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just diagnosed today - a little freaked out!

Guest Guest_JustTawn_*

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Guest Guest_JustTawn_*

Hi everyone!

I was diagnosed with anxiety related depression 3 weeks ago after an operation on my back. i woke up from the aneasthesia and was so bouncy and jittery i couldn't sit still.

Anyway I went to a new doc today and she diagnosed me with bipolar mood disorder. Honestly, it came as a huge shock. I figured that i'd be "back to normal" by the end of the month, I guess thats not the case.

My folks are so worried about me - my dad keeps coming into my room just check that i'm still breathing  ;)

I'm nervous about telling my boyfriend too - I know he'll try his best to understand and stand by me, but its still quite a big deal.

Basically i'm looking for any kind of feedback. how long should it take for the meds to kick in, what reaction i should expect when i tell family and friends. anything at all

also any advice for coping at school, i'm in the middle of my mock matric exams (exams before finals in 12th Grade, I think the grades work the same here in South Africa) I can't concentrate or remember anything that I've studied.

My dosage for this week is:

rivotril 0.5mg twice a day

lamiction 25mg at night

cipralex  10mg at night.

I'll appreciate any kind of feedback


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I'm sorry, Tawni.  It's a hard thing to hear, especially when you're young, I imagine.

The thing is, this is a condition that ranges all the way from mild to severe, and, especially when you catch it early, you may be able to keep it relatively mild with clean living.  For instance, I have no doubt I'd be worse if I'd been more of a drinker, and I might be better if I hadn't gone so long without treatment.

It's also a condition that allows you to excel professionally and/or artistically, marry, have children, watch them grow, exercise, travel, study, maintain close friendships; of all the things people live for, I can't think of one that's foreclosed by bipolar disorder.  (Okay, maybe military service, or flying a passenger jet, or a deep love of fine wine, but nothing I'm crushed to lose.)

There are ugly weeks and months, and there are states that are much more dangerous than they first appear, and for all of those, you should have help. But you'll still be whoever you were meant to be.

Meds vary; antidepressants, maybe three weeks; antipsychotics/benzos/stimulants, faster; mood stabilizers, maybe longer.  Dose adjustments and changing combinations can make a dramatic difference. 

Emotional support is also vital.  Your closest family and friends will likely come to understand, though at first there's often shock and denial.  Other friends and contacts may not even need to know.  Some people will doubtless disappoint you by seeming cold, or critical, but others will be utterly unfazed, or even amaze you with their warmth and understanding.

Get your doctor to help you with concentration.  ADD meds, or even a little caffeine, may lift some of the fog; you shouldn't have to take exams in that state.

And take heart; you caught it young, you can plan your life so that it won't blindside you later, and you have access to a wider variety of humane treatments than ever before in history, with further research on the way.

Good luck,


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I'm really surpised to hear you were diagnosed after experiencing side-effects from anesthesia. Did you have any symptoms before? Maybe the drs figure the anesthesia just trigger a dormant propensity for BP.

I'm sure it is very scary and stressful for you and your family. I'd highly recommend the book The Bipolar Survival Guide by Miklowitz. It will answer a lot of questions for you, family and boyfriend.

I don't know what meds you're on (b/c I think those are South African brand names), but usually, antidepressants work in 3-8 weeks, lithium and other mood stabilizers work in 1-2 weeks and antipsychotics work in 1-3 days (just generally). If you're taking any benzos (fast-acting anti-anxiety meds), they usually take effect almost immediately.

Besides getting meds, are you getting any counseling or group therapy to help you learn about BP and how to cope?

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I just want to emphasize everything that squirlygrl said. She said it beautifully, and it is all absolutely true. The thing that you have to remember is that you didn't suddenly become bipolar because it was diagnosed- you have the same issues whether you give them a name or not. Yes, it is a bitch to have your brain fighting against you but isn't it wonderful that you don't have to be stuck in that mode? Modern psychiatry and psychology have found ways to manage your symptoms. I wasn't diagnosed until my 30s and even if I had been diagnosed when I was 18 it wouldn't have done me much good- most of the medicines I take were not available then.

I have no idea what things are like in South Africa. In the United States there has been great progress in how mental illness is viewed. There is definitely prejudice out there but it is nothing like it was 20 years ago. I find some people think I can't possibly be bipolar because "those people" are batshit crazy and I seem "normal". Some people think I'm a freak. Some people are cool with it. You meet all kinds. The important thing is being comfortable with who you are and what you are- people will generally respond to the signals you give out.

The bad news? It took me years to find the right psychiatrist, the right behavioral therapy, the right medication. Some people get lucky and get it right the first time. Your brain is uniquely yours- not one of us will have the same experience you will have. Sometimes it IS hell. Just remember, the solution is out there so hang on for one more day. And read absolutely everything you can about the disorder and the various medications- health professionals NEVER tell you enough info.

And please keep checking back here- there are lots of us here that you can turn to for support and advise. You are not alone.

PS- Check out the thread on occupations of people with bipolar disorder. You'll see how "normal" and how varied our life experiences are.

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Hi all you wonderful people!!

I just wrote a horrible exam and came home to all your posts! You don't even begin to understand what your messages did to lift my spirits. Thank you so much  ;)

I did a lot of research last night, and slowly the reality is setting in that this disorder is totally manageable. My boyfriend didn't flip out at all, he was totally supportive and went online straight away to find more info.

My family is battling with the news, but being very supportive. They even said I can get the kitty I've been begging them for - they said that a little kitty companian might make me happy! I guess thats the upside to life at the moment.

Aparently the type of aneasthetic that they used triggered the bipolar. We're still trying to trace  family history.

I'm still in the depressive stage of this thing - quite frightened of the "manic" swings - never experinced any like that before!!

The medical system is really getting its act together about mental issues. I'm being treated by the same psychiatrist who is treating my little brother for ADHD. Right now I have to deal with 2 more weeks of exams, and then i have a month of holiday.

Thank you again for listening and replying - its such a good feeling knowin that you understand!!

"courage is fear that has said it's prayers"


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