Bi-Polar 1 and 2 - Discretion Doesn't Pay!

A lot has been written about Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) I and II already so I shan't go through all that medical diagnosis stuff. As much as I am not keen on putting human beings into boxes and reducing them to just their symptoms, I do find the distinction between BPD I & II useful.

I have Bi-Polar Disorder II. I recently read an excellent article on BPD II and I encourage you to read it too because it is both intelligent and compassionate.: it is written by Dr Russ Federman, clinical assistant professor of psychiatric medicine.

Bi-Polar II destroyed my son's confidence when it hit him aged fourteen. He could not understand why he could not do what other adolescents his age could do. He was very poorly on and off for five years. At one point, I took him to work with me every day because I had been advised not to leave him alone for one minute. Poor chap! It broke my heart to see him suffer like that. Fortunately, twenty years on, he seems to have found his own way of 'incorporating' his condition into his life. He is extremely talented, both as a musician and as a cartoonist (as you already know because all the cartoons on this site are his own work) and he seems to have made peace with the way he functions. 

I didn't come to terms with the way I function until just recently (two years ago) when I was in my late fifties. My son has twenty-five years on me and I am VERY proud of him for having come to wisdom much sooner than i did. He says that my 'bad' example served as a dire warning to him!

I am a simple soul so I like clear metaphors to communicate what is a very complex medical picture. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, this is how I describe the differences between BPD I and II:

  • BPD I has high peaks (full manic episodes) and deep valleys (severe clinical depression).
  • BPD II has high wide plateaus (hypo-manic state) and deep wide canyons (severe and prolonged clinical depression).

       Whichever way, BPD I and BPD II sufferers inhabit the same mental health territory.

Because we do not go completely off the scale, it is true that BPD II sufferers have a nasty tendency to pile a great deal of guilt and shame on top of our disabling symptoms. In other words, we make ourselves feel bad about feeling bad - never a good idea.

BPD II sufferers might not fly as high as  BPD I people but boy can we keep flying! (often for years before we crash into a longer collapse still). We're not the sprinters of the mental health world - we're the marathon runners. 

You can tell a sprinter very quickly: his/her musculature stands out and he/she looks impressively powerful. Marathon runners on the other hand look physically unremarkable, wimpy even. It's the same with us BPD 2 lot: we may look less 'mad' but we stay crazy longer!

It appears that in mental health, a more 'discreet' approach only leads to wrong or absent diagnosis so my advice to BPD 2 sufferers is this: don't be afraid to appear totally nuts - it could be a very clever route to quicker diagnosis and better treatment :D

don't be afraid to appear totally nuts

my life has been nuts ever since i can remember from wanting to take over the world to not being able to get out of bed as the bailiffs are drilling the locks on the door of my house to evict me and loosing everything i've near killed myself to work for,to me it was normal but since being diagnosed as bi polar i now know its not,having had another breakdown nearly 12 months ago and begging the doctor to help me,it wasn't until it wasn't until i went a bit nuts in the local nut house out of sheer frustration and desperation that any one would listen to me,its sad that having gone to the doctors and telling the receptionist on numerous ocasions that i am bi polar and that i wasn't well and needed help that i had to go to such extremes just so somebody would listen to me,so i totally agree x

Thank you so much for your comment

Dear God! Your story sent shivers down my spine.... What you went through is totally unacceptable and my heart goes out to you. Everybody waxes lyrically about prevention being better than cure but the system is not geared to facilitate prevention AT ALL. It isn't until you have assaulted the doctor or assaulted yourself that the medical establishment treats you seriously. We then wonder why B-Polar sufferers are often seen as being 'dangerous'!!!! I hope you are feeling better and are now receiving the support you need and deserve.

BIG Love

Gabrielle xx

no one listening

It is completely unacceptable that NO ONE takes us seriously not even our own psychiatrists... That amazes me. You can tell them exactly what is going on, what you need, medication wise, therapy wise, down to the # of pills and it is like you are staring at a damn wall. they nod their head, maybe say some encouraging words that is an automatic response and then just write the same fucking thing they always write or less of what you really need. I just moved back to the DEEP SOUTH after being gone for 23 years and I cannot understand what is wrong with all doctors in this state. I have cussed so many I have lost count. They just literally don't care and have no idea what they are doing. I have 17 years of records. They don't even bother to get them. I am 38 but I look a lot younger so immediately they come to the conclusion I am just looking for a fix, a high... I can find a high out on the street for a lot less money and trouble than going to a psych if that is all I want. It is the most irritating thing I have ever dealt with I think. Not that I am happy someone else is having the samn kind of problems but it makes me feel better to know I am not the only one... Good luck to you all!!! With love... A

Thank you Anuran

Not being HEARD is the most awful thing for ANY human being - let alone someone struggling with mental illness.  Oh boy do  understand your frustration!!

In my many years dealing with doctors, I have found that these little sentences help a great deal:

  • Doctor I need your advice
  • Doctor what would you do if you were in my place?
  • Doctor, bearing in mind my long history with this condition, what do you think is the best course of action?
  • Doctor what options to I have?

I use them regularly because they seem to bring the doctor out of his/her medical shell.  The questions 'turn the table' on the doctor so that he/she HAS TO  SPEAK TO ME like a human being.  I cannot boast that it works 100% of the time (some psychiatrists are real knuckle heads) but it definitely works 80% of the time which is a lot better than zero!

One thing doctors hate is for the patient to self-diagnose which is why those questions work so well.  That's all I can offer you as comfort and support.  I really hope this helps.  xx

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