These questions are from Therapy Bits: Who asked to hear my experiences with bipolar symptoms, how I manage them, and how they effect my life.
I don’t remember most of my experiences due to the side effects of ECT. The biggest, most memorable experience was in 2009. My doctor tried taking me off my medication slowly, because he thought that it was possible that my mental health issues could have been caused by my drinking and using (I’m now sober 13 years). We found out the hard way that I really do have bipolar disorder.
I went into a major manic episode. It was so bad that I couldn’t work. I worked for home for a while, but even that got to be too much for me to handle. I was unable to handle my life due to my manic and then my depressive episodes. I moved in with my mom because I couldn’t manage my own life and I needed someone close to me to do that for me. I’m lucky that I had someone in my life that was willing to help me out.
My bipolar disorder turned my entire life upside-down. I’ve been on disability since 2009, and I can’t seem to get things back together. I continue to go through episodes and I have to deal with the side effects from the treatments I use. This biggest side effect is memory loss and confusion, which are from ECT. I have both short-term and long-term memory loss. I tried stopping the ECT treatments after I had been doing them for quite a while, however, once I stopped the treatments, my depressive episode came right back. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to stop ECT again; I’m too worried that I’ll end up going back into another manic or depressive episode.
I’ve been dealing with my bipolar disorder since I was 13 or 14 years old, and I know that it is something that I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my life. Going to a psychiatrist, a therapist, and taking medications is second nature for me. I actually take 13 different psych meds, which is a lot to manage. At this point, I go to ECT once every 2 weeks. I used to go to a bipolar support group once a week, but I stopped going a while ago. I still talk to and see some of my friends from that group, which really helps. This blog has also helped me manage my bipolar symptoms.
These questions are from bipolarsojourner
What are my successes and frustrations with ECT?
When I first started ECT, I did it for a while, probably about a year. I don’t remember it at all. But I decided to stop because I wasn’t sure if it was working or not. So I stopped for a while, about 6 months maybe. Then when I started back up I knew for certain that it was helping because it helped bring me out of a big depression. I now do ECT once every other week. It destroys my memory, but it helps my depression. I’m hoping that I can soon switch to doing a treatment once every four weeks. I honestly don’t remember much of anything. It even messes up my memories from before I started ECT, when I was a little kid. They said that is very unlikely, but it happened to me.
How does your husband support you? Is it effective?
My husband is very supportive. He was my best friend and knew all about my bipolar disorder before we started dating. He helps me recognize when I’m in an episode and helps me remember to take my medication. He’s very understanding when I’m not feeling up to doing something. For example, I had a hard time when our dog died this past April. He was ready to get a new dog before I was. He didn’t push me to get another dog, he let me wait until I was ready. My husband makes me feel safe and comfortable being myself, it is extremely effective.
What is your depression and mania like? Do you have benefits from your bipolar?
During my depressions, I always end up eating excessively and gaining weight. I tend to sleep a lot, I lose interest and often don’t care about things that I normally care about. I get angry easily and often feel worthless and suicidal. During my manic episodes, I generally go many days at a time without sleeping (my insomnia get really bad). I usually have racing thoughts, I get all jittery, I don’t make any sense, and I talk really fast (so much so that it sounds like I’m using drugs again, but I’m not). I also get suicidal during manic episodes. I used to self-harm during both depressive and main episodes, but it’s been many years since I’ve done that (although, to be honest, I think about it a lot). I prefer to be manic than depressed. At least when I’m manic I can get things done and I have the energy to workout. I can lose weight when I’m manic a lot easier, but when I’m depressed, I almost always gain weight.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad, my husband, and all of the other fathers out there. Father’s Day is usually a difficult day for me. I lost my father about 14 years ago. He died after being sick for about 6 years. I was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer, and I was 18 years old when he died. It’s still hard. I’m still crying, and I still feel alone at times, but it has improved.
My dad still is the most amazing man I’ve ever known. He knew how to be responsible, dependable, and intelligent, while also knowing how to have fun and enjoy life. When I was young, my dad and I were best friends. We would go skiing or flying together, he had a pilot’s license; these were just a couple of the many things we did together. I acted like a jerk for most of the last few years of his life. I was between 12 and 18 years old, so I was acting like a teenager, however; I was also acting like an addict. I regret not being there with my family when my dad died. My biggest regret in my life is that I didn’t get sober until after my father’s death. He never knew me as a sober person.
I’m getting through Father’s Day a bit better than normal. I read some other blogs and they were very helpful. One blog in particular, Father’s Day Memories Blog, reminded me that my father is alive in my memories. I remember one day, my dad woke me up early for school and took me out for the day. We flew out to an amazing mountain and went skiing for the day. I have to keep these wonderful memories I have of my dad alive.
I also spent a good amount of time today being productive. We can finally move stuff back into the house since the bed bug issues is getting under control. It’s like moving into the house all over again. Staying busy keeps my mind occupied. I’ve spent my day thinking of memories with my dad, staying productive, and keeping my mind occupied. It’s still a difficult day for me, but it’s less stressful than it used to be. I think I’m finally learning how to deal with the loss.
Do you ever feel like you need to act as if you are “okay”? Most of us have people in our lives that understand and support us, but there are also people who don’t get it and don’t care to. For example, at my last job, it took a lot of effort to keep my mental health a secret. I’m not ashamed of my mental health, but I didn’t want to spend time trying to explain it to people and I don’t want people to look at me differently.
There are also a lot of people who don’t consider depression, mania, or other mental health issues to be a “real” problem. Some people think that if you can’t see it, it’s not a real issue. Well, I have learned that issue is their problem. I’m lucky to have the support and understanding from family and friends. My friends are those from my previous support group. We shouldn’t have to pretend we are okay when we’re not. That’s what our friends and family are there for.
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. We had a family get-together at his mother’s house to celebrate. There were 12 people there, two of which were kids. We brought Achilles with us because we didn’t want to leave him home alone. Everyone absolutely loved him! All he did was lay down, sleep, and give people kisses. He is the most mellow dog I have ever known.
I’m actually thinking about seeing if I can register him as a Therapy Dog. I’m not sure what kind of therapy dog would help me the most; maybe an ESA, Emotional Support Animal, or a Psychiatric Service Dog. He would be great at it, and I think it would really help me reduce my anxiety to a manageable level, possibly. It’s something that I’m going to talk to my therapist and psychiatrist about the next time I see both/either of them.
The Psychiatric Service Dog seems like it would be more helpful for me. This type of service dog can help people with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and I am diagnosed with all of those issues. For example, the service dog can create a physical barrier between the owner and others around them, providing the owner with more personal space. The service dog could help me get out of the house more often. These are things that my husband does for me to get me out of the house. Having a dog capable of those things could really get me out into the world.
I think I’ve been doing a little better the past couple of days, since we got Achilles. I have reasons to get up and do things. I have to make sure that Achilles is fed, has water, goes outside, and gets exercise by going on walks. Since Cash passed away, I haven’t felt like I had a reason to get up, but now I do. Some of the walks I go on are with Achilles and my husband, but sometimes I go just me and Achilles. Going on walks alone (although I’m with my large dog) is a lot of progress for me. Just having Achilles at my side makes me feel safer. Hopefully things will continue to improve and I’ll feel better over time.
This past week has been overwhelming. I’ve been feeling useless, hopeless, and worthless. I’ve been doing the best I can, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make me feel worthwhile. No matter what, I keep trying, whether I want to or not. I want to give up, but I keep holding on. I don’t do it for myself, I do it for my family. My main reasons are my husband and my mother. I suppose it doesn’t really matter why I keep trying, what matters is that I keep doing it. I know that some days are better than others, which means that I will have better days than I’m having today. That means, I have to give myself the opportunity to have better moments/days. These crappy feelings will go away. I even feel a little bit better after writing this post than I did when I started writing today.