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The Aftermath of a Second Manic Episode

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scarletearthquakes

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Hi, all. I'm new to this forum, and am posting because I'd love some support/advice from those of you living with bipolar I. I am a 29 year old male PhD student and instructor.

Back in December, I had my second manic episode and hospitalization. This followed my diagnosis in 2017. My second hospitalization resulted from trying a lower dosage of lithium; it worked fantastically for nearly two months until I rapidly entered a hypomanic episode Thanksgiving weekend followed by a full blown manic episode the following week. I was hospitalized for 10 days, and was still hypomanic for a good 2 weeks after.

Coming down from all of this in January, I entered the worst depressive episode of my life. Between my depression and adjusting to an added antipsychotic (risperidone then latuda), I was miserable and could barely function/get out of bed. I felt pretty lifeless for about a month, could not do any of my studies/readings/written work as a student, and could barely function as an instructor. Out of desperation, I decided to finish out the academic term, go on medical leave, and then relocate to temporarily live with my parents.

In a week, I will move back to my home state. My goal is to return to my studies in September, but I have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of getting used to my meds and how they interfere with my thinking/concentration skills. I also have a partner up here whom I am eager to return to. So, I'm worried that my anxieties about the future will make me enter a depressive episode again, and I will, in effect, self-sabotage my academic/professional career.

Are there any fellow academics on here who have been able to successfully work with their diagnosis? Alternatively, how have y'all coped with the aftermath of rebuilding your life after the devastation of a manic episode? I'd appreciate any advice, and can answer any pertinent questions if you'd like a little more info about me. I hope to be able to hear from a peer because I have good support, but nobody who really "gets" what I've been going through.
 
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FiddlyDigits

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I had a hospitalization for a terrible mixed episode last year. I didn't do too much damage to my life I just bought a ton of worthless stuff. I had to take some time off work. It sucked. I just had to get through recovery and new meds while still working. I couldn't think for a long time. I'd recommend requesting accommodation if you haven't already. There's a lot they can do to help with whatever needs you have like extra time for homework and tests.

In school I didn't know what was wrong with me. I'd go through mania and get good grades and then I'd be depressed and fail classes. Somehow I managed at a university to graduate with an ok GPA. I was completely unmedicated for bipolar I had antidepressants for depression but they never helped. At least you know what's wrong and can do some self care. I barely survived my depressive episodes. My mania was useful when studying and at the time it didn't become dangerous like it does now. All I can say is you're on the right path. Get accommodations and you'll be able to get through it.
 
calypso

calypso

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I am diagnosed bipolar and understand the effects of medication. There are anti psychotics which don't over sedate and mood stabilisers that don't. I am on Aripiprazole as an anti psychotic and Lamotrigine as a mood stabiliser and neither sedate much. It could be an idea to have a medication review and mention these two to your pdoc. I am also on Mirtazepine as an anti depressant which does sedate so I only take it at night. That is the other option to ask if you can take meds at night.

I have heard of academics who have bipolar but I am so sorry, I can't remember their names. There is a famous woman who wrote books about it. I will wrack my brains to try to remember her.
 
calypso

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Kay Redfield Jamison I remembered now - she wrote "An Unquiet Mind" which is a story of her journey through bipolar and she is an accademic.
 
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scarletearthquakes

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Thanks for the responses!

@FiddlyDigits I will be getting accommodations from my university; I just need to follow up with them and provide some paperwork. I will do so in the coming weeks once I am on leave as I'm a little too preoccupied with planning my move and all. My concentration skills are really low right now, but I'm hoping that I can slowly rebuild them over the next 6 months so that I can stay on track when I return to school. I like to think I'm on the right path, and thanks for sharing what you went through.

@calypso I am hoping to discuss my meds options thoroughly with a new doctor when I'm with my parents. Lithium works really well for me, but I can't say the same for latuda. It seems to be too sedating. Thanks for recommending the work by Kay Jamison. I'll have to check that out.
 
Quijas6

Quijas6

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Hi! I'm a PsyD student on my last year and a half of studies (hopefully!). I did not have a manic episode but went through a psychotic break that last approximately three years. I have been on the mend since September 2018. I feel for you with the consequences of an extreme episode (be it manic or psychotic). I faced a lot of consequences because of my mental health, interpersonally and professionally, and have been working on repairing them ever since.

From what you wrote, it really sounds like you're handling things well. I was able to get back to work after I was medicated pretty quickly but my school didn't want me to start up again right away and had me take a break until the Spring. I went through pretty intense depression and despair, where it was the best I could do to drag myself through the day. (I still struggle to be honest but am feeling much better in general). Sounds like you have developed a good dialogue with your school and are able to rely on your parents at this time. I leaned on my parents a lot these past years -- I would spend weekends at their place and worry if my life would ever be any different and if I was getting any better.

Also, you said you have the support you need, but if you're looking for others that have gone through similar experiences you might want to check out Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). They usually have support groups in person but right now you can find them online at least.

Wishing you all the best!
 
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scarletearthquakes

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Thanks so much for your reply. I was hoping I might get to chat with someone who is also an academic. I feel like my second manic episode set me back so much as it occurred at the end of fall term, and now that I look back, I can see that I simply was not ready to return to school in January.

I'm hoping to use my time back home with my parents to rebuild my concentration/thinking skills; to stay on track, I will need to take my exams this coming fall, and they have already been delayed twice. I just feel like such a disappointment/embarrassment some days, but I am trying to work through it. Living with my parents will have its challenges, but they are both incredibly supportive, and will do all they can to help me succeed in my goals of getting back to my university this fall. I am scared of letting my depression self-sabotage me.

Thanks for recommending the DBSA; I'll definitely check them out!
 
Quijas6

Quijas6

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Yes, I've felt pretty humiliated about everything I did and still afraid to trust myself at times. It can be difficult to work through but I found that there were people that accepted me and treated me the same before and after my break, which really helped. I've also made new friends that understand my experiences very well.

It's ok to have set backs, even if they're unwelcome. I had to get an extension for my program so that I would be able to complete my doctorate. I'm pretty proud that I'm able to come back after all I've been through with my health.

Working on your concentration and thinking skills is a great idea. There was an academic that had a break and put herself on a schedule of reading and other activities to improve her concentration. I saw it online but I can't remember where. Maybe you have one already? I worked on my concentration as I was enrolled in a coding program and then I switched back to working on my dissertation.

I also found Dr. Neff's work on self-compassion helpful for me to be patient with myself and my mind after everything I had been through.
 
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scarletearthquakes

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Yeah, there is a lot that happened during my second manic episode that I struggle with forgiving myself over. I have good support from my family, partner, and friends, and I am grateful for this, but it's definitely a struggle learning to trust myself again.

I'm glad to hear you came back from it, as I hope to do the same. If you could find the schedule, I'd greatly appreciate seeing it! I'll also have to check out Dr. Neff.
 
pandr oid

pandr oid

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Hi, all. I'm new to this forum, and am posting because I'd love some support/advice from those of you living with bipolar I. I am a 29 year old male PhD student and instructor.

Back in December, I had my second manic episode and hospitalization. This followed my diagnosis in 2017. My second hospitalization resulted from trying a lower dosage of lithium; it worked fantastically for nearly two months until I rapidly entered a hypomanic episode Thanksgiving weekend followed by a full blown manic episode the following week. I was hospitalized for 10 days, and was still hypomanic for a good 2 weeks after.

Coming down from all of this in January, I entered the worst depressive episode of my life. Between my depression and adjusting to an added antipsychotic (risperidone then latuda), I was miserable and could barely function/get out of bed. I felt pretty lifeless for about a month, could not do any of my studies/readings/written work as a student, and could barely function as an instructor. Out of desperation, I decided to finish out the academic term, go on medical leave, and then relocate to temporarily live with my parents.

In a week, I will move back to my home state. My goal is to return to my studies in September, but I have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of getting used to my meds and how they interfere with my thinking/concentration skills. I also have a partner up here whom I am eager to return to. So, I'm worried that my anxieties about the future will make me enter a depressive episode again, and I will, in effect, self-sabotage my academic/professional career.

Are there any fellow academics on here who have been able to successfully work with their diagnosis? Alternatively, how have y'all coped with the aftermath of rebuilding your life after the devastation of a manic episode? I'd appreciate any advice, and can answer any pertinent questions if you'd like a little more info about me. I hope to be able to hear from a peer because I have good support, but nobody who really "gets" what I've been going through.
As far as I know, doing a Phd is very competetive (especially in Natural sciences, math etc) and it has to be completed in 5 years. Considering that even a lot of healthy people describe this period as very stressful, I believe that it would be a good to quit the idea of doing research. Finding a normal job would be the best... good luck
 
Quijas6

Quijas6

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Yeah, there is a lot that happened during my second manic episode that I struggle with forgiving myself over. I have good support from my family, partner, and friends, and I am grateful for this, but it's definitely a struggle learning to trust myself again.

I'm glad to hear you came back from it, as I hope to do the same. If you could find the schedule, I'd greatly appreciate seeing it! I'll also have to check out Dr. Neff.
Ah! I'm trying to find that schedule online and I can't track it down right now. It's something I stumbled across so I don't remember exactly how I found it. If I can retrace my steps or can stumble across it again, I will definitely share. But the basic idea was the do activities like reading, memorization that challenged your mind and to increase that gradually.
 
Quijas6

Quijas6

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USA
As far as I know, doing a Phd is very competetive (especially in Natural sciences, math etc) and it has to be completed in 5 years. Considering that even a lot of healthy people describe this period as very stressful, I believe that it would be a good to quit the idea of doing research. Finding a normal job would be the best... good luck
This way of thinking is a personal pet peeve of mine. I think that people are paid a disservice to be encouraged to live a stress-free life post mental health problems. I think that it's a way to be more miserable in the long run. In fact, there's a health psychologist that discuss how it's our interpretation of stressful experiences not the experience themselves that are problematic. She states that stressful experiences, if interpreted differently, are experienced as joyful experiences.

How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal
 
pandr oid

pandr oid

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Stockholm, sweden
This way of thinking is a personal pet peeve of mine. I think that people are paid a disservice to be encouraged to live a stress-free life post mental health problems. I think that it's a way to be more miserable in the long run. In fact, there's a health psychologist that discuss how it's our interpretation of stressful experiences not the experience themselves that are problematic. She states that stressful experiences, if interpreted differently, are experienced as joyful experiences.

How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal
Probably, you have no experience with multiple hospitalizaions due to mania or psychosis...
Moreover, if somebody is obliged to consume ANTIPSYCHOTIC medications in order to minimize mental disturbances it will lead to deterioration of his mental capabilities. Completing a PHD, under these circumstances, in the fields I mentioned is like wanting to run marathon while suffering from a movement disorder. I don't say it is IMPOSSIBLE! But it's not the RULE.
 
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