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  1. I consider to be in recovery. It began the day I started professional treatment (and the day I stopped using drugs). Before recovery I was not getting help and was not making any effort to get help. I wasn't doing anything I needed to do to turn my life around and improve my well being. Since I began recovery I've done my best to stay on the course of doing what I'm supposed to be doing to keep up with my treatment, even if it isn't always working. Staying in recovery from mental illness means continuing to do my part in treating my illness. Things like staying on my meds, regularly going to therapy, going to meetings, etc. One day at a time.
  2. I've never really gotten any bad comments, but I was very skilled at hiding my depression. At my worst I was daily abusing drugs to cope, would have crying spells for no reason, planned my suicide, and started to get my affairs in order. But NO ONE except four friends knew I was even depressed. Not even my wife. She said, "in hindsight you did seem a little distant." I put on a happy mask and wore it well. I almost killed myself and no one had a f-----g clue. When I "came out" it was such a relief that I didn't have to pretend anymore. And when I told a large group of friends (when I spoke to our class at church), their shock was very apparent. Wide eyes and jaws on the floor. Just about everyone came up to me after I spoke and told me they had no idea. No shit. That was my intent. How many times have we all heard about a suicide, and the person's friends and family are in disbelief, thinking it must have been an accident or a homicide? All that said to make my point that we here are all aware of - how we outwardly appear does not necessarily match what's going on inside. The people in my life were completely wrong about me. If someone told me I was ok, nothing was wrong, it's all in my head, etc., I would just start boiling and think of how they have no f-----g clue. NO CLUE. People like us understand. People who don't suffer from a mental illness just don't understand. And I'm happy for them. I do struggle with feelings I get from my wife. She is sometimes in disbelief about what I'm going through. Right now I'm dealing with recently discovering I'm bipolar and she thinks I'm exaggerating.
  3. I believe my life has been one big dodge of the addiction bullet. I've always felt an "addictive personality," "addiction gene," or whatever the hell you want to call it. I somehow always knew that I could have a problem with substances. It does run in the family. MI started for me at age 15. But I was very socially reserved, didn't want to get in trouble, active in church. Using was just "wrong," and I was worried what would happen if I started. I guess Nancy Reagan had an impact on me. But really I just was never exposed to substances. None of my peers did that kind of stuff. I never even tasted alcohol until I was 27. Dad was an alcoholic and I didn't want to end up like him. Again, I just didn't hang with people who drank. When I was 37 depression came back with a vengeance. About four weeks in I couldn't take it anymore. I was desperate. I started abusing oxycodone. From the very first pill I knew I was hooked. It was a daily habit from that day on. I used simply to cope and make it through the day. I would have never used if it wasn't for the depression. By the grace of God I hit rock bottom and my life completely crumbled about four weeks into using the oxy. I was able to then get professional help and kick the habit. I only used for a month, and that's nothing for a lot of people, but I consider myself and addict. I just didn't use for very long. It took months to get over the cravings and dreams (so real and vivid dreams of getting high). If a bottle of oxy appeared on my desk today, I'm not sure I could resist.
  4. I don't think he was saying that doctors aren't smart. Of course they have to be smart to get to where they are now. But I think what Distorted was getting at was that the general public regards doctors as having such high knowledge and experience that they are infallible and always have the right answer. They are human, and they are increasing having to deal with more and more patients and insurance company demands. While we should rely on their expertise, it's ok to have reasonable doubt and seek a second opinion and advice. A doctor sees you for just a few minutes, but you have an unlimited amount of time to think about your condition.
  5. I have wondered what the difference is between psychotic delusions and just irrational beliefs. When I was at my lowest point of depression, I was convinced that my wife and kids would be so happy and relieved after my suicide that they would be smiling at my funeral. I would imagine them there in the church. And I would image her getting remarried to an amazing man, and I would play out scenarios in my head of her going on dates with him, seeing how happy she looked, and seeing this guy play with my kids in the back yard and how happy they looked. I was at peace with my decision to end my life. I told this to a couple of friends and they tried to tell me how absurd that was, but I didn't believe them. I thought that they just didn't understand me well enough. If they really knew how bad a person I was, they would agree that I should die. I believed I was just fundamentally incapable of being an acceptable husband and father. I also started having suicidal impulses. My mind was trying to trick itself into suicide - I would find myself standing and staring at a means of harming oneself, and voices (not auditory, just thoughts) were telling me to just to pick it up, but that "it would be ok, you're not going to do anything," but at the same time I knew that if I caved in it would be over. Looking back, it was rather bizarre. Like a battle going on in my head between the rational and irrational. So was I experiencing psychotic delusions, or just having irrational beliefs that come with depression? I really don't know. I've always thought that I was just thinking irrationally due to my illness. Not everyone with depression presents with psychosis, but they will all have irrational beliefs to some degree. While your delusion (or irrational belief) is quite different from mine, it does seem like it would fit in the same "category."
  6. It's been a bit hard to accept a BP2 diagnosis, but not in the usual sense. I have no problems being labeled bipolar. It's because my pdoc didn't just come out and say, "I'm diagnosing you with BP2." My wife has also been wondering if I want to be labeled bipolar just for sake of having the label. It's strange, but there is a sense of belonging. But the more I think about it and the more I read about it, it makes sense. The episodes of hypomania definitely makes it clear, but I had been starting to wonder if I really had major depressive disorder since my experiences weren't the same as most. Most people I talk to have rather persistent depression, like they are always down to some degree. I'm either depressed or I'm not. Sometimes it's more severe than other times. Since getting treatment and being on meds, I'll have cycles of depression lasting 1-3 weeks between cycles of "normal" lasting 3-5 weeks. I'm actually on about the 8th week of normal now. And there were the two cycles of hypomania too. I just get the impression that cycling like that isn't common with MDD, but it is with BP2. While I don't remember any past episodes of hypomania before the most recent two, my wife said that she remembers me being like that years ago. I also think about how fast things happened when all this started a year and a half ago. I went from fine and normal to almost suicide and drug addicted in only 8 weeks. Bupropion is my lifesaver. It is the first med I tried. Two weeks after starting I felt a world of difference. For a few days I felt "cured." Of course the depression would ebb and flow. Bupropion was giving me insomnia, though. So he put me on trazodone at night for sleep. It worked. But after a few weeks things went south. I was getting agitated, confused, and having tremors. Then one night my wife went to bed and I swear I thought I heard her say as she walked out of the living room that she was going to leave me. That's not what she said of course, but that's what I heard in my state of confusion. I spent the next 20 minutes pacing from one end of the room to the other, rubbing my hands together and mumbling to myself. My legs got tired and I sat on the couch. Wondering where I was, my wife came back in and found me sitting in a dark room, rocking back and forth, and mumbling "they are going to take me away, they are going to take me away." I thought I had gone bat shit crazy and I was destined for a group home where I would be for the rest of my life. She was able to calm me down and get me to bed. She called my pdoc first thing the next morning. He took me off both meds and started me on celexa. It worked fine, but over time I couldn't handle the side effects. Then he tried mirtazipine which left me feeling like a zombie for several weeks until I got used to it. But it wasn't really cutting the depression. So we started back on bupropion and kept the mirtazipine at night to counteract the insomnia of bupropion. Later when I described my cycling, he tried me on depakote. Wasn't doing anything so now I'm on lamictal. I'm on fairly low doses of everything. I have a natural low tolerance to medications. That wasn't such a good thing when I got myself addicted to opiods (that's how I coped with my depression before I got treatment), because it meant that my supply would last a long time. I tried 300mg of bupropion on my own and after a couple weeks I felt a bit shaky and my hands started trembling so I dropped it back down. Thanks for the encouragement and advice about seeking help. I thought I had been doing everything right - meds, treatment, supportive community, recovery meetings - but yet when I found myself in crisis I didn't do what was right. Thank God I flipped to hypomania that afternoon, cause I was planning to attempt that night. I realized that a gap in my treatment was not having a crisis plan. So I reached out to some friends, many who have personal experience, and let them know they are on my list to call if I'm in crisis again. I fell a little embarrassed I let that happen. I do some public speaking about depression and suicide and have a web site about my journey. Sometimes I give myself pressure to keep up with this image of being strong so I can help others. But I know and freely admit that I am not cured, I will have ups and downs, and that I have to look out for myself first. It's ok to not be ok.
  7. Both times I went hypo I instantly knew the minute they started. It was a physical feeling. Kinda like butterflies in my stomach, a low dose of adrenaline, and anxiety all rolled together. It was like I felt my body revving up. I wasn't diagnosed with BP2 until after these episodes, but having been previously diagnosed with MDD and still being in a whirlwind 18 months of treating "what the hell is going on with me," I was paying attention to myself. I knew right away that it was likely hypomania. That physical feeling lasted the entire period of hypomania (four days first time, five days the second time). The second time was less pronounced, almost like the hypo had fits and starts to get going. Both times I came down overnight, so I woke up the next morning and knew right away the hypomania was gone. When I was hypo, among other things I was very fidgety. Lots of motivation to do things. I couldn't sit still. It was hard to focus on my job, because all I want to do was to build things and clean the shed and house. I was more talkative than normal and quite chipper. Interestingly, my sleep patterns didn't change. I naturally am a strong sleeper - I fall asleep fast and stay asleep until I'm rested. And I take mirtazipine at night, and it knocks me out.
  8. Thanks for the post, Distorted Me. I went to my pdoc and he said it was likely hypomania. He also said, "it feels great and we all wish we could be like that." Yeah, true, it feels great. But the first time it happened after a few days my body just about gave out from all the physical going and doing. He said I have what he would call, "atypical depression," since my cycles and swings are a bit unusual. I asked him if I was BP2, and he said that he usually stays away from labels and considers it to be a spectrum, with BP1 on one end and just depression on the other. He said that based on the common definition of BP2 I would fit that diagnosis. He said that some researcher has tried to break bipolar down into 27 types, which is ridiculous. So he is ok with the label of "bipolar" for those who experience true mania, and for others he just says you are on the spectrum. I asked if there was a risk of me developing full blown mania, and he said it's highly unlikely since it rarely first presents itself this late in life (age 38). I told him the Depakote didn't do anything and it is horse pills I didn't like taking. He suggested Lamictal, so I've started on that. He also mentioned that not having a mood stabilizer with my antidepressant might trigger hypomania. I won't lie, after taking Depakote for two months and it not doing anything (both times I went hypo I was on it), I stopped in hopes that I would be hypo again. People with MI have all sorts of crazy rationalizations for stopping meds from time to time. The last several weeks have been amazing. I've been "normal," not up or down. I feel good. It's a bit scary because I typically have regular cycles of depression and I'm way overdue. But then again, I'm on a new med and the weather is great. Oh, and this is from a fellow Tennessean. Go Tigers.
  9. OK, this is one of probably a few thousand "here's my symptoms what do you guys think" topics on this forum. Sorry, I just keep thinking about this too much and would like to see what people with first hand experience think. My current diagnosis is major depressive disorder, and the depression is indeed major. No doubt. Started at age 15 and lasted on and off for about 7-8 years, then oddly went away for about 12 years. It came back a year and a half ago (at age 37) with a vengence. Like I was hit by a truck. In two months I went from loving life to abusing drugs daily to relieve the mental pain (I had never even tried an illicit drug before then) and had decided to end my life. My suicide was all planned but I started having suicidal impulses I couldn't control and was able to finally get help (this is the first time I had ever sought treatment for mental health). In the last year and a half meds and therapy have been working well. During the last few months I have had fairly regular cycles of depression. I'll be "normal" for about three weeks and then have about a week of depression. It's nice knowing that when it hits, it will likely be gone in a week. Here's what got interesting. About two months ago, I was day three into a depression cycle and it was probably the worst day of depression EVER. I wrote a suicide note and decided that night I was going to do it. But at about 4pm, over the course of about an hour, I went from that to a very heightened elated state. Just like that. The heightened state was nothing like I had ever experienced. I felt amped up, like having constant adrenaline. I loved on my family more and did all sorts of projects and built things. I was on top of the world, and it felt great! It lasted for four days, and then I went back to "normal." Bummer. A few weeks later, it happened again for five days, but it wasn't as pronounced. But I could definitely tell when it hit. Hard to describe, something between anxiousness and adrenaline. It wasn't too extreme, but very distinct. Both times I felt it immediately when it came. Both times it ended when I woke up the next day and the feeling was gone. I did not have trouble sleeping at all (but I am on a med that makes me sleepy). I figeted a lot (moved my fingers, bounced my legs, etc.). I talked maybe a little more than normal. I did go on a spending spree the second time, but I was due for new clothes anyway (maybe not the $300 boots though...). I just think that outwardly I didn't seem that off, but my wife did notice a difference the first time it happened. I read stories about hypomania, and I wonder if that's really what happended to me. I didn't experience symptoms as extreme as most people seem to experience. Also note: meds are wellbutrin, remeron, and depakote (started two weeks before the first "up" episode). So the million dollar question is... bipolar II? I'm seeing my pdoc in a couple weeks. I just don't want to go in all self-diagnosed and look like a fool. My wife thinks I'm overreacting a bit. I don't want to be bipolar... well, I don't want to be manic. If what I had was hypomania, I'm fine with that. It was great! My concern is that if I'm bipolar, I need to know so I get proper treatment to prevent a manic episode in the future. Maybe the two "up" periods are all I will ever have. Or maybe they weren't really up at all, and were just good moods.