Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD)

I am really sticking my neck out here so that I can communicate to people just what BPD is all about. In the past couple of weeks, a BUNCH of my peers in Leoti have talked about me and some of my recent subject matter in my blog. I have been told that I was and probably still am "BIG NEWS" that is being conversed about from one coffee (gossip) club to the next. Of course, most of those people meant nothing more than to laugh at me but there were a few people who were actually concerned about what was happening with me.

Ever since I began writing my blog, I have been straight forward about the fact that I am a victim of BiPolar Disorder. Now, I have decided to give you a BRIEF report on BPD.

Everyone feels moods such as happiness, anger and depression throughout their lives. There is a difference between that and the episodes of "severe mood swings" that victims of BPD face on an all too frequent basis.

More than 5 million adults an America today have BPD which was formerly known as Manic Depression. Children are not exempt of BPD either. Our mood swings can be frequent or extreme. These mood changes aren't as simple as transitioning from "happy" to "sad". People affected with BPD find a lowering of mood (depression) all the way to an exaggeration of elevation of mood (mania). These changes accur in cycles and are referred to as "episodes". BPD causes people to experience swings of 3 different forms: mania, depressive and mixed episodes.

BiPolar Disorder is a DISEASE that is caused by changes in the chemisty of the brain. The symptoms and the severity of the condition can vary, but with the proper treatment, BPD symptoms can be managed but NOT CURED.

Most BPD victims go undiagnosed for at least 10 years before finding out what causes their problems. Why? Because people are usually severely depressed by the time that they go to their doctor. Most people in the manic or extremely "high" mood do not seek medical care. Why not? Because when we have reached the extremely high mood, we basically feel like we have the world by it's tail, we THINK that everyone really, REALLY likes and appreciates us, we have super energy to get anything and everything done and normally need very little if any sleep during those periods of time. Why would anyone want to go to their doctor at this time to cut this euphoria short???

Because of this, doctors must make a very comprehensive look into the patient's history and if it all possible, the patient's family history. BPD tends to be passed around in families. But, just because someone in your family has BPD, does NOT necessarily mean that you, too, will be a victim of this disease. In my case, I was told in 1988 that I was "border-line bi-polar". By 1994, I was full-blown BPD. A few months after I was diagnosed as being full-blown, my grandmother was diagnosed. My doctor explained to me that BPD usually skips a generation. My grandmother had it, her sons and daughter, (my mom) did not, I was the grandchild who inherited the condition. Chances are that my biological children will not have BPD but there is a good chance that their children will.

Patients MUST be open and honest about their particular issues with their doctors if they want to have the best medical treatment possible. The treatments vary from self talk to group counselling to prescription medications or a mixture of two or three of the treatments. The earlier the diagnoses is made, the better. And, PLEASE, don't just tell BPD victims, to "get over it". We would if we could but life of a Bi-Polar person is anything but that simple.

Causes of Bi-Polar Disorder are still unknown. The symptoms are thought to be triggered by an inbalance of key chemicals in the brain. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells that move a constant stream of information from one cell to another. To keep the information flowing, these cells release chemicals known as neurotransmitters that are needed for brain function. Many scientests believe that when the supply of neurotransmitters is either too high or too low, the BPD symptoms are produced. Those moods are extreme happiness, irritability, sadness or a lack of energy. I happen to know all of these moods way too well!!!

Bi-Polar Disorder can and DOES have a major affect on relationships, families, friends and personal goals.

BPD is a serious disease. Each person's symptoms are different. When a person with the disorder is not treated, people involved with the affected person become confused with the major mood swings that the person is exhibiting. Many families can benefit from having therapy with the person who has BPD. The counselor can explain why this is happening to the loved one and give advice on how to deal with the disease--both by the victim and the family. It can promote understanding and strengthen relationships.

Stability can be acheived through talk therapy, group therapy, prescription drugs or a mixture of two or more.

It is imperative that people with Bi-Polar Disorder communicate with their family, friends, co-workers about their disease so that those people can provide much-needed support in the occurence of the symptoms. Not only do I have BPD, but I am also friends with other people with the same condition. That is really a good thing because we can totally understand how each of us feel.

BiPolar Disorder is a tough disease to get through especially when the people around you find it to be humorous. BPD is about as funny as cancer. Many people with it eventually choose to end their own lives so that their pain will come to an end. Personally, I happen to have known a woman with it for my entire life. She died recently at the age of 84. She had had a very happy childhood but shortly after she was married, symptoms began appearing. Back then, no one knew what manic depression or bi-polar disorder was. Over time, she became worse. Still, no one knew what to do to help her so many of them chose to turn their backs on her.

I remember when I was a teenager, I had a long conversation with her. She was quite perplexed at the time. By this time, her husband had divorced her and all of her children were grown. Her son had chosen to live with her. One day, she went home to discover that all of her clothes had been "stolen" from her closet. She called the local police to come and make a report. When she and the police went into her bedroom, they discovered that the clothes "had been returned" to her closet. This continued to happen over and over. The poor lady was suffering with hallucinations at these times. In the early 1980s, she drove to Leoti and found my husband and I. She asked if she could spend the night with us at our home. Of course, we obliged. While at our home, she took me to her car to see the trunk of her car. It was FULL of her clothes that had just been thrown into it. They were not in suitcases, boxes or plastic bags. I asked her why they were there. She told me that she had not been able to sleep for the past several days because of a spaceship with creatures who were following her. A voice had told her that she needed to pack her clothes in the car so that when the spaceship landed, she and her clothes could be loaded into the flying ship to leave our world.

This poor lady was banned from major family events. People locked their doors and played like they were not at home when she came to visit. Even in church, she was forced to sit at the back of the church! Local cafes eventually refused to serve her. She became the laughing stock in her small community. As I look at her life, my heart breaks when I think of how much hell she lived in on a daily basis. People got to the point where they actually became mentally abusive to her just so that she would leave them alone. What a life! What a hell she was forced to live in!

Years ago,when the Garden City Wal-Mart was located at the Mall, a woman who was having a major BPD episode purchased every single purse that Wal-Mart had on the shelves that day. She then took them to the parking lot and ran around giving them to customers going in and out of the stores. Later, she told her doctor that she felt so good while she was doing her deed. But, later, she felt depressed when she realized how much money she had just thrown away. Right after she told her husband what she had done, her husband called the doctor who had no other choice but to hospitalize her until her new medications could "level her out".

For me, I went through a "house decorating" mania. Actually, I have fallen prey to it more than just once. LOL! But the worst time was in the early 1990s. I went to a lumber yard and bought a gallon of Navy Blue paint and a gallon of dark red paint. I returned home and was all ready to paint the kitchen!!! Come hail or high water, NOTHING and NO ONE was going to stop me!!! My sister, Lona Sue still lived in Leoti at the time. She came over and we spent the entire night giving the kitchen a "facelift". Come morning, Stan awakened to blue walls and red cabinets. He was shocked at the sobering and oh so, depressing sight. Eventually, my doctors advised Stan and I to brighten our home as quickly as possible. In the kitchen, we just could not find a paint that would cover the blue walls. Eventulaly, we bought paneling that looked like wallpaper. It was a very light and pleasant color and design. As soon as our interior surroundings were light and airy, my mood once again lifted to a healthy level.

I also went through my curtain and bedspread phase where it seemed like I was always out buying them!!! That just almost resulted in Stan and me going to divorce court!

When things get out of hand, I spend money that I don't have on things that I usually don't need. The bills don't get paid. Again, while I am spending the money, I just feel great, but then, reality returns and so does the depression...

Of course, those are extreme examples. Another friend of mine told me that in the last couple of years before she graduated from high school, that her father had to go outside every night and make at least two trips around their house before she was convinced that no one was trying to break into their house. After that, she could find rest. After college, more symptoms began occurring. Eventually, she was diagnosed with BPD. Also in her case, hallucinations became a normal thing in her life. Somedays, she goes strong with the manic episodes but then, the nasties return. She'll go from not being able to sleep for several days to not being able to do anything besides sleep. She is like me, she lives on medications that help her to glide through her daily life more easily. She is a wife and a mother with a profession.

Fortunately, I do not have the issue of hallucinations with my BPD. Fortunately for her, she is able to work a full-time job and she is very good at it! Not me. My mind is always "busy". I have trouble keeping my mind on one thing at a time. Many days, I go from one project to another and then, eventually, I usually return to the projects that I had abandoned earlier. I am able to do my job which requires me to obtain public information from two seperate courthouses. That usually requires about 3-4 days every month. Five days a week, I am able to clean offices and break rooms in two local businesses. But, for me, working a 9-5 job is just an impossibility.

Normally, I enjoy being around people but occassionally, I pull away from the general public. During those times, I retreat to my home which is my own little corner of the world. I don't venture away from my property very often during those times. Oftimes, I pull down the room-darkening shades and draw the drapes closed. I turn the lights down low. When times are REALLY bad, I just lie down and go to sleep... I normally don't do much cooking, cleaning or laundry during those days. My husband is an absolute jewel! When I reach my breaking point, he takes over. He does whatever I am not able to do at the time and he NEVER complains. My daughters have never known me before Bi-Polar Disorder was diagnosed in my life. They realize that Mommy is a very happy person most of the time but they also understand that there are times when I am just about anything but a happy-go-lucky person. They are about the only two people who I never push away from me. They are my life. God gave me the most precious gifts when he brought them to me!!!

Friends? Well, when I am in my manic stage, EVERYONE loves me and thinks that I am just the GREATEST!!! Of course, that is not reality but it is what I PRECEIVE to be reality. Usually, shortly after I begin believing that I am the most popular person in town, my world tumbles and I hit a major crash. At that time, I begin thinking that NO ONE likes me and that NO ONE needs me.

Actually, I have a few friends here and there. Some are supportive of me no matter whether I am a giant or a mouse. Others kinda run and hide when they see that I am involved in yet another of my episodes. They normally don't call or come around until I am back to being their kind of normal.

At times, I become outspoken--TOO outspoken. Other times, I hide out. Those are the main times when I cannot find some of my friends.

Well, by now, I think that you get the whole concept of Bi-Polar Disorder in a nutshell. The main things that I want you to understand is #1--People with BPD are NOT freaks, we are NOT crazy, we DO have a PHYSICAL condition that just happens to have an affect on the stability of our moods and #2--DON'T give up on the BPD people in your life and DON'T run and hide from them.

If you ever want to ask me questions, PLEASE do! Through the lemons that have been cast at me, education has allowed me to make lemonade. I am only too happy to answer questions. If you have BPD issues, seek out others who also do. I feel such a calmness when I am able to converse about my problems with someone else who knows exactly how I feel...


1 comment:

  1. people with mental illness are not "victims" as you state in your article...instead, they are survivors. i hope you choose to become a survivor rather than a victim. overcome the illness rather than succomb.


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