In reflection, Iíve always done crazy stuff
that most normal sane people wouldnít even contemplate.
I was a fun guy that liked to have fun.
I was a problem for my grade school teachers and didnít get
very good grades throughout my early education.
I probably would have been diagnosed as having ADD if it were
today. After high school, I
spent 4 years in the Army. I
liked the discipline that it taught me and I excelled in that
environment. It was my
military experience that gave me the drive and commitment to go to
college and graduate with honors.
I married a wonderful woman and we had 2
wonderful children I was very optimistic for the future.
I had a degree in my chosen field, made good money and a wife
that was supportive. This was the high point in my life with no apparent
signs or signals of what was to come.
Then came 1988, I donít know how or really why
it happened; I suspect it was the level of stress I was under at the
time that acted as the trigger. Things
started to slip and then I just snapped.
I was 32 years old. I
lost 30 lbs almost overnight, I was suicidal to the point that I had
planned it out and was prepared to ďdo it,Ē I even made a goodbye
video to my wife explaining why I had to do this to myself because I
just couldnít stand to live one more day.
At this point, my wife convinced me to seek help.
I went to a psychologist recommended by my physician and was
diagnosed as being severely depressed.
He put me on Amitriptyline and therapy for the next 9 months.
After about 6 weeks the depression was lifting and I was starting
to feel a lot better. Thatís when the next phase started. My psychologist didnít even pickup on it when I think he
should have been very attune to the symptoms that maybe I had been
misdiagnosed. I went on my
very first mega-shopping spree. I
bought a new (very expensive) sports car (and I enjoyed telling him
about it too), cloths for everybody, exotic vacations and new furniture
for the house. I even had a sexual indiscretion, which my wife caught me in.
Life was great again, only better.
My wife made no attempt to stop me and I donít know if she
would have been successful anyway. After I was off the meds and settled back into a semi-normal
mode, the reality of what I had done scared me. I had no idea why I would do these things, which were so
contrary to my normal past behavior.
However, after recovering from the depression and subsequent
manic swing, life wasnít quite the same.
I had caused some damage to my career, the relationship with my
wife and I wasnít the same person anymore.
I found it extremely difficult to do things, which used to be
very easy. I had to change
jobs to something, which was not as stressful.
I switched jobs and started a new career.
next ten plus years were spent pretty much in hibernation. Increasingly, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic
attacks. My moods were a
veritable roller coaster as was my personal life.
Some days it was all I could do to get up in the morning and go
to work. My job wasnít
especially stressful but I was having chest pains.
I went to my doctor and had a stress test. There were no heart problems indicated. He told me I was under too much stress. I would come home and be too exhausted to do anything else
except watch TV and lay on the bed.
My life was hell and I made life difficult for my loved ones. What finally tipped me off that I had a problem is an article
I was reading on male depression. After
reading the article, I knew that I needed to see the doctor again.
It took some prodding from my wife but I finally went after
several months of procrastination and promises Iíd made to my wife.
After he evaluated me, he started me on Effexor.
It was all I could do to wait for the relief I knew would come
from the ADís. Sure
enough, after about 4 weeks I was really beginning to feel great.
I was starting projects around the house that I had left
unfinished years ago. I was
productive again. Then came
week 6. It started when I told my wife I was feeling very strange.
Three days later I was experiencing a full-blown psychotic
episode. My wife took me
back to our family physician. Itís
humiliating listening to people discussing what to do with you and
youíre cognizant of whatís happening.
Is he a danger to you? Is
he a danger to anyone else? Is
he a danger to himself? Can
you care for him at home? Do
you think he needs to be hospitalized?
At this point he figures I must be BP?
So he takes me cold turkey off the Effexor and starts me on
Depakote. Three days of tremors, cold sweats, and vomiting Effexor hell
later, Iím off the Effexor and on my way with the Depakote.
I missed over a week of work and my wife had to cover for me by
telling my employer I was under the care of a doctor for my back.
I wasnít even capable of talking on the phone.
So then I start studying about BP and understanding what it is
and isnít. Still suffering from severe depression complicated my
situation. At this point I
determine that if I really want to get better, I need to be seeing a
psychiatrist, a family physician just doesnít have the experience to
effectively treat a BP individual.
I am fully committed to getting my life back and donít have a
lot of unresolved issues I need to be working out with a therapist; I
just need to get my brain back into some semblance of chemical order
(better living through chemistry).
I got very lucky in that I was able to get in to
the best pdoc in the state. He
has diagnosed me as BP II and we are working together to get the meds
right. After several months
of hell again, my life balances out.
Iím currently on Serzone 300 mgs/day and
Depakote 1500 mgs/day. Itís
been over 10 months now, could life be better?
You bet. I canít
say that everything is perfect but life is so much better.
My wife says that Iím not the same person as I was and I
donít want to be that person. But
I may never find quite the right cocktail mix or learn how to deal with
everything which could potentially cause a cycle.
Although I am more in tune with my moods, listen to what my body
is telling me and am fairly stable.
this entire incident I was lucky that I have a wife who has stuck by me
(weíve been married 24 years), my family has been a great support
group and I have a very good job as an engineer for a medical equipment
manufacture in which Iím not closely supervised (otherwise I would
have had employment problems).
life fair, no!, although, we all have it within our ability to change
our circumstances if we have the desire.
I wouldnít have chosen to be BP.
The thing I hate the most about being BP is how much of my life I
have lost. My advice to
fellow BPíers is; life is what you make it.
You can let the disease control you or you can control it.