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Is your life, "on paper," representative of MI?


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What I mean by that is if you step back and look at your life as a whole - work, school, finances, criminal record, marriage, etc., would it raise a "red flag" that something wasn't quite "right" or do you mostly struggle "internally" and you're able to, for the most part, hide it and still do what you need to do?

 

 

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I think I hid things pretty well looking back at things, especially in college.  No one had any idea I had MI -- current diagnosis -- though I had depression but it wasn't bad; it was manageable.  But even the depression was well hidden ... although I *think* I let my guard down a little at times and some people might have wondered.

 

Anyway, I made it through life, and when I got to college, I made it through 5 years in a specialized program where only 15 people get into it a year (among  hundreds who apply), and 3 internships.  The days right before graduation was when I started to OD, and actually was in the hospital the day of graduation (fortunately pdoc let me go, as long as I was within arm's length of a specific person).  Then just about everything went downhill from there.

 

After college was when I started on more medication, more diagnoses.  Long story short, I had made it through all those years without people really picking up on things, even the DRs who came and went throughout that time.  Looking back, idk how I did that.  It was a shock for all my professors too when they found out after I had graduated and as the years went on.

 

I know I'm rambling (sorry!) but I can't seem to word anything right tonight.  Just wanted to make the point that I hid things very well despite a very hard curriculum, socializing (or trying to) and dealing with lots of people, etc.  No one had any idea of what was to come in the years after college.

 

Now, after all those years, the things that send up a red flag are when people see my medication list, what I do (and don't do) during my days, why I don't work and drive, anxiety, my affect (I usually have a plain affect, where you can't tell what I feel/think/etc), and that I tend to stare a lot, along with not being able to hold any conversation down (ie I just can't deal with people and conversations and I think that shows through me).  I am only able to appear like nothing is wrong to very few people.  Other than that the MI is fairly easy to pick up on.

Edited by melissaw72
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My two biggest red flags are that I don't work (or volunteer or go to knitting circles or have a book club or raise children...) and I don't drive; I get asked about those two things a lot, and it gives me anxiety when I meet new people knowing in advance that I'm going to have to address why (which I don't do honestly, if at all). I am in a stable marriage, for which I'm incredibly thankful, but I think people very quickly realize how much I rely on my husband to do basic things like shop for groceries. I have our finances set up so I can't spend everything we own on a whim and I don't think that having multiple accounts would be too unusual to people, but then I'm not sure.

Socially, I don't think people would recognize that I have a mental illness, but that's primarily because I've learned to isolate myself when I'm having or close to having a severe episode. It used to be that people would ask questions, but I don't get that anymore, thankfully. But then, I don't have many friends. I'm not sure I can give a really accurate answer on whether I'm socially flaggable as crazy.

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I, like Melissa, was able to conceal at least the extent of my MI in college. I was fairly "normal" at that age, going to school full time, working a work study job, partying with my friends. There were still these cracks though. Like having to get extensions on papers not so much b/c of the CFS anymore, but because of the depression. I drank too much, too, self-medicating b/c the psych drugs weren't working well. But I think I made a plausible college student, if one with a bit of a dark side.

 

Fast forward to today, and I see that my illness has gotten progressively worse. I have had two rounds of ECT, I'm on disability, the most I seem able to work is 5 hours a week, I've gained an unbecoming amount of weight on these meds, I count it a good day if I get the dishes done. So, yeah, at this point it's pretty obvious something's up.

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My CV is like Swiss cheese. I don't have a husband or babies. I got through university with excellent grades although I was depressed and smoked weed a bit. I've never spent large significant amount of money. I live at hone because I can't support myself on my own. Mentally I'm just not there yet and I can't work full-time.

Personality wise everyone says I appear normal and attractive, but that is only if I'm not manic or hypomanic I guess. Most people are surprised when they find out and unless they are ultra-intuative they can't tell anything is wrong.

That doesn't stop the internal and unfounded paranoia I sometimes get thinking everyone must know I'm bipolar and have the tendency to lose my mind.

Edited by nightbutterfly
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Hell. Yes.

 

I got pregnant at 14 (hypersexuality) and that resulted in a miscarriage.

 

I ran away with a 26 year old I met online at age 15, dropped out of school and got pregnant, got married to him right after I turned 16 and we could legally elope because I was pregnant.

 

Divorced him 4 years later, got married to ANOTHER man *exactly* one week later and got pregnant days after that (I also have another child who was involved in all this, I feel immense guilt over this, as I should.)

 

I've been married now for nearly 7 years with no problems as far as the marriage is concerned. No cheating, fighting, etc. Without getting all mushy, it's really a great marriage and I don't know what I would do without him as far as dealing with all this is concerned.

 

I've had several hospitalizations for the depression part.

 

I'm 27 years old and have only worked twice. The jobs both lasted around 3 weeks each, but I DID try and for that I am proud of myself. I ended up getting my GED at age 18 because of my mother. She really encouraged me in doing that, and even if I never work a day again in my life, I am glad I accomplished it because I feel *worth* something.

Edited by Dusk
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My life on paper would show my MI for certain.

You can just look at my transcripts from school. One semester all A's and the next all F's.

I'm disabled due to my MI so that is another thing.

I never finished school.

I've had a lot of hospitalizations.

I've been on legal treatment orders from the state.

Etc.

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When I was a kid/teen, yeah. I was drinking, on drugs, promiscuous, failing most of my classes. When I got married, I had a clean slate and kept it that way for the most part, on paper. There were still major problems, but I was married with kids, had a job and a car. No record. That doesn't make you any less mental.

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I look better on paper than I am irl.  I did graduate college and worked until I had a psychotic break, I'm married with 2 kids.  But, I went to 3 different colleges and switched jobs frequently.  People would tell me I needed help because I would sob uncontrollably and my social anxiety is obvious.

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On paper, I don't appear to have an MI.  I graduated college, got married, graduated from a master's program, held a job, moved to a city I'd always wanted to live in, held another job and had a baby.  That's when the cracks began to show.  I had post partum pyschosis and my dx changed from MDD to pregnancy-induced BPII.  I began having anxiety/panic attacks all the time and b/c agoraphobic.  A few years later I had to go on disability.  If you didn't know me, you probably wouldn't be able to figure out I have an MI, but those that know me have seen enough of the symptoms to know.  (Plus, I am very honest with my friends about my MI).

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I have been out of work since 2006. I attempted twice to get my degree but had to drop out on health grounds both times. I am on disability. I have been in hospital twice, once was involuntary. At one point I was homeless.

 

But these days things are slowly improving. I am studying part time. I am pretty stable on my meds. I hope to return to work when I have finished studying.

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My history reads like one big trail of Things Gone Wrong. Nobody was specifically aware that I was Bipolar, but people did note throughout the years that something wasn't right.

 

Starting in grade 4, I never made anything above a C+ in regular school again, and in Grade 5 instead of normal progress notes mine were all about how my issue with crying in the cubbies was going. At thirteen I skipped school more than I attended, and at 14 was expelled from my first high school. That school, prior to expelling me, sent home a letter to my mother saying I needed to "see somebody" at the local CMHA, but my mother never followed through as she considered it victim-blaming (bullying). I dropped out of the next school two weeks in, having attended only the first day. At 15 I was arrested eight times: once for drug trafficking, the other seven for breach of bail conditions; I had two stays in YCC, one three-day and one 35-day stay, interspersed stays overnight in city lockup were also fairly normal. At 16 I got a job and quit on the second day. At 17 I returned to school, and in less than a month I was forced to see a doctor at the urging of the school, whom refused to allow me to return until a doctor's note cleared me; that doctor diagnosed me with MDD and SP and a week later I dropped out of school again. Various smaller things happened over the years after that: going to the doctor reporting daymares of killing my neighbours, bombing a provincial test my ACE teacher thought I'd ace, blowing a couple thousand on scrapbooking supplies so I could start cardmaking only to give it up a year later, blowing roughly $1300 on two babies that aren't even mine.... At 27 a job landed in my lap that lasted for a year and a few months, and I ended up in the hospital three times. At 28 I ended up in the hospital again and my diagnosis was changed to BP-I; I had to quit my job that same year as it was clearly driving me off the deep end. Now, at 29, I was approved for disability on my first try.

 

So yeah, my paper trail is ugly, and that kind of sucks, but c'est la vie, look forward and all that crap.

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Probably not. I have a pretty nice-looking resume. The only thing that might tip someone off is that I change jobs every 2,3,4 years. I've worked for a number of grants, though, so I've always been able to chalk it to to "I left because the grant was over".

What doesn't show up on paper is that I basically haven't had any long-term friends since college. I got married (and he's my friend), but I've isolated myself more and more. A lot of this has to do with, I think, me maybe getting worse and the jobs getting steadily more demanding. I can hold it together at work, but I'm done when it's time to go home. My brain is just shot.

Mostly, though, I'm just chronically restless and unhappy (and I have everything I could want- beautiful kid, good husband, we're financially okay, blah, blah, blah- I'm just always restless). I have bouts of depression where I basically operate like a zombie. I have periods of what I now recognize as mixed-state where I'm very creative, but I throw it at writing and don't get anything else done. I cause myself a lot of stress that way. I guess I have a good game face.

Edited by girlwiththefarawayeyes
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I honestly don't know one way or the other. I haven't ever evaluated myself like that before. I am fairly certain off the top of my head that on paper my MI sticks out like a sore thumb, or at least a few red flags. But I always thought that everyone's life is pretty messed up, MI or not... so it was never easy for me to judge something like that.

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I think on paper I look much better, I have a BSW, got into a competative grad school with a nice scholorship. But I do float from job to job becuse most of them are seasonal (Summer camp jobs) and i'm a full time student. The one flag might be that I went from March12 to January13 without anything on my resume becuse I was riding the express cross town crazy bus.  But i think that it shows more, expecialy as I get more iritable and cranky and am 'off' to those around me.  My med list might also give it away but you'd be amazed how many pepple do not know what lamictal and seraquel are if they have not been on the bus at some point.

 

But whats good about being somewhat transparent is that at the place my internship(a kick ass food pantry). Many pepple I work with have some crazy in there story. So I think by my sharing it has helped to create a culture of 'its ok to be crazy here!" We also work with the local MHA and other behavioral health agency.   Also I have sort of become the local resident out BP person at school, it has its ups and downs but again pepple ask me for information.

 

So I think paper is just a part of the package, but not the entire package.

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Rowlena- yes! I do not choose to share my diagnosis, but I think it's part of what makes me good at what I do. I "get" the people who live on the edges of sanity and I'm tolerant of them and nice to them when a lot of my coworkers can't/aren't. I've been told many a time that my office is a safe place to be. I can usually spot and guess a person's MI issues if they don't come right out and tell me.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot depend on my coworkers to be a shoulder for me to bang my head on, and I won't lay that burden on my students/clients. And that causes me to burn out, I think. And I get bored really easily. :P It's about time for a new job now- according to my inner clock- and I'm fighting it beause I don't know where else I'd go.

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My teenage years look bad on paper. I went from a A/B student to failing classes, doing drugs, quitting all extra-curricular activities, and didn't graduate on time. I got it together for a couple of years, started college, worked part time, but quit college after one semester and randomly quit my job one day. I only have a couple of friends, and they never found any of this weird, so I never thought anything was wrong.

Eventually I got married, finished my BS degree through an accelerated program, bought a house, etc, but I could barely hold it together. Finally got dx a year and a half ago, and now I view the last 15yrs as a horrible destructive waste of my life. I hate who I am and who I've been. Amazing how your perspective changes when you start getting help.

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