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New here, a question: what's more important?


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I've been lurking here for a long time, as well as reading much other information on bipolar disorder. I have come to the conclusion that my mother likely suffers from undiagnosed bipolar disorder, possibly my sister as well, and most likely myself. I won't go into to all my reasons for coming to this conclusion because I don't have time to write it all down and you don't have time to read it. I will make the comparison that for me, it is like I have spent my whole life trying to solve math equations with half the variables missing, wondering what's wrong with me and why nothing makes sense, and now after becoming aware of bipolar disorder all the pieces are there and all the equations make perfect sense. I know I'm not a doctor; I have an appt next Wed to see someone (after an ultimatum from my husband), and I am torn about what, if anything, I can or will tell.

My question: what's more important? Getting treatment, or maintaining your life? I have read so much here about people in treatment that are still suffering terribly, so is it even worth it if I'll still be struggling? I'm struggling now but getting done what I need to get done to help support my family (my husband and I are equal earners). For me, telling the whole truth will mean losing my life as I know it, and will create great stress for me which makes me wonder if that will only make it all worse anyway.

I am an active duty service member, and I have suffered in silence for years knowing that saying the wrong thing should I decide to seek help would get me discharged. The mere mention of the word suicide would start the ball rolling in that direction, so on every single questionnaire, post deployment evaluation, phone consult, where they ask THAT question--even though my head and my soul are screaming YES YES YES I HAVE THOUGHT AND DO THINK ABOUT IT, AND DEATH, CONSTANTLY!!!!! I just quietly reply "no." If I was discharged now, I would have to file for bankruptcy. I have seventeen months left on my contract and could get out painlessly at that time. I have made it this many years (4) hiding the pain and misery, what's another year and a half?

One of my worries about this appt that makes me not want to say anything is that if I say something, but not the whole truth, that I may come out with a depression diagnosis. I was diagnosed with depression once before and put on prozac. At the time, this made no sense or connection to me, but in retrospect I believe it sent me into a manic state. I worry about this happening again. So, it seems like it's either an all or nothing thing--tell it all, or minimize and refocus and redirect the inquiry to something harmless like I've done every other time I've thought about or began to seek help.

Anyway, has your treatment been worth it? Was (would it be) it worth giving up your life as you know it if that's what it would mean for you to pursue treatment?

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My question: what's more important? Getting treatment, or maintaining your life? I have read so much here about people in treatment that are still suffering terribly, so is it even worth it if I'll still be struggling? I'm struggling now but getting done what I need to get done to help support my family (my husband and I are equal earners). For me, telling the whole truth will mean losing my life as I know it, and will create great stress for me which makes me wonder if that will only make it all worse anyway.

Bipolar can kindle, much like epilepsy. To put it simply, mania begets mania. Each episode increases the likelyhood of future episodes and the likelyhood that one will be more severe than the next. To put it more simply, left untreated it can get worse.

I don't have any advice as to what you should do, what the best choices are. Do be aware that the longer you put off treatment the greater your chances of not making a full recovery. I know the military are blatent bigots about this. The recrutors went from begging me to go to neuclear command school (or somthing like that) to not letting me mop the floor over the course of five minutes because of an ADD diagnosis. Biggotry is exactly what it is. In many cases it's just as bad as the gay/lesbian policy, IMHO. It sounds like all your options pretty much suck right now.

Most people do make full recovories and go on to lead normal lives. You just don't see them around here because they quit posting and go do more productive things for the most part. A person would have to be pretty morbid to be feeling good and hang around here just for the hell of it.

I am an active duty service member, and I have suffered in silence for years knowing that saying the wrong thing should I decide to seek help would get me discharged. The mere mention of the word suicide would start the ball rolling in that direction, so on every single questionnaire, post deployment evaluation, phone consult, where they ask THAT question--even though my head and my soul are screaming YES YES YES I HAVE THOUGHT AND DO THINK ABOUT IT, AND DEATH, CONSTANTLY!!!!! I just quietly reply "no." If I was discharged now, I would have to file for bankruptcy. I have seventeen months left on my contract and could get out painlessly at that time. I have made it this many years (4) hiding the pain and misery, what's another year and a half?

One of my worries about this appt that makes me not want to say anything is that if I say something, but not the whole truth, that I may come out with a depression diagnosis. I was diagnosed with depression once before and put on prozac. At the time, this made no sense or connection to me, but in retrospect I believe it sent me into a manic state. I worry about this happening again. So, it seems like it's either an all or nothing thing--tell it all, or minimize and refocus and redirect the inquiry to something harmless like I've done every other time I've thought about or began to seek help.

Anyway, has your treatment been worth it? Was (would it be) it worth giving up your life as you know it if that's what it would mean for you to pursue treatment?

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You have to weigh the balance...

- How miserable are you?

- Are you capable of continuing to live like this?

- How likely are you to hurt yourself or commit suicide?

- How much is your illness affecting your marriage and family? Do they deserve to see you unhappy?

- By hiding behind the wrong dx you risk being treated inappropriately should you ever go manic

- By hiding the correct dx, you risk losing VA benefits for the rest of your life. Having the dx while on active duty carries much more weight than trying to "back in" an illness/injury after discharge.

- Do you intend to make the military a career?

- If you don't intend to re-up, what are you planning to do to solve your financial problems in 18 months?

- Even if you do seek military treatment, you will not be discharged overnight. It will still take several months of diagnosis, med trials, therapy just to get a firm diagnosis. Then a local medical board would have to be held, you appeal, then go to your service medical medical board, you appeal, then to service for approval, then discharge planning. It could take a good portion of your remaining enlistment.

- Oh, and you still don't know if bipolar is an automatic discharge. You need to find a doctor or medic, possibly a chaplain who can tell you the real scoop. It is possible that they may not bother discharge you given your short time left, just let it run out.

Just because people bitch and moan about their meds and life here, doesn't mean we aren't much better off than if we had never been treated. Remember, a lot of why people post here is so they don't annoy family and friends, and to commiserate with fellow travelers.

Good luck.

a.m.

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"what's more important? Getting treatment, or maintaining your life?"

Treatment was the only way for hubby to maintain his life....but in your case you are talking about maintaining a "lifestyle". IMO, lifestyles are not a priorty, and the healthier you are, the more control you will have over how you live and the quality of your life.

Yeah, you may have to make some serious changes, and I know that sucks. But I would rather be poor with a healthy spouse, than financially successful with miserable husband who keeps thinking about ways to off himself. And yes, this was an actual choice we had to make. The result? Ask me about my ramen noodle recipes ;)

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I hang around some, but not as much as I used to, because after I got decent treatment I eventually stabilized on meds (and got really busy with life). I have minor, brief mood swings. I'm back to grad school and on the job market and finishing up my dissertation.

I would not be able to do any of this without treatment. It makes my life tolerable with pleasant and fun parts.

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My question: what's more important? Getting treatment, or maintaining your life? I have read so much here about people in treatment that are still suffering terribly, so is it even worth it if I'll still be struggling?

"Is it even worth it if I'll still be struggling?"

Hell, you made it through boot!

I'm struggling now but getting done what I need to get done to help support my family (my husband and I are equal earners). For me, telling the whole truth will mean losing my life as I know it, and will create great stress for me which makes me wonder if that will only make it all worse anyway.

OK. The meds can have side effects, ranging in severity from "oh yeah, now that you mention if" through "that's just not real" to "ohmygodmyskinisfallingoff!!!" - but that's true of every damn pill, from sugar pills to chemo. MOST people do well for years on the first medication tried. In the intermediate to long run, even mediocre treatment will greatly reduce the stress in your life.

I am an active duty service member, and I have suffered in silence for years knowing that saying the wrong thing should I decide to seek help would get me discharged.

I have made it this many years (4) hiding the pain and misery, what's another year and a half?

Things may have changed since I was in, but at least the USN could be glacially slow in dealing with anything other than immediate dangers to life and/or property or drugs. They were really big on trying to cure a servicemember first before discharge (unless he/she's close to retirement).

Bipolar disorder can pose many complications to a military life. One complicating factor is that you could go into a manic phase and decide "Hell, I feel great! What WAS I worried about?" and re-enlist, knowing you may be bipolar. That could be bad. Or, you could slip into a really bad depressive phase and transition yourself from "U.S. Government, Property of" to "In Memory Of". That is really bad. Or, in an irritable hypomanic phase you could do something stupid and get the UCMJ rammed up your ass, sideways. Makes a few extra pounds seem a whole lot less of an issue, huh?

It sounds like you are in the States, and planning to get out at the end of your hitch anyway. My nonconstructive advice would be to plan on leaving the military no matter what the retention team is offering you, and butch it out for as long as you can before heading to sick call and demanding to see a headshrinker. Because an up-cycle makes it easy to ignore all the warnings, make concrete plans to see a doctor and try to get documented (correctly!!!), treated, and as stable as possible before you hang up the uniform. Think you are headed out-of-control? Do not pass go, get yourself to the head of the line to see a doctor.

Oh yeah, and remember that the first diagnosis is almost always "malingering" ;)

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Thank you for the opinions, experiences, and thinking points. Let me answer a few of the questions asked of me now:

--I'm not sure how likely a suicide attempt is. I really don't want to die, but I just want all the constant chatter and swings to stop. My marriage is being affected pretty deeply at this point. My parenting is also being affected.

--I no longer plan to make the military a career. I had every intention when I initially joined, and I still love my service. I am proud of what I do (as a service member, hate my career field though) and it makes me sad to be ending it. I feel like I'm getting ready to go through a divorce, as stupid as that sounds. But I know there's no way I'd make it another decade and a half just pretending to be a normal person who makes a lot of sarcastic comments and jokes to hide what's really going on in there.

--My husband and I are dual military, and if we move on base (where housing is privatized) we can pocket an extra $1000 of non taxable income every month (my BAH) for the rest of the time I'm in. This will pay off all our unsecured debt and one of our two cars, which will leave us in comfortable shape to live off one income once I separate.

--THANK YOU from someone who's made this choice for telling me it was worth it--ramen noodles here I come.

--My service can be glacially slow as well on some things, but I have also seen them move pretty fast on all the people in mine and related career fields who cracked up. I worry that I might be more quickly dealt with because I am an aircraft maintainer and the risk to life and property could be serious, depending on how bad the report to my commander is after I spill it.

--Good point on doing something stupid/UCMJ; I've almost gotten myself in trouble before while in one of my foul moods. So far I have a spotless record and I would hate to lose that.

--For everyone else, I wasn't trying to insult you all, and I'm sorry if I came off poorly. It just sounds like the treatment for this is so variable with so many choices and can be a struggle to make it right and actually improve things. I'm so tired from just surviving like this, I don't feel like starting a whole new struggle trying to cure it. I just wondered if it's worth it and if you do eventually find the right answer.

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