Snowy, thanks for the warm welcome! You asked me in a different thread to tell a bit about myself so I'll do that, and I am also looking forward to "meeting" others here.
I've been trying to find an online BP support community for quite some time; this is the first one I've come across that is so active, which is terrific.
I'm a single mom of a 20 year old son who has schizoaffective disorder (and a Jack Russell Terrier who surely meets criteria for a majority of the DSM diagnoses!). I love sunrises and nature, a terrific cuppa coffee each morning, family and friends, travel, photography, reading & writing... oh yeah, and I have BP I. ( :
I had episodes of depression as a child; the severity worsened with time, and my first major depression (w/ psychotic features) occurred when I was close to 30 years old. About a year later I had my first manic episode, and since then my illness has progressed considerably. Stress is my kryptonite. I work very hard to maintain a low-stress existence, am med-compliant, and use coping strategies as needed (daily!), but every so often I fall off my rocker and spend the next one to six months climbing my way back up again.
My profile pic was taken on a Florida beach several years ago, on the very day I became caught up in a rip tide and came close to losing my life. This experience, and the ocean in general, perfectly symbolizes what it is like (for me, anyway) to live with bipolar disorder.
One last thing...my motto is "Carpe' Diem". If anyone else has a motto they would like to share, I would love to hear it!
Hi Sojourner, it's nice to meet you and look forward to getting to know you more. From your introduction, you sound like a nice, interesting person.
YIkes re getting caught in a rip tide! I'm glad you made it out to tell about it! I bet that was SO scary for you!
I was diag with bipolar 2 a zillion years ago lol..I take 2 meds, anti depressant and a mood stabalizer, taht has worked for me for close to 20 years (minus a few times of trying diff meds for various reasons). I'm happily single and have been all my life with no children..I am recently unemployed but am volunteering there until I find somewhere else to wrok part time. I'm back on disability as of last Sept due to problems with my meds (long, boring story lol) - prior to that, i has been employed full time for 5 years, prior, on disability for 7 years. I work with folks with mental illness(es) to help them on thier road to recovery.
Anyway, I also talk a lot, so I will be quiet now and say again that it is nice to meet you and welcome!
Thanks, Debbie! There's no such thing as talking too much, so don't worry about that.
It sounds as if you have had some zig-zags in your history, for sure! I'm sorry to hear that you had serious med problems last year...what happened, if you don't mind me asking?
What type of volunteer work are you doing?
Ironically, I work with people who have various psych issues as well. As much as I would like to have at least one aspect of my life about something otherthan mental illness, I am drawn to help others in similar circumstances. I feel much more fortunate than many of my clients, though...I am a case manager in a crisis center, and about 2/3 of our patients are homeless, have co-occuring addictions, and/or are so severely afflicted that they require extensive mental health services (frequent hospitalizations, group homes, etc). I get so frustrated with the mental health system here in the states...granted, there have been great strides made in treatment and services/supports, but in many ways the "system" remains seriously flawed.
Enough ranting...sorry! It's nice to meet you, Debbie.
Welcome to the board. This board has given me the gifts of laughter and support. I feel lucky to be part of this group.
I was diagnosed with BP ll 12 years ago, though I am compulsive about taking my meds, stress of any type can sink my ship, so to speak. Because if this and having fibromyalgia, I have been on SSDI for 8 years, though I work 4 nights a month in a related field. I have 2 adult children. My daughter has her MSW and butts head with the flawed system in California. My 25 year old son was diagnosed with significant disabilities when he was a child and diagnosed as bipolar 1 with psychotic features 3 years ago. He has a tough life, and he is doing his best to deal with his problems his own way. It has been hard for me to let go and let him do this. He also knows he can always count on my husband and me for support.
I also have a dog who has a few qualities defined in the DSM. With all the madness in my house, my husband has learned to cope with most of the situations. Some days my husband would like to let the dog run out the door, some days he would like me to run out the door. A lot of days he runs out the door. We all try to take each day as it comes.
I volunteer at the place I was employed at for the past 5 years. Have you ever heard of Clubhouses for folks with mental illness? The first clubhouse was started by members (consumers) back in the early 40's in Brooklyn, NY, called Fountain House. If you go to www.iccd.org that will describe what clubhouses are about - there are about 400 of them around the world. It's not your typical mental health facility - I really loved working there. Our funding is suffering right now, so the Director had to do some major restructuring in Feb, and so my last day there was March 8. But like I say, I still go there as a volunteer doing just about the same thing I did while employed. lol They can't get rid of me so easily. But unfortunately, it doesn't look like we're going to be able to stay open much longer due to funding.
Sounds like wehre you would work, you would refer members to us. lol Oh and yes, I am VERY frustrated with the mental health system - it's pathetic!
You asked what happened re my meds last year. Well, I will try to make this short - lol...I take Nardil, which is an MAOI, and I was starting to have problems with my blood pressure spiking up high after taking my evening meds - it wouldnt' stay high, but it would get up pretty high and stay anywhere from 5-40 minutes. After several tests, it was discovered that because of the Nardil, I had way too much adrenaline in my system because the MAO was Inhibiting the normal breakdown of adrenaline in my system. So it was determined that I needed to go off Nardil and onto a different med.
So I went through that process, but I because pretty sick because I had been on that med for about 18 years up to that point. I was nauseous for 4.5 months and had severe neurological issues with my feet, legs, and mouth - not to mention the increased depression and anxiety. I think that because I was still able to be on Lithium, the depression didn't get as bad as it could have, though I know lithium is not for treating depression, per say.
So I had to be on medical leave for 6 months - my boss held my job and paid my insurance.
After getting quite disgusted with my then pdoc, I finally contacted my ARNP, whom I hadn't seen in a while. She consulted with some specialits and they basically told her, "Why didn't they just treat the blood pressure and leave well enough alone?" You heard it right, I didn't have to go off Nardil in the first place!! I am, however, grateful for the things I leanred during that process, though I wouldn't want to go through it again. I am still having some lingering issues neurologically, for which I am to go see a Neurologist. It could just be permenant damage from going off the med too fast for my body (though I dind't go off it fast under normal circumstances) My body just did NOT like going off it and should have gone off it MUCH slower - but as it turned out, I knew a heck of a lot more about MAOI's than my then pdoc did; but that's a whole nother story lol
Anyway, so I'm back on Nardil as of I think Sept. - Nardil is my friend. lol My adrenaline levels are still about as high as they were when I was first tested, but for some reason, not taking it at night prevents the BP from going up high - as long as I take them all before 2-3 pm. Also, should it become an issue, there is a hypertension med that I can take that specifically lowers adrenaline levels - prozasin. I have some on hand in case I ever have to start taking it; otherwise, I'm back to "normal."
So that's about it other than all the gorry details. lol
Hello Sojourner, Its nice to meet you and welcome to the board.
I was diag. Bipolar about 11 yrs ago. At first they were treating me for depression until I went all kinds of batty and was very manic. My family dr. was the one who diag. me first and sent me to see a pdoc.
The following could be very TRIGGERING: I had an extremely rough childhood. My step mother hated me, she actually told me that all the time. She would also tell me how ugly I was and would call me stupid. She would introduce me to her friends "This is Tracey, she is so ugly". She acted like I embarrassed her.
I have been married three times, two divorces. I met the husband that I am married to now, in a chat room when he lived in England. Now we have been married for 10 happy yrs. He is my rock and he tries his best to keep me grounded.
Im 45, have a daughter who is 17, born on the fourth of July. I also have a dog named Chewy.
Yesterday when I found this forum, as I read through messages I quickly saw that this is a very close-knit group. Lots and lots of humor, which is a saving grace. Also many unique perspectives regarding treatment options, coping, etc...which is terrific. If everyone followed the same regimen, there really wouldn't be much to talk about, right?
Sounds like you have done (still doing, actually!) an exceptional job raising your children. No small task. How wonderful that your daughter has chosen that particular career path...the system needs strong advocates, for sure!
I empathize regarding letting your son go, so to speak. Mine is about to move out, and I definitely have mixed feelings. I am extraordinarily proud that he is determined to do this, excited about this opportunity for him to grow and learn, and REALLY excited about the prospect of getting a life of my own (selfish, I know!), but on the other hand I am worried to death. As you said about your boy, my son knows he has a great support system and that I am his biggest fan, so this is a good start to a new life for him.
I love your last paragraph! lol, I can easily picture that scenario. Bless your husband's heart! ( :
I'm familiar with clubhouses...in fact, there is an excellent one where I live. I took a tour of it with a client a few months ago, and after pestering my son to at least take a look, he went with me yesterday for a nickel tour and is now very excited to join. Amazing place.
I am so sorry to hear about the financial troubles at your clubhouse!!! What are the funding sources? I am curious about the funding of the one here; they don't bill medicaid/medicare...participation/membership is free for all who have a SPMI. I assume they receive grant money, but I'll have to find out.
They are lucky to have you...you're very dedicated.
My word, what a nightmare regarding your med mishap. Kudos to you for getting a second opinion! That doesn't erase the consequences you have endured, and are still suffering from...how maddening. It irks me that pdocs and every other kind of doc makes knee-jerk decisions like that...it's their job, but it's your life they tinker with! (sorry, I shouldn't rant, but things like this bring out the opinionated, vocal part of me)
Thank goodness there are exceptional docs out there as well. My son is blessed to have his pdoc...for the 11 years he has been ill, this one he has had for two years is bar-none.
Thanks for the hearty welcome! What a friendly group here.
It's great that your doc made that referral right away. You fell fast and hard, it sounds like...that must have been devastating. Was there a specific trigger for your first manic episode? Mine occurred when I was going through three major life changes at the same time. They were all "positive" stressors, but it was just too much at once. I am able to laugh now at my batty-ness during that 6-month period...I literally felt higher than a kite (or space shuttle, take your pick!) and I had to eventually stop driving on the local bypass because I had such a temptation to fly off the highway into the great blue yonder. Some said I was suicidal, but nope...I wanted to live, just fly around in my car! lol, cracks me up. The brain is a mystery, you know?
Regarding your upbringing, I'm so sorry to hear how your step mother treated you. How awful!!! Is she still in the picture?
It sounds like you have a wonderful partner...I'm sure he feels equally thrilled to have you. What a neat how-we-met story. I have a similar failed-marriage history, and I have been quite happy alone for several years now (and quite poor, but that's okay...better to be broke than miserable!). On occasion I venture into the dating scene, but there are so many kooks out there that I have a hard time trusting again.
Anyway, thanks for sharing...I'm looking forward to getting to know you more. Have a super day!
Hey hun, (trigger) My mania started out slowly. My husband at the time/jerk face, was really getting to be a sicko. First he wanted us to go to sex clubs, then wanted us to partner swap. I wasnt this kind of person, but I went along with it and thats when I started flipping out. I was so manic and out of control, I started meeting strange men at bars. (nope, I wasnt a very nice person back then and I will be the first to admit it). Then my X started asking me to do something REALLY sick. We owed the landlord money and he wanted me to sleep with the landlord for free rent. Of course, I didnt go for that. My X wouldnt let up, he kept asking and asking until I finally told him that if he ever asked again I would punch him in the face,
My X was actually shocked when I left him and of course blamed me for everything. I found out that he was having an affair with one of my best friends. ggggrrrr.
As for my step mother, she is still in the picture. I hated her for many years. As a matter of fact, up untill about 3 yrs ago, I still hated her. The hate was exhausting. She was never going to apologize or admit what she had done. I had to take a big steap in order to help myself, so I forgave her, never told her that, but I started spending time with her. Now we get along, although some times she can still be a witch.
I know how you feel when it comes to being poor. I was very poor at one time. Lived in this dinky trailer, with my mom, step jerk and sister. For breakfast I remember eating dry toast with syrup on it. I actually thought it was French toast. Im hoping that one day you will have enough money to live comfortably.
Im so glad you joined our little group. Oh and btw, I have my own board called Grumpy Groupies. You should join it, you will have a blast . We have fun in there. You can find it by going to the top of your screen, under the big WebMd there are choices to make, click on the Exchanges one. It will bring up the alphabet. pick the B. Under Bipolar Depression you will find our group. Hope to see ya there.
Hi Sojourner - I'm impressed you know about clubhouses - I don't think I've met anyone out and about who has...they have thier faults (what org doesn't, eh?) but I do think they offer far more than what most typical organizations for those with mental health issues.
Re our funding - I should know more specifically, but I stay out of that mess lol..but most of our funding comes from the state, which is also why we've lost so much (lost 40% last year due to cuts in mental health from gov) and we get some funding from various grants - and very little from private donations.
The program director asked me today if I would like to work on a week by week basis because they are SO low staffed and one of them is not reliable...I told her that I would think about it, but that it would be better for the clubhouse if I just stayed as volunteer but commit to coming each day rather than coming or going as I please because they really can't afford to pay anyone - also, the added responsibilities that I got away from this past month I'm not suer I want back. If I stay as volunteer, I would commit to being there, but certain of trhe responsibiiltlies I wouldn't have to worry about, which for me, right now might be best - but Ihaven't decided 100%. She said I can give my answer by Monday. I told her that either way, I would be there as volunteer or staff. I mean heck, I'm already there almost every day, some days longer than my work schedule. lol
I'm glad your son has a good pdoc - that makes all the difference in the world. I have been blessed with the most incredible medical professionals and THE best therapist! (not that I'm at all biased!)
Well, I'm sore and tired...and speaking about incredible med profff.as I was typing this, my doc emailed me re what she wants me to do re the weird sensations in body....been seeing her for so many years I forget when it all started lol..about 19-20 years.
Ok, I need to eat and I'm sore sitting here...I hope you had a great day!
Welcome Sojourner, As you meet more of our members, you'll discover the most accepting group I've ever met, and that's seven years ago. Maybe it's like sensitivity that keeps us going, whether in need of some advice, or just some hilarity.
Thanks Ibex! Pleased to meetcha as well! 7 yrs...that's impressive. You have a good point regarding sensitivity. I've noticed here that most are very kind and tactful, yet direct at the same time, when a member is having a rough patch...exactly what a healthy friendship is all about (in real life too). And lots and lots of warm fuzzies going on here! ( :
I participated on a message board off and on over the years regarding my son's diagnosis (SZA), and the whole atmosphere was quite different from this one, and frustrating most of the time.
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