Posts Tagged ‘psychiatrist’

I am happy. For the first time in ages I actually feel happy. My mind is clearer, sharper. I’m not elated—not hypomanic. It’s like my mind has had a great weight lifted off of it and the fuzziness has diminished.   And the tremor when I write is gone. My beautiful handwriting is back.

I had a medication reduction. My psychiatrist agreed to decrease one of my meds 3 months ago by 5 mg. I found little relief so six days ago he agreed to reduce it by 5 mg more. That’s 10 mg total. It’s a powerful antipsychotic and you don’t need much to get results. I originally was on 20 mg. I couldn’t think clearly, had memory issues, fuzzy thinking and had a tremor in my hand when writing. Cooking was a major task because of having to multitask. Cooking dinner was a little easier today. God heard and answered my prayers.

It’s only been 6 days and I’ve had such good results. I’m wondering what another week will bring. Perhaps my mind will become even clearer. I can feel happiness again and that’s great. My emotions had been blunted for a very long time. I’m still holding a steady normal mood level so far. I just need to maintain it if I want to continue to enjoy these wonderful results.


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A few years before I received my diagnosis, my doctors were scrambling to find out what was wrong with me. I was referred to a neurologist and then to another group with neurologists and a psychoneurologist. They had me fill out a form with all kinds of questions about what types of things I may or may not have experienced.

Some were: hearing voices, seeing beings that no one else saw, delusions, unreasonable beliefs and on and on it went for many pages.

The problem with this is that I was terrified of giving any positive answers to anything except things about what I was feeling, down, sad, fatigue, etc. I was afraid if I admitted to seeing or hearing things I’d be labeled crazy and thrown in an institution for a long time. My mother had instilled that fear in me because that’s how it used to be years ago. She was terrified that it could happen to her because she suffered with depression. A relative’s first wife was institutionalized at some point for the rest of her life so that compounded her fears. So, full of fear, I was dishonest about a few things.

The result was I was diagnosed with major depression and referred to a psychiatrist who put me on antidepressants, which made me worse.

A year later I moved and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. My meds were changed and my life began to get better.

Had I been truthful from the beginning when filling out that sheet, I may have received a correct diagnosis a few years sooner. I wouldn’t have been given antidepressants, which are known for worsening bipolar symptoms. I probably wouldn’t have suffered so much.

So my takeaway from that experience is that I must be completely truthful with my psychiatrist, therapist and physician.   They can’t help me properly if I don’t provide them with the correct information, and all of it—no omissions. Why risk suffering with a problem and it possibly growing worse?

It has been worth the truthfulness. My doctors and I have grown to trust and respect each other and they do their best to help me get and stay well.

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When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my psychiatrist and my husband were the only people that knew. And only my psychiatrist and I knew what meds I was on and why. My family physician didn’t know and I didn’t have a therapist yet.

 I read an article about the importance of sharing information between doctors so that they and I would be my healthcare team. A loved one (my husband) would also take part and be prepared to act as an advocate in case I can’t speak for myself. This really made me think hard.

Why is it so important? Most of us don’t have doctors who talk to each other. My family physician knows my diagnosis so she can be aware of improvements or declines in my condition. She also checks my thyroid and cholesterol levels along with a few other tests to know whether or not my medications are impacting my health. They have in a couple of areas so I was able to report back to my psychiatrist exactly what my physician found. We were then able to discuss whether or not I needed an adjustment or change in my meds

 I eventually did find a therapist and kept him informed of all that was going on medically. He could often tell if there were changes for better or worse and suggest what I might want to discuss with my doctors. He also helped me deal with my early frustrations with just having bipolar and my fears about what the meds might do and were doing to my body. (I just started seeing a new therapist and like her so far.)

I keep my husband informed of all that is discussed with all of these doctors and the therapist. Often, he goes with me to the psychiatrist so he can ask questions because he wants to be a strong support for me..

I am the one at the core of this team, keeping each of them informed of what is happening with the others. And I work hard at leading a healthy and active life. I’ve learned numerous coping skills to help me live a productive and normal life as best as is possible.   And the coping skills that I use are discussed with everyone on my team. I have been reminded by one or the other of them a couple of times to remember to use music or some other method that slipped my mind

My husband, my psychiatrist, my physician, my therapist and I make a good team and I can say I’m quite healthy because of it.

Have you put together a team or plan and has it worked well for you?

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There is a great debate, and yes, even shouting, about the issue of medications vs. no medications for treating mental illnesses. And I am addressing bipolar in particular since that is what I am most familiar with.

I have an acquaintance who has tried the no medications s route by using the holistic methods touted by many and yet she is still suffering.   Early in my treatment, I convinced my doctor that I wanted to go med free because I had reached a point of stability and I was afraid of these powerful drugs and what they can do to our bodies over time. Of course, the rapid cycles started again in spite of having great coping skills and I went back to my psychiatrist for help. The drugs are what had helped slowed my cycles down enough to cope well, and those particular drugs never quite worked the same as before I had stopped them. I had messed up with my meds.

That led to an interesting conversation with my psychiatrist and a great revelation to me.  It was one that I had difficulty accepting.  My argument was the meds cause weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes, cardiac problems and a host of other problems besides the side effects associated with them.  I told him that I’ve already begun to have problems, pre-diabetes for one, and would most likely die younger never reaching truly old age.

My psychiatrist’s response was that I was suffering without my meds.  My cycles sped back up to ultra rapid cycling making coping and life difficult.  There is a high risk of suicide with my deepest depressions; it’s in my gene pool which is a great concern.  He stated that it’s a matter of choice as to whether I want a better quality of life or life with suffering, both of which have an impact not just on me, but on my family too—one positive and one negative. He led me to the conclusion that sometimes we have to give up quantity for quality, and quality is a better choice in this case.

I chose quality and haven’t looked back.  I’ll do all I can to live as healthy a life as possible and I’ll enjoy my family and friends while relieving them of any worry about my overall well being.  Life has been far better for all of us this way.

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It’s been 3-1/2 years since I’ve posted here. During this time I’ve still kept rapid cycling while trying to hone my coping skills. My goal has been to achieve a state where no one would be able to tell whether I was hypomanic or depressed, always remaining highly functional. Hypomania is harder to hide because I’m very much an introvert and suddenly I’ll become more talkative, a just a bit more extroverted and I’m unable to put a lid on that. But its positive and friends and hubby like it. It’s the depressions, the black holes, the despair and pain, the negativity, suicidal thoughts, that I want to hide. I can’t dump my poison on others. They don’t know how to handle it and will back off. So I’ve learned to pretend. I’ve learned, in spite of the fatigue, to get things done and fulfill my responsibilities at home, in my volunteer job, and with our church groups that we work with. I hide as much as I can from my hubby too.

The work that goes into living as normal a life as possible when you rapid cycle and experience mostly depression can be grueling. It’s a constant evaluating, adapting and pulling up the last vestiges of strength in one’s being to always tell yourself, “I can do this one more thing” constantly as you go through a day. Or “I will go to this meeting tonight, engage with people and participate as best I can” and as a result, come home completely spent. It’s a strong discipline that has taken a few years to develop. I learned to distract myself from the mental pain and then hyper-focus on a task at hand. Meditation and prayer is a strong component too and so many more techniques. I have been relentless, a cruel taskmaster to myself, afraid that if I let up, everything will fall apart, that I would slide into the hole and not get out. That’s not acceptable.

Until yesterday.
Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist. Hubby came with me. I’ve been in a suicidal depression for nearly a week and a half. I hung on by telling myself that I would see Dr S. on Wednesday and he would help to fix everything. Instead, he took all my mood charts (I give him one each visit) going back from yesterday to two years ago, and taped them all together so the graphs lined up. He showed me that there has been progress in slowing the cycles a bit, and getting a few more level (normal) times–short, but normal. It’s been a very slow progression, but the evidence is there. He told me it will keep getting better over time, slowly, but it will.

Then my psychiatrist told me something I did not expect to hear.
We’ve known each other for 5-1/2 years–I’ve always been honest with him so he knows me well. He told me I work too hard. I’m relentless and beat myself up to do my very best–perfection. And I beat myself up when I don’t achieve my standard. I work my skills constantly to be as “normal” as possible and don’t give myself a break. Rarely will I even allow myself a 1 hour nap in even the worst of times. He said I have to stop burning myself out and allow myself to rest. Rest is important.

There is no medication change, but a new Rx:
During the worst of times, take 3 or 4 days to do absolutely nothing but rest, eat and sleep as much as I want. During the good times, take a day every week or two to do absolutely nothing.

I expressed my fear of falling in the hole if I let my guard down for 3 or 4 days. He assured me that I’ve so finely tuned myself that I would recognize it and jump back into action — not a worry. Rest is as important to my bipolar health as a good night’s sleep.

I told him that now I have something new to learn. His response: “You will. You’re a good learner. You’ve learned all the rest. You’ll do it, and quickly too.

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Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Musings of Rev. Shane L. Bishop


some scars can’t be seen

Story of My Life

Things I've learned. Things I've seen. Things I've experienced.

Pieces of Bipolar

One of a kind bipolar II rapid cycling navigating the world one day at a time

Bipolar Me

My Experience Only. YMMV.

Damon Lifestyle Therapy

workplace ergo+wellness


The Thorn In My Side

Shedding Light on Mental Health

Inspiring hope. Changing minds.