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  1. patents

    What should I do?

    Some of your story sounds like mine. I was 15 when I had my first depressive episode. I have heard that the earlier in life you have a mood disturbance the greater chance that it will eventually bipolar. I don't remember the age in which it doesn't matter, maybe 18 or 20, but I do remember 15 being in the range for higher risk. Not hard science, but consistent anecdotal evidence. For the next 8 years or so I had depressive episodes on and off. My wife (who knew me then) thinks looking back I may have had hypomanic episodes as well. If I did I didn't know it at the time. College can be a crazy time anyway. After college, I didn't have any depression or hypomania (that I knew of) for 12 years. Also note that I had not gotten any treatment, ever. After 12 years, depression came back full force and over the course of 8 weeks I became dangerously suicidal. I then started treatment. That was two years ago. Now I'm doing really well with therapy and meds. I've had periods of denial. I do doubt my BP2 dx. I've only (knowingly) had two hypomanic episodes. I'm 99% sure they were. But my lows and highs don't last very long. Sometimes I think that since the highs didn't last over a week then maybe I was just in a good mood. I can't deny the depression. Hell, I had planned my suicide and was abusing narcotics just to make it through the day. I'll likely be on meds forever. I went 12 years without symptoms. What if I'm fine for another 12? Would I unnecessarily be taking meds the whole time? But the way I look at it is that if I don't stay on meds, I'll get blindsided when it hits again (and it probably will), and given my history of dangerous suicidal ideation, I can't take that risk.
  2. I'm on wellbutrin (works great for my depression), lamictal, and gabapentin to help me sleep (wellbutrin gives me insomnia). The lamictal has been a near miracle drug for me. It's done exactly what it's supposed to do: stabilize my mood. My moods used to bounce all over the place (usually down and rarely up) very rapidly. I've been stable for the 4+ months I've been on lamictal. Of course, its effects on everyone is different. And I went up slowly on lamictal. It didn't really start working until 200mg/day.
  3. So I started out with major depression. I've never struggled with anxiety. Then pdoc said BP2 after what I believe were two clear hypomanic episodes (my wife thinks I may have had others many years ago). I developed depression when I was rather young and that's a marker for a possible later BP dx. Although at my last appointment my pdoc apparently forgot what he told me before and said I'm not on the BP spectrum at all because my manic episodes didn't last at least two weeks. That's not what the DSM says but oh well. I'm getting the right treatment from him so I don't care what he calls it. He just says "atypical depression" because in his words (and I agree) it doesn't look like MDD at all. All that said... I had been doing well on wellbutrin, it really helps the depression a lot. I was on remeron at night to counteract insomnia from the wellbutrin. I wasn't going to give up wellbutrin because it was so effective and I've had dangerous suicidal tendencies. But my moods still bounced all over the place. I wouldn't stay depressed for more than a week or two. It was on a somewhat predictable cycle, and then it became unpredictable. I also seem to be easily triggered. Therapy helps a lot with that. So he put me on lamictal to do exactly what it's for: the stabilize my mood. It has worked wonders! I have been stable and virtually depression free for months now. I don't mean to get your hopes up if you can't take it, but maybe some research is in order to determine if you would have the same risk of rash or SJS with lamictal. You may can try a very low dose. The main risks are if you titrate the dose up too quickly (you can go as slow as you want to avoid that) or not stopping it as soon as the rash appears. I'm not a doctor but as long as you start slow you can stop the day you get a rash and be alright. That's just my uneducated opinion. Follow your doctor's advice. I recently sub'd my remeron for gabapentin because of memory and concentration problems with remeron. My clear mind has returned (yay!), not sure yet if gaba will do the trick with sleep. It's been hit or miss since I started last week.
  4. patents

    Hypo vs justified

    It's ok to discuss reasons for not being hired as long as you are courteous and not asking loaded or leading questions. It sounds like you were ok in asking. I have interviewed, formally and informally, at several places, and they have said that assuming a candidate had the basic qualifications, the most important factor is personality and how I could develop comradery with the other workers. That's another way of saying how I "clicked" with the others. It's a valid concern for employers, and it's particularly important in many workplaces. It doesn't mean that people spoke negatively of you, it may just mean that they didn't believe you had the personality match for the position.
  5. I do have my regular 3-month checkup next week. My hypomania hasn't ever been too much of a problem, the worst has been a slight bit of spending and exhaustion. This past episode has passed. Since upping my dose of lamictal three months ago I have been far more stable than I've been in a long time, and I believe it's kept my hypomania in check. I think it would have been more pronounced if I wasn't on lamictal.
  6. When I first started treatment for my MI my pdoc put me on wellbutrin. When it kicked in it really helped with the major depression I was having at the time, but it gave me insomnia. He then put me on trazadone for sleep and it worked great, but after a couple weeks it made me psychotic and I ended up having a breakdown rocking back and forth on our couch rubbing my hands and mumbling something about my family "taking me away and locking me up" for the rest of my life. For several days prior I suspected something was going on because I started getting tremors and was getting confused about routine things. Anyway, enough of trazadone for me... Ended up then trying different meds, and at some point he tried me on remeron as a sole therapy. I think he titrated me up to 60mg/day. For the first two weeks I was a zombie, it zonked me out. Once I got used to it I realized it did nothing for my depression. We circled back around to wellbutrin because it was the most effective. So my pdoc kept me on remeron at night to help me sleep. It has worked great! I take 15mg at night and not only does it counteract any insomnia from wellbutrin, it has kept me on a near normal sleep pattern even during my hypomania. I believe it's the remeron that masks the hypomanic symptom of less sleep. Keep in mind that remeron is unusual in that, in general, at higher doses the more activating and less sedating it becomes. It's sedating at low doses but not at higher doses. But at low doses you don't really get an antidepressant benefit. All that said, maybe consider remeron at night, maybe 15-30mg, to see if it helps you sleep. I've been on it for months and I've had consistent normal sleep. Just for grins a few weeks ago I didn't take it at night and I slept terribly (I also think I was hypomanic at the time too).
  7. My pdoc once recommended gabapentin. I had never heard of it and for whatever reason I declined and suggested we try something else. I'm very glad I never got it because I know that once I found out it can be abused I would have. My pdoc even knows I have a history of drug abuse. The #1 reason I'm clean is because I don't have easy access to anything and I'm working really hard to keep it that way.
  8. patents

    Course of illness

    I had periods of serious depression in high school and college, but most of the time I was normal. Then I didn't experience depression for 12 years. Then I got depressed one day out of nowhere and within 8 weeks had planned my suicide and was hearing voices in my head trying to trick me into killing myself. Luckily I got professional help this time (I had never been treated before). In the two years since I've cycled between depression, hypomania, and normal. I think I've been hypomanic in years past but just didn't know it. I don't know if my case is unusual or just goes to show that there really isn't a common pattern to all this. My pdoc did say that for bipolar it's very rare for it to manifest at my age (almost 40). That's one reason I believe I probably had symptoms long ago (also my wife says looking back she remembers times I was probably hypomanic). I asked him if there is a chance my BPII could progress to BPI and he said it would be highly unlikely at my age. I have done research and there are cases of late-onset MI, but it's not common. I think symptoms will get worse with age if we don't get and stay on proper treatment. But that's no guarantee.
  9. I might be hypomanic right now, but I'm not sure. I take mirtazapine at night to counteract insomnia from my morning wellbutrin, and it knocks me out, so my sleep patterns don't really change when I'm hypomanic. Last week I did skip the mirtazapine for one night and I kept waking up thinking about plans and dimensions for a cabinet I wanted to build. I also got sick with sinus crud, and it kinda knocked me down for awhile. I also have back problems, and if I'm on my feet all day by bedtime I am in so much pain I have to just go lie down. Of course when I'm hypomanic and go build things, clean the house, clean the shed, etc., it makes my back hurt worse and I get exhausted. It's like my brain keeps going but my body won't. So I was wondering how physical limitations affect your mania? Doe they mask symptoms of it? I wonder if being tired and physically exhausted means I'm not really hypomanic right now, or I am but my body just won't let me keep going. All things considered I really think I'm hypomanic. Mentally my brain is going fast and all over the place, I'm more social and talkative, and I'm very hypersexual (WAY more than normal).
  10. patents

    Being Admitted

    I constantly evaluate whether I'm doing the right things for my mental health. Am I staying on my meds and telling my pdoc when they aren't working? Am I continuing with therapy? Am I in a supportive community with people I trust? Am I exercising and eating right? If I believe I'm doing all the right things, it gives me hope because eventually things will get better. Over the course of my treatment things have gotten better, but with some hiccups along the way. It can take a long time for things to get better even with proper treatment. So don't give up hope! Even if it takes years to get things straightened out, you still have a long life left to enjoy.
  11. Thank you for your post. Besides backing out of an attempt, the closest I ever got was two years ago. I had everything planned, and the date was several weeks away. I started to get my affairs in order. I was at peace with my decision, because I truly believed that I was not worth living and everybody would be better off without me. It made me happy thinking that I would be doing people the ultimate favor by dying. I thought my friends and family would be happy and relieved that I was gone. I also felt so worthless I thought eating was a waste of food. But before I could execute my plan, I started having suicidal impulses and voices trying to trick me into doing it before my planned date. That's when I actually got scared of dying, but I was largely concerned that I was going to do it before everything was in order. I told my wife I was suicidal because I figured she was the only one who could stop me. I then got help and treatment (I had never had any sort of mental health treatment before). The only action I've done since was driving to a wooded park with a means. I left it in the car, though, and went into the woods for awhile by myself. Mostly my suicidal thoughts are planning. I had thoughts this week, but dang it I have so much going on over the next couple months that I really need to be here for. Another thing is the cyclical and random nature of my moods. I might be severely depressed, but a few days later I'm just fine. I showed my pdoc my mood tracker app and he said the constant ups and downs of my mood are not indicative of major depressive disorder. I asked if it was a characteristic of bipolar and he said no. I asked what it was then, and he said "I don't know." I appreciate honesty! He said he's more concerned with appropriate treatments than labels. I have been hypomanic before so that at least technically puts me as BPII. All that said, when I have suicidal thoughts, I do recognize that they will go away soon when my mood comes back up. Two years ago they weren't going away, but I wasn't getting treatment. Now I firmly believe my treatment (meds, therapy, community support, etc.) makes my down times not last very long.
  12. I would think those things were likely attempts, as long as you also had an intent to die. You had a high probability of dying if not for external factors (people) outside of your control. I'm like you, I wonder about my past actions in order to put in place appropriate plans to protect myself going forward. Either way, I think it's best to err on the safe side and take such actions seriously and have crisis plans in case of the worst.
  13. patents

    Think I may be bipolar

    When my pdoc told me I am BPII, I went home and read a lot about it. A light bulb went off with many of the things I read. "Ahhh, things make so much more sense now." Like you, I was skeptical at first. Definitely tell your pdoc about your experiences. Try to be objective and not let yourself try to fit your experiences in with what you read. Also, there's differences between a habitual shopaholic (or any other behavior) and behavior due to mania. Look for distinct periods of doing certain things.
  14. There's a lot there that I don't have the knowledge/experience to comment on. However, there was a period when I suspected I was BPII but was not (yet) diagnosed. Pdoc put me on a mood stabilizer (started with depakote then moved to lamictal) before I ever had hypomanic symptoms. He put me on it because I was constantly cycling in and out of depression every few days/weeks. It wasn't that I had variable degrees of depression, it was on/off. Anyway, shortly after starting a mood stabilizer (two weeks), springtime hit and bam, I went hypomanic. I pretty much knew what was going on right when it happened. At my next appointment pdoc said I am BPII. All that said, there is a school of thought that it doesn't matter if you have a BPII diagnosis or not if you are on meds that work for you. If you respond to a mood stabilizer, then there's a high likelihood that you are on the bipolar spectrum somewhere. Your dose of lamictal is quite low. 100mg is generally a starting therapeutic dosage. I started on 50, wasn't working, now I'm on 100, hard to tell if it's working, depression is still there but haven't been hypo since. A couple times I thought I was about to go hypo but didn't. Quitting alcohol altogether would be a wise choice. Alcohol and brain meds don't mix.
  15. Do you feel like you don't deserve nice things? It sounds like you grew up learning frugality out of necessity. When you were a kid it wasn't that having nice things was bad, it was that you just couldn't afford them. It's understandable that having nice things given to you from your parents now seems odd. Here's the way I look at money things. It's ok as long as you are living within your means. It's ok not to buy nice clothes if you don't have the money for it. It's ok to buy a new Mercedes every year if you are rich. As long as you don't have an attitude of greed or entitlement, you're ok. If your mom can afford to give you things, I would accept them with gratitude. She loves you and that's one way she shows her love. You can have nice things and still be an amazing humble individual. I know many people who are very wealthy but they are awesome people. Your money and things don't define you one way or another. Shoes with holes do not define you, nor would brand new shoes.