completely lose any sense of awareness of who they are or what they are doing. They can go on spending sprees, or on theft sprees, or get very belligerent and combative. That’s on the downside of the mania. On the upside, they can feel on top of the world and full of ideas and plans and they feel like they have the energy to save the world. Of course, they also have no follow-thru.

Like everyone else here, except @silentwanderer, I think it is very important to see a psychiatrist who will most likely prescribe meds. It is important to tell the shrink about side effects that you don’t want and they will try to steer around them. My shrink says that Lithium is the “gold standard.”

A lot of shrinks won’t use Lithium because people are afraid of it—long term use, in the old days, led to kidney problems. Nowadays they give a low enough dosage that is still therapeutic, and they say that it is unlikely that you will have kidney problems. I’m on lithium and it is very helpful.

Therapy is as important as meds. A therapist can teach you techniques that can help you cope the mental effects of the disorder. I don’t meditate, but I do play music and dance, and both have the same effect as meditation. I find meditation to be very difficult, perhaps for the same reasons you do, but dancing and making music stops my mind and stops my judging of myself and my negative comments to myself and this is a huge relief, even if the effect only lasts and hour or two past the meditation.

It doesn’t have to be meditation. Hard exercise will do the same thing for you, as will any creative activity that you throw yourself heart and soul into. Fluthering, for example, can serve this purpose. It is easy to get totally lost in advice giving, and in focusing on others, you can forget yourself, which is very helpful.

Another technique that helps is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of dealing with all the negative thoughts that doesn’t require you to fight them or change them. This is good for people like me who blame themselves for failing to accomplish something. For me, cognitive behavioral therapy is very bad, because it blames the victim for not getting better. It teaches you that you can control your disease, which I believe is wrong. We can not control anything about this.

However, what we can do is learn to not be so influenced by the disorder. We can let the effects go by without becoming attached to them. We can do a kind of mental jujitsu that uses the energy of the disorder to throw itself away from us.

About suicide—no one wants to die. What we want is for the pain to stop. Sometimes the pain is so bad it seems like only suicide will end it. We have no hope of ever feeling good again. No one who hasn’t experienced this can probably understand why most people who have this kind of depression would prefer torture to depression.

When you want to die, I think it is helpful to find a friend who is in the same place you are, or who has been there. There was a time when I was really ready to check out, but I didn’t think I could do it on my own, so I called a friend to make a pact. We started talking about how we would do that, and that was probably the most therapeutic thing we could have done, because killing yourself… or rather, finding an appropriate way to kill yourself is about the funniest thing there is on earth. Again, I doubt anyone else could understand. Most people are so freaked out by people who want to die.

In any case, and this could just be me, my friend and I started discussing this and let me tell you, the search for the appropriate means of death is very difficult and…. funny. We started laughing and then soon we were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. We almost killed ourselves from laughing to death. Well. Maybe not almost, but still, one could see how it could happen.

Suicide is about relieving the pain, and if you find another way to relieve the pain, it is not so necessary. Hanging out with people who have been there is very therapeutic. They don’t just tell you what you can do; they provide love, and love is probably the deepest need we have when we are depressed enough to die from pain. The pain is about not feeling loved and not feeling lovable or worth while or having any reason to continue to exist on the planet. But love does make a difference, and the love of others who are sick is not bullshit. You know they won’t lie to you.

I can’t explain this. All I know is that I never believed anyone loved me, no matter how much they said it. I thought they were just saying it to try to make me feel better. But when other people who were sick told me they valued me, I believed it. I knew they wouldn’t bullshit me, because they don’t want to be bullshitted either. And it is so important for people to be honest because when you have bipolar, your shit detector is working overtime, and it is hard to believe anyone.

I hope you can find a group of people like you. There are support groups in a lot of places. Maybe one is near you. Not all support groups are the same, though, so it is important to find one that fits you.

Good luck.

Moegitto's avatar

Man, turkey stuffed, lol. I forgot to add the drug I was on. Effexor, and it did NO good at all. It actually made me volatile, easily able to get into arguments. I actually argued with the doctor about it. I didn’t even care what the main effect was “supposed” to be, but I know the doctors at that time had me diagnosed all wrong on purpose.

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