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estoyloca

Feeling like BP ended my dreams

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I have dealt with mental illness for a while that was originally misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder. I recently got a diagnosis of bipolar 1 after I had stopped sleeping, taking care of myself, and became extremely depressed and psychotic. I am still dealing with guilt and shame from the psychotic episode because of how I acted and haven't felt normal since before the psychosis. It seems like I have such a low tolerance for stress. I can't deal with any pressure without becoming depressed and feel overwhelmed all the time by even the smallest of tasks. I am just feeling sorry for myself right now because I was in graduate school and working and had this idea of what job I would have. Now, I am not even sure if I can handle working part-time. Will I ever get my life back?

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Hey estoyloca.... 

I'm sorry you're feeling the way you're feeling right now. I can't, of course, answer your question for you but I can share my experiences. 

As an undergrad, I studied one thing but figured out pretty quickly after graduating that it wasn't going to work with my bipolar. I had to drastically change my expectations of what life would look like for me. I'm now in grad school for something different, and the pace and hours of the resulting career are much more in step with what I need. But I've had 2 hospitalizations while I've been in school, and each time it's really shaken up what I think I can expect from myself. I've had to reassess and revise expectations with each episode. It can be depressing, for sure, for the reasons you mentioned. I've experienced that as well. But for me it's helped to know that I'm sort of coming out with the latest and best version of myself after each bipolar episode because I've learned so much from my experiences. Even if I don't feel stronger for the episode right away, I know I will eventually. I can say "I got through that and coped like a badass!" lol.  Just my thoughts. 

 

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For me, there's a difference between my short-term recovery from an episode and my long-term health. I'm technically "recovered" when the episode has ended, but the real healing takes quite some time.

For weeks - sometimes months - after an episode, I have to be very gentle with myself and not expect too much. I have always returned to full functioning (such as I fully function, LOL) but it takes time.

I liken it to a broken bone that's been surgically repaired: the nuts and bolts hold it together, but it still takes time for the bone to grow back.

Jennifer

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I appreciate the responses. I feel like I am grieving the person I thought I would be and the dreams that I've had for myself. I can't even explain how difficult it is for me just to do the most basic things at times. I don't think the field that I had planned to go in is a good fit for me anymore in light of my mental health, but I have invested so much time and money that I feel like I have to finish even though it is such a struggle. I go back and forth about whether to apply to disability because I just cannot seem to keep my moods controlled, even with medication. I still have bouts of extreme depression/apathy. It's all frustrating.

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I'm sorry for what your going through. I see my life in yours. As far as school, you know if your having an episode you can withdraw from classes for medical reasons and have those classes erased from your transcript. I had to do that three times when I was in college. Also, you can get extra help with your classes if you need accommodations by visiting your campus disability office. Are you on SSI/SSDI? This could help you temporary alleviate the stress of getting a job and supporting yourself. I think your number one priority should be stability and getting your meds right. Once this happened to me, I rarely had negative thoughts in my situation and was able to find a new way of living with my MI in mind.  I no longer feel as guilty and ashamed as I use to.

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I don't have bipolar disorder, but I can really relate to this. My depression has derailed my life numerous times. Just destroyed my life. But every time, I built it back. Now I have been lucky and have found a magic cocktail, and I have been stable for the longest period in my life except for a period of remission I had years ago. I am working on building my life once again.

It's tough, but the best you can do is to be med compliant and partake in therapy. Once you find the right meds, and you will know when they are right, don't ever go off them or change them unless you start to have symptoms again.

Finishing graduate school is a reasonable goal. The best place to have mental health problems is at university. From my experience, I've found that the university environment is a lot more forgiving than the work environment. Use this time to work on your mental health while you have a safety net. I second CNO and suggest you get all the accommodations at university to which you are entitled.

So having a mental illness doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams. You might have to adjust the time scale.  But nothing beats crossing the finish line no matter when it happens.

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Thanks for the responses again. I am not on SSDI/SSI. I have a job, but I am barely working. Even though I should care about my work performance, I am getting to the point where I don't and have to muster every ounce of strength just to make it through a shift. My stamina has decreased to such a degree that it is hard to be productive for 8 hours. It is also hard for me to remember tasks, and I feel disoriented sometimes. I have never felt this bad.

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4 minutes ago, estoyloca said:

Thanks for the responses again. I am not on SSDI/SSI. I have a job, but I am barely working. Even though I should care about my work performance, I am getting to the point where I don't and have to muster every ounce of strength just to make it through a shift. My stamina has decreased to such a degree that it is hard to be productive for 8 hours. It is also hard for me to remember tasks, and I feel disoriented sometimes. I have never felt this bad.

I understand feeling bad. That's very true of all the mental illnesses. But there will be a time when you will feel better. It may be that you have to give up your job for SSDI/SSI, but that has to be between you and your doctor. Plus, it doesn't have to be for life. As I said, no one has set a timeline for you. 

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6 hours ago, estoyloca said:

It seems like I have such a low tolerance for stress. I can't deal with any pressure without becoming depressed and feel overwhelmed all the time by even the smallest of tasks. I am just feeling sorry for myself right now because I was in graduate school and working and had this idea of what job I would have.

I can completely relate to this. Once you are diagnosed with and illness, your whole life needs to be rethought around what you can and can't do. In your quote you mention low stress barrier and being overwhelmed. That was me with every job I'd ever done and that was before my diagnosis. I completely had a nervous breakdown because I pushed and pushed myself to work when I was completely dying inside. Though I still haven't been able to get back to work, I am on most days able to manage simple daily things, something I couldn't dream about 5 years ago. Things will be slow, be prepared for that, but things will ultimately get better. Best wishes...Poem

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I am thankful for all of the support I have been given on this thread. I think I will apply for SSDI/SSI so I can work on getting stable.

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Hi estoyloca,

I also quit academia because of mental health problems too, and it's soul destroying. You do definitely go through a grieving period and I think it's difficult for someone who hasn't been in that system to really get it. You get so ingrained to think that anyone who leaves is a massive failure, and it's just not true. It can take a long time to get past that so please don't be too hard on yourself if it hurts.

It sounds like things are getting really tough for you at the moment and it sounds like you are wise to take some time out to get well. I really hope the disability people give you all the support you need (and deserve!).

When I quit my postdoc (I just wasn't getting better) honestly I thought I'd never be able to work again.  I took about a year off to recover and then got a 6-week technician job to test the waters and it went MUCH better than I expected - they asked me to stay permanently. It was such a confidence booster to take that step back and focus on what I could do, instead of on what I couldn't do. Then I moved on to a different full-time but low-stress job for 15 months, and it was going great. BUT then I decided to move to a higher-pressure job at the other end of the country and it was too soon and things are starting to unravel a little, but nowhere near as bad as it was before. I guess what I'm saying is, try not to be too hard on yourself when you need to take a step back. It doesn't have to be forever, and there are lots of different work options out there with different stress levels and different people, and if you make a choice that doesn't work out then it's ok to try something else. And it's ok to feel sad about the things that didn't work out too.

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I've definitely had my life derailed by MI, and had to totally regroup. But eventually things got better, after many struggles. It's possible to move forward after you get stable, but give it time. I wish I had been properly diagnosed and treated long ago, but that didn't happen. I've tried to not dwell on what I've lost or missed, since it's a done deal. I think I'm happier since I changed my career goals, my original goals were impossible given my mood disorder. I think I have a better fit now, and I don't have a constant struggle. There's hope for goals and better times, maybe on a different time frame from the original plan. 

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