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Explain my symptoms and behavior
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Lollipop2 posted:


How do I explain my symptoms of bipolar and behavior to my family?

I have a long history of major depression. I was told I was bipolar about 12 years ago but didn't believe it. I was treated for bipolar by several doctors and then was later told I wasn't bipolar. Now my new psychiatrist says I am bipolar 11 because I seem to do ok on a new antidepressant for a couple of months and then crash into suicidal depression. This has happened over and over - seems like hundreds of times and I can't take it anymore. I am always depressed but certain triggers kick me over the edge toward suicidal mode.

One of the big problems I have is trying to explain how I feel to my family. Most days I have to drag myself by the hair just to get anything done or even just to shower and brush my teeth. But sometimes, for instance - when I wanted to get a dog - I had enough energy to drive 7 hours to pick it up and bring it home. I know I wasn't hypo-manic because I was very depressed when I made the arrangements and left a couple days later. I think it was just that I was excited about getting the puppy so I had the energy to do it. That is a very rare thing though. Right now, as I sit here typing, I haven't had a shower in five days. I can't seem to make myself do it. What is wrong with me????

My family insists that when I want something I will do it or I'll go after it. But then they say that if I don't want it, I won't do it and I make excuses. I know that isn't right. I don't want to be this way. I want to do the things I used to do but I just can't seem to function. I have no energy or motivation and am very lethargic. I used to be very social, very active, had lots of hobbies, and was a very hard worker. I was very successful in my work. Now I'm not interested in anything. My family seems to think this is a choice I am making and that I have control over it. How on earth do I explain this when I don't even know why I am this way?
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jselleck responded:
Dear Lollipop 2, You almost explain my situation word for word. When I was diagnosed 8 years I ago I was faced with the daunting task of how do I tell my parents and grandparents??? I come from a family where any kind of mental illness is frowned apon and just telling my folks a few years prior that I was seeing a counselor caused a huge fight between my mom and I. We actually didn't speak for almost a month. Fortunetly I had the love and support of my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time. He helped me to see that seeking treatment was the best thing I could do for not only myself, but my family as well. Now I can't keep my grandmother from sending me all kinds of articles that she clips from all kinds of magazines and the local paper. Some are a big help, others are just annoying. But I know it's just her way of showing me that she supports me in my struggle to stay medicated and try to lead some kind of normal life.
I also used to be a hard worker and very proud of my work record. I guess I have my uncle Charlie to blame for that. He gave me my first job working for him and my aunt at the Indiana State Fair at their concession stand. His favorite saying was "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." Meaning if you've got time to goof off, you've got time to be doing some kind of work. He gave me a very strong work ethic and taught me to take pride in my work. So when I was forced to quit working because I just couldn't hold a job for more than a few months due to my Bipolar, I almost couldn't handle it, and slipped into a major depression. In fact my husband and I fought and fought over my filing for SSI. After getting fired from my last job and not finding anything for six months along with facing the very real possibility of losing our apartment because we just didn't have the money to pay rent along with all our other bills, I finally gave in, and filed. And I hate to say it, but that was one of the wisest decisions I've ever made. Now I'm faced with having to reenter the work force due to money issues, and I hate to say it, but I'm glad to be going back to work. The past four years have had their ups and downs, but not having to go to work every day and worry about how I'm going to squeeze in doctor and therapist appointments has given me the break I needed to actually want to go back to work. And it doesn't hurt that hopefully I'll be doing something I enjoy for a change. That is if I get the job I've applied for. Got my fingers crossed that I do. You see, having a job that you enjoy doing and want to go to everyday is the best motivator that someone with mental illness can have. Other wise, like you said, it's a drag to get up day after day and do the same thing over and over. Even my therapist has said having something you enjoy doing and want to do is the best medicine you can have. So no, this isn't a choice you're making, it's how you feel. If you're unmotivated wild horses aren't going to get you out of that bed or make you do anything you don't want to do. For example, I HATE, as in absolutely, positively, will not do unless forced to, fold clothes. I've been that way since I was a child and living under my parents' roof. In fact my mom and I used to argue about it all the time. Yet when forced with a dead line, such as maintenance having to come into our apartment to fix something, or the city inspectors coming to do the yearly inspection, I'll get off my butt and fold clothes. Heck, I'll even clean the apartment, something else I hate to do. So like you, if I'm forced to do something because I want something to happen, like the garbage disposal fixed, I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen. But if I'm not interested in a thing or project, then it just isn't going to get done. Something that drives my husband crazy. But he's starting to come to grips with it. It's only taken him most of the 6 years we've been married. to be continued......
 
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jselleck replied to jselleck's response:
Part two.....
Guess what I'm trying to say is eventually your family will come around. It just takes time, and your being honest with them. Explain to them how you feel, and why you just don't have the energy to do certain things. Are you seeing a counselor or any type of therapist along with your psychiatrist? Might I suggest a joint session or two along with your spouse or significant other?? That's what really started to help mine and my husband's relationship and his understanding of my bp and the struggles I face because of it. In fact we've been seeing a marriage counselor for the past five years and it's done wonders for our relationship. In fact between her and my own therapist that I see on my own, I'm at the best point in my treatment ever. I highly recommend that you seek some kind of talk therapy, either the dual therapy that I have, or some kind of one on one therapy with a good therapist that you developed a good working relationship with. Sorry for being so long winded. My daddy always joked that when I got on my soapbox the only thing that would make me shut up was mom's lasagna or a hail storm. So since it was a perfect day in Texas, guess we'll just have to deal with me being long winded. I wish you good luck, and have a Merry Christmas.

JSelleck
 
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Lollipop2 replied to jselleck's response:
Thanks for the advice, J. I am seeing a therapist and a Pdoc. I've had regular monthly appointments with a Pdoc for about 30 years but was diagnosed with bipolar after my first manic episode 12 years ago. I have never really been medicated appropriately for bipolar so I have been suffering seems like forever. I have been hospitalized several times and also had ECT, which didn't help all that much.

I normally wouldn't procrastinate at things or even hate to do something so much that I wouldn't do it. I used to take care of what needed to be done every day. Since this bipolar problem started I've been a different person. My son told me recently that I only do what I want to do or go where I want to go. When I tried to explain how lethargic I feel and that I have to force myself to do everything, including leaving my apartment for any reason. He told me to stop lying to myself because he sees me doing the things I want to do or things I l think are important to me. He has no idea how much energy it takes to do the things he sees me doing and how much I have to fight to get motivated. I just would like to know if there is a "name" for this problem and how to better explain it so he understands.
 
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jselleck replied to Lollipop2's response:
Hi Lollipop, talked to my husband who has more experience dealing with people who are suffering from BP. (Several family members have BP as well as I do.) Sounds like you might be suffering from Bipolar depression. When's your next appt with your pdoc?? Sounds like you might need your meds adjusted. I'm glad that you see one, hopefully you have a good working relationship with him/her. Have you tried Cymbalta?? That worked for me in the past. So did prozac for a while. Whenever your appt is, make sure you share all your symptoms with your doctor, especially the procrastionation and lethargy. Wish you luck. Hope you can find what you're looking for.

JSelleck


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