... first assistant. I have been doing hearts for the last 22 years. I have never missed a call, day or night in all of those years. I had a series of major life events the last 2 years of my practice. My mother died, a few months later the Doctor I started this heart group with suddenly died at 45. I had a 6 day malpractice trial (we won) but it took a great part of me away. We hired 2 new heart surgeons just before the previous doctor died. They helped each other, and I had helped the doctor that died.. After he died I had to help the other 2 doctors. We operated all over town, at all the major hospitals. My work load was tremendous. I would close a patient at one hospital then rush across town and start another. I had started using Hydrocodne daily 5 years before all of this happened. Not much at first, Of course I started doing more and more. It made me feel great and I could work all those long hours. It had a reverse effect on me, I was more focused and re leaved much of my stress. I used the internet to obtain my pills. One night after a case I just threw a big fit, told them all to kiss my ass, and abruptly quit the group. That was the beginning of my journey of the psychiatric world. I started using cocaine, Valium, alcohol, along with the Hydrocodone. I made a very good attempt at suicide. In a coma for 5 days on a ventilator, transferred to a mental hospital,31 days, and came out with a diagnosis of Bi-Polar 2. and a whole collection of medication. I lost my State License, haven't worked in over 3 years. I have been taking all of these medications with out question. You would think me being in the medical field for 30+ years I would know better. I am just a former shell of the person I used to be. Due to all these SSRI's and a number of other drugs I have lost interest in every thing, sex, live music I have lost all contact with all of my friends and almost never leave the house. Finally my question. I don't know how I could be a true Bi-Polar person and First assist heart surgery for the last 22 years. on call 24-7. I was on staff at all the major hospitals in good standing. My Mother suffered from depression in the 50's, well most of her life. I have always been a type "A" personality, very active, artistic, and out going. What the Hell happened to me. I truly do not know if I am Bi-Polar or not. At present I am trying to ween off all of these horrible drugs, and start on Wellbutrin, I hope this will being ME back. They have me on some(off Label) drugs as well. Little did I know getting off of these drugs may have some life threatening and severe side effects some may be long lasting and even permanent. If I had not found this great group of caring people I don't know where I would be. I have only been here a few days and I have all ready received so much hope and strength. Thank you all. I am going to get better.
Yes, you are going to get better. Try not to get caught up in the diagnosis. Treating the symptoms is what is important. Quite often people who are bipolar are the smartest and most creative of the bunch. Just because we have a mental illness doesn't make us misfits or less than. No different than being a diabetic, we just have to take our medicine. Hang in there, it will get better!!
The first thing that crossed my mind reading your post was I felt maybe you have never grieved for this person your worked with so closely for 22 years. You had to of had a really wonderful relationship to be able to do the work you did for that length of time. Could this be a possibility? Just a thought. From your story getting into drugs has also played a big part of your problem. Most people who have a drug or alcohol problem in my own personal experience are also depressed. Are you clean of all the drugs & alcohol now? I assume you are. Don't give up hope. If you feel the diagnosis is wrong is could very well be. Being clinically depressed, does not make you bi-polar for sure. There are different types of depression. That is why I asked about the grieving part. It seems when this doctor passed you were so busy trying to get things done & start a new group etc... that maybe that played into all of this. Just what I see in your query.
I wish you all the best, & you have picked a great group of people to help you through this process. Please keep in touch with all of us. You will be on our minds from now on...
I want to add my support for you as well. I agree with both Mary and Laurie. You may very well not be bi-polar but due to the fact that you have self medicated for so many years and were on all of said medicines (legal and not) when you were diagnosed, it is no wonder your true self was buried or all over the map. But, if you ARE truly bi-polar, it is not a death sentence, it is a manageable disease if treated properly and stringently.
My first thought was... depression. I feel that you were trying to juggle SO much and the stress and buried pain HAD to eventually come out and when it did, you exploded. The quick snap to anger and sudden lapse into the drugs and alcohol was really not sudden. Depression can lie below the surface for months, years even, and give the illusion that it 'suddenly' manifested itself, when really it was there all along brewing and waiting to come to the surface.
I experienced my clinical depression in 1993 after caring for my mother who was recovering from her second mastectomy, getting out of a terrible marriage, and going through a pregnancy basically all by myself. (some family members felt I had shamed the family name ... at the time.) My point being, things were building up and brewing, but I was busy tending to 'life' that it did not come to fruition until I reached a certain threshold. Then, I literally went from 'fine' to agoraphobic in less than a week. Suffered for 9 months.
The good news is... that was years ago and the proper care, counseling and medication got me back to me.
I would like to encourage you to seek not only medical help but also counseling. Perhaps from a church? Or maybe you have a network of doctors that can refer you to a good psychologist? First things first, and you already know this, but you will need to taper and get off of the merry-go-round of meds you are on, and then get busy finding the one or two that can address your true issues. I think you will need to be free of all the 'extras' before you can truly diagnosed. And, please do not lose heart. It took 5 different anti-depressants before we found the right combo that worked for that particular depression. (all depressions are different, therefore not all work for every depression. In other words, if I were to suffer a clinical depression again, my go to may not be the same med that worked for me the last time.)
Please continue to post here as well. There is no judgement here. There is support, compassion and understanding.
I truly am glad you found us! Please do stay.
They say that people as brilliant as Winston Churchill may have been bipolar, so that being the case, you are in good company! But just bear in mind that whom you are thinking of as ME may be the manic you... somebody who is able to cover every angle, 24/7. Off the drugs, I too tend to think of ME as a person who is able to multitask, organize people and projects, do so many things. But as you saw, with the ups, come the crashes too. That's sort of the reason why you need to take the drugs, but more importantly to find the right level of medicine which doesn't take away the things that you love either. It can be done with a bit of assistance from your doctor. Good luck, and don't worry.
Well, so much of your story could be "mine"... the type "A" personality, the ability to work & juggle things 20 hrs/day, and opiates did the same for me... focus & ability to hyper-function... until I snapped. Long story, but self-diagnosed as cyclothymic in grad. school after I got clean/sober, then relapsed at 6 yrs, and went nuts (2 psych. wards, 3 more txs!)... had several major depressive episodes and finally a manic break, so I had proceeded from bipolar II to bipolar I. I fought to retain my license as psychologist, divorced, fought lawsuits, and moved states!
Not sure when & how this disorder progressed, which was precursor (disorder or opiates to self-medicate), whether predisposed (genetic markers), whether succession of drugs exacerbated disorder, but 20 yrs. later, my life is different than then. I don't have the same desires to go out and socialize, network, work like a lunatic, etc.! But, there's meaning in my life & new work... that's the only way I can describe it. Stable for about 14 years, I went through a long (2 yr.) trial & error period to slowly find the right combination of meds, and I wouldn't go back for the world! Yes, things are different, but this is middle age for me, and I accept what has happened. It all brought me to a place of peace & acceptance in my life, learning who I really am, for the most part. Its so tough to see that from where I was and where you are now, I'm sure... but, I really do know what you feel!
Don't worry about the label/disorder or whether you'll take meds. forever, try to find out what works, with a good Psychiatrist and Psychologist/Counselor, as it will all help you find answers. It helped me to find a 12-step group of healthcare professionals in recovery, dual disorder groups, to discuss & relate to one another, a church group, group therapy... its all good.
There's a reason for it all. You were going to burn yourself out! I'm also an "all or nothing" person, and not sure how long I could have kept up that pace, which is why you may have begun opiates in the first place... but, for me, the full time grad. school, excessive work, raising son as single mom, and short-lived abusive relationship (which I left) all took life to a "head". You may have been driven to "ill", or been predisposed, but "it is what it is" (not being flippant!). I'm sure you have grief, as Mary noted. Try to go easy on yourself. Your self-harm attempt wasn't successful for a reason... you have arrived at this point for a reason, and as Montaigne says, "Only the fools are certain and assured." Its okay to be questioning everything!
You are on an amazing journey to find out who you are NOW, who you're becoming and what life has in store NOW, not yesterday... and thank God you don't have all the answers... then, life would be over & your job here done! We're not in a race to get to the end of life... please try to enjoy the discovery... and try not to compare it to who you WERE. Before, you lived to help others... now, try to live for & help yourself! It'll be an amazing ride, I promise. God Bless! Jillian... sorry for the length of this :}
Like a few others here, I can greatly identify with your story. I was in a master's degree program for Physician Assistant studies and dropped out because I had a manic episode during the second year of the program. I had just started clinical rotations and 9/11 happened which set me off. It was only a matter of time that I crashed because I had stopped taking my medication for 9 months. I know you are feeling discouraged at this point, but try to stay hopeful. Your life and livelihood are not over. After I dropped out I went on to work as a technician in a different area of healthcare. I have held this job for 10 years now and have been very stable. I am now planning to re-apply to a few PA programs although I know it will be difficult to get a second chance. Like you, I have experienced the aftermath and pain of dealing with Bipolar disorder after a manic episode. Give yourself time to heal and build yourself back up. A person with as much drive as you have had in your life can only stay down for so long. Good luck to you.
I am a loving mother of three boys and have a wonderful husband, and a life most people would love to have. But before that I was a chronic drug user and alcoholic. I went through four rehabs, was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning three times and put in the psychiatric unit for a couple of weeks before they would release me. I attempted suicide once, and there were several times I should have died, but the good Lord kept me alive. I didn't want to go on. I didn't think I could, because how could I with that track record. Right? Noone would love me? But with a tiny glimpse of hope and sheer determination and people like the ones on this board to help me, I finally got myself together. Slowly but surely I started loving myself again. Then I found someone who loved me inspite of all my wreckage. I got sober and started living a productive life again. I didn't hate myself anymore.
You too will get to this point, my friend, if you have that tiny glimpse of hope, and it sounds like you do. There are people here who have been in your shoes. There are people here who cares. I do. Life can be so rough. But it can be beautiful too my friend. Surround yourself with good, positive people who can help you along this journey back to where you want to be. You can do this. My thoughts and prayers will be with you. Please stay in touch with us, and know that you are not alone. Not ever. God Bless. Ruth
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