So prior to 2018, I believe I enjoyed three years of pure stability. Then 2018 came, and the one medication I was on just for bipolar, Lamictal, stopped working entirely. I wound up in the hospital, had my Seroquel upped (which then became for my bipolar AND still for my sleep) because I was manic. Of course I learned during that hospitalization that mania is much harder to treat, and even more so because I was rapid cycling and would wind up in mixed states (mania and depression at the SAME TIME!). So I got out, had my Lamictal upped, and it still wasn’t doing anything.
I stayed out of work for a little bit to deal with everything, with nothing improving, then went back to work. Lo and behold, I started experiencing symptoms of paranoia: impending feelings of doom, that something-bad-is-going-to-happen-but-I-don’t-know-what feeling; intrinsically knowing that no one is following me but still being freaked out by people; and just in general being terrified for reasons I could not explain.
That landed me in the hospital again when I told my therapist. 6 hospitalizations thus far in my life. Let’s hope no more. Then I got started on Lithium, got diagnosed with a non-specific personality disorder (which actually never became official because I really don’t have one), and threw a fit in my therapist’s office one day upon release because I was still rapid cycling and angry the Lithium wasn’t started out at a larger dose so I could get off the merry-go-round sooner.
Rapid cycling is honestly THE worst type of bipolar to have because you cannot predict your moods from day-to-day. One day you’re planning on getting a lot done, and the next hour or even day, you don’t care to do any of it and are planning your next suicide attempt–and when you’re mixed, you are so angry.
Rapid cycling is the Cthulhu of bipolar.
Eventually my Lithium was upped…and it seemed like something was trying to happen.
My highs weren’t as high, but my lows were crushing, plummeting into this black, disgusting sludge, a low I had never experienced in my time of having this disorder. I was so apathetic I couldn’t even be in my usual active suicidal state. I was passively suicidal, as my therapist said, which she said could be worse because it meant you had no survival instinct. I was also angry. Livid. Furious that I felt like I was being strung along, be made worse.
She was right about my passivity. A car could hit me, and I wouldn’t have moved. I got into a nasty mountain biking accident that could have been worse without a helmet and if my hip weren’t already jammed–it was un-jammed after striking the ground with an unquantifiable force–it likely would have been dislocated. My recklessness made me continue on with the ride. My deliberate recklessness made me get into the wreck! I was just reckless, okay? I remember once being so manic in 2018 that I was hauling 80 on a 45 mph road and started swerving. If someone had been in the other lane, I would have crashed. I am a goody-two-shoes lady, and I drank in public–and while driving. Thinking about this behavior in a more sane mind horrifies me; it’s bone chilling.
That’s what bipolar disorder is. Bipolar disorder is no joke, which is why I don’t take kindly to “cutesie” jokes about women being bipolar. It’s sexist for one, entirely dismissing a woman’s voice. In any case…
So Depakote was added and that brought me back to a little bit above baseline. It seemed like I was finally on an even keel. That happened December of 2018.
Then some time in the middle of last year I started having some problems again. The first time it happened, I thought it was my bipolar disorder, but once I hit my cycle, the depression went away. And it kept going this way. Roughly two weeks before my cycle, some minor depression, then normalcy.
I thought it was pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and didn’t bother doing anything about it. The depression was mild enough that I could still function–and I wasn’t suicidal so that was a plus. I was also going to be seeing my primary in a couple of months, and I knew the only thing that could treat PMDD was birth control. So I was prescribed birth control December of last year and waited until I had my natural cycle before starting in January.
What I haven’t yet mentioned until now is that I was on a generic of Loryna at the beginning of last year, but it put me in a state of chronic depression and agitation, so I quit it, and those problems went away. But I was put back on Loryna last December since my primary told me sometimes you can have a different reaction to a generic.
It seemed the Loryna was working. I didn’t have any depression or aggression or anxiety or any of that. But then five weeks, I believe, into taking Loryna, the aggression started to occur, so I quit that thinking it was the Loryna, which I don’t even know now. It did not take long for me to feel like I was going on an even keel again.
Then things stopped making sense. My cycle is naturally irregular to begin with, so I don’t know if this was January or February. But I thought things were going to be okay, until the depression hit me in the MIDDLE of my cycle and lasted a total of three weeks–so it stretched two weeks beyond my cycle. PMDD has a very specific criteria that states the depression MUST occur prior to the cycle and end right before. So I figured it was my bipolar…until I got better again.
Then near the end of March, the depression was latching on to me again. But I decided to pay more attention to my mental states because it was starting to get very confusing. This depression, after all, hit me some time after my cycle and ended just this past weekend. These last two depressive cycles have also been markedly worse, but, again, with much confusion, not a typical depressive episode because being around people made me feel better, made me feel safe. Energized, even. I usually want to be alone.
So now I’m grasping on to all of the symptoms besides depression to make sense of the semi-head scratching revelation my psychiatrist told me yesterday over the phone: mixed episodes characterizing hypomania and depression with rapid cycling back to my baseline.
Take some Depakote in the morning now.
I suppose that makes sense. It has to make more sense than PMDD at this point because you can’t have PRE-menstrual dysphoric disorder without having depression BEFORE. Otherwise, it’d probably just be call Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and I don’t think I’m some brand-new special case. It was likely just happenstance that it happened before initially, or fluctuating hormones could have been influencing the rapid cycling. What clued her to my possible state was when she asked me what my other symptoms were, and the first thing I told her was aggression.
Aggression can be part of depression, but it also turns out hypomania isn’t always fun, especially when you’re browsing Facebook, inhibitions lowered, and setting your vicious claws into people whose comments you perceived to be, well, dumb. It’s not always endless amounts of energy you want to use productively. Sometimes it’s being aggressive and blowing up when your tea kettle reaches past the boiling point, a thing only possible in those with mental illness. Sometimes it’s yelling at your boss at the fitness desk where there are members and suddenly realizing you’re not yourself without a Snickers bar. Sometimes it’s blowing up again with even nastier curses with members around. And, sometimes, it’s just ranting and ranting and blowing up and having anxiety.
But part of being in a mixed state also means the depression part takes away your desire to do anything productive with that energy–so that’s probably why you’re aggressive. You also want to self-harm. Why? Who knows? That’s the brain. That’s bipolar disorder in a nutshell! And of course you don’t look forward to much. Yet, you can be distracted, something that’s very hard for me with straight-up depression. I suppose that’s good; however, it has to be constant distraction.
This thing is confusing, so I wonder if if the generic birth control was ever a problem to begin with or if bipolar disorder just started practicing the art of masking once I got some decent meds in me. After all, without those meds, this problem would be so much worse.
I am in a stable spot, but that can change. Even so, I hope it’s under control by then.