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25 years with the wrong diagnosis, medicated for depression when I was bipolar 2

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DrZee

Member
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Maine
TLDR; Recent med changes finally showed me (and the psychiatric NP who's been working with me on med management) that I'm most likely bipolar 2 and not simply depressed with ADD.

Full story:
I included a TLDR because I'm notoriously scatterbrained and often times wordy. Alright, here goes: I've been fighting with depression since I was 12, which was the first time I ever did something really dangerous . I didn't tell my parents about it until 3 years later, when I was about to skip school with the intention of killing myself. I had a moment of clarity just as my mom was leaving and broke down, telling her everything. This was in the Fall of 1995. I went to the hospital but charmed my way out of being admitted to the psychiatric ward. I was quickly diagnosed as depressed (which I was clearly was), given a prescription for Zoloft, and sent on my way with an appointment to see a therapist.

About three months later my parents split up because my dad had been having an affair. I never asked how long it had been going on because I really didn't want to be the cause of it. Never-the-less my father moved out of the house on February 14th, because life is nothing if not ironic.

I would detail how much of a clusterfark my therapy was, but it would be tangential to the story. Mostly it was that I was really good at hiding what was happening to me, and no one seemed to want to press me on it. My therapist would tell my mom everything that we had talked about because apparently kids don't need confidentiality. That basically made the entire exercise useless.

Looking back I can clearly identify at least 4 different hypomanic to depressive cycles from age 12 to 24, every three years. Sometimes I sought help, most times I didn't. I had no idea that I was experiencing hypomania. I just felt really good and had creativity bursting out of me. Sure, I was horny as all hell but I just figured that was me going through puberty or simply being a teenage boy.

I'm 38 now and have been underachieving my entire life. I made it through high school easily because I somehow developed a talent for learning really quickly. However, it took me until 35 to get a college degree, which I was constantly working towards (there were maybe three years where I didn't take any classes). I haven't been able to move out of my mom's house for more than a year at a time, nor have I been able to hold any kind of job with a future for more than a year.

This past year I almost had it. I had a job with people I liked a lot, but I was an accounts payable clerk on a finance team of 6. I thought that I had my depression under control, but I started struggling mightily. My focus and attention were awful, I was uncommunicative, and I would let small tasks lapse until they became bigger problems. The worst part was that I actually fit in with the culture of the company and my team genuinely liked me and gave me every opportunity to succeed. I was just completely wrong for the job. I quit after an hellacious employee review where it became obvious to everyone that I simply wasn't going to work out in that position.

I was put on Adderall for ADD during this time (which actually helps), but it wasn't enough. I was still floundering and sank into a worse depression.

Alongside all of this I had been having terrible problems with dizziness. About three years ago I got an exertion headache while at the gym. If you've ever had a bad one, you'll know that these aren't run-of-the-mill headaches. It was so awful that I wasn't sure whether or not I'd had an aneurysm (I did get a scan of my head which came back fine). Whatever it was, I've had problems with dizziness ever since.

All of these problems came to a head when two things happened: I started on Effexor in late February of this year, and I got a nasty cold that gave me a mild case of vertigo (it inflamed my inner ear). I don't know what combination of events caused it, but I started having otherworldly orgasms. There were times where I whited out for 5-10 seconds (I wasn't blacking out, but rather losing almost all of my senses). It is almost wrong to call them orgasms, because the sensation was completely different. Also, the Effexor was causing pretty bad inorgasmia. Masturbation began to need entire sessions to complete, anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Even with those restrictions I was still masturbating 3-4 times a day for a solid month.

When I brought this up with my physician she immediately thought that my depression might be bipolar and tapered me off of the Effexor, which luckily had only been 75mg to start. I was pretty clearly in a hypomanic state, which I didn't realize could be triggered by Effexor. Thankfully I am still on Wellbutrin, which I've always tolerated well and doesn't make me feel like a zombie.

The real kick in the balls came when my physician told me that she was leaving the practice. Her last day was about three weeks ago. My state has a dearth of people providing adult med management, so there was no one that could see me. At present, I have no one helping me. I am sans psychiatrist, therapist, and primary care physician. The fact that I lost my job and had to change insurances also means that my PCP has had to change, and the med management services that my insurance covers will only take people with referrals from their PCP, on top of another 3-5 month wait list (which I've already sat through once to see the NP I was seeing). I've asked my old PCP for a referral just to get on the list, but I haven't heard anything in about a week.

And that is why I am here. I really need help as I can feel the crash coming from this hypomanic episode. I have no idea what differences exist between being bipolar and being depressed, and what coping mechanisms might be more useful than others. I am trying my best to do research on my own, but I need the help of people who have been through it before.

Mostly I feel angry that no one in the past 25 years has thought to bring up bipolar as a possible diagnosis, considering all of the warning signs that I clearly remember mentioning in sessions.
 
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calypso

calypso

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:welcome: to the forum. I'm sorry no-one has responded to you. A lot about insurance and all that I didn't understand as I am British and its different here.

You ask the difference between bipolar and depression. Well bipolar means you get more depressions than most people as one arc of the bipolar. Are you not on a mood stabiliser? I would have thought you would need one and fairly soon from the sound of it. I'm on Lamotrigine (I'm diagnosed bipolar 2) which balances me out superbly well. In fact I said when first put on it, I had never experienced being balanced in my life before.

I hope you find your way around the forum and we have a bipolar section which might be of interest to you.
 
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DrZee

Member
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Maine
Thanks for the response!

No I'm not on a mood stabilizer because unfortunately, I'm from America and do not currently have a fulltime job. What do those things have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing. But in America if you need to see a specialist, i.e. a psychiatrist, you need to be referred there from your primary care physician. I do not have one of those at the moment because when I lost my job, I had to purchase my own health insurance. The plan that I could afford doesn't have the doctor I normally see "in network". Basically, I can still go see them, but my insurance will not cover the cost.

I understand if it still doesn't make any sense. I'm from this country and it barely makes sense.

Long story short: In order for me to see the doctor who can prescribe me mood stabilizers, I need to make far too many appointments and then wait for three months to see them. If things get really bad I can go to a hospital to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. Unfortunately, those are my two options.

What gets me is the absolute irony of the whole mental health system in America. The system to get help for mental health issues requires the patient to be persistent and a self advocate - the thing that this disease is best at taking away from you.

Sorry, that turned into a rant. I know that I'm "a little off" right now, but I'm far from as bad as I've been before in my life. What I'm worried about is my depression being like boiling a frog in a pot.
 
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