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I don't know if anyone can help me here but I'm struggling, and am not normally someone to reach out and ask for help when it comes to myself.
I don't know enough about the bipolar condition to know if it is something that can appear any point in life or is always present, or for instance varies in severity at either end of the scale for instance?
Some background. I'm a 40 year old bloke and typically am very very industrious - always involved in planning projects and ideas of my own for things I want to make/do/develop etc. I'm very much into photography and creativity runs in my family. I love projects, but am impatient and impulsive instarting new ones and not finishing previous ones, and want instant results or I get frustrated.
Up until now I had always just pigeonholed myself as a 'potterer' or someone that likes to meddle. But recently things have changed due to a few reasons. I've found myself over many weeks now (a few months) oscillating between insisting on being positive, and forging ahead with a project, or feeling very very down, apathetic, lethargic, seeing no point trying to do anything, and sitting and doing nothing, but pondering about everything and nothing at the same time.
There are influences to this that muddy the waters for me trying to figure out what's what. I can't fathom whether I am simply reacting to things happening in my life right now, or if I might genuinely be someone that perhaps suffers from this condition to some extent.
1) I've suffered pain for several years now due to a back problem. I have a prolapsed disc which has caused me permanent pain for 6-7 years now. It never goes away but is mainly mitigated by a very adequately by a steady 3-4 tramadol per day. Was 4 a day consistently until I cut wheat from my diet and this reduced the pain somewhat, leading to a lesser daily dose. I'm aware this is a 'nasty' drug but it works quite well for me providing I don't mess with the dose or have to go without it....
2) I've been taking St Johns Wort & 5HTP for some years consistently now as I just always feel like I need a little help towards feeling how I believe I should. I'm married, have 2 good young kids and am not well off but not struggling, so I cannot complain about my circumstances, although lately I have been questioning my emotions about my marriage, which are erratic (and have had no intimacy for about 18 months now).
3) Recently my back problems have exacerbated suddenly, meaning I have struggled to move/stand/walk at times and rely to an extent on a walking stick. Am seeing a consultant this week about this.
4) I have had a recent interest from an old friend that I held a flame for since youth, and mutually things were going to progress but we agreed this was morally wrong due to me not being single and thus could not pursue it. I am torn currently over this and want to be with this woman/friend, but obviously cannot. I have 2 young children and feel despite not fully understanding my current emtional status re' my marriage I could not bring myself to cause the pain of a separation for my family, never mind the financial aspect etc. I am also concerned that were I to do this that it would be influenced too much by this 'flame' which may not turn out to be a long term thing anyway if it was pursued. I.e. I would risk throwing away a comfortable domestic life for what could be a short lived 'fling'/midlife crisis, but also feel like we are meant to be together and always were. I suppose this is a risk many people have to decide on at some point in their lives....
To summarise I suppose, I am in the middle of a few scenarios - emotional turnmoil and confusion, ongoing long term physical pain which has recently worsened dramatically, a typical 'midlife' point renowned for upheaval. But on top of this - from what I have read - show characteristic traits of the type of person that could perhaps be bipolar (irritability, moods swings - recently huge ones, often suffer from low self esteen but occasionally feel 'superior' and slightly arrogant for some reason etc. My main points being that I seem to be becoming increasingly erratic in mood, and suffering an increase in the lows where I struggle to convince myself that anything is worth doing, and lose all interest completely in the numerous things I normally love.
If this is nothing like bipolar then apologies as I don't wish to offend anyone that has this condition, but I'm curious to know if there are things I can do to get a better idea for instance, or other signs to consider.
I'm concerned either way because I'm increasingly struggling to keep a balanced outlook, which is affecting my behaviour slightly, and while I recognise very obvious emotional influences here, I'm aware that this is not just a simple case of a 7 year itch or whatever, and that this is only one aspect of many factors.
But regardless, I'm curious as to whether bipolar disorder can onset at any point in life, can vary in intensity (eg I don't get what would be considered chronic depression or real mania, just points lower on a scale as it were), and can be effectively triggered by certain things that I may be experiencing right now?
Sorry for the war & peace question - I'm confused & upset and have confided in well meaning close friends but whom are all ultimately only able to point me toward the emotional issue and advise (wisely) to figure this out and take it from there. I see the logic in this of course, but also find I am unable to determine how I genuinely feel a lot of the time, and this is part of what worries me.
I appreciate any advice that people may be able to offer to help me perhaps just either put some perspective on things, or to help me figure if there could perhaps be something underlying that I should investigate further.....
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