Diagnosis & Ability to Work Again
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Q:  Diagnosis & Ability to Work Again


Dear Dr Phelps

I was diagnosed with Manic Psychosis in February 2001 and was hospitalised.  I have had subsequent hypomanic episodes and am currently being maintained on 3mg Risperidone per day.  I saw a different Psychiatrist in November who recommended adding Lithium, which I am due to start.  I am 36 years old.

I have not been able to work since becoming ill.  Until then I worked as a Company Director.  Please can you give some indication of whether people with my diagnosis are likely to get back to their pre-morbid level of functioning, as I cannot imagine I will be able to?  Also, I am sorry to be ignorant, but does my diagnosis mean I have Schizophrenia as well as Bipolar Disorders?

Thank you kindly for your help


Dear Sue -- 
By now you may have learned a good deal more about what you're facing, but let me add a few things.  As you've probably learned, no, bipolar disorder can have psychosis (basically, "loss of contact with reality") so you don't have to have an additional label to account for that part of your experience.  

As for getting back to work: many people with bipolar disorder can indeed get back to the kind of work they were doing.  And then, unfortunately, there are also many who can't, or who seem to lose a little ground each severe episode -- the latter group may be the most common.  However, you may have heard about Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.  She's one of the world's foremost research authorities on bipolar disorder, and she has bipolar I herself.  Her book An Unquiet Mind might be inspirational for you.  There are lots of extremely inspirational stories out there, from folks with bipolar disorder who are still making quite an impact on the world in one fashion or another (see Joy Ikelman's site, for example; and peoples' stories here on BipolarWorld).   So I'd urge you to try extremely hard but also to be aware that for some people, even with their utmost, they may not be able to get back to where they were, and ultimately need to come to terms with that; in your case, you'll just have to see what you can manage over time, with your sights set high initially.  Good luck to you. 

Dr. Phelps
.

 

Published February, 2002

 

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