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Not BP after all.


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After more than 3 years of 'being bipolar' I decided that it really wasn't me, and I didn't need the meds. I know, I know. So 6 months ago I tapered slowly off everything and completely failed to go mad again. In November I saw the pdoc. He went through his usual checklist of symptoms, none of which I had suffered from, and he pronounced that everything was great and I should carry on with my meds unchanged. Then I told him I'd quit five months previously. I expected he would go nuts at me, but he just sat there and asked me again if I had had any problems. "No." "OK, I guess we can forget about the bipolar thing then," he said. End of. No follow up appointment, off I go.

So my thoughts are that because of a load of life shit (home, work, relationships, kids, the whole enchilada, really) I just plain ran out of coping skills four years ago. I had a good old fashioned breakdown. My GP saw me for five minutes, said, "Depression, Prozac." From that point, I'm pretty sure I had a really nasty reaction to Prozac, maybe even SSRI induced mania because I was in a mess when I saw the pdoc for the first time. From there on, it was two years of tweaking meds to combat the side effects of the previous lot.

And now for the irony. My DW just got dx'd with Graves' disease. She has the full spectrum of symptoms. For the entire time that I was being told I was BP, my only real reference point for 'sanity' was actually suffering from clinical depression and paranoia. No fucking wonder I thought I was losing my mind when the 'standard of truth' had a memory that was as reliable as a cheap Chinese watch. No fucking wonder I was convinced I was going manic when the person closest to me was wading through the treacle of depression.

</RANT>

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"OK, I guess we can forget about the bipolar thing then," he said. End of. No follow up appointment, off I go.

And now for the irony. My DW just got dx'd with Graves' disease. She has the full spectrum of symptoms. No fucking wonder I was convinced I was going manic when the person closest to me was wading through the treacle of depression.

</RANT>

Wow, I mean WOW! That's a lot off/on your mind all at once. Holy shit! I would be elated/angry/upset/happy all at once if that were happening to me. I have no idea what Graves' disease is, but I'll look it up in a minute.

My advice to you is to walk *very* carefully with your new non-diagnosis. Even beepers can flatline (my word for "normal") without meds for long periods of time. I don't want to rain on your parade, I just want you to be aware.

Good luck! I mean it.

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I second everything Patheral said. I'm glad everything's going well.

I'd be surprised if your DW was symptomatic for >3 years before being diagnosed with Graves, which is indeed hellish (and is sooo often mistaken for bipolar disorder, ironically.) So I guess that's the thing that sort of doesn't hit spot on to me; her distorted baseline may not have been distorted (at least not for that reason) for that whole time. I haven't gone back through your whole post history here, so I don't know what kind of symptoms you were describing. That's the great thing about written history/presentations... you can go back and review them.

I've gone off rx for over a year at a time and had my diagnosis 'revoked' ... and then restored. But I absolutely 100% damnbetcha agree that misdiagnosis happens, and I hope that this is the case for you. As Patheral said... what a mix of emotions.

The extra-cautious approach might be to schedule a follow-up with the same psychiatrist in, say, the spring, just to get another look at how everything is going. Or to see what you can do so you don't have an overdraft on the coping skills should there be another confluence of catastrophes.

Anyway, I'm glad things are continuing apace and you're doing well.

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I'd be surprised if your DW was symptomatic for >3 years before being diagnosed with Graves, which is indeed hellish (and is sooo often mistaken for bipolar disorder, ironically.) So I guess that's the thing that sort of doesn't hit spot on to me; her distorted baseline may not have been distorted (at least not for that reason) for that whole time.

Yeah, that hit the nail on the head. I can see symptoms in her for many years, and my understanding of Graves' is that its a little like boiling a frog and it develops very, very slowly. But you're absolutely right that there's a crossover somewhere in there between her being clearly odd and me being dx'd as well. The timelines. like the development of symptoms, aren't at all clear cut.

Right now, I'm symptom free for nearly 2 years, and med free for 6 months, so I just have to hope. But against that is a lot of anger. I mean a lot of anger about having my sanity actively undermined by a depressed paranoid for 3 years. And the only support I ever got was here, from RainbowTears (spinster of this parish) and from a local self help group. At home, it was basically, "Fuck off out of my face and deal with it on your own, I don't want to hear about it."

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I'd be surprised if your DW was symptomatic for >3 years before being diagnosed with Graves, which is indeed hellish (and is sooo often mistaken for bipolar disorder, ironically.) So I guess that's the thing that sort of doesn't hit spot on to me; her distorted baseline may not have been distorted (at least not for that reason) for that whole time.

Yeah, that hit the nail on the head. I can see symptoms in her for many years, and my understanding of Graves' is that its a little like boiling a frog and it develops very, very slowly. But you're absolutely right that there's a crossover somewhere in there between her being clearly odd and me being dx'd as well. The timelines. like the development of symptoms, aren't at all clear cut.

Right now, I'm symptom free for nearly 2 years, and med free for 6 months, so I just have to hope. But against that is a lot of anger. I mean a lot of anger about having my sanity actively undermined by a depressed paranoid for 3 years. And the only support I ever got was here, from RainbowTears (spinster of this parish) and from a local self help group. At home, it was basically, "Fuck off out of my face and deal with it on your own, I don't want to hear about it."

That's where your DBT comes in handy, maybe? You've written really well about that, IIRC.

I'm sorry, I'm not good at tact sometimes: just because your wife has her own special flavor of crazy (bitter, in this case, with extra melancholy?) doesn't mean you don't.

Graves can be slow but it can also be astonishingly rapid at certain points. It really is hell. My sympathies to you both. I know it's hard being married to someone with bipolar disorder; I think it's also hard to be married to someone with Graves. The last person I knew who went hyperthyroid looked classically mixed and sold the house in his wife's absence (she was in Iraq and he had the power of attorney), and it went downhill from there until someone drew a TSH (when he was at the ER with tachycardia and a weight loss of 20 pounds in a month.) He'd been euthyroid 6 months prior at his annual physical.

However, I skimmed old posts while I was waiting for the farrier, and I guess there are just a few things that stand out. You talk about a lifelong history (back to 13, maybe, but definitely by 16) of severe mood fluctuations to the point of suicidality, what you felt was probably a manic episode in university and does sound like more than boyish high spirits, buying a (cough) rather pricey boat, 19 jobs in 22 years, repeated cycles of doubting the presence of any mood disorder and then feeling it punching through.

You were planning to buy antidepressants online and put them in your family's cereal because you felt your wife's insecurity and unhappiness was dragging you all down. And *that* thought process was pre-antidepressant on your part per the timeline. That's kind of... atypical.

So... I think that symptom free for 2 years is great. Although last February/March's deep depression, reactive or not, would probably qualify as an 'episode' by most definitions; you certainly felt it was severe. Something that deep and severe, reactive or not, is still beyond the pale. So maybe just under 1 year would be a more accurate description.

And it's good that the last 6 months have gone well.

And I think maybe you're at a place where the social rhythms of daily life have stabilized for you. That's where we're supposed to be and it helps tremendously with mood. Once the manic-depressive chaos settles down, life calms down a bit, and it helps a lot with managing the disorder.

And I think it totally bites that you don't get more support; I'm glad this has been a haven for you, and that you've had your self-help group, and that you were able to find those resources.

Just maybe keep an eye out, OK?

And think about that follow-up appointment just to check. Your psychiatrist may have felt it was easier not to argue at this point in order to keep the therapeutic alliance and to support your independence.

I feel like a total asshole writing this, because I'm not trying to knock you down when you're feelin' fine. It's just that skimming old posts is really enlightening sometimes. That's why doctors keep charts and stuff.

Please be well.

And maybe reread this post in particular:

http://www.crazyboards.org/forums/index.ph...st&p=252756

(Sorry - can't embed links right now - I have a Safari issue where the buttons don't work sometimes.)

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I'd be very cautious of declaring yourself cured, and laying that on your wifes illnesses. Dr. Kraepelin a century ago documented cases of remitting bipolar disorder that went years or decades before recurring, and this was before any effective treatment.

I too would highly recommend maintaing contact with your pdoc by scheduling a 6 month follow up. This will help give an objective observation at that point and keep you 'active' in case you suddenly need help in the mean time.

Cheers, a.m.

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Thanks, guys. I'm not about to retract everything I wrote here about my past - that'd be stupid. But I do feel that I was guilty of 'taking on' the illness once I had been handed the label and looking for historical evidence of it. I can also take a different view on this: yeas, there have been episodes for many many years, but they also correlate with times of unusual relationship stress.

The definition of alexithymia fits me very well - limited emotional range and understanding (like life in black and white not colour) - and though I appear to act normally, it's a carefully learned response. It works just fine in normal circumstances but as soon as I get outside my comfort zone, I'm lost. The reaction is panic, anger and what looks a lot like a mixed episode.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

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Just because you mentioned Graves Disease... My father had it. Before being diagnosed he was a depressed, irritable jerk to be around. His mood was low and his metabolism was high. It didn't make for a good combination. After they nuked his thyroid and put him on thyroid meds, his whole demeanor changed for the better. That was many years ago and his way of being has stayed far more optimistic and easy going since. Hopefully, your wife will experience the same positive outcome, too.

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