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wj74

When you were first diagnosed, how did you react?

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Trauma? Relief? Something else? I was curious about it after reading one of the other posts...did you find it traumatic when you were diagnosed?

When I was dx'ed, it was a relief. It was a little scary starting new meds but as a whole, it was like, "thank god he figured out what's wrong with me" because now we can fix it. There was never a doubt that there was a problem, it just wasn't clear what it was. I guess I did have a sort of grieving period where it sinks in that this isn't something that's cured like an infection, it's lifelong and kind of a big deal.

To be honest, to call it traumatic seems a bit over the top, maybe because I have PTSD, the trauma I've dealt with damaged me forever. If only my trauma was being diagnosed with MI...

Annnnyway, thoughts?

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I was in denial for months. Once I got stable, I was able to look back and see the cycling pattern but, initially, it felt like the DX came completely out of left field. My wife, on the other hand, accepted it immediately when I told her about it. I'm doing the whole medication thing pretty religiously but, every so often, it hits me and makes me feel a bit down that the medication is probably going to be for the rest of my life. My family thinks I'm much better, so I guess the DX and the associated treatment has been a god thing, despite the associated mental trauma associated with it.

Edited by dpshaw

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When I was first diagnosed, I felt a sense of overwhelming relief. It explained a lot regarding my life up until then, and my experiences made more sense in light of knowing that I had bipolar mood swings. I used to think that my ups and downs were a character flaw on my part, so to find that it was something beyond my control [and therefore not my fault or doing] gave me a new perspective.

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First time: fuck you, you're incompetent and you can't even pronounce my meds right. (February 2011)

Second time: medication-induced, you bastard! (August 2011)

Third time: defeatism. (November/December 2011)

Yeeeeah I can't say I take my diagnosis very well. Even now I still don't really believe it, but I'll be damned if, after three times ending up with the diagnosis, I'll ever escape it.

There's many reasons for my attitude. I don't feel I fit the diagnosis, I read others' accounts and I just can't relate. I'm bothered by the complexity, and want to go back to the simplicity of anti-depressants; despite them never working, I felt less like I was running blind when determining how to tackle the depression than I do with this diagnosis. The diagnosis makes me feel like a fraud even more than the depression diagnosis did. I feel like people treat me differently with this diagnosis, and not in a good way, and I can't stand it. It makes me feel even more hopeless than I did before.

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I went in with a pretty good idea of what was going on, so I wasn't all that shocked or anything.

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I got my first diagnosis of bipolar II in 2005, and my general reaction at the time was "I f*cking TOLD you so!!!" However, the crazy cocktail of meds my qdoc had me on at the time made me wish I could just go off meds, because feeling out of control and crazy, or feeling anything, seemed better than not feeling anything at all. (NOT that I'm advocating in ANY way that people go off their meds without the guidance and approval of a pdoc, because it's been an extremely hard time being off them, and I hurt a LOT of people while off meds and out of therapy, which still haunts me to this day). I just lived with the cycling for a long time. After a few years, I started going to see psychologists again; however, I usually dropped out of therapy after 4 months or less because I got frustrated and felt "stuck" with them. I often felt suicidal, and I still do.

Being bipolar is like being on a lifelong rollercoaster ride, but there's no emergency shutoff for when your car derails.

I just recently got re-dx'd by a MUCH more qualified pdoc: Borderline PD, Bipolar II, OCD (mild), and panic disorder. I got in my car and wanted to cry because I was so relieved that finally, finally I knew what was wrong, couldn't deny it anymore, and could move towards healing and recovery. Since then, I've just felt like crying. Right now it feels bottomless. Like I'm more fucked up than anyone thought, and I wonder at how the hell I got to be this far gone without really taking notice of it until it was wayyyyy out of control. I hope this is temporary, and I'll be on meds again in a week, hopefully, and waiting to go into long-term intensive therapy. I'm just glad I didn't flake out again, and actually put the effort into getting the referral, going and talking to a pdoc, and finally getting some answers.

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When I was first diagnosed, I felt a sense of overwhelming relief. It explained a lot regarding my life up until then, and my experiences made more sense in light of knowing that I had bipolar mood swings. I used to think that my ups and downs were a character flaw on my part, so to find that it was something beyond my control [and therefore not my fault or doing] gave me a new perspective.

I also thought it was a character flaw and now after treatment I realize it's the illness, not me.

Edited by wj74

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I was diagnosed with depression at 15, and it was a relief as I finally got the care I needed (my parents were in denial/not believing in mental illness). I was diagnosed with bipolar at 20 after having the "bright idea" of going off meds at 18. I wasn't too happy about being told I'd likely have to be on meds for the rest of my life, but when the meds started working I gradually adjusted. At 24 I was diagnosed schizoaffective and that was a relief, to know why these things were happening. It was better than a brain tumor, which I was told was another possibility but my MRI came out clean. I feel lucky that I live in an age of modern medicine where I have dozens of meds to try rather than just being locked up in some institution or lobotomized.

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I think maybe when you say you got the idea for this thread from another, you are referring to my thread about feeling hopeless from the dx.

kittyloaf- it's interesting you say you were relieved to find out you had schizoaffective, not a brain tumor. I don't want to be too morbid, but lately I have been thinking oppositely.... I would rather have something doctors could cut out and be rid of forever, even if there was a chance of death, than to have to live with the problem every day for the rest of my life and have a chance of death (suicide) the rest of my life.

I was first diagnosed Bipolar type 1 in 2008, in a state mental hospital after I was acquitted of violent charges. I thought maybe the diagnosis was an exaggeration, because of the violent acting out. I didn't see myself as experiencing marked manias, just constant, severe depressions with periods that werent so bad (in retrospect, very likely hypomanias). I still think that at that point I had not experienced true mania, maybe hypomanias and mixed states but not genuine mania. When I got out of the state hospital I continued treatment with my prior doctor who still insisted I was mood disorder NOS. I never experienced an intense and gradual mania until a year ago, and still my dx was mood disorder NOS. In retrospect I feel that doctor does not treat aggressively enough and is afraid to diagnose more serious conditions because he doesn't want his patients to bear a label forever. I switched doctors maybe 4 months ago and several professionals have dx me with Bipolar type 1 since then, but it never clicked until just a couple of weeks ago when I saw my therapist.

I asked him what diagnoses I had received upon intake into the clinic, and one of them was Bipolar type 1, mixed, severe. I don't know why it never clicked before, I don't know why I was in denial about it. I really think my impressions of what bipolar is were incorrect, I thought bipolar people necessarily experience depression and mania equally and swing back and forth between the two. I only noticed in myself severe and chronic depressions and ocassional bouts of being "hyper", my only episodes I attributed to severe depression. When I cycled manic a year ago, I attributed it to bad meds- I was only taking an ssri and vyvanse, a stimulant, and klonopin (but only as needed). I thought the ssri caused a false manic-like state, aggravated by the stimulant. I am sure this med combination was a very important contributor, but I don't think I would have experienced the mania had I not had underlying bipolar all along. The long and gradual build up of the mania, and the intensity it achieved followed by the completely drained and slightly psychotic feel I experienced when I crashed makes me agree that I have type 1, not type 2 bipolar. The crash was the worst part.

Edited by Penguin

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I think I felt a bunch of mixed emotions. I didn't want it to be true, I mean, who does, right?

But, Doc didn't let me take his word for it and he insisted I go home and research the hell out of BP and let me decide if I thought he was right or not. That first night, I searched and searched until 3am. Every time I found something that hit the mark with me, I'd try to discount it. In the end, I couldn't do that anymore. Then came the relief that we finally figured everything out and we could get working on getting me the proper treatment.

I was thrilled when I was no longer, angry, suspicious, delusional and feeling like I wanted to peel my own skin off. I have now come to accept my dx and I can't say I embrace it, but I try to do what I can to manage it.

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Penguin, it had nothing to do with your thread. :)

I think it's normal to be upset about it, grieving your "normal" life, etc. It was the word trauma that got to me. To me, trauma is something that is traumatic, you know like beatings, verbal abuse, war, etc. I think there's a huge difference between being upset about something and something that scars you for life, like real abuse.

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I was relieved and happy. Yes, actually happy. I not only had known something was wrong for years, I had known I was bipolar, because I grew up surrounded by bipolar people.

My dad, the affective disorders researcher and specialist, the entire reason I knew what was wrong, didn't believe me, and thought I was doing it for attention. Because, as I said, I grew up surrounded by bipolar people, so he "knew" I must be aping them, right? Never mind that his dad was Bipolar I, and he knew it.

When I finally got out from under his thumb, and lived on the other side of the country, and could see a pdoc who had not been trained by my father, so who were influenced by him, I started looking for a pdoc the first time I had an episode to "show" him or her.

Guess what? I was right. Again, it was a huge relief, I was happy someone finally listened to and believed me, and that I was going to get treated.... Which I thought was going to just take a few months, and then life would be easy peasy from then on. Sigh.

ETA: I mean, I knew I would be on meds forever, but I had seen a lot of really successful patients of my dad, and I thought it would be easy to find the right combo.

Edited by crtclms

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I was super relieved. My madness has names and I'm not alone? Sweet!

I did go through denial and anguish about it, but mostly I was relieved.

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It was traumatizing for me because it was the same feeling that I got when I wasn't taken seriously when I was ill. I was angry that I wasn't given an explanation why I was being diagnosed with that, hopeless, and shameful. It really hurt bad and left more questions than answers.

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When I was first diagnosed, I felt a sense of overwhelming relief. It explained a lot regarding my life up until then, and my experiences made more sense in light of knowing that I had bipolar mood swings. I used to think that my ups and downs were a character flaw on my part, so to find that it was something beyond my control [and therefore not my fault or doing] gave me a new perspective.

I felt the same way, I was so relieved to finally have a real diagnosis that made sense. It's taken some time for me to accept myself how I am but im making progress.

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I already knew when I went to be assessed by my Pdoc that it was going to be BPD. I was still very relieved because now there was a name for it, a diagnosis which had been confirmed by professionals, and was officially on record, they didn't think I was making it up (this was something I dealt with from a young age, because my parents never believed anything I told them). I was so relieved.

It was sort of like "great, I've got a name for it, I'm not a freak, and now I can tell you what you're meant to be treating, so can we please get on with the treatment?"

Unfortunately, just because my Pdoc has diagnosed me doesn't stop my therapists from not believing me, accusing me of lying, accusing me of attention seeking, and a whole host of other accusations and disbelief.

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I'm not officially diagnosed yet but when my pdoc mentioned in my last appointment that it was looking more and more like Bipolar II, I wanted to say, "Yeah, I told you that at least two years ago and my family could have told you LONG before that" but I didn't. After all, I've only gone in to see my pdoc when I've been depressed. He's never seen me hypomanic. It does make sense that it would take a few years of hearing symptoms of hypomania for him to start understanding it. Plus, we've found that most anti-depressants make me hypomanic and one made me manic and psychotic. I think the fact that I'm treated best with medicines that he can also treat his bipolar patients with made a difference in him acknowledging a change in my diagnosis. But, of course, we wouldn't have known that unless we tried those treatments for depression.

Actually, I kind of felt incredibly relieved that he was acknowledging it and I haven't cared much about my diagnosis since. Depression, Bipolar II, whatever. Now they seem like words on a page to me when before, they felt so important. Now I am much more concerned about the treatment I receive than whatever the hell is wrong with me.

So the fact that he's considering giving me a diagnosis actually made it much less important to me and something I've actually focused on MUCH less than I have in the past. I haven't even done my usual psych disorder research since then. It was SUCH a relief, even though it's not official yet.

Come to think about it, I've never received ANY diagnosis except for ADHD - inattentive. I haven't even technically had a diagnosis of depression, which has been something I've been coping with for twenty years! I've based all of my diagnoses on what I'm being treated for and what I VERY OBVIOUSLY have. Once, after pressuring my pdoc so much for official diagnoses, he told me I could consider myself having Mood Disorder NOS and Anxiety Disorder NOS... because he didn't want me doing too much research and end up worrying myself since he knows I do too much psych disorder related research, even if it has nothing to do with me. I ended up obsessing about my diagnoses a GREAT deal for MONTHS after that.

When I was diagnosed with ADHD - inattentive in high school, I just thought, "Duh. Why didn't I realize that? Oh, probably because I couldn't concentrate long enough to read about it!" My teachers since elementary school had mentioned it to my parents, but since I always made A's in school, it didn't make sense for me to be medicated. My reaction to being diagnosed with ADHD was feeling absolutely stupid beyond words for not ever actually believing it... especially after I started medication and wondered, "Is this how most people usually concentrate? Oh, maybe ADHD was why I never took notes in class or did my homework..."

Then again, my therapist mentioned that I could have a mild case of PTSD yesterday and I disagreed greatly and told her flat-out that she was just wrong. I'm not even going to read about PTSD because I don't believe I have it by any means. (Granted, this was the first time we had met, and all we had talked about at that point was previous traumas and how they were affecting me now, so I can see how she could possibly think that, even though it's not true.)

So I guess I react quite a bit differently when something comes out of the blue...

Edited by daisy

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When I was first dx'd, I was only 14 and I refused to believe the doc, refused my meds... I was majorly depressed at the time.. Since then, forgot that dx and was "redx'd" about 3 years ago and was relieved to know what was "wrong" with me..

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I had a very strong feeling that I had Bipolar Disorder before my pdoc mentioned it, so it didn't come as a surprise to me and I accepted it readily, thankful that I was being taken seriously

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