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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bipolar Disorder: Rapid Cycling Through Life

Pin It While I'm not really ready to get into all of the gory details of the stupid things I've done in the 10 years since my diagnosis, I thought I'd revisit this subject at least long enough to give you a little more contextual information about my disorder.

If you know anything at all about this illness, you know that there are two types of Bipolar Disorder: 
  • Type I bipolars experience major depressive and manic episodes, intermixed with possible hallucinations, delusions and psychotic episodes.  
  • Type II bipolars are mostly plagued by depression, along with periods of what they call "hypomania".  
In both types, episodes usually last at least a couple weeks or more, except with "Rapid Cyclers", which is more common in Type II Bipolar Disorder.  Rapid Cycling is exactly what it seems to suggest:  it means rapidly cycling through depression and mania, or hypomania.

I've seen quite a few psychiatrists in my time, and I recently found out my bipolar diagnosis was first suggested at 17.  This last one told me I simply wasn't crazy "enough" to be Type I, so he thinks I'm crazy, but not completely.  That makes me feel awesome. 

So anyway, while about 5 shrinks have agreed that I have Bipolar Type II, the last two added Rapid Cycling to my label.

My official diagnosis: Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, Type II.  

Web MD describes it very well:
A few people with rapid cycling bipolar disorder alternate between periods of hypomania and major depressive disorder. Far more commonly, though, depression dominates the picture. Repeated periods of depression are punctuated by infrequent, shorter periods of elevated mood.

I have been known to go from Happy-to-Angry-to-Hysterical-to-Crying-to-Laughing in less than 15 minutes.  

What a trip it must be to live with me, right?  Now imagine how I feel!  I absolutely hate this side of myself.  I'm a control freak, and as previously mentioned, I don't like having egg on my face.  So you can imagine what having a melt down and losing my mind in public does to me.  

Not only am I not in control, but everyone can tell.

I've often complained that I'd rather just be bat-shit crazy, because just being crazy enough to be aware of your crazy is horrible.  At least the bat-shit crazy person is perfectly content in their make belief world!  

I've been up and down and all over the place for the last year, so my shrink started me on a different med about a month ago, Lamictal.

I've never taken it before, but so far it hasn't been great.  I've been very irritable,  I spent close to two weeks bursting into tears constantly, and I've been semi-manic, obsessed with this blog and barely sleeping for days at a time until my body collapses on me.  

I want to give it a fair shake, I need to work my way up to 200mg a week, and I only started at 25, so the symptoms from the first couple of weeks might have been more about quitting my old med than starting this new one, because I barely believe that 25mg of a normal 200mg dose could affect me so intensely.  

I see my doctor this week, we'll see what he has to say.  Probably not much, he'll have me keep going, at least until I get to the full dose, to see if it works.

But what if it doesn't?  Will I ever be truly functional again?  What if I run out of disability and have to go back to my job?  How would I cope?  I might tell you some other time how badly things went there, but suffice it to say, I can't go back - that bridge is burnt.

People tell me to look for something new, but I can't even imagine going on an interview right now.  I burst into tears at the thought of someone asking me: "so why should we hire you?"

"um, I don't know, I'm very smart and I'm going to really impress you in the beginning.  But then I'll probably get depressed again and totally let you down, or "leave you hanging" as I've heard before, so I don't know, you tell me:  why would you hire me?"

Do you remember how Kelly Clarkson said she needed to become a star because she sucked at being a waitress?  Well that's how I feel.  I need to become famous and live off my art because it's the only career that will ever truly work for me.

How do I make that happen though?

 hmmm, well, you could start by sharing this link... that would help me a lot.


  1. I had no idea how bad it was for you Hunny! I wish I could help more. I hate shrinks.

  2. I remember the medications, when it feels like the treatment is worst than the condition. I know about the label they gave you, not n easy one that's for sure.

    Don't lose hope.

  3. Honestly I know exactly how you feel! hysterically crying over burnt toast and laughing when something horrible happens even though you know it's sad. I tried Lamictal years ago, made me feel complacent. The worst part of the condition is knowing you have so much more to offer and trying to fight your body to actually offer it. The truth is I have gotten through it with a very small circle of friends who know my condition, who when we go out in public and I'm getting into one of my moods will stick by my side. I decided I couldn't do medication, it didn't let me feel at all. You have to be your own worst enemy and when you want to just lay there and do nothing take yourself outside no matter the weather! Just always fight yourself to do what you don't want.

  4. Thank you Rachael, im sorry this response is so belated, I don't know why I didn't answer you before. I always like hearing stories so closely related to mine.

  5. Reading this, almost three years after it was written, I feel like a different person. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the right help has taken me on a great journey. I've started my own three companies, and I'm well on my way to making my dreams come true. Anyone reading this that landed here because you're newly diagnosed or feeling down, take my word for it: it can get better. Much love xxoo