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I am looking for answers for my Bipolar II symptoms.

J

JoaoMancini

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Jun 1, 2021
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Since 2013, after long periods of work or lack of sleep, I enter into a specific mental & physical state. I feel a sensation of burnout in my brain. It's an actual physiological sensation as if something in my mind was on fire, and has burnt out. Aside from that, the feeling of exhaustion, both physical, and emotional, loom over me. I cannot do the things I was doing even the day before. I barely can put forth any effort. I can barely work. This will last from days to months. I feel crippled. I feel like I cannot work a normal job or act like normal people do. Like I wasn't built for this kind of world. I feel like I am letting everyone down around me because I cannot be the person that I was yesterday. But that's not the worst part.

The worst part is my mind starts craving drugs. I am assuming as a side-effect of this, I had turned to drugs starting a little before 2013. Narcotics. Heroin. And they have landed me in rehabs, jails, and mental institutions nearly 30 times.

I did the whole support group thing, AA, etc., for over 10 years. I did everything they talk about. But nothing in that book covered how I felt when I was about to relapse (the first paragraph of this). I avoided my diagnosis for a long time because I thought it wasn't possible. But in the middle of last year, it became abundantly clear to me after writing down a log of every time I had relapsed, it ALWAYS FOLLOWED the exhaustive periods I described in the first paragraph -- which meant it was ALWAYS linked to the bipolar.

That gave me a lot of hope, as I realized it was not an incurable, untraceable disease of addiction that had no beginning or end, but it was probably bipolar II (as I had been diagnosed a couple of times). I started going to bed on time, waking up on time, limiting work, balance, relaxing, etc. It all worked MAGICALLY.

But on Thursday morning I had a very early morning doctor's appointment. And the two previous nights before that Thursday, I awoke in the middle of the night with acid reflux. So my sleep was interrupted two nights in a row and then the last night, I got 3 less hours of sleep than usual, and had a long day. It triggered my symptoms again. Burnout, exhaustion, feverish feeling in my mind, sweating, anxiety, and ... CRAVING FOR DRUGS.

Exactly what I had finally concluded last year... the chain of events that leads to the cravings.. It's all exactly as I had written down as my patterns of old.

Again, I take this as such a great thing, because that means I am not totally hopeless, it means that there is a cause, and effect.

One other thing. I am on a low dose of lamotrigine. Very low dose. My doctor says it's a baby dose and frequently asks me if it is working because it is such a low dose. I started it last year, when I finally took this bipolar II diagnosis seriously. I do have to say, that I feel like the medication has made my symptoms lessen. Meaning, I do not feel AS exhausted, AS feverish, AS hopeless, or have as many cravings as I normally do. However, they are still there, which has me fearful.

I called my doctor today to ask her if I should start increasing my meds, I haven't had a call back yet. However, what I am afraid of is the consequences when I cannot control myself to get drugs. It hasn't happened yet, and I am thankful for that because it is Heroin and it causes a horrible chain of events. Luckily I am self-employed, so I do not have to do much, right now -- but I do have a 2 hour presentation tonight that usually always leaves me feeling completely wired and exhausted to begin with.

I'm just afraid...

My point in all of this is sharing my symptoms, my story, and then to ask a question... Has ANYONE had these types of symptoms before? I am told it is a depressive episode of Bipolar II triggered by the lack of sleep. I was told that sleep is life or death for someone like me, especially given the drug use. I know that sleep and balance works to PREVENT these symptoms.. Which they do... But what do I do if I can't prevent it? Like have an appointment early & am woken up in the middle of the night randomly by outside sources? And more importantly... Does anyone know HOW TO MANAGE IT when it comes on? How do I get out of this? I've been suffering from this for 10 years and it has caused such severe trauma on my life.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Resources? Books? Ideas? ANYTHING!! Thank you so much!

Joao
 
UpnDwn1978

UpnDwn1978

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Hi Joao welcome to the forum :welcome:

I to suffer from Bipolar 2 and I recognize a lot of what you say. I'm 42 now and I've struggled with mental illness as long as I can remember. It started as anxiety then developed into depression and eventually I got diagnosed with bipolar 2 when I was in my 20's.

My bipolar has had a massive impact on my life and it has been a constant uphill battle to have something that resembles a "normal" life. I finally managed to get a job I'm satisfied with although I also receive some benefits since I can't wotrk full time.

It took me years to get something that resembles a stable life. What helped me the most was work. Just working and being around other people as much as I could handle. Learning to master skills and build a network. i also have a lot of really good friends that I can lean on and be social with, as I have found that social interactions are imortant so I have forced myself to be around others evn though I suffer from social anxiety.

Other things that I have found helps is meditation or just taking a shower or go for a walk. Music, movies and other forms of entertainment has also helped me get my mind on other things. A good sleep pattern and healthy diet is also very important, although I really struggle with sleep when I'm hypo.

I hope you can find some help and support here on the forum. Please stay away from drugs, they only make things worse. Listen to your doctor and take your meds. I wish you all the best.

M
 
S

SFGuy

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I medicated what I was told was depression and anxiety with lots of alcohol. Like you, I quit (I had a therapists help), but the intense feelings I had been numbing were still there. I finally got relief when I found a psych who diagnosed me (bipolar II) and worked with me through a number of drugs and dosages until we found an effective mood stabilizer without unacceptable side effects (for me it's Depakote; Lamotrigine gives me headaches). It was only after I got on the right mood stabilizer that the fire in my brain cooled off. In fact, I didn't know how bad it was or completely accept the diagnosis until I found a drug that works.

I think you're wise to tell your doc how distressed you are and see if she wants to increase your dose or try something else. For me, the mood stabilizer has worked for at least 4 years now. My doc says Lamotrigine is a great drug, but the dosage can be tricky. I bet your doc can get it or another mood stabilizer to work. It sure beats heroin.

Bipolar Spectrum Resource: Psych Education
 
calypso

calypso

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Hiya Joao. I am diagnosed bipolar 2 also and know how it feels. I am on a normal dose of Lamotrigine and find it a godsend. I am also on Mirtazepine as an anti depressant which I take late at night as it is a strong sedative and helps me go to sleep and stay asleep. Also on Aripiprazole which is an anti psychotic med which doesn't sedate as much. I think its possible that you need more than Lamotrigine and a higher dose in that. Meds aren't the answer to everything but they certainly have their place.

May I suggest you read Bipolar Disorder the Ultimate guide by Sarah Owen and Amanda Saunders
 
Zana

Zana

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I used to be addicted to weed, coke and booze. The cocaine was for when I was feeling great, the alcohol usually comes in when upset and the weed was to try and maintain a balance. I managed to shake the need and greed factors but the desire has never gone away. The only measure of control has been removing the possibility - I don't engage with anyone who I know I can get drugs from. Especially if feeling particularly up or down compared to the last few days and that's where daily mood tracking can help. I keep a whiteboard in my hallway and plot my mood, sleep and exercise on every day in order to really keep an eye on my feelings and recommend this to anyone with BP.

With alcohol it is harder because it's everywhere, still haven't quite figured that one out.

There are other ways to get a 'natural' high as well; meditation is a key example as with a bit of practice it can put you in basically a comatose state of relaxation.

Hope this helps.
 
calypso

calypso

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I was trying to remember another book which is excellent and then it came to me. "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison. Its brilliant and can help immensely
 
Wishbone

Wishbone

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Since 2013, after long periods of work or lack of sleep, I enter into a specific mental & physical state. I feel a sensation of burnout in my brain.
Are you saying this is more like a form of mental fatigue rather than depression as such?
 
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