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What is a symptom?


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I'm still inching my way along through whatever it is that I suffer from.  My doc has gotten all the way to doing more research on mood stabilizers and breastfeeding; basically all our meetings come down to "I am sure that there are meds that would help and we are limited only by your breastfeeding".  The effects of the Zoloft, at least the positive effects seem to be dying down.  I'm still more socially comfortable but everything else is starting to peak back in.

But on to my actual question.  What sorts of things do you tell your doc (i.e. how honest are you and what things should be told)?  If I feel that some things are ridiculous (other than when they are occurring) then are they not part of my mental woes?  I know I not explaining myself well, let me think of an example.  So, as a teenager, and even occassionally these days, I would feel that I had some divine purpose, that I had some true gift to share with the world.  Just teen weirdness, yes?  Or just mental fluff?  When do grandious ideas become more then just a moment's arrogance? 

I guess this line seems particularly hard because my field of study is one that has many spiritual beliefs and guru-ish teachers and it all causes further confusion over my mental state.  I get this real push to go with my intuitive side and yet when I come up with ideas like I have to move everything completely out of my house and having a spiritual cleansing of the place my doc thinks I am nuts. 

Obviously one of my less than coherent days.  (Yes, and when I have days when I feel effortlessly intelligent and that I could solve any problem, am I just well rested or insane?  Or when something in my head keeps saying "the drugs will just dull you, distract things, stay away from them"; or when I feel that I could sit down and write the great American novel, the one to make everyone change their ways and bring forth great joy in the world, are those signs of my centeredness or my lopsided mental orbit?)

Hopefully someone out there can find the question in my ramble.  Thanks for reading anyway.

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i am very open with my pDoc.  i know i'm not the worst case she has.  at least i think so.  i pay her to listen to my rants and ramblings because my "loved" ones really don't want to her about the bad things.  you know the things that run rampant through your mind, death, suicide, answers to the universe, hallucinations, cutting, etc.  all the stuff that makes you interesting.  honestly can only lead to proper treatment, you choose not to disclose information then those "symptoms" will go un treated and could become worse.

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Hey Cricket, welcome to our world of crazies.  I guess my answer to what do you tell your doc would depend on whether he/she is a family doctor or a pdoc or a tdoc.  If you are just seeing your family physician I would ask for a referral to a pdoc since they are supposed to be specialists in "our" field.  They are trained to be able to understand our rambles, our fears, hopes, etc.  If you are seeing a pdoc maybe printing out your post and showing it would help you to figure out some answers and if he/she thinks it is necessary you could also be referred to a tdoc to work on some of your issues.  I am also sometimes torn between drugs for my illness and working things out for myself but after too many years of becoming more and more depressed I finally had to bite the bullet and decide that my illness isn't something I can handle on my own.  Gee, you think your post rambled, I wonder if any sense can be made from what I am saying.  Keep posting, there are a lot of helpful folks around here who make life a lot easier to bear.  Stay well, sulu

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Being a rather spritualist myself, I don't find it at all odd that your house needed  a cleansing, seeing as I made my friends walk around my house last summer carrying burning brushes of sage to extinguish the negative energy left over in my house.

And since when is it arrogance to believe that you are put on earth for a divine purpose?  that you have something inside of you to share with the world?  I know that I do, and I know alot of other people that I think have extraordinary gifts who wre meant to be on this earth for specific reasons, known or thus far unknown.  Example #1:  my mother.

I know the dilemma that you are experiencing.  It's difficult to be caught between the "scientific" world of your pdoc who you feel might judge you and your "spiritual" world which are completely polar opposites of each other, much less try to decide if they are grandiose delusions or not.

Your dr might have a better feel of what type of person you are if you tell him first.  To a person who doesn't believe in God, aliens, ghosts, anything supernatural and the such, all of a sudden thinking that they need to hold a seance or begin mixing magickal potions to cure their ills would probably be a symptom.  For me, that's everyday life. ;)   and my pdoc knows that and wouldn't consider that a delusion of any sort.

But to someone who just sits down and decides that they are going to write the great American novel with little preemptive thought, planning, journalism education, and they are NOT that type of person, that would be a symptom.

Bottom line.  Talk to your doc about YOU, before you talk about anything else.  And don't worry about taking up their oh so valuable time.  What is normal for you is not normal for someone else, and they need to know that to make a proper diagnois, understand your symptoms, know what is an episode and what's not, and so forth.  Definitely don't give a crap if they think you're nuts or not.  Shit, honey, we all are!  Just make sure they know the appropriate times you are truly nuts and not just being yourself.  And if they think you are nuts when you are being yourself, then boo hoo to them.

Good luck with the new baby!

JBella

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Thanks for the responses!

I guess the more I read (here and elsewhere) the more I see the "oh yeah, me too" things and wonder which ones are just part of being human and which are part of my own special hell.  For the longest time I assumed that everyone felt the same sorts of things that I did, and then I assumed that no one did.  But here it seems that some people do have the same sorts of feelings.  It is just where the separation into pathological comes in that I get confused.  So I go for days feeling lethargic and overweight and repulsive and then wake up suddenly feeling that really I need to start jogging and that my house is a mess and I must clean and that mopping with a mop is too easy, that I should clean the floor on my hands to get a true clean and to try to acchieve some further physical and mental benefits from it.  Is this just recovering from being down or something more?And when it reverts back again?

The bad crazies are easy to tell; last year when Ifelt this terrible frenzied angry fearful depression, when I thought my head might explode from the pressure, when I was afraid to drive a car by myself for fear of what I might do,  when I needed to compulsively research and any distraction made me scream with fury, that was clear not a good place.  But when I hover at just a irritable level that if my kids and the stereo are going at the same time I start to be overstimulated, is that just a grumpy mom?

I'm not really sure there are any answers to be had but it is just something that I dwell on when I am feeling relatively stable.

Thanks.

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Confused? We all were.  I had a great deal of difficulty dealing with the what's real, what's me, what's the disease question for a while after getting diagnosed.  Some of it is fighting the diagnosis, which we BP crazies are notorious for.  Some of it seems to be getting attached to the "wild child" part of our personalities and being afraid of losing it, or being afraid that maybe it wasn't real.  And some of it, when I started to accept the diagnosis, was sincerely being uncertain of who I was.  I mean, all the crazy dramatic stuff I defined myself by--was it really all a fantasy? Was it really sick?

Now I know it doesn't really matter.  My life is my life.  I've forgiven myself for the destructive things I did, and I still have the crazy parts; my imagination hasn't been stifled (of course, being on lamictal now helps a lot with how I feel about it).

Anyhow, I think the confusion is "normal," or at least as normal as most of us will ever get. B)  Don't let it stop you from getting treatment.  I agree with Sulu; things do get worse untreated.  You deserve to be healthy, and your baby deserves a healthy mother.

Your doctor is trained to tell the difference between "symptomatic" behavior and your personality.  If he balked at your house-cleansing, it probably wasn't because he thought spiritual concerns are stupid.  It's likely because of the way you "presented" when you talked about it, or other circumstances around it.  Ask him about it.

And if you can't be honest with him, you're not getting your money's worth.  If ye's not someone you can trust, find someone you can trust and be straight with them.  They can't help if you don't tell them what;s going on.

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My sister speaks of God coming to chat with her at night, and everyone thinks she's sane as could be. Why? Because she *is* a thoroughly spiritual person, and everyone knows it. If I were to say the same thing, we'd all know I'd gone delusional.

I think it's key for your psychiatrist to have some idea of who you are when it comes to these sorts of things. I'm trying to steer mine around to understanding that yes, I am the sort of person who might climb local landmarks of extraordinary height simply because it makes me feel open. I'm not suicidal, not impulsive hypomanic, just straight-up strange and he'd damn well better accept it. On the other hand, going out to the bar a couple of nights in one week would be a BAD BAD BAD sign, as I often don't even go twice a YEAR.

My guess at that line between quirkiness and pathology is the point where things begin to markedly impair your ordinary life. The examples part of paragraph has been broken down from the megamess which it had become, but the breaks are often arbitrary, based on where they could fit (between sentences, duh) and how long each bit was getting.

Are you doing things which put your marriage in jeopardy? Your children? Your mostly-good-for-you job? (In my opinion, some jobs OUGHT to be jeopardized.)

Is it screwing up things that usually matter to you? Is it putting you in danger without an obvious and worthy reason? (Running to fetch child from path of oncoming train: good. Running in front of oncoming train because you've just decided to run with the bulls in Pamplona and this is excellent training: bad.)

Is it costing you opportunities which you would have found personally fulfilling? Is it disproportionately important to you? (Unless you're being hunted by the visible ghosts of the damned, violent insistence upon the immediate right-this-second vacation and cleansing of a home seems a tad precipate. Insisting that it must be done today, however, without threatening to beat the shiznit out of anybody, seems unusual, but, to my mind, understandable. Then again, I don't live in either Bible Belt.)

If the answers are "no," then it probably isn't worth an emergency phone call to one's pdoc, though this is hardly an exhaustive guide on how to rule out mania. They're just a few ideas from a twenty-something university freshman who never quite acquired her GED. (Oops.) I do so love to type. ;)

The simple answer would be to say that a symptom is something which doesn't seem like your usual self, but that just begs the question "who is that?" Particularly in the first while (six weeks, year, two years, lifetime) following diagnosis, your entire identity is thrown into question. It was a relief for me to hear that really and truly, all this shit I'd walked in with wasn't actually me, it was my disorder (all hail accurate self-diagnosis and helpful nudges from overbooked nurses). For most other people, it is not considered good news.

It's a traumatic time for ALL of us. We have the fun task of trying to develop a new core sense of self which isn't reliant on mood, in addition to dealing with family member's reactions to the diagnosis, and our own health, and our own present moods, and the whole through-the-rabbit-hole world of medications and blood tests and a new practitioner every week, PLUS the ordinary stresses of our ordinary lives. I insist it does get better (though for some it does get worse first), but I try not to repeat this mantra too much, since it only really makes sense from the place of one whose life is mostly fine. It's kind of like telling your school-aged kids that they're going to LOVE their siblings when they grow up -- not when five minutes of inhabiting the same room leads to smacks, screams, and scorched hair! For a lot of siblings, however, that's true. With time and work and all the rest, this will become more manageable, and fold into your life with less trouble.

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Symptoms are the things that impact your life usually in a negative way. Screwed up relationships, debt, substance abuse, suicidal ideations, employment problems. These are some of the many negative symtoms of mood disorders. Being rageful one day, being happy the next day, wanting to die the day after. You know somethings wrong with this picture. Not to mention the psychotic side of things. Delusions and hallucinations. These are quite obvious. Tell your doctor everything.

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