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Four years ago I dropped out of treatment for bipolar disorder. After years of meds, hospitalization, frustration and suicide attempts, I figured it couldn't get any worse. Since then, I divorced an emotionally abusive husband who blamed everything on my bipolar disorder, finished a bachelor's degree, completed half of a master's degree, maintained steady employment, worked in the same workplace for three years without incident, received promotions, paid off medical debt and raised my credit score by 150 points. Everyone in my family thought I took meds. I called it faking stability and then I realized that if you are successful, it isn't faking. I keep expecting disaster because I've been conditioned to expect it. But four years of success is tough to discount. I think my problems stemmed from a childhood of abuse at the hands of an older sibling. When I cut off all ties, I started getting better. To think I may have taken all those drugs with the side effects and the expense for no real reason saddens me. Thanks for the post.


That is amazing. I'm sure you are right about the source being the childhood abuse. I see that so often. Trauma from childhood abuse with its emotional lability and self destructive behaviors is so often seen as "mood swings", diagnosed as "Bipolar Disorder" and medicated. I am so happy to hear that you are dealing with the actual abuse - by leaving it.

And you are absolutely right. If you are succeeding, it's not faking it. And you are certainly succeeding! Work, college, leaving an abusive marriage, and getting financial stable - any one of these things is a major accomplishment and you have managed them all.

I too am sorry you had to take those drugs, but I'm happy to learn you are doing so well without them. Thank you for your comments. Your story is certainly an inspiration for others.

There are two types of Bipolar conveniently Types I and II. They have different presentations and clinical courses. I have Bipolar II. You mention that it has been over-diagnosed. Perhaps a better description of it is that it has been misdiagnosed. The problems with Bipolar is that the presentation of a patient to the doctor may be at two diametrically opposed states. When one sees the physician in depression and the doctor has no reference to the cyclic nature of the patient they will be labeled as Clinical Depression. If suicidality is involved, this will be called Major Depression. This was what happened in my case. On the other hand if one presents in mania with delusions and psychosis, often Schizophrenia is diagnosed. In my case, antidepressants were prescribed for depression and they precipitated an episode of mania and thus I was Bipolar II. In general, I've read that on average, it takes 10 years before the correct diagnosis in made.

In a sense, this is a betrayal to those of us who legitimately have bipolar. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 34. It was another 20 years until we found a combination of drugs that does work. I've been hospitalized 3 times, my marriage was destroyed, my children became distant.

So, I reget those that minimize the effect of bipolar. Rather, I wish you would proclaim it to the world if it gets enough scientists and doctors working on the problem.

Hi pariah and Jim,

I certainly didn't mean to minimize and I apologize if it came off that way. In my humble opinion, saying that "mood swings" are Bipolar Disorder greatly diminishes the idea of the total destruction that Bipolar Disorder does to the client's life. I have worked with clients who have completely destroyed themselves financially or accumulated serious legal charges which are forever on their criminal record while manic. It destroys careers, marriages, friendships and families. It is a much more serious issue than mere "mood swings".

Pariah also makes a good point and perhaps "misdiagnosed" would have been a better term. I think a lot of PTSD is "misdiagnosed" as Bipolar Disorder and that the extremely painful emotions and emotional lability that go along with PTSD are simply medicated away with "mood stabilizers" rather than brought forth, experienced, processed and integrated. This condemns the patient to stay on psychiatric meds forever and allows the trauma to continue to dominate their life.

Correct diagnosis is important in order to prescribe the correct treatment. Bipolar medications work for Bipolar Disorder. When a chemical imbalance is the issue it takes medications to correct it. But these same medications only numb someone from all of their emotions (even happiness and joy) when the problem is trauma and don't allow the trauma to be processed and for healing to occur.

By the way, I recently saw an excellent movie, "Mr. Jones" which fairly accurately demonstrates manic episodes with the free wheeling spending, grandiosity, impulsivity and euphoria. See what you think...

Thank you both for your comments.

All these drugs are dangerous,and sometimes are given to people without knowing the root causes for their illness.

To blithely hand out this diagnosis and label people with "Bipolar Disorder" is at best irresponsible.

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ou are absolutely right. If you are succeeding, it's not faking it. And you are certainly succeeding! Work, college, leaving an abusive marriage, and getting financial stable - any one of these things is a major accomplishment and you have managed them all.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my early twenties. I was actually given a blood test that tested for levels of some kind, it has been so long I really do not remember the specifics. I was put on lithium. I went off lithium within six months. My crazy family was ecstatic they finally had proof I was 'crazy'. I have never taken lithium in all these years (well over 20 years later). I have never had a manic phase in my life. I have had short bouts of being prescribed anti-depressants but the last time was over ten years ago when I briefly went on wellbutrin but didn't like that it seemingly affected my ability to concentrate. I am now in my mid-forties and have come to realize I have all the symptoms of asperger syndrome. This is after two and a half decades of knowing that *something* was wrong. However I have never been very emotionally demonstrative, dramatic, and certainly never been manic. The symptoms of asperger are somewhat different from psychological disorders, in particular I have face blindness, lack of discernment of subtext and all the other symptoms of someone with a very unsophisticated childlike mind in certain ways. So for the last five years I have been content to know I fell into the austism spectrum though there is no way I can afford the neurological testing for a diagnosis. However I recently re-experienced in memory a rape that occurred in very early childhood that I was unaware of (I was told of my internal scarring on my first visit to a gynecologist at the age of 18 but had no explanation for it). At this point it would not surprise me to find out my diagnosis is complex post-traumatic stress disorder as I have learned on autism forums that there is so much similarity between the symptoms of PTSD and AS that many people are diagnosed with both at one time or the other. It just never seems to be 'the end'...I just wanted to underscore what you have said about the over-diagnosis of bi-polar because many female autistics/aspies have been dx'd as bi-polar, borderline, whatever, before they even get an accurate diagnosis.

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