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what to expect from stability?


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i know it varies from person to person, but generally speaking, if you finally find the best med combo for you and are in some kind of long term stability, what does that mean? could you expect to have minor ups and downs that are mildly noticeable and spread far apart, have the makings of a "real" episode when stressed (or not stressed), expect to have some med tweakings later on down the line to keep things on an even keel, etc. or can you reasonably expect to be symptom free forever (that sounds unlikely) barring any major life event that might throw you and appearance to treatment. what's to be expected?

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I think that varies between person to person. Everyone's definition of stability is different. I've had a rough year, but I've been a lot more stable than I was before and during the first year of treatment. I think a good portion of my stability is my attitude of taking things as they come. I've had enough episodes to know how to cope with them and when to get a med tweak. I've also had some behavioral therapy that has been helpful. I'm not resorting to old shitty coping skills when an episode comes, and all around I think episodes have been easier to manage with therapy. When I get depressed, I don't automatically go to thoughts of suicide and self-harm anymore. When hypomanic, I've learned how to stay focused and keep my behavior appropriate until meds kick in. Episodes have been less severe and haven't set me off as much. I can function in every day life - I keep my house somewhat clean, I go to school full-time, I worked for quite awhile, I have a happy marriage. Things have been good all around.

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For me, it means being able to function normally, like being able to come home from work and still cook and help with homework. Or keeping the house clean enough that people could come over and I wouldn't be embarrassed. It doesn't last more than a few months at a time and then I seem to need an adjustment but in between med tweaks my mood chart is like this: stable, stable, stable, stable, mild blip of something, stable, stable, etc.

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ok. i figured it couldn't be all sunshine and roses, but no one really talks about the reality of stability. you always hear "oh, bipolar is easily treated by medication!" (easy my ass) but then what. just don't want to feel like i'm starting back at square one if a blip comes my way but i don't want to always be looking out for something either.

thanks for the replies!

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I think there will be hiccups from time to time. The hope is that you can be stable for long periods of time, of course. Just because some symptoms pop back up, that definitely doesn't mean you're starting at square one, it just means you've got to make a few adjustments.

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Stability means my head is quiet, I can think always and function like a regular person including manage a reasonable amount of stress. Hiccups mean minor med adjustments but that I didn't derail, just start to feel the twinge of depression or very mild hypo and tweek a med to keep me stable. For me, these tweeks are like twice a year and are no big deal. I am actually living with mild depression now, but it is because I don't want to raise this new AAP to a more effective dose. Trade offs. Ultimately, I'll make it.

ETA: Weble, some people do live for years without symptoms. Many others live with minor ones that can be adusted fairly easily. I wouldn't give up just because things might not be perfect.

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I've been stable for going on three years, mostly attributable to the pdoc figuring out I more than likely actually have BP II instead of MDD recurrent, and starting me on a mood stabilizer (Lamictal). Stability is a wonderful place to be.

During this time I've had ups and downs, and some good and bad things have happened, like anyone else. But since I've been through five episodes of major depression, some of which lasted for a couple of years, I'm much more aware of early symptoms like calling in sick when I'm not sick, staying in my p.j.s all weekend, etc. So when those start cropping up, usually in response to stress or bad news, then I make sure I'm doing all the annoying things to stay well like exercising, socializing, going to the movies, anything to take me out of my head for a bit, and get me out of the house.

A big comfort to me that I think helps with stability is the pdoc's plan for when things go south again - we will add in lithium at that point. It makes a big difference to know that's there for a few reasons - it feels like my pdoc knows and cares about what happens to me, it feels like the pdoc is competent and experienced, it feels like there may still be a solution left, it feels like I'm still 'fixable'.

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My periods of stability feel like heaven... they allow me to get things accomplished, be happy, and just have a a life. i was stable for 2 plus years on the med combo i am on brenzos right now (minus the freaking benzos, which I really want to get rid of, and drop my seroquel down some, once I get even stabler) I am hoping this, plus major investment in therapy and minimizing my life stress will work.

ili

I can handle stressors and shit, I can NOT handle them working full time, that is a recipie for disaster. I have figured this out by life mapping... sitting down and figuring out my periods of stability were ALWAYS when I as a) in school or b) working part time.

I am coming to terms with this. I have a major freaking illness, lots of docs have told me I am just the worst case of BP I they have ever seen, heh. Set me in a real episode and they start treating me like an unexploded tub of gelignite.

When I'm stable, you can't really tell there's anything wrong or abnormal about me. I am not weeping into cups of tea, or unable to function, or wandering around in a psychotic daze of irritability and insanity, all things that happen when i'm unstable.

Risperdal seems to be the med of choice for stability, also. I'm feeling pretty stable right now despite some HUGE STRESSORS.

Anna

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I'm pretty stable but I do go through periods of minor quibbles and sometimes less-minor quibbles, but overall, my life hasn't, as someone said, derailed.

The one thing I will say, is that when you first get there....stability is weird. It's a bit unsettling, actually. Nice, and good, but an adjustment. I didn't expect that, but it's what I've found a few times now.

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Stability can feel.... dull? I shouldn't say that, because with a handful of suicide attempts and really dumb decisions, I should yearn for stability, all of the time. And mostly, I do. But sometimes I feel a little muted, blunted. I am not sure if this is the meds or if I'm not always sure how to handle being "normal".

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Stability is when my insides don't feel like quivering jello, my cognition is not rattling around disconnected and forgetful, and my energy level is set to a normal calm speed.. It's like having a solid center and comfortable brain.

edit: I had other stuff to say

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I said this recently, I think, so sorry to be repetitive. I know I am stable when I can handle bad situations without falling apart. Our life has been pretty stressful, with DH's worsening epilepsy, and I am a year plus into this stupid migraine situation. I had a mood bobble in July, and I still feel like I am recovering from that (needing a little extra sleep, for example). But this has been going on a long time now, I have been coping well in general.

We'll see how I do once I get closer to DH's surgery. Last summer when DH was out of work, he was scheduled to go forward with the surgery. It was cancelled at the last minute (like a week before) because he found a job. I went pretty nuts that month.

ETA: Switched "bauble" to "bobble"

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I never feel blunted when stable, I can still cry, laugh, rant, do all that stuff, I just do it a bit more appropriately. I would not accept blunted as my "euthymic" ever.

Anna

I can do all of these things as well... this summer I have just become so used to the ecstatic highs and agonizing lows that normal feels strange. Summer is always the worst time for me.

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I feel calmer when I'm stable. Anxious thoughts don't send me into huge mood spirals for days or weeks at a time. I don't obsess over stuff (well, most stuff. I always want to obsess over buying something). I can talk to my kids, smile, take care of the house, cook dinner, help with homework, all without getting stressed out. If I do have a mood episode, it generally only lasts a day or so when I'm stable. It's when it goes on for 4-7 days that I start calling the pdoc.

Ironically enough, I'm stable as hell right now and can't get to sleep for shit. I'm sleeping horrible hours, but I'm nowhere near close to hypo/manic.

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