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My First Day with Bipolar I

My First Day with Bipolar IFor the most part, today was an absolutely normal day. I went to my day-job. I ran some errands, spent quality time with the dog, chatted with my husband, all completely normal. Except that this morning I met with a new psychiatrist and something changed. My diagnosis. Now, I’ve dealt with a few doctors with the philosophy that the diagnosis is a guideline and really only matters to the insurance companies. It’s the treatment and how you feel as a patient that matter. I’ve had the most success with these doctors, but for some reason this new diagnosis struck a chord with me. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder seven years ago, but since I have been experiencing a manic episode for well over a week, that means I am now considered bipolar I, axis I. One full manic episode is all it takes.

Let’s go back and take a look at the requirements from the DSM-V (emphasis mine):

The symptoms for a manic or hypomanic episode include the following:
-Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
-Decreased need for sleep (for example, you feel rested after only three hours of sleep)
-Unusual talkativeness
-Racing thoughts
-Distractibility
-Increased goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or agitation
-Doing things that are unusual and that have a high potential for painful consequences — for example, unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions or foolish business investments
To be considered a manic episode:
-The mood disturbance must be severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships; or to require hospitalization to prevent harm to yourself or others; or to trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
-Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.
To be considered a hypomanic episode:
-The episode is a distinct change in mood and functioning that is not characteristic of you when the symptoms are not present, and enough of a change that other people notice.
-The episode isn’t severe enough to cause significant difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships, and it doesn’t require hospitalization or trigger a break from reality.
-Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.

So, there it is. I have had a manic episode. I guess another thing I did differently today was read the requirements for bipolar disorder multiple times even though I know them almost by heart.

But, really? What is the big deal? I’ve been dealing with bipolar disorder for years. I’m an advocate for mental health disorders. I’m a mental health writer! Well, I don’t know what the deal is yet. It will probably take some time to figure out. In the mean time I have a few theories:

Any type of change is difficult for us, even at the best of times. At the tail-end of a horrific mood experience, I don’t even want to change my shampoo brand, much less all of my medical records.

I was protected from some of the stigma. It’s not good to think that way, and I feel horrible about it, but it’s true. Even though Bipolar II is Not Diet Bipolar, most people think that it’s a “safer” diagnosis. I still want people to think that I’m safe.

I’m afraid it will get worse. This is probably the biggest. During the past year I’ve experienced my first full-blown panic attack and now my first full mania. What’s next? The thought of psychosis terrifies me.

At least I know that tomorrow has an incredibly high probability of being easier to deal with (at least on the diagnosis issue). It will no longer be my first day. I’m just glad this first-day didn’t come with an obligatory photo-op.

 

 

You can find me on Twitter @LaRaeRLaBouff

My First Day with Bipolar I


LaRae LaBouff


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APA Reference
LaBouff, L. (2015). My First Day with Bipolar I. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-laid-bare/2015/08/my-first-day-with-bipolar-i/

 

Last updated: 19 Sep 2015
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