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Has your illness changed over time?


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I was just thinking about this. When I was very young the depressions seemed to dominate, and what looking back I now see were hypomanias, were relatively mild and didn't last that long. Now, while the depressions can still be pretty bad I seem to have more problems with mania.

 

What's your experience?

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Depression when it all started, until I started ending up in the hospital IP for various psych reasons; then it turned into BPD and BP.  A few years later the BPD diagnosis went away (new pdoc, new perspective).  When I started having hallucinations and delusions, then schizoaffective.  And anxiety disorders mixed in with all of that. 

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My illness started out as depression at 15, for sure some hypomania after that. Then, depression again at 18. Hypomania again at 20. Depression again at 21. You see my cycle? Heh. Every three years, I get depressed. It wasn't until my third and most severe depression that I developed psychosis though. The psychosis became a big problem for me and I was diagnosed with schizoaffective. I haven't been ill that long, technically only 8 years, according to my memory, though I may have had a depressive episode at 10 years old. So... I guess we'll see how my illness unfolds. 

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Mostly depression until I hit my early 20s, when I experienced pure, euphoria mania. That was the only time I did - depressions and mixed states are the only things I experience now.

 

Now that mania is psychosis, paranoia, and delusional thinking starting early 30's - Getting worse at 35. How I miss my euphoric mania bouts. They wore off four years ago entirely. I still get slightly hypomanic but then turns into paranoia and delusional thinking first - then hallucinations. No fun ... And I have heard people say it gets better as you get older ?? Yeah ... 

 

Now that I think about it I have always been delusion and grandiose - however I was successful for years before my illness got serious. Very successful so i don't know if that was a symptom or my beliefs in my abilities to truly be a world changing businessman. Hell I was making a million a year.

Edited by lanry78
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In my teens, it was predominantly major depression, interlaced with some hypomania. Then my first manic episode in my late teens went pyschotic very quickly and lasted rather long (4 months or so). Then hospitalization and being put on AAPs and a mood stabilizer which turned me into a calm zombie and put me very much on the depressed side. I wasn't diagnosed BP back then because there had only been one pyschotic episode. So, again mostly depression with some short mania during much of my early and mid 20s. Then I went off the meds and it went to milder depression with shorter non-pyschotic manic episodes, mostly at least partially mixed and dysphoric. Then BP diagnosis and being put on Depakote, it's been a bumpier ride than on the AAPs and mood stabilizers, but the depression is far less severe. I think I prefer it this way. The mania comes but it doesn't last too long and doesn't turn into a mixed nightmare, the highs and lows have been somewhat cut off. There hasn't been any months long pyschotic hell.

 

I wonder sometimes how much of it is the illness changing, how much is medication changing and how much is my life and things around me changing. Do others have any opinion on that? 

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I wonder sometimes how much of it is the illness changing, how much is medication changing and how much is my life and things around me changing. Do others have any opinion on that?

 

IMO all of those things contribute to the illness changing.

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lanry, bipolar illness often worsens with age, but I have never heard BP Illness gets better as we age. It probably does, for some people. But not for many, especially if untreated. It sucks. I've been on medication since 1988, and even so it has been a slow spiral downward. I have definitely gotten worse. I was first diagnosed with MDD, but we suspected it was bipolar illness even then. Then he gave me Prozac. Wheeeeeeee! That was when I was 24.

 

After a bunch of evaluations, it was decided that I had bipolar II: For one thing, I tended towards depression. I also have a serious migraine problem, which *correlates* with BP II (but is not caused by it). I did have what I think were hypo-manias, with a tendency to spend and drink too much, and take a LOT of drugs, and be generally reckless.

 

Then when I was 36 or so, I went into remission.

 

Then when I was 42, I had my first episode in years, which I thought was mixed. And now with hindsight provided by my pdoc, I probably had dysphoric mania. So I have been experiencing manias without really knowing it. Which changed my diagnosis to BP I last summer, which I am still trying to wrap my brain around.  I had GAD thrown in 2008 or 9.

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During my teens and twenties mostly chronic non functioning depression but had some periods of normal mood where I could get out of bed, shower and actually do something.  Since my mid thirties I cannot even appreciate joy and happiness which I could before even when in a coma like depression I could at least realize it existed but not feel it.  Now I feel nothing but the negatives and can't find even the appreciation of the good in life.  I think the fancy dancy words for this are dysphoria and anhedonia?  But also I am more functional and less depressed and when I do go into a major one it's shorter, not as strong or deep and I'm not nearly as suicidal.

 

For me I think 30 years of psych meds, on top of a brain not working right to begin with has just flat lined me.  I live but am not alive.  I accept this. I have to as it ain't gonna change.  I also learned in my forties, finally, to take it one day at a time and be grateful for each day. 

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I think it was probably triggered when I was 21, post-partum and that was six years ago, so I'm not working with much of a time frame here at all but I've personally noticed a large difference in the past year even. I don't ever know what's going to happen anymore. Not that I ever really did, but I was just depressed for most of the time, having only been hypo/manic once or twice in five years. One time for several months and I think the other for a couple of weeks.

 

Then almost exactly this time last year, I had a pretty euphoric mania thing (it was also irritable/annoying at the same time) and then fewer, far less frequent episodes of depression, but still several a year they just weren't my constant state anymore. 

Now in the past few months, I haven't been depressed THAT much, I'd say I'm more on the UP side sometimes and the WEIRD crap comes out so there's that.

 

The depression part changed and now I'd say far more than I actually feel depressed, I feel more HIGH anymore, but not necessarily euphoric. I suppose. I am easily annoyed by the up periods, heh.

 

So it's changed VERY recently. Used to be that I was predominantly depressed and I honestly don't feel that's the case at all anymore.

 

So it just gets worse as we get older, eh? Good to know. Shit.

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I wonder sometimes how much of it is the illness changing, how much is medication changing and how much is my life and things around me changing. Do others have any opinion on that? 

 

Thinking about this some more, when I was first depressed as an adolescent, I also had a lot of crap going on with my family, and low self-esteem from being badly bullied etc So that probably all contributed to the depression being worse back then. Now I've dealt with all that, I feel I'm pretty psychologically healthy, and everything is good, so maybe that is why the euphoric manias I get are more predominant now.

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i have a hard time deciding whether it was different meds having different effects over the years, or it was my illness changing, or both.  probably both.  i spent a long time being misdiagnosed and given every SSRI under the sun, which of course made things worse (and more likely that i'd become hypomanic or mixed).  then i got mood stabilizers and things were kinda better for a few years, enough to hold down a job.  then all that fell apart, and since then things have gone downhill with no upward motion in sight.  i'm properly medicated now, yet i'm still not really functional.  that's the part that makes me think it's my illness getting worse.

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that's a good point that it might be the meds as well. I've probably thought of that once this entire time. And it's a good point to bring up when discussing the course of the damn illness, really. I feel like maybe I'm more UP lately because maybe the meds I'm on just aren't covering that part well enough, considered that the 200mg of Lamictal I'm now taking are making that symptom worse even, but I don't KNOW that. Just thought of it a bit is all.

 

Seems as though things changed for the worse when I started meds in the bipolar department. Anxiety was treated well enough though. Probably a bit to consider with the med thing, I suppose. I'm not saying I should not take meds because there have been cocktails I've been on that truly stabilize me pretty well, but the ones that do that just have the worst side effects so I've gone off them. Shit. It's a crappy game to play, really. Pick one of two evils, I suppose. NOT FAIR!

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I wonder sometimes how much of it is the illness changing, how much is medication changing and how much is my life and things around me changing. Do others have any opinion on that? 

 

Thinking about this some more, when I was first depressed as an adolescent, I also had a lot of crap going on with my family, and low self-esteem from being badly bullied etc So that probably all contributed to the depression being worse back then. Now I've dealt with all that, I feel I'm pretty psychologically healthy, and everything is good, so maybe that is why the euphoric manias I get are more predominant now.

 

 

I think this is similar for me. I guess for many people with MI, growing up is hard because I guess we tend to be more awkward and more likely to be bullied. I also had a lot of problems growing up, feeling isolated and hating myself. And after hospitalization, that got even harder. But it makes me feel more in control to think that while I can't control the BP, at least I have some influence on how it goes. Thinking back, I also think some extreme mixed episodes I had escalated because I felt terrified when the mania was picking up and thought I had no control over myself at all. Now I think that while I don't have a lot of control, at least I can do some things to manage myself.

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