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Bipolar Butterfly
Posted by macca78
16th Jun 2013

The Diagnosis

When a psychiatrist threw the Bipolar Bomb at me so many thoughts and questions invaded my fragile mind. Things such as ‘oh hell’, ‘what does bipolar even mean?’ and ‘will I end up in a mental hospital dribbling over a copy of Closer magazine?’ I was diagnosed on 19 September 2011, a week and a day into a two week holiday from work. I was annoyed because I’d had chicken pox and had to cancel all my nice plans, so if that wasn’t traumatic enough I also had to contend with seeing a shrink.

It was a rocky road to that shrink’s office. I knew I hadn’t been right for a few years and was heading for a big fall. I’d previously been misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety. A lot of people with bipolar are mistakenly diagnosed with depression because you’re hardly going to flounce into the quack’s office when you’re high as a kite saying ‘Come on doc, let’s get this party started! Let’s go to Vegas and burn all our dosh on booze and boys! Right now!’ Eventually I nagged myself to do something about it. Too scared to see the GP this time around I e-mailed Sane, a mental health website, and blurted out everything; the crippling lows, the unexplainable highs, the startling compulsion to self-harm, wine for breakfast…it went on. Of course it took them over a week to respond and I’d all but given up hope. They replied mostly by paraphrasing what I’d said and empathising, suggesting I go to the GP and if I wasn’t up to talking to them I could just show them the e-mail.

After a few months of more self-destructive behaviour things came to a head and I booked myself an appointment to see the nice lady doctor at my practice. I passed her the piece of paper with the e-mail on and waited for her reaction. She told me that she’d refer me to Wirral Mental Health Team and would just attach my e-mail to the form. A panel of mental health professionals would then decide if I needed an assessment. To me this sounded like the X Factor – would I get 4 yesses? As it turned out I did, as a week later a letter landed on my doormat. I’d been sent straight to Boot Camp, to see a shrink.

The actual assessment was straight forward. There is a check list, a ‘diagnostic screening tool’, they use and I was bombarded with questions about this, that and the other. I thought to myself ‘Kate, just be honest girl. This is your moment, your X Factor live final, to come clean and sort yourself out. You’re thirty three, you can’t carry on like this.’ So I did and the result was this little label I have to contend with for the rest of my life. I used to be wholeheartedly ashamed of it and would tell people I only had a mild version. Er, no! I now know that any mental health diagnosis is far from mild. Sometimes I still struggle to say it out loud and it sticks in the back of my throat like a fur ball. The psychiatrist told me I had two options; to go away and cope forever or come back and be started on scary sounding tablets. Well if I shrugged it off and went back to living my unstable life that would’ve defeated the whole object of going in the first place wouldn’t it? I was gobsmacked this guy had just informed me I had what is classified as a ‘severe mental disorder’ yet he was prepared to let me walk out of there to potentially cause future mayhem for myself and my loved ones. He also passed me a lengthy and poorly photocopied document all about manic depression.

If you’re curious to know more about what this beast entails here are a few things off the checklist:

Depression

• Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities
• Sleep disturbance
• Feelings of worthlessness
• Excessive feelings of guilt
• Poor concentration levels
• Suicidal thoughts

Mania/hypomania

• Unnaturally high, euphoric mood
• Extreme irritability
• Incoherent, racing thoughts
• Excessive, rapid speech
• Lack of inhibition
• Excessive risk-taking, such as extreme spending sprees, irresponsible sexual behaviour, or overuse of addictive substances such as alcohol or street drugs


I have Bipolar Type 2 which means I get bouts of severe depression and hypomania. By severe I mean face in the gutter, feel guilty about living, deluded beliefs everyone in my life would be made up if I topped myself sort of thing. Hypomania is the more well behaved little sister of mania but is still a pain. I am lucky I have insight into my condition and am able to control and contain some of the things rattling around my head, but if insight decides to leave one day well…I dread to think.

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