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Bipolar and Abused


  

58 members have voted

  1. 1. Were you abused as a child?

    • Yes
      54
    • No
      4
  2. 2. If you were a victim of abuse, how long did it last?

    • from 0-5 years
      21
    • from 6-10 years
      13
    • from 10-15 years
      9
    • over 15 years
      15
  3. 3. Do you have issues with addiction?

    • Yes
      28
    • No
      30
  4. 4. Do you believe your mental illness was caused by the abuse you suffered as a child?

    • Yes
      10
    • No
      16
    • I don't know
      32
  5. 5. Were/Are either of your parents Bipolar?

    • Yes, my mother
      8
    • Yes, my father
      10
    • Both of them
      3
    • I don't know
      37


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Hi everyone,

I am Bipolar and a victim of physical, verbal and emotional abuse from the ages of 5 til 16/17.

I started drinking, taking over the counter medication and having self-destructive behavior by the age of 12. When I was 14 I tried to kill myself, but instead (thank goodness) ended up with a broken arm. I was 21 when I had my first major episode and around that time I had started abusing other drugs (mostly cocaine and marijuana) and was formally diagnosed as cyclothimic and then years later, bipolar.

Now, I've been working through my childhood trauma with my therapist and the more we discuss it , the more I wonder how much of my mental illness has been caused by the abuse and upbringing. I know the environment is extremely influencial but ... I wonder, by working these issues out, should my mood swings subside???? or is one thing not really dependent upon the other?

This is getting me really confused.

What's your input?

love

P.

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I think a lot of the time, BP is an interaction between genes and environment. Perhaps for some people it's just genes and for others it's just environment, but I think most folks have a few different factors behind their illness.

But once you actually get the illness, it's hard to get rid of. I've had a fair bit of therapy, and it got rid of my PTSD, but I still have a mood disorder and it seems like I always will.

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Bipolar is based in brain biology, AFAIK. PTSD and the resulting depression from attachment disorders seems like more of a psych issue to me. Where the chemical changes are secondary to the behavioral ones. Can you be pre-disposed to an illness like this? Maybe.. but Id imagine its very hard to figure that out.

To add to the confusion, youll see people that suffered all sorts of abuse who grow up just fine. And some who had very little and grow up to be total basket cases. Ive read research papers on PTSD that get into that. They also say that people with PTSD are more likely to develop more of the same in response to a new trauma. I guess thats your fear circutry on overdrive. millions of years ago Id probably be good at surviving with a heightened fear reflex, but now Im just screwed. =p

Fortunately some of the meds that stabilize bipolar are also used in PTSD treatment and unipolar depression. So youll get a double-win there.

I remember reading somewhere that cyclothymia can be a component of PTSD.. but when I look at the DSMIV its not in there. I have no idea where I found that so I cant link to any good info. But I do wonder if the hyperarousal could be mistaken for hypomania. Or the lack of positive response to SSRIs (as well as dysphoric, mixed states) mistaken for hypomania brought on by an antidepressant and thus possibly indicative of bipolar.

Its really complicated and every doc I talk to seems to have a different idea of how it all works. =(

Hope you sort this out, its really tough to get through. =)

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Now, I've been working through my childhood trauma with my therapist and the more we discuss it , the more I wonder how much of my mental illness has been caused by the abuse and upbringing. I know the environment is extremely influencial but ... I wonder, by working these issues out, should my mood swings subside???? or is one thing not really dependent upon the other?

i don't think my childhood traumas caused me to be wherever on the BP spectrum i am. the trauma was responsible for my learning to dissociate (DDNOS), gave me PTSD later in life once i remembered, and sometimes it's still the root of my anxieties/fears.

it's incredibly hard to tease apart what is illness that's only gonna respond to meds, and the rest that is better helped by talk therapy. i'm sorry you're in that position. i spent years in therapy working on the trauma stuff. once i had gone through lots of that, the rest of my diagnoses remain - i still get extremely depressed, and i still get into mixed states, and i still have anxiety attacks.

but when i'm in an episode now, my thoughts are nowhere near my childhood, or trauma, or any of the horridness that comes with all that. i've had enough resolution that my mind no longer connects "depressed" with "abused", the way it did before therapy. i might have an anxiety attack, but it's probably not a flashback like i may have had before.

so that's a complicated way to say i have some bad experience with both nature & nurture in my life.

your dx may be redefined after working through trauma therapy. you might not be like me, and you might no longer have to suffer from BP symptoms that require meds. that would be awesome!

but fwiw, until i was on medication that worked halfway decent, i couldn't make any progress in therapy. the illness itself was preventing me from even understanding what the hell that therapist wanted me to do or why. i still had issues to work on, but it was impossible until meds pulled my head out of the fog for long enough to see reality. then, lo and behold i got somewhere heh.

i wish you well with your recovery. it's a rough road, but well worth it.

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BP is based in biology, but biology can be altered by environmental stressors.

For example, in mice, high maternal care (licking and grooming of pups) results in demonstrable changes in gene expression, and they've found an analogous gene change in the brains of human suicide victims who were abused as children.

Anyway, the point is that environment and biology interact. I think it probably took both to make me crazy.

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I also think childhood environment can really effect how one copes with the illness-- someone with a healthy childhood will probably have better coping skills than someone without.

That is very well put Dianthus. Someone people seem to naturally have the sort of skills that others pay to learn in therapy, DBT, CBT. Good parenting helps a lot. Bad parenting makes everything worse.

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We already know that there are at least 3 genes associated with bipolar disorder. They are the "cocked gun". Certainly trauma and stress could be something that pulls the trigger, but there may be other environmental factors as well.

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While I firmly believe my bipolar was caused by genetics, I absolutely believe that my anxiety disorder was caused by my childhood - hell, I can remember being paniky as an 8 year old.

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I've always been a little...weird. I'll never know how much of it is an expression of my genes as they were when I was born and how much is a symptom of terrible parenting because they've been doing shitty things to me since day 1.

I'm inclined to think I'd be a little odd even if I was raised by "saints", but I don't believe I would have an MI. Maybe just some developmental issues and awkwardness.

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I feel like my parents were both so crazy, that the atmosphere I grew up in was chaotic. Chaos is bad for people with bipolar illness, so I have always kind of assumed the combination of genes and a crazy upbringing both played a role. My father is BP, and my mom has been diagnosed with, but is untreated for a PD. My youngest sister has MDD, that is pretty well controlled, and my second younger sister was bulimic, but now exercises a lot. She is the most successful one of us, actually. The sister right after me has a narcissistic streak, but I don't think it rises to the level of being a PD.

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Firstly, there's no "my parents are MI-free" option.

Secondly, are we still allowed to fill out this survey if we've been a*used BUT don't have a bipolar diagnosis? 5 years of a*buse did something to us, after all, or we wouldn't be here, right?

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Guest Vapourware

I didn't fill out the survey because I'm fairly sure neither of my parents are bipolar and that option isn't available. I think my abuse added complications to my MI because it gave me additional issues to work through, but I think I would've developed MI anyways, with or without the abuse.

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The question is what is the chicken, and what is the egg? And maybe I am being naive, but I don't think a parent that abuses their child is all that sane.

IDK, plenty of sane people are assholes, one way or another.

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Yeah, that!

I don't know, I can run around in circles all day trying to decide what caused it but it won't change anything... it's here, it happened and you gotta deal with it as it comes. You have no other choice. Well, yeah I guess you could pretend it's not there... that's another choice. Heh.:lol:

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