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(WARNING triggering) Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, a family tie?, a question for all and Dr G if he chooses
reneegigliotti posted:
I grew up in a home with 2 paranoid schizophrenics. One refused treatment and as a result terrorized the entire family for the duration of my childhood. The other became so dangerous she was pulled from our home in adolescence and institutionalized. She now lives in a group home. I often wonder how close an association there is between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, especially bipolar 1 disorder with psychotic features. Does anyone else have serious mental illness in their immediate family and do you think it has played a role in your bipolar disorder? I've tried to get my non-schizophrenic parent to consider participating in a genetics study. We can trace schizophrenia in our family back at least 4 generations. There was a study that collected blood samples from families like mine to look for genetic markers. My mother refused to do it. It's too bad. To the best of my knowledge, there was only one family member with bipolar disorder. He was my grandfather and he died when I was 5 as a result of the disorder. All I remember about him is my grandmother sitting shiva. My psychiatrist and I are really examining the underpinnings on why my illness has been so difficult to treat. We think it may be either family genetics or something going on with my biochemistry that is unique to me. Anyway, I really want to hear about what everyone thinks, including Dr. G.

designmom651 responded:
Hi Renee-
My biological father is bipolar and his mother was schizophrenic and killed herself due to her disorder. Than on my moms side my aunt was bipolar and in result she ended up on the streets and died there in May 2012 due to her illness. I just did a bipolar blood draw for Mayo clinic a couple of weeks ago. It was very interesting, They tape you and you explain your life and how your symptoms have affected you and then they draw alot of blood. It is to trace genes and mulitable other things from BP1. It was something I offered to do because I will do anything for the cause.
reneegigliotti replied to designmom651's response:
I hear you. And thank you for sharing. I feel really alone with this stuff sometimes. The whole idea of "family" is so twisted when you are raised by a schizophrenic who was raised by a schizophrenic who was raised by a schizophrenic. I really wanted to get my mother, 2 remaining sisters, aunt, nephew, and my daughter to participate in this study. My mother said it was "too humiliating". I wanted to say "more humiliating than having your 12 year old daughter removed from your home because of homocidal schizophrenic behavior?" I refrained. My mother lives in a world where no one else lives. You can't even call it denial. It's pure delusion. This study was looking for multiple generations. We would have been perfect participants. My daughter is now 23. I hold my breath and wait for the first tell tale symptoms of schizophrenia in her. My psychiatrist tries to reassure me that given the fact that my family pattern has been consistantly early onset schizophrenia, 23 is a bit late for her to become symptomatic. I'm still terrified. My psychiatrist's expertise is schizophrenia. I trust him.
designmom651 replied to reneegigliotti's response:
My son is the reason I was so willing to do the study. The chances are too high that he will be at least BP that anything I can do to help the cause, I am willing to so. Besides I am a pretty open book. Even all my co-workers and friends know that I am BP. I want to help break the wall that there are mulitable faces to BP and break down the stigma. Everyone thinks that being BP that we are "CRAZY" all the time and that is not true so those I somewhat trust or I think would benifit from knowing I am, I tell them. Because I am one of the very nice, over generous and very caring. Even when manic I went way into debt to help the homeless and "save the world". Ok I digress, sorry about the extra. I am a Over sharer!
reneegigliotti replied to designmom651's response:
While most of my private life is private (how do you tell cute childhood stories with colleagues when there really aren't too many cute stories to tell) Most people who know me know I'm bipolar. Our condition is not one that lends itself to secrecy. How exactly do you hide mania? It's by definition very public and very visible. For me, there is no point in denying the obvious. People aren't stupid. However, I have learned over the years that honesty and a confident attitude about the disorder go a long way toward dispelling misconceptions and fears. People who know me know I am a competent and capable scientist and a loyal friend. Oh, and the bipolar thing, that's just a fact, like I have brown hair or I'm Jewish. My employer doesn't treat my illness any differently than they would treat someone with any other chronic illness.

I know what you mean about being manic and still nice. My psychiatrist frequently comments that I'm one of his most polite and considerate bipolar patients, even manic. He says it's not something he sees a lot, a psychotic manic patient that never takes the disorder out on others. We both know it has more to do with surviving childhood with violent schizophrenics. It's not so much that I'm so much nicer than everyone, I just have a very honed survival instinct for not inciting other people. I'm terrified not to be nice.

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