I’m curious if others experience this same issue. When someone asks me how I’m doing, or what’s wrong, I don’t know how to answer them. I know I don’t feel right, but I have no clue what’s wrong. I’m not sure if this is a normal for others that have bipolar disorder. Maybe this is a result of the ECT.
Does anyone else have this same issue? If so, how do you deal with it?
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.
I’ve been struggling more and more lately with memory problems. There are so many things in my past that are completely blank, which does have some benefits. However, there are negatives as well. For example, I don’t remember what pushed me over the side and decided to get sober. I don’t remember most of my childhood and I don’t even remember my time in college when I was taking classes on campus.
In addition to my memory problems, I’m also having a hard time finding the right words when speaking. I did some research and found out that this is called Aphasia. There are different types of Aphasia. Mine appears to be Expressive Aphasia, which is when the person knows what they want to say, but has a hard time communicating it to others. I’m worried that this is going to get worse. It’s been pretty difficult and annoying to deal with. I see my psychiatrist at ECT tomorrow morning, so I will probably mention it to him and see what he has to say.
I had another session of ECT last week. My doctor, Dr Espinoza, asked me again if I wanted to switch to once a week instead of once every other week. When I turned him down on that option, he asked me I had any interest in IV Ketamine. I turned that option down very quickly. I know IV Ketamine is a lot different from using Ketamine to get high, but it brings back memories. I told him why I’m so against IV Ketamine. The last time I used it to get high, I ended up cheating on my boyfriend (he asked me to marry him; I’m sure we would have gone through with it, but I doubt that it would have lasted; that’s just how it goes with relationships based on drugs). Then, less than 24 hours after I got home, the cops were at my door to question me. My boyfriend/fiance was killed in a drug deal gone bad. I don’t want to remind myself of that horrible event and the many others that I went through while on drugs.
I’m not doing too much better, but there has been improvement since my last two ECT treatments. I explained to Dr Espinoza that I got a new dog and I think he will be helping me get through this rough time. I’ve been thinking about it all day and I’ve decided that if I don’t improve enough within the next four weeks, then I will go back to weekly ECT treatments. Hopefully that doesn’t have to happen.
Yesterday was an extremely productive day. I got everything done on my to-do list by 3pm. I even had time to do extra tasks. I probably should have given myself a break, but I felt that I should continue my productivity since I had the energy. Today is going to be a day where I get to rest a lot. I have another ECT treatment at 9:45am. I’ll probably be home by 11am and I’ll get to take a nap. Then, my husband and I meet his father for a late lunch date. I plan on getting as much rest as possible tomorrow.
I spent a good amount of time with Achilles yesterday. We cuddled on the floor, played catch inside, and went on a nice long walk at night (as always). He really seems to be settling into his new home. He’s getting used to his new schedule, he’s taking all of his medication like a champ, he’s getting healthier, and he’s getting stronger. Having Achilles around gives me a reason to get up. I feel lucky to have him as the newest part of my family.
My days seem to be getting longer and longer. I’ve been extremely busy lately and I can’t seem to get everything done that I plan to do. I’m stressed out way beyond my normal breaking point. It feels like I’m just waiting for the next disaster to happen, but I have no clue what it’s going to be or when it’s going to happen. Hopefully, I will have a bit of a break before the next catastrophe.
I had ECT this morning. Every time, my doctor asks me to rate my depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and irritability. For the past couple months, every time he has asked me, my numbers have gone done, which is wonderful. However, today, just about everything was between 7 and 9. Life has been overwhelming in almost every way. Just when I think it can’t get any more stressful, it does. My doctor asked me if I wanted to do ECT once a week for a while, instead of every other week, until I start feeling better. I turned him down. I told him that I want to wait to see if things will improve when the situations in my life start to improve (hopefully that happens).
My therapist called me today because I missed our appointment the other day. In the several years that I’ve been seeing him, that has only happened twice. He was just calling to make sure I was okay. I told him everything that’s going on in the past couple days; the bed bugs, broken dryer, and the problem with my debit card. I also told him about choosing not to go back to weekly ECT, and he was supportive of my decision, which made me feel more confident in my choice.