I'm concerned I may be developing a bipolar condition. Looking for help/advice

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Hi guys

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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  • Posted

    This may intrest ive copied it fBefore I was first diagnosed with bbi-polar disorder I suffered severe depression. Even a few suicide attempts. The doctors put me in the psych ward to try me on various medications to relieve my depression. It wasn't until they tried me on Lithium that I snapped out of it. Then My new psychiatrist added some mood stabilizers. The depression pretty well left me. I have to admit that the Lithium left me without emotions at all. No lows and no highs... just blah! The mood stabilizers she put me on were carbamazepine and divalproex. Still no depression. Mood stabilizers work wonders. Talk to your doctor about the posibility of being put on mood stabilizers instead of anti depressants. But start with Lithium to erase the severe depression. It's been around for many years and usually works wonders for people. See what your doctor says.

     Good luck and God bless you in the futureor you

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  • Posted

    Best advice is go to the doctor as I thought I to had bipolar like my sister and I didnt know until recently there is a one and a two bipolar , I was doing things out of character im a shy,quiet person who doesnt like heights and last year I DID A SKYDIVE and I KEPT on looking at other men and wanted to have sex with them even thou im married ,I was having high days like i wanted to dance and swing my arms in the air in shops and out in the pubic ,i wanted to spend money even when normally i dont normally so my character changes but unfortunatelly it may take a doctor years to diagnose you ,when I told the doctor I thought I had it they didnt want to know,good luck.
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  • Posted

    I have a few thoughts on bIpolar:

    Bipolar Disorder is, (In theory, at any rate), the result of a chemIcal Imbalance, BIpolar mood swIngs occur Independently of any external events, (wIth some exceptIons, such as extreme stress.) I'm not sure about the age questison, but it mIght be more noticeable as you get older, I would thInk.

    Hormone Imbalances can also cause mood Imbalances.


    If you, (lIke myself), fInd your moods usually swIng as the result of externals such as somethIng someone says, or does to you, you probably don't have a chemIcal Imbalance. The problem mIght be wIthIn your thInkIng, and you mIght consIder doIng a lIttle research on personalIty dIsorders.

    (You dIdn't mentIon alcohol or substance use, whIch Is a whole other, but related, Issue, as you undoubtedly know.)

    PersonalIty dIsorders are often missdisagnosed as Bipolar; makes sense, as there are many drugs to successfully treat M-D, but drugs can't really help change a personalty, at least not In a posItIve dIrectIon.

    (Good new is: Dialectic and Behavioral therapy can!

    Sometimes just talking is enough.)

    You mentIoned tramadol: I recently dropped down from stronger pain  meds to tramadol after a very serIous Injury; It's workIng well for me, and my mood and energy level Is quIte a bIt hIgher. Perhaps It causes mood swIngs? Just a thought.

    Sounds to me like you're isn the midst of a mid-life crisis, in physical pain, and trying to balance happiness and love against doing the right thing. That's never easy.

    When I dIvorced my husband In my thIrtIes, fear, antIcIpatIon, and a whole new set of lIfe possIbilitIes made me pretty manIc, and I experIenced some of the concerns you've expressed. Many frIends suggested investigating  Bipolar disorder.

    ( you wrote: ..."irritability, moods swings  - recently huge ones, often suffer from low self esteen but occasionally feel 'superior' and slightly arrogant for some reason etc. "; sounds a bit personality-disorder-ish to me.)You sound like a good man, and i think you'll be fine.

    Best wishes; i hope you find the help you need.


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  • Posted

    I have a family history of bipolar disorder having 2 paternal Grandparents with the condition. I think there is a vast array of symptoms that can come under the bipolar label and it really depends on the degree of it and how it affects your ability to function without resorting to other means to control the mood swings, or just going out of control.

    For instance my Grandfather was a very ambitious, driven, and self centred person. He earned a CBE before he became physically ill. The likelihood is that these traits were natural personality characteristics he had. But it's the degree to which these are exacerbated or warped by bipolar or mood swings that matters. He would drink very heavily, was erratic in his behaviour both at work and at home, was very impulsive, extremely short tempered and angry (leading to frequent violent outbursts), and could be very grandiose and narcissistic. He very rarely considered other people in his impulsivity. He also was unfaithful to my Grandma frequently and spent vast amounts of money on people in a completely irresponsible way. That's the kind of stereotypical "manic" bipolar person, i.e. Bipolar I.

    Bipolar II I think bears many similarities to Borderline Personality Disorder - very deep depressions seem to be the most frequent occurence with some impulsivity thrown in. Some people also have rapid cycling or ultra-rapid cycling mood states where they flit very quickly between classic mania (rage, grandiosity), mixed states (agitated depression), hypomania (elation and extreme productivity) and suicidal depression. My Grandmother once threw all the furniture out of the bedroom window on one of her depressive impulses - it's kind of an unpredictable thing to pin down in terms of how it affects different people.

    If you are worried, or want medication or information about it, try to get and see someone who can give you an opinion.

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  • Posted

    You said:

    "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?"

    Bipolar Disorder onset can be at any age, but typicaly starts (or rears it's head) between late adolescense and early thirties. It is quite rare for a person to suddenly have symptoms of Bipolar without any prior warning when they are older, although it's not unheard of. Often life stresses are the trigger and can be with any mental illness, they probably "help feed the fire" so to speak and I know chaos or upheaval in any area of life is a trigger for certain MH difficulties I have. Stress is definitely a precursor for mental illness. Yes it does vary in intensity, quite massively, and episodes typically get worse and more frequent. People can also have continuous epsiodes that vary in intensity, some people only have infrequent episodes, and some people have an unrelenting course of illness. The trajectory generally accepted amongst psychiatrists is one of worsening episodes that increase in intesity, this is to ecouraage treatment compliance at the earliest oppurtunity with the (not always succesful) aim of preventing relapse.


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