Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: specific northwest
Possibly Bipolar...looking for input.
This is a slightly longer post. I was hoping to hear from someone who deals with bipolar disorder and how they go about it.
I haven't been officially diagnosed - but the descriptors do seem to indicate that's what I'm struggling with. It's a bit frightening and I've already put in a call to see my old psychiatrist.
Just last week I went through an intense manic episode where I was able to go out in public and talk to people, no problem whatsoever. I felt very outgoing. As someone with social anxiety, you might think it to be a good thing. But it still didn't feel right. My mind was racing ahead of me and it was really hard to stay focused on whatever I was trying to do (like fixing a meal, for example). As well, when I talked to strangers, my words got jumbled up to the point where my speech pattern was very staccato (broken into small, incongruous bits).
The next day I was back to being withdrawn and melancholy, keeping to myself. It made me realize just how inconsistent my personality can be, especially when I get stressed out from being around other people. I can't believe it's taken me so long to see this pattern. I think this might be why I feel so unapproachable and have so few friends.
Oftentimes I seem to be in a mixed state of mania and depression. My emotional state can turn on a dime, depending on what's happening around me. I also seem to react to things disproportionately. Sometimes I get so excited by little things (like when I talk to someone who doesn't normally talk to me), I feel like crying. Conversely, I can get really down and upset by trivial things (someone questioning a decision I've made, for example). I tend to avoid conflicts altogether because I am afraid of becoming irrational and mean. And I don't want to be mean. But you can't avoid conflicts, either.
I tend to laugh a lot at things that aren't all that funny (that's embarrassing). I think this is a "defense" mechanism, whereas I over-exaggerate happiness so as not to let people see how ugly and conflicted I really feel inside. I think this makes me look like a phony or just a lot dumber than I actually am. Lately, I've noticed several people at work making various jokes about how HAPPY they are, overly exaggerated, and it feels like they're taking shots at me.
I have a very tough time with humor, especially the workplace sarcasm. I am often unsure of how to take a particular joke while my own jokes usually fall flat or get completely overlooked. (Some people there probably think I have NO sense of humor). On top of that, I tend to re-construe peoples' jokes as though they are aimed at me. In other words, I get very paranoid. If I get the impression that someone dislikes me, I go out of my way to avoid contact with them (even if I don't know it to be true).
I'm OVERLY friendly toward the few people who do still talk to me. And I'm timid and cowering toward most everyone else. Very inconsistent with my behavior.
I can't go on feeling like this...
So this is what I've done lately. I'm trying to get more sleep (7-8 hours if possible). I've stopped drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks. I've stopped drinking alcohol, aside from the occasional nightcap to help me sleep. I've stopped smoking marijuana and I've pushed myself to go for walks and work out more often (although my job is also quite physical). I also use occasional meditative exercises. When I am at work, I focus on my breath or the music from my iPod, to block out other peoples' talking and laughter.
Now I'm wondering what to do in regards to therapy and medication. I used to take Zoloft, when I thought I was strictly dealing with anxiety. But I think my problem is larger than I've realized. Plus, I've read that antidepressants can actually induce "mixed state" episodes. The mixed state feeling is the worst, switching emotions one minute to the next.
I think I might need a mood stabilizer or anti-psychotic(?), but that's a whole new ball game for me. I've never taken anything like that before.
I've gotten used to being the weirdo in the bunch, but I just need to feel more stable inside.
Any experiences or ideas would be much appreciated.
"To live outside the law you must be honest..."