Every single person on this planet has at least one secret that could break your heart. If we could just remember that, there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world

Friday, March 25, 2011

so....what is it?

So I was reading my mothers blog the other day and noticed she had written a post about me being manic depressive. I realized after I read it that simply saying Jaron Barney is manic depressive isn't enough. Most people don't know what that is, and what they do know might not even be correct.  Many view it as a form of depression... and while depression is part of being manic depressive.... they are very different illnesses. So I decided to sort of lay out what manic depressive aka BIPOLAR disorder actually is.

The medical definition of bipolar disorder is:  Bipolar, or manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that causes radical emotional changes and mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. The majority of bipolar individuals experience alternating episodes of mania and depression.

There are two types of bipolar disorder. Type one and two are distinguished by the severity of the MANIC phase. Bipolar 1 experiences MANIA which can include severe and risky behavior (jumping off buildings in an attempt to fly, thinking you are god, hearing voices, excessive sex and drug use) . Bipolar 2 has the same depressive states but the "manic state" is actually HYPOMANIA which is slightly less severe. The excessive energy and irritability are the same but the risky behaviors and other life altering consequenses don't occur. I am currently diagnosed type 2.

Recently I have been looking into what is called "rapid cycling" it is something I think sounds a lot like me. It is when a bipolar patient experiences ups and downs at a much quicker rate than the average patient. Most bipolar people will have 8 to 10 manic episodes in a LIFETIME and a rapid cycler will have at least 4 per YEAR. I haven't been diagnosed with that, and i don't know if its even nessisary because treatment for mental illness tends to be the same reguardless of small problems like that (i literally took pills given to skitsofranic patients) but still its nice to know.  

Symptoms of depression include: paralysis, excessive sleep, excessive eating, desire for isolation, extreme negativity, suicidal tendancies.
Symptoms of mania (hypomania) are: increased energy, sexual impulsivity, heightened sensualitiy, grandiose thinking, decreased need for sleep and food, excessive spending, extreme spending, irritibility, restlessness, and charisma.

There is also a state called "mixed mood" it is exactly what it sounds like, but it can be very dangerous. Basically its being depressed but having the energy of a manic state. When this happens a person has the energy to act on depressed feelings, when normaly lethargy keeps a depressed person from hurting themselves. This is the state I was in when I attempted suicide 7 months ago. I was highly depressed and wanted out and I had the energy and power to do something about it.

When I experience depression the symptoms that hit me hardest are desire for isolation, excessive eating and sleeping, negativity and occassionally suicidal thoughts.
When I am manic most often you will find me practicing A LOT, cleaning, spending lots of money, talking on the phone for hours, but along with being lots of fun to be around... i can be extremely ... bitchy.

I am posting this so that those that read my blogs can get a better understanding of what my mental illness IS. Its not just getting sad, and then getting happy again. Neither side is all that simple, or pleasant for that matter. Its not something I have any control over, but I think I have done a pretty damn good job of making sure I don't become a bother to the people in my life because of it. I promised myself a while back that no matter what I wouldn't let this problem keep me from LIVING life. So I make plans in advance so that no matter how I'm feeling I am obligated to go experience things. I give myself at least two hours each day alone so that I can be exactly how I feel in order to have the strength to get along with others. I keep my friends close and force them to keep me on track with school and being on time... getting out of bed when i'm depressed etc.

Here are some more medical facts about bipolar disorder:

 American adults who have bipolar: 5.8 million (2.8% of U.S. population)
• Life expectancy of an adult with serious mental illness: 25 years shorter than that of a person without.
• Bipolar patients who have attempted suicide: 25%. (kinda makes me seem a bit more normal right??) ;)
• Bipolar patients whose suicide attempts have been lethal: 15-20%. This is the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder, and more than 20 times higher than the rate of suicide in the general population. About half of all suicides in the U.S. can be attributed to bipolar.
• Bipolar people who are not being treated at any given time: approximately 50% (i am currently not taking medication but getting back on soon hopefully)
• Bipolar and schizophrenic people who have no insurance: 50%. The diagnosis of mental illness makes it far more difficult to get, and keep, health insurance, and mental illness makes it far more difficult to get, and keep, health insurance, and most health insurance offers only a limited amount of coverage for mental health services and medications. (i am "uninsurable")
• Year the term ‘manic-depressive insanity’ was first used in medical texts: 1896
• Year the term bipolar was first used: 1980
• Year the first medication (lithium) was discovered to have effect on manic patients: 1948
• Year the first medication designed specifically to treat bipolar was developed: still waiting
• Average age of onset: 23 (i am a little young, but some are diagnosed as young as 3 years old)
• Average age of correct diagnosis: 40 (i was incorrectly diagnosed with DEPRESSION for half a year)
• Average number of years it takes a bipolar person or their family to seek treatment from the onset of symptoms: 10
• Number of bipolar sufferers who have been misdiagnosed at least once: 70-75%. (me!!)
• Number of patients taking a mood stabilizer who go off their medication because of side effects, the desire for manic energy, or impaired insight: 50%
• Number one risk factor for relapse into a bipolar episode: going off your meds
• Odds that a person with bipolar I will also struggle with substance abuse: 60:40
• Odds that a person with bipolar II will: 50:50
• Rate of alcoholism in bipolar men: Three times higher than in the general population
• In bipolar women: Seven times higher than in the general population
• Divorce rates for people with bipolar: twice as high during their first marriage than for people with any other psychiatric disorder, and three and a half times more likely to divorce than people in the general population. (not gonna happen to me cause even when i'm depressed i'm LOVEABLE!!)

Thats a lot of scary medical facts. The IMPORTANT fact is that I'm ok. I am not posting these facts to scare people, I just want to be better understood. I want it to be understood that this problem doesn't go away with therapy. I'll have it forever, and it might get worse. But I'm GOOD at dealing with it. Even though some of my close friends and family might have a better understanding of how impossible/annoying i can be because of this... MOST people don't even notice there is a problem. My friends and family keep me in line and make sure I'm ok, I would be an even bigger mess than I already am without their help.


Linda said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. A lot of those statistics scare me, but at least it's good to know what we are up against. Hopefully more people will get informed about what bipolar is and what it is not. You have handled this diagnosis so much better than most people your age would. You amaze me :) Love you!

Jaalsey B said...

interesting that I was reading this at the same time we were watching a documentary about Kristi McNichol and her life with bipolar. (I luff her tons and tons and didn't know til now) I thought I was more familiar with bipolar than I actually am :) Now I'm even more edumacated