Category Archives: Bipolar

New-old Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

In addition to sz, I also have Bipolar 2 Disorder. And, I’m a rapid-cycler. One full mania-depression cycle occurs every 7-10 days. Then, it repeats. There is rarely a latent period between cycles. I have been this way since high school (graduated in 1989). Here are the bipolar meds I have tried:

  • Depakote
  • Depakene
  • Tegretol
  • Lamictal
  • Lithium carbonate
  • Zyprexa
  • Risperdal
  • Seroquel
  • Geodon
  • Abilify — has worked wonders for my sz but not my bp

My cycles include hypomanic episodes that are characterized by increased energy and focus, sociability and staying awake and alert for 40-60 hours. My depressions are characterized by helplessness, hopelessness, and thoughts of killing myself. I have tried lithium carbonate for almost the last two years, with no success. I was at my wit’s end.

So, I decided to do some research on treatment-resistant Bipolar Disorder (bp). I saw information on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), and repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). I’ve tried ECT with no results. VNS involves implanting an electrode in your chest that hooks into your vagus nerve. Periodic impulses are sent to the vagus nerve and these impulses are carried to the brain to relieve depression. rTMS involves repetitively passing a magnet over parts of your head with the purpose of relieving depression. These remedies obviously work for some, and if need be, I will try them. However, I came across another, much less invasive treatment: LEVOTHYROXINE (a.k.a. L-thyroxine).

I went to see my therapist last Friday. We were doing a 5-minute mindfulness meditation exercise when I interrupted it and asked her to see if she could get me in to see my psychiatrist that afternoon. With some insistence and persistence, I was successful. I had an article in hand which I had shown to my therapist. When I got into my psychiatrist’s office, I told him about L-thyroxine and its unorthodox role in specifically treating Bipolar 2 Disorder with rapid cycling. He looked skeptical, so I showed him the article from a well-respected psychiatric journal. He still didn’t like the idea, so I pushed:

“I’ve been this way for 30 years, and I am tired of the fight. I’m ready to try the unusual. I’m ready to be a guinea pig. Besides, I’ve been awake for 54 hours.”

My psychiatrist is a good doctor, very intelligent and gentle. As you will see if you read these articles, there are cases of people being given 200-600 micrograms of L-thyroxine without any apparent harmful side effects, including cardiac issues and osteoporosis. Apparently, people with this specific type of bp metabolize L-thyroxine differently than others. I hope I am one of them, and if you think you could benefit from this pharmacotherapy, I hope you are one of them, too.

The articles…

P.S. My pdoc started me on 25mcg of L-thyroxine. At least he is open to the idea. ūüôā

The Downside of Up

Mania, or in my case probably more appropriately hypomania, is full of excitement, energy, and the drive to do.¬† Hyperbolic dreams zip into my mind then just as quickly as the enter, they seem to leave, only to be replaced by another grandiose idea.¬† Mania is fun, exciting, seemingly brand new every time I enter into it.¬† The high is unlike any euphoria I’ve yet to experience.

However…

You guessed it.  There is a downside to mania.  Every once in a while, I will catch myself.

“You’re thinking is too fast, Ed.¬† You’re on the rollercoaster, and whenever you go up, you inevitably¬†come down,” I say to myself.

“Oh well, can’t help it!¬† May as well enjoy the ride, right!!??¬† Have fun while it lasts, Buddy Boy!¬† Live for today!¬† Let tomorrow take care of itself.¬† Carpe diem, Man!!¬† Carpe fuckin’ diem, Dude!!!”

Soon, it will happen.¬† I’m pretty sure I’m what is called a rapid-cycler.¬† My cycles last between a few days to about a week.¬† I’m on an “up” right now.¬† Just started yesterday afternoon.¬† The depressive cycle will kick in soon & I will be back to my reticent, slowed down self.

Guess it’s time for a med adjustment.¬† Will have to wait until June 8, since my new psychiatrist is having surgery soon and will be indisposed of until then.

But hey!!¬† I’m still up!¬† Carpe fuckin’ diem, right!!??

[Meds will help, I promise.]¬† ūüôā

As of March 24, 2011, that’s my world.¬† I hope yours is equally as wonderful.¬† ūüėČ

Take care and best wishes…

eb

I take my medications, go to therapy, and have support around me, but…

I still go through rough times. ¬†Stress gets to me. ¬†I tend to personalize things, like when my psychologist doesn’t call me back in a manner in which I think is a timely one. ¬†I start wondering, “Does she not like me? ¬†Am I a pain in her butt? ¬†I hope I’m not being too intrusive.” ¬†I tend to personalize things my family does, too. ¬†My wife and I are separated, quite possibly because I personalize things (at least that could be part of it).

So, what do I do?  I continue to take my meds, go to therapy, and enjoy the support I have.

I’m still cycling. ¬†Not as badly as I used to cycle, but they’re still there…the cycles, I mean. ¬†I’m pretty fucked up. Just trying to figure this thing out, when perhaps I shouldn’t think things over too much. ¬†That’s the conclusion I usually come up with anyway…after I’ve struggled to figure out why I think, feel, and behave like I do. ¬†Mostly, I think I’m a slave to my emotions and to my own brain. ¬†Maybe that’s a cop-out statement, I don’t know.

I do know this: ¬†I’m going to pick up my 4 1/2 year-old daughter tomorrow, and we are going to have a blast together this weekend. ¬†I can’t wait. ¬†As for the other stuff, guess I’ll have to deal with that after this weekend.

Hope everyone’s weekend is a good one.

Best wishes…

eb

The Bipolar “Bi-Cycle”

 

Hello again! As most of you know, I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. What some of you may not know is that I also have bipolar disorder, the exact variation of that diagnosis being Bipolar II Disorder-rapid cycler (more on that in a minute).

I first noticed symptoms of having bipolar disorder while homeless in Boston (December 1996). However, I didn’t begin receiving treatment for it until August or September 2006. It can be a very debilitating disorder, especially when combined with schizophrenia.

What is bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder)? How does it affect people (including children)? Finally, what can be done about it? How does bipolar disorder affect me and why didn’t anyone (myself included) recognize for it 9 1/2 years after I first received treatment?

(1,2) Like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder is a largely genetic disorder. People with this disorder were born with the genetic predisposition to be vulnerable to getting it. Perhaps, for some it is purely genetic; for others, environmental factors trigger an episode (usually there is a genetic predisposition that rears its ugly head once certain environmental factors are experienced).

In short, bipolar = mood swings. Sometimes there is psychosis involved. More often than not, this psychosis has some sort of grandiose thinking to it, which is experienced when a person is in the manic phase (“up”). During a manic phase, a person might go on spending sprees, have a decreased need for sleep, and think that they possess the potential to be something they aren’t (a revered religious figure, President of the United States, or the ability to do things they really can’t do like single-handedly win the War on Poverty).

The euphoria of feeling powerful can be addictive, and most who have this disorder lack the capacity to realize they are sick…until of course, they fall into the seemingly bottomless pit of clinical depression. The energy and focus they had during the manic phase disappear to be replaced with a darkness that can only be appreciated by someone in its throes. The contrast between mania and depression is very striking.

For more info on bipolar disorder, check out this website:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml

Think children cannot be affected by bipolar disorder?  Think again:

http://www.bpkids.org/learn/library/about-pediatric-bipolar-disorder

(3) Medications are a must when treating bipolar disorder.  Some of the more common mood stabilizers include Lithium, Tegretol, Depakote, and Abilify.  Sometimes, an antidepressant will be used to mitigate the effects of the depressive phase, though some experts and findings have claimed that the use of antideps actually encourages and magnify the effects/symptoms of the manic phase.

Psychotherapy by a trained mental health professional is also very helpful in treating this disorder, especially in training the individual to recognize when she is about to begin a depressive slide or a manic blast-off.

(4) How does bipolar disorder affect me? My particular variety (there are two) of bipolar disorder is called Bipolar II Disorder. ¬†I experience the same depths of clinical depression as someone with Bipolar I Disorder, however, my “highs” are not quite as magnanimous as those who have Bipolar I Disorder. My “high” is called hypomania (literally, little mania).

Hypomanic episodes are fun. I have a lot of energy and focus. I can stay awake and alert for 36 to 48 hours or more. I tend to be very gregarious and accomplish a lot of work during these periods, which unfortunately only last a couple of days and are then followed by either a dive into the deep end of depression or a latent period which precedes the depression.

Where there is mania, depression is not far behind. During a depressive episode, I tend not to be very affable. I tend to isolate a bit more and my reactions to things going on around me are much less productive. I am drained of energy, focus, and interest in things that I usually find enjoyable. Whereas hypomanias are fun (and relatively benign), depressive states are just the opposite.

As I mentioned above, medicines and psychotherapy are key to coping with and partially recovering from bipolar disorder. I take an antidepressant (Wellbutrin XL) and a mood stabilizer (Depakote ER). I’ve been noticing that I still cycle somewhat. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today; he upped my Depakote. Hopefully, the tidal flow of my moods will calm down a bit.

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