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Do you feel less alive than you once did?


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The title might ring true to others, while being confusing to some.

 

As a child I never knew anything was wrong with me, and that I would one day be diagnosed with Bipolar II, but there were aspects of my life that I found felt unique to me. As a child and until I was around 19 years old I felt a heightened sense of awareness, my five senses were constantly in overdrive. My ability to smell was always heightened, whether by dew on the grass or the bitter cold of winter, I could smell it and all and it triggered such a vast flow of emotion in me.

 

Whenever I would be out under the sun I felt very alive, almost to the point where it felt cinematic and overwhelming. This sensory overload as I believe some would call it contributed to fear of death, anxiety in general and mood swings. I felt like I was in the permanent captivity of my emotion and five senses. When I would get afraid, I would be very afraid. When I was happy, the opposite, I was so happy.

 

Over time these senses have dulled and I have to question if what I felt before was simply normal, or whether or not my senses were attuned to a greater height. Since I've taken medication, Seroquel in particular, but antidepressants, stimulants and other things that were prescribed to me back when my physician and psychiatrist didn't know what was going on with me. Since then my emotions and my senses have dulled to the point where it's scary, and I've only realized how much they've dulled as of late.

 

My Doctor is taking me off of Seroquel which I've been on for over a year. I'm currently weened down to 75mg from 400mg and my senses are beginning to feel heightened, on the cusp of the dulling fog that I feel and true emotion. It's making me realize how much of a zombie this pill made me. I'm realizing that my ability to feel joy, and even my ability to smell has been greatly hindered.

 

The problem is that I've tried to describe this feeling of heightened awareness to friends who do not suffer from mental illness and they act like they have no idea what I'm talking about which causes me to question whether this sort of feeling is unique to people with Bipolar and other conditions.

 

All I know is that I'm starting to see more clearly and feel attuned to my senses again, which is somewhat nerve wrecking because I've always been extremely sensitive to reality and I associate most of my problems and fears with this heightened awareness and feeling. Bipolar has been a long journey and coming off meds and feeling how I once did - truly alive, is kind of frightening.

 

I'm curious whether others can relate and really connect with what I'm saying.

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To further expand... When I was a kid and I'd get a new toy, a new video game console, or smell the pages of a new book - it all triggered so much emotion.

 

My memories are very strong and I can at times put myself in the position of my life that I was once in and imagine all those feelings as if they were really still there, but alas, they aren't, and I get a flight of feeling that makes me relate and remember how I once felt. Even up until I took medication I can remember this feeling. I can't reiterate how alive I felt, how amazing life felt - despite all the fears and anxieties.

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the sensory stuff was familiar to me, actually. I don't recall being happy much in my life and certainly not as a child or teenager.

 

At one point in my life, there were POSSIBILITIES, I guess. I thought so, anyway, despite my constant anxiety and terrible mood. At least things were unknown to me about my future. 

 

But I did that with books! I thought one of the most wonderful things was walking into a bookstore! That smell was great.

 

And the sky and clouds and all the colors, sometimes I was in awe of these things, not in the way I am now. I'll see it and think it's pretty, but nothing takes my breath away.

 

Maybe getting my diagnosis took the possibilities away? But why? It didn't have to. . .

 

I might be getting you wrong, I don't know. It just brought something to my attention though.

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I think I can relate to what you are describing. I remember being a kid or even in high school, on my way to school and just how crisp and fresh the morning felt. I remember what the first days of spring smelt like. The warmth of the sun on my face, the brightness, the colours. I've been wondering if it's just nostalgia tinting and embellishing my memories or if depression or meds are dulling my senses, making everything just seem yuck. Or maybe I just grew up. Maybe only children get to experience the world that way. I don't know. I'd like to know.

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I think we (everyone on this Earth) are all evolving with changing emotions.  Our cells, skin, hair etc. is constantly shedding and regenerating itself.  I don't think these emotions are exclusive to Bipolar. I think we need to get out of the mindset that because we have Bipolar Disorder (or any mental illness), we somehow understand or experience things on a superior level than those that don't have a mental illness.  I think any major experience in your life - new relationship - fresh new baby (especially) makes you look at life in a new light.  It's part of being a human being. I felt that with the birth of my two kids and when I have lost a loved one, or have a marriage end and starting over. You just look at the world differently.  Even with the drugs.

 

Probably not what you were looking for, but you have some personal insights that you should write in a personal journal. It would be something that you would appreciate down the road.

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I think we (everyone on this Earth) are all evolving with changing emotions.  Our cells, skin, hair etc. is constantly shedding and regenerating itself.  I don't think these emotions are exclusive to Bipolar. I think we need to get out of the mindset that because we have Bipolar Disorder (or any mental illness), we somehow understand or experience things on a superior level than those that don't have a mental illness.  I think any major experience in your life - new relationship - fresh new baby (especially) makes you look at life in a new light.  It's part of being a human being. I felt that with the birth of my two kids and when I have lost a loved one, or have a marriage end and starting over. You just look at the world differently.  Even with the drugs.

 

Probably not what you were looking for, but you have some personal insights that you should write in a personal journal. It would be something that you would appreciate down the road.

 

I don't have any issues with anything you said and quite agree, however I'm coming from a place of experience and curiosity with this feeling of sensory overload. It's a real thing and can be jarring. Regardless of the things that have happened in my life I've always felt uncomfortably aware and attuned to my senses and emotions. It may have something to do with hypomania, though I know it spans back to as far as I remember.

 

I didn't mean to lay it out in a way that sounded grandiose, I was just curious if others have noted this as well. In any case, the medication I've taken has clearly dulled my senses and put me into a fog. I note all changes in my perception and have since I was kid, day in and day out, analyzing how the layers of my thoughts and feelings operate. Seroquel in particular has done a number on that, undeniably.

Edited by Kestra
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Lamictal is not much of an antimanic for many. The heightened senses you describe sound like euphoria to me. I used to get it that way as a kid. Those sensations for me mean hypo is starting. I'd call your doc. Maybe it's not just hypo and you have two things happening - decreased sedation and kick start of hypo. At any rate, if you have really heightened sense, I'd guess on some hypo. Call your pdoc.

 

ETA: I found Seroquel sedating. Not all AAPs are like that. I take Latuda now and am awake with all of my senses at a "normal" level of sensation. My point is that you can ask for a different antimanic than Seroquel.

Edited by AnneMarie
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I should explain that I am not describing euphoria whatsoever. I've experienced euphoria in a typical hypomanic episode, or from stimulants. This is not the same at all.

 

I predict what I'm describing is more or less normal - simply feeling alive, coupled with mood swings and self awareness it's just more dramatic - perhaps my condition exacerbates this normality into something that sounds more intense and positive than it actually is. I guess I'm just in awe that I'm feeling attuned to myself again, and mostly in awe that this medication in particular took away my ability to feel much of anything.

 

Lamictal is not much of an antimanic for many. The heightened senses you describe sound like euphoria to me. I used to get it that way as a kid. Those sensations for me mean hypo is starting. I'd call your doc. Maybe it's not just hypo and you have two things happening - decreased sedation and kick start of hypo. At any rate, if you have really heightened sense, I'd guess on some hypo. Call your pdoc.

 

ETA: I found Seroquel sedating. Not all AAPs are like that. I take Latuda now and am awake with all of my senses at a "normal" level of sensation. My point is that you can ask for a different antimanic than Seroquel.

 

I don't think I want to risk going down the AAP route again. It's just not worth it in my experience so I'm going to take my chances with a plain mood stabilizer.

Edited by Kestra
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I know APs can dull a person. When I was on 30 mg of Abilify, I felt somewhat dulled. I was unable to get anxious or excited about anything at all. I had no motivation. I had no sense of urgency. 

 

Now that I'm on a lower dose, my motivation has come back. I feel a healthy sense of anxiety that motivates me to get things done. I get excited about the day that lies ahead of me. 

 

So I completely agree with you that APs can dull you. 

 

Your description of being in touch with yourself and your senses sounds hypomanic to me too. I know I only feel the way you describe when I'm hypomanic. A feeling of grandiosity and power comes with it. 

 

However, I am stable right now, and I am capable of being overwhelmed by the beauty of the world and feeling in touch with nature. I don't want to give the impression that I am not able to appreciate all the fine details of life. 

 

Your description just sounds awfully euphoric. 

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Your description just sounds awfully euphoric. 

 

I agree that it does. It's just really hard to go from feeling alive to not feeling alive, to feeling dull, emotionless and out of tune with reality. I guess getting a scent of how I used to feel motivated me to keep typing in an attempt to describe how dramatic of a change taking medication over time has been for me and the toll it has taken not just on my personality, but my relationships with others and how I feel day to day.

 

Prior to taking Seroquel I felt alive, hypomania aside. When I get hypomanic I tend to talk a lot, go from one idea to the next and feel superior to others in my own magical world while feeling happy/irritable and all over the place.

 

The euphoria was merely me remembering what life used to feel like and getting totally caught up in that whirlwind of emotion.

 

I appreciate all the replies to my original post. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

hey tonytonytonytony

 

Welcome to CB.

 

While it's appropriate to talk about emotion flattening, and other side effects, meds are not Dementors. Many people find them helpful when used with appropriate guidance from a care team.

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Yes all these medications rob you of your soul!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Not only have my meds saved my life more than once, my soul is quite intact and in its proper place, thank you very much.

 

And you just exceeded your allotment of exclamation points for the month.

 

Twit...

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Maybe when bipolar is untreated, people become used to this much wider, more extreme scale of human experience, even the mundane becomes more intense. And to be medicated is to see that change. I have to say, as a bit of a hippy mystic, I haven't felt my connection wane for being on meds. I think sedation has been an issue for me, but I still can access emotions and that affinity with everything around me. I had to learn how to navigate life without crises and get used to doing daily tasks that being batshit crazy had given me a pass to neglect.

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