Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Depression Hurts

I haven't really been doing anything but dealing with my depression lately, so I thought I would write about that. At least maybe I can educate a few folks in the world about the types of Bipolar disorder.

The first type of Bipolar disorder is the one which really makes sense with the term bipolar.

Here are some of the signs & symptoms (from the National Institute of Mental Health):

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.

About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year,1 have bipolar disorder. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
Excessively “high,” overly good, euphoric mood
Extreme irritability
Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
Distractibility, can’t concentrate well
Little sleep needed
Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
Poor judgment
Spending sprees
A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
Increased sexual drive
Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
Denial that anything is wrong

A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.

Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Restlessness or irritability
Sleeping too much, or can’t sleep
Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

A depressive episode is diagnosed if five or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.

Bipolar type 2, which is what I suffer from, means you don't have the manic, or "up" times. It's just kind of a continual depressive episode, with very occasional break. If I got to choose, I would pick Bipolar type 1 because at least sometimes you feel fantastic. People with Bipolar type 1 can often achieve dynamic things during their manic phases.

Anxiety disorders are very common with people who are bipolar. I suffer from Social Anxiety disorder as well.

This has a huge impact on the people around me. My children see me down most all of the time. My husband works 60 hours a week & has to do much of the work around the house & take care of me. My parents just don't get it. They really think I should just "suck it up." It's just that they don't get it. I tried to relate bipolar to diabetes, but they think diabetes is a "real disease" and bipolar is just feeling sad.

I'm really not sure why I'm sharing this. Maybe so people will see mental illness as an illness, just like any other. A few more prayers sent my way never hurt. I'm not looking for pity or sympathy (or nasty comments, please), I'm just putting my life out there. Maybe it just helps to write about it.

I'm currently seeing a new therapist which will allow me to see a new Psychiatrist, who will hopefully find a drug combination that works with my brain chemistry.

If you're still reading this really long post, thanks. I have found wonderful friends in the blogging community, & the support I have received helps & means a lot to me.


Joy said...

I'm sorry that your loved ones see the illness that way. I think that attitude is still pretty pervasive in our society. My parents have a similar view toward Aubrey, even though I've explained it so many, many times to them.

You remain in my prayers!

Cheryl said...

I didn't realize that there were 2 types of bipolar. I've been diagnosed with depression in the past, but what you have describes what I feel most of the time. {{Hugs}}

Jenn said...

I am definitely praying for you! I learned about bipolar from a friend (really long story), but the fact is that it IS a real disease, and it's not like the common cold that you treat for a few days and go away. My friend compares it to Fibromyalgia. Some days are good, some are bad, it's all about learning to understand and navigate! But... again, I am praying for you!!!!

He And Me + 3 said...

I think I have some anxiety issues...I will be praying for you. Thank you for sharing all that with us. Hope you are feeling better soon.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. I hope they find the right mix that works for you. Everybody is so different. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to get it tweaked just so.

Alicia, The Snowflake said...

Praying for you my friend! I hope you can find the right dr to help. Never apologize for being real on your blog. We all need to take off our mask more often.

scrappysue said...

sharing is good. there is so much support out here in the blogging world. thanks for the birthday wishes and for stopping by :)

Anonymous said...

It is only xanax, not alcohol, which can offer suitable relief from the anxiety pangs. Other than alcohol, that is likely to make people violent and aggressive instead of providing suitable cure for their depression and anxiety, you should opt for the anti-anxiety pill xanax only when it has been prescribed by a doctor. To obtain relief from anxiety, depression and related disorders, Xanax alcohol is never to be sought after as mixing xanax and alcohol can unleash tremendous harm to your health. /

Rachael said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this. I struggle with depression and anxiety, and it can be incredibly hard to talk about. Especially when people you talk to don't take it seriously, or understand what it feels like. It was very brave for you to write about it, and I know for a fact that at least one person will read this and be able to get the help they need, or to reach out. (Hugs).

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from SITS. I'm sorry you're going through so much. Perhaps you could join a online forum or support group?

Jane Anne said...

Mimi, let me tell you that you are so strong- stronger than you think. I have a close family member that I have thought is bipolar for years. Your description of Bipolar 1 describes this person to a T. However, this person wouldn't ever admit (or at least look into) to a problem like this, even though it is increasingly hard on her marriage and family. Thank you for taking care of yourself and your family. It takes such strength to do that! I just said a prayer for you.

heidi said...

Hey Mimi - coming in a little late, but thinking of you nonetheless. I've lived with depression in varying degrees my whole life so I can commisserate with you on some level.

Queenie Jeannie said...

You know I understand hun. BIG HUGS to you!!! Hopefully you will be feeling better and more YOU very soon!

Diane said...

hhmmm... how did i miss this the other day???

good info. and you did a really good job of explaining the difficulty you have with others thinking you don't have a "credible" illness.