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How did your bipolar progress?


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I'm just wondering if anyone is willing to share how their bipolar developed in terms of episodes.  I guess the reason I'm curious is that I seem to have a rather malignant form of depression, with seemingly one severe episode of depression a year since the age of 18 or 19, except for the last which started at 23 and just...uh...decided not to end at all (I'm 25 now), combined with the fact that my mother is diagnosed as bipolar, and the fact that bipolar usually starts around 18 or 19 whereas unipolar depression usually starts in the late 20's.  What I'm most curious about is if any of you had many depressive episodes before your manic/hypomanic side popped up in an obvious way. 

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I had a couple of (unrecognized) hypomanic episodes in my early twenties, then a sudden depressive episode around age 24 when I stopped smoking and stopped taking birth control pills (preparing to get pregnant).  The only reason I could figure for it was that my psyche simply wasn't ready to have kids, LOL, so we put that on hold for a little while.  The depression abated, and we had our firstborn (who happened to have neurological and mentally interesting issues of her own, including early onset bipolar, so I don't know how much weight I'd give to the ages certain disorders "usually" manifest).  I did OK for awhile, then finally started on AD's.  Which kept pooping out on me; the low-level depression was just relentless.  Looking back, I did have one episode of dysphoric hypomania when I was about 35 (can't remember exactly what AD's I was on at the time). We moved a few years later and I got a new pdoc who saw me in an actual hypomania and I started Trileptal.  The last two years have seen a few tweaks here and there, but a mood stabilizer plus SSRI plus low dose benzo is a pretty successful cocktail for me.

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In hindsight I realize that I had regular swings from depression to hypo-mania during my teens and early 20s.

When I was about 30 I had a severe depression (the sort one fixes by walking in front of a bus) which was what brought me to the pdocs.  I was treated for depression for 3 years until I had a full blown manic episode with all the fun psychotic bits thrown in...voices hallucinations and all that.

Like I said, hindsight is 20/20, I realize now that I was going up and down for years before I decided to get help.

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I post here for my husband, he's too f'd up on new meds to type at the moment.  As far as the progression of his illness (bipolar) our experience is that it def. got worse and changed course with age.  He says he had panic attacks as a kid, till middle school, mild depression in high school, hypomanic & hypersexual in college (but who isn't in college, huh?)  He thought he was normal cause his Mother is as loony as they come, and they all get mad and yell and rage then come back to 'normal'.  (Can you say GENETICS?)

In his early to mid 20's he stared having hypomanic episodes then depressions in pretty regular cycles,  once every few months.  He wasn't dx'd or medicated until about 3 yrs ago.  He started on celexa (dx'd as depressed) mania persisted so finally dx'd bipolar and finally found zyprexa that 'fixed' the bipolar but supressed all other human emotions except hunger, gained 25 lbs and became a monk.  Since I'm not into marital celibacy, that sucked ass.  He cold-turkey quit the zyprexa 10 weeks ago and became enraged/violent/jailed/hospitalized (in that order).  I guess the celibacy thing wasn't so bad after all...

He's back on meds (Depakote 2000mg/Wellbutrin 75mg/Tegretol 200mg), stable and actually has a libido, so he's ok.  We're healing and in therapy.  To anyone out there thinking you can handle bipolar w/out meds...please ask me what can happen...it's not pretty.

Kim

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i am still waiting for the OFFICIAL bipolar diagnosis.

i have been seeing my GP - who has been trained in psychiatry. 

my first episodes started happening in my early teens; swinging from depression to mania every few months.  i had a major depression for a few months when i was 18 - hated everything around me...moved out of my house...wrote my mother a suicide letter.

ive always had auditory hallucinations - my whole life.  i thought this was normal, but apparently its not.

*mind you - nothing was ever wrong with me.  my mother blamed it on me being a horrible child, that never listened and only cared about myself*

pfft.

back in january, i was given effexor because the depression was so bad i could barely get out of bed and in to work. i cried all the time, nothing could make things better. 

i got up to 225mg effexor and went CRAZY. full on mania, visual hallucinations, no sleep, so disturbed i hated being in my own skin.  i started cycling every 4 days, with no control over myself. doc saw this and got worried - first thing that came to mind?  bp1.  i am still battling the hallucinations, and the lamictal has helped the depression.  i havent SI in over a month!

i go in for psychiatric evaluation at the clarke institute next friday with some specialist.  i dont want to go anymore (mainly because the lamictal is working so wonderfully) but i suppose i should.

thats my story.

xo

tal

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I was first diagnosed with Depression at age 11, and then had major mood swings through out middle school and high school, including major depressions every spring in high school, including rages, violence and the like.  But I was a happy, joyful kid for the most part, so my nickname was "Bipolar" ironically.  Hopitalized for depression at age 22, first major manic episode the second I got out of the psyche ward that lasted for three months.  Diagnosed with Bipolar next spring, wouldn't take any meds.  Depressed every spring, manic in the summer, depressed in the fall, finally went apeshit crazy one time too many and got me some fine APs and ADs.  Recently experienced three months of manic/mixed episodes for the first time which have left me breathless and led to rapid cycling diagnoses and

HOORAY! for the progression of the magnificence of bipolar disorder!

There's nothing like a kick in the ass when you think you know what's going on.

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I had depressive episodes from my early teens. Had some periods of irritability and over-excitability in high school that could be classified as hypomania, but those weren't a cause for concern. I liked 'em, for the most part. The depression bothered me, but I was too scared to see a doctor about it. Was in a depressive state when I started university and saw a doctor two months later, when I was nineteen. Was put on Effexor. Effexor threw me into a manic episode, which I sought treatment for from a different doctor four months later. I have a diagnosis of bipolar but no specific label yet.

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Depression and paranoia from the age of 7, hypomanic episodes after puberty (10 years old), which would lead to "crashing" (a mild depression). 15 I started the panic attacks. 18 Dxed as depressed. Did lots of crazy manic shit for years, but thought it was just my personality until I was 25 and I got my official bp diagnosis (GP saw me when I was manic and got me an emergency appointment to a pdoc).

In general, though, I get manic in the winter, depressed from spring to mid-summer. and am usually pretty normal in the fall. And I have a mania before my depression.

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My father was bipolar (and commited suicide) and my mother has Major Depression, so i guess I was predesposed to my BP.

I began having major depressive episodes and panic/anxiety attacks when I was about 8. The panic attacks were then joined by GAD. My family refused to get help for me.

I started showing bipolar 1 symptoms when I was 16. I did it all- I lived with and cared for my grandma with Alzheimer's, ran cross country, worked 20 hours a week, and got great grades .Never mind it was mania and I slept about 3 hours a night. No one recognized it as a problem and it lasted for months.

I was finally put in the hospital with an episode of bipolar depression psychosis when I was 22. I'm now almost 27. I've been in the hospital 4 times.

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I started showing bipolar 1 symptoms when I was 16. I did it all- I lived with and cared for my grandma with Alzheimer's, ran cross country, worked 20 hours a week, and got great grades .Never mind it was mania and I slept about 3 hours a night. No one recognized it as a problem and it lasted for months.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You pretty much summed up my high school years. Excectuive committee of 3 clubs, volunteering at the domestic violence shelter, drama department productions, AP classes, great grades but I was miserable. I don't know if my parents realized how little sleep I was going on...sometimes as little as an hour a night for weeks at a time. Probably not, they managed to ignore my sister's bulemia (even though I told them about it!) for a year. Man, I'm gonna be watching my poor kids like a hawk to make sure they don't have to go through that like I did.

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Personally, I started out only noticing the depressive episodes, (about age 14) but in retrospect some of the periods between depressive episodes in high school were pretty obviously hypomanic.  I didn't have a full blown manic episode until 22 or so.

Wish I'd been diagnosed earlier than age 32. (Seems odd considering the number of times I was dragged to the doc for psych problems in my teens and the now-revealed fact that I'm probably at least generation five on the bipolar swing.  But hey, pretending family problems don't exist makes them go away, right?)

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I've had short hypomanic episodes for the most of my life, but we just figured it was hyperactivity. My first depression came when I was about 10, but got more and more serious as time passed. I wasn't depressed all the time, but maybe 50% of the time from when I was 10 to now, I'm 18 now.

The other symptoms have developed the last year, as rage, quicker mood swings, very rapid cycling (10 mood swings a day, anyone?), anxiety, feelings of emptiness... I've also had a history of eating disorders if that might be a clue.

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Got into hospital after suicide attempt at 17. Was given SSRIs, which brought about massive hypomania. I'm 18 now, about a year after diagnosis. I've been rapid-cycling ever since... I have odd patterns. I would be having completely different moods every day, but there are some months which are better, and some which are worse; i.e. say in May I had more morbidly depressed days than hypomanic - therefore it's been a depressed month.

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I didn't have depressive episodes- I was one single long depressive episode from the time I was quite young. It was just sometimes my depression would mix with agitation or anxiety or rage. Looking back, I would say that I probably started the more classic hypomanias in college. Without medication I tend to stay in different variations of a "mixed state".

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"To anyone out there thinking you can handle bipolar w/out meds...please ask me what can happen...it's not pretty."

Been there...done that...got the t-shirt ;)

Hubby started with episodes as a young teen. It was chalked up to drugs at the time. He had another episode in college before he met me (apparently he was quite the party animal!). Then I got to witness him go from manic to psychotic while I was pregnant and had a toddler. Had to have him committed. Did that 3 more times over the years. Each time was mania which, combined with no sleep, turned into total psychosis. After his last episode, he finally stuck with therapy and medication. But now he is in a depression. Age seems to change how BP effects you.

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I had a major depression at age 16.  Then two more major depressions in my early twenties.  Then at age 27 a horrendous manic episode which resulted in my being taken into police custody and hospitalization.

Most of my "episodes" - depressed and manic last for months.  As I've gotten older I've had more "mixed state" episodes.  I'm told I have "classic" bipolar which I think means bipolar 1.

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Depressive episodes at 12 (very mild), 16 (anxious depression), and then non-anxious depression at 19 and alternating anxious and non- every year or two therafter till I started rapid cycling between depression and anxiety at age 25 six months ago.  The pdoc suggests that the anxious depressions were actually mixed episodes. 

The hypomanias I remember were incredibly short, a few hours or so, and mild - I got very excited about ideas and then they didn't seem like good ideas when I came down.  Or I'd have a half-hour experience where everything was incredibly beautiful and wonderful and I loved everything. Those were pretty rare, and almost never happened when I got older.  When I started rapid cycling, I got very bad anxiety on the high end instead.

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My first severe depression was at age 9.  I just sat in front of my dollhouse crying as quietly as I could so no one would know & really, really wanted to die. 

Had a lot of depressive episodes from then on.  I'd say I spent at least 75% of the average year depressed, usually severely.  I suspect I was probably hypomanic a lot of the time, too- I was always running around doing all sorts of crazy things & had a lot of energy.  I seem to spend a lot of times in mixed states.

Had a hard time getting diagnosed as anything in the first place, despite knowing how often I was depressed.  Finally got one tdoc to admit that yeah, I was probably unipolar. (What is with that anyways?  "Oh, we don't want to label you..."  Fuck that.  Tell me what's wrong with me so we can fix it.)

I know I've had two full-blown manic states since I started back to school a couple years ago.  One was while trying to finish a big project my first yeart, the other was during finals week of Spring semester of '04.  I crashed *hard* from that one.  Showed up an hour late to a final critique, yelled at a classmate & burst into tears when my prof started talking to me. 

Last fall, I was having some serious problems.  MY brain was racing but I couldn't seem to do much of anything.  After yelling at a good friend in the studio one night over something stupid & a stern lecture from my print prof over my lack of progress in the class, I realized I had to do something.  Saw a tdoc at school, who initially thought I just had time management issues, until I explained to him that no, I kept trying to do these projects that were more complexe than I realized & that weren't humanly possible to finish.  I told him about the racing brain stuff.  And he looked at me & said, "I think you're a lot more manic than anyone's recognized."  So, finally dx'd as BP at age 32.

Don't know what specific type of BP I am- is there one for folks who spend most of their time mixed? 

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First major depression at 19, then small hypomanic episodes began.  Through my 20s the depressions and hypomania continued.  In my 30s the depressions become more frequent and worse, and the hypomia became borderline manic with a few mixed dysphoric.  I'm 34 now and medicated finally.

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I could be wrong but I think mixed states automatically qualify you for a diagnosis of BP I?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not necessarily.  Bipolar disorder is a spectrum disorder...mixed states can occur throughout.  They are not exclusively BPI territory.

Karen

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...mixed states can occur throughout.  They are not exclusively BPI territory.

Oh hell yeah.  I'm supposedly quite snugly in the BPII classification, but am quite expert at mixed states.  I can remember back around age 11 or 12 pacing circles in my room sobbing hysterically unable to keep still and wanting to die, unable to live in my skin. ;)

I can't really say how it progressed; it did change over time, then change back, then changed some more.  I was probably a bit more on the manic side of hypomania during my 20s, and more depressed in my 30s; finally got diagnosed at 40.  Did I mention I'm high-functioning?  I'm high-functioning.  Managed to get my BA, travel the world, become a ranger, get my law degree, and get a respectable job in the meantime.  Along with the usual crazy-assed stuff your average unmedicated BP woman gets into--debt, relationship grief, more debt, substance abuse (or self-medication, you choose), and did I mention debt?

Now I'm just grateful to get up in the morning and know I'm going to make it to bedtime in one piece.

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