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Hi, everyone!

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I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 in 1997, after first being diagnosed with Major Depression and making the rounds of SSRIs, which in turn made me hypomanic, then full-on manic. My episodes started when I was about five-six years old, when I was probably triggered upon entering grade school. After I went through menopause (in my late 30's) my mood swings got worse. Since mental illness runs in my mom's side of the family, my relatives approached me and suggested I might be Bipolar instead of Depressed. I made the round of psychiatrists before finally settling on one who diagnosed me and put me on Depakote, Lithium, and Effexor. I stayed on that mixture for several years, even though Depakote made me foggy and messed with my short-term memory. When some of the newer antipsychotics came out my doctor put me on Seroquel instead of Depakote and Lithium. This worked for about two years until my dad died of cancer in 2009. I couldn't bounce back, so I was switched to Geodon (Ziprasidone), maximum dosage, along with taking Effexor XR (venlafaxine) maximum dosage. I was put on Clonazepam for anxiety and promptly quit biting my nails, something I'd been doing since I was six. My doctor adds a low dose of Wellbutrin to the mix during the winterish months - I go from Fall to Spring Equinox on it.


So far the current mix is working, although I do have occasional triggers and mood swings, usually on the depressed, suicidal side but sometimes mania happens, along with a lot of money being spent. I have ultradian rapid-cycling in that I can literally change moods from minute-to-minute. I lived independently since 1994 and my divorce, but found it increasingly difficult after my sons grew up and left home. I'm now living with my mom and fortunately we get along just fine.


As to mental illness running in the family, one of my mom's sisters had Schizophrenia. She passed away a couple of years ago, having a combination of Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia to deal with. The last year or so she refused to take her medication, which was very sad and hard on her family. I have a cousin on my mom's side with Schizophrenia, my maternal grandfather was Bipolar, another cousin is Bipolar, we think my nephew is since antidepressants give him dysphoric mania, plus he rapid-cycles. However, he doesn't think anything is wrong with him and is putting my sister and her family through all sorts of hell.


Also, my oldest son is severely Bipolar 1, and my youngest son is high-functioning Autistic.


I currently work as a Level II Technical Analyst for a major insurance company in Illinois. In the past I have lost three jobs due to my illness presenting itself on the job. They didn't fire me for that reason (so they said) but they found other ways to get rid of me. Fortunately this job has a fairly low stress level, one that I can leave behind at the end of the day. I think I've had one minor manic episode while at work these past three years that I've had this job, and probably three or four depressed episodes on the job. So far I've managed to work my way through them, and since I rapid-cycle they tend to go by quickly.


My oldest son, age 31, is doing well, has a full-time job as a Support Analyst not too far from where I work. He's also struggling with Anxiety and PTSD, the latter coming on after an EF4 Tornado rampaged through our community. He was home at the time and his wife was at work. The tornado destroyed his apartment complex and fortunately he came out alive, but shaken. When the anniversary of the tornado rolled around last November 17th all of that trauma came forth with mood swings, hypomania (which resulted in him spending money they didn't have) irritability, and so on. His doctor felt he didn't need his medication adjusted, but instead suggested therapy. So far he's told me that it's working and he's finally coming to terms with what happened to him.


My youngest son, age 28, is defending his dissertation this upcoming Friday. He's then moving out of state for his post-doc. Since we're all close-knit (we looked out for each other when they were growing up), it's going to be hard to let him go, but I also know this is a good move for him. Given that he was non-verbal and violent up through his preschool years we're all very proud of him.


Neither of my sons wants to have children. The youngest, ever-practical minded, says he doesn't want to add to the overpopulation of the planet. The oldest is afraid of passing on his mental illness, and I have no comfort for him, since I passed mine on to him. In fact, another of my cousins didn't have children for the same reason.


As to my having Asperger's Syndrome, I will admit that is through self-diagnosis. I've gotten better since I was a child, and at this point in my life there wouldn't be a lot they could do for me anyway. The remnants of it that exist are gaze avoidance, repetitive speech and a lack of social skills, which I'm working on. When my sons left home several years ago, I retreated into my shell with no friends at all until the past few months. My sons are glad that I'm getting out socially and making new friends - apparently both have been worried about me.


Sorry this is so lengthy! I tend to go on and on and on.

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Welcome to Crazyboards.  I think that was a very interesting introduction, and it sounds like you have good reason to be proud of both of your sons. 


I'm glad you came here and I hope we can help you with some socialization and support.



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Brynna, I just wanted to take the time to say welcome :) Also no worry about the length, it was perfectly written and easily read (thank you for the paragraph breaks!).


You definitely found yourself within a group of understanding people with similar family, medication, and even illness experiences.

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