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Bi-Polar advice and experience

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Against Will, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    A very close friend of mine is in the hospital and has been diagnosed with a bi-polar complex. Sometime last week, I heard that he had been hospitalized with extreme paranoia and delusions, thinking he was dying of AIDS.

    He had given away most of his possessions and went outside at night, in the middle of a snowstorm, in Vermont, believing that he would expire on the way up there. However, he made a stop at another of my friend's houses (probably out of habit), who realized he was acting strange and took him to the hospital.

    Right now he's doing much better, he's eating and isn't as paranoid. This seriously changes his life, he's an extremely creative person, which as many of you know, can make it difficult to pay the bills. With this, he's going to have to be under care and start taking medication from now on. This change will compromise his ability to play in his band (whom are really good), and music has been this guy's refuge for as long as I've known him. In fact, a good 40% of my musical tastes today are a result of his influence.

    I was wondering if anyone has anyone close to them who have had to deal with psychosis or mental illness of this nature. I'm worried about what's going to happen to this guy. I still don't have all the information, but it's still really frightening...
  2. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    He's the same person he was before the diagnosis. Treat him the same.

    Its just a title.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    It is crucial that while hopspitalized, your friend receive the correct medication to control his condition and also receive counseling to help him understand his condition.

    Equally crucial, however, is that once the ideal medication is found to control the swings in mood and extremes of behavior, your friend MUST continue to take that medication religiously. Continuing counseling will help too, plus the counselor will probably be among the first to notice if the bi-polar condition is no longer being controlled effectively.

    The problem is that so often patients, once they feel better and leave the hopspital, begin to neglect their medication. Another problem is the cost of medication and counseling. If your friend loses work and medical benefits due to his condition, it may be hard for him to afford the help he so desperately needs in order to control his bi-polar disorder.

    I wish him luck. The road ahead may be difficult, both for him, his band, his freinds and family, because bi-polar behavior can be hard to understand and hard to cope with. Even understanding that the person who has it cannot control his behavior does not make it any easier to cope with the frustrating actions of the afflicted individual.
  4. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I realize that, however the fact that he has been diagnosed with this gives me something more to worry about with him. The fact that it's possible for him to not be in control of his actions is something I can't help but be concerned with. Also, it's going to be important that he realize he has this and can understand it, as it will save us all a lot of grief.

    I'm not going to baby him, but bi-polar is a hell of a lot more than just a title.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    this is very very important. one of the problems folks diagnosed with bi-polar disorder experience is that once they get their extreme moods stabilized, they feel like they're numb and they don't like it - normal feelings and emotional highs and lows seem to be almost undetectable compared to the huge swings their condition imposed on them in various manic or depressive moods. think of it this way, a typical manic episode of type one bi-polar disorder may be like going to a metal concert, and with the feelings being of that volume. when you leave the concert (take mood stabilization medication) you can hardly hear anything, barely perceive standard normal conversation (more common, healthy moods and mood shifts.)

    if someone suffering from bi-polar disorder sticks with their medication and trudge it out through the adjustment period, they can find satisfaction in more normal mood patterns.

    bi-polar is very difficult to understand, and very misunderstood. sometimes individuals suffering from it resort to self-medication with illegal or controlled substances to control the moods, depressants during manic periods, depressants or stimulants during the depressive ones, and this leads to more severe symptoms as well as addiction conditions that can precipitate greater illness. if you want to help your friend, be on the lookout for substance use. he should completely abstain from alchohol or any other controlled substances other than cigs (if he smokes) while on his meds. otherwise, the side effects can be severe.

    i wish him the best of luck
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, yes and no. i know quite a few folks suffering from bi-polar disorder, some very well, and it's not so cut and dried that "sometimes he's not in control of his actions". bi-polar doesn't necessarily work that way, think of it more like a volume knob. those fanciful thoughts that enter your mind, about just leaving it all behind and going to the beach, someone with the condition would act on it, at any time of the day or night, without even packing or filling up the tank with gasoline, during a manic episode. the world is one's oyster - chosen by god, one can bring peace and light to the world.

    depression on the other hand, and this is for both folks with depression, and bi-polar-diagnosed folks suffering a depressive down-turn, is different. folks toss around the word "depressed" to talk about being sad, or having a bad day. clinical depression is that sadness constant and unrelenting for perhaps two weeks or more. hope is completely gone. i'm not talking about ridiculous pipedreams of being a rock star kind of hope, i'm talking about the very basic hope of a new day, a new sunrise, some simple opportunities coming to make life interesting and livable for another day, something to look forward to. it's like living in a fog, a gray and lifeless void where nothing matters and nothing will ever matter. this isn't self pity, this is brought about by actual chemical imbalances in the brain. every perception, every thought, is centered on the hopelessness and absolute nature of the moment. one feels physically winded, physically weak and unable to concentrate on anything but the perceived nature of reality, over and over, pounding in one's brain like a jackhammer.

    it's not normal for someone with bi-polar disorder to suffer from hallucinations, that's more an aspect of schizophrenia, but thought patterns that have no basis in reality but still have a strong, negative, effect on attitude are symptoms of almost all mental diseases, and bi-polar is no exception. folks who suffer from clinical depression also deal with this, almost daily, even with the help of medication. that's where counseling comes into play, it helps folks realize what's happening and, being aware of it, try to reverse it, and think in a more healthy way. seems cheesy, but it's really important, literally for someone's survival. a big part of bi-polar is the depressive swing to the mood, and suicide is just as dangerous a potential outcome as it is for someone suffering from severe depression.

    while i completely agree that he does in fact need to realize and act upon his diagnosis, i feel it necessary to point something out. if you really want to help him, don't think this is something that he can just "realize he has and understand it" on command. i hate to sound callous but the grief that he needs to be addressing is not that of the relatively healthy folks around him, but rather his own - being diagnosed with a mental disorder can be one of the most staggering things someone has to deal with. the stigma attached to going to a mental hospital is staggering, and that's not the least of it. he's going to be dealing with bi-polar disorder the rest of his life - even if he gets off his medications from the advice of his doctor, it will always be something that lurks right around the corner for him. the right combination of triggers or stressors enter his life and -bam- years of work and healing will be gone. this is a real disease, and it can be fatal - kurt cobain suffered from bi-polar disorder - "lithium" the song was inspired by one of the more powerful mood stabilizers used for the condition of the same name.

    think of it this way - you wouldn't tell someone suffering from cancer to understand their sickness to save other people grief. this is the same thing. i'm not trying to give you a hard time, but i'm just trying to illustrate a point. it's natural for folks who care for people diagnosed with mental diseases to think of themselves as "normal" or "healthy" and that the sick person needs to "get over it" (not saying you are saying this, it's just a common response) or even that they will help them get over it. in the process, they don't realize how they need to adjust their own thinking and expression towards the condition and the patient. if you wish to remain in this person's circle of experience, you're going to have to change the way you think about his disease and your role in his life. that's one of the hardest things for folks with mental diseases - they go through so many changes and realize they have to go through even more, but the folks around them, the "healthy ones", don't really realize how they need to change their own perceptions. that doesn't mean you handle them with kid gloves, it means you treat them the way they need to be treated, with the respect and understanding shown to anyone who is suffering from an illness that is impairing their ability or lifestyle.

    heh. that was long. :D
  7. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    What brought this on? Anything? Was he always like this?
  8. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central

    It's a long story, part of it is genetic (his mother has a similar condition), part of it is substance related, part of it is the fact that he's unemployed, lives alone in his apartment with 2 cats and it's the middle of winter in VT. I guess it was just a bunch of bad factors coming together under pressure.

    It was never a problem before, we just thought he was an oddball. I was a little concerned last time I saw him because he seemed to be drinking more than usual, I made note of it but didn't think it was a problem then. Turns out it seems that was his way of moderating his emotions.

    Thank you very much, to Bop and JT. I really appreciate your input. I'm anxious, because he's the kind of person who would brush something like this off and not acknowledge it as a problem, he'd just brush it off and think he could control it on his own. He'd see admitting it to be a sign of weakness.

    This is going to be difficult ****, I appreciate all of your guys' help.
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I don't know if it was mentioned, because the size of JT's post scares me, but lighting helps a lot. Daylight lightbulbs, and lots of them. It will help with the seasonal affective bit of it a little.
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    great point. light is very important, as is getting outside, socializing with folks, going to bed at a reasonable time, getting exercise. all of these things help release endorphins - shoot even just making eye contact with people releases a small amt of endorphins, which can help reduce seratonin reuptake, one of the chemical causes of depressive states. all the things that grandma said were good for you are also some of the best things the mentally ill can do to treat their illness.
  11. I had a longtime jazz guitarist friend who had this disorder and it was sad to see his life degenerate over a thirty year period. I think doing drugs was what triggered it all off for him, but it's hard to say as his father had the same condition; so it may have been a genetic time bomb just waiting its moment to go off. He was at his worst in the latter years when he refused to take his medication and sadly passed away from an unknown cause last year at 58.

    Here's a website that may be of help to you, and best of luck with your friend.
  12. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    John, that was an excellent post. The only thing I would disagree with you on is that they can suffer auditory and visual hallucinations. Were talking small ones not full blown totally detached from reality hallcinations. Against Will, it sounds like your friend might be "bi-polar with schizo-effective".

    Against Will, not trying to be rude or anything here but the psychiatric community has no clue what causes the bi-polar condition. There have been no definate connections to genetics or the use of illicit drug use, only the speculation they do. As you already know, once you have it, it doesn't go away. :(

    I can tell you from first hand experience that living with someone who is bi-polar can be rather challenging for you and the person diagnosed with it. My wife is Type 2 bi-polar. She has gone through hell with the meds and once a certain combo works it can stop working in a matter of months or less. Ofcourse when they stop working thats when she "crashes", becomes suicidal, and ends up being in the hospital for 2-3 weeks to get her meds changed to something that might work. She is currently taking a cocktail of Effexor, Trilleptal, and Thiothixene. Its a rollercoaster ride to say the least.

    All I say to you is ask yourself this... Are you really a friend to him? If so, research it yourself and try (and I mean really try) to understand what he is going through. He needs you now big time.

    Good luck and I hope he gets it under control. If I can help in any way, please feel free to PM me anytime.

    Here are a couple of links to help you, and ultimately him:
    http://www.talkaboutsupport.com/ (support forums:look in "manic" and "depression manic moderated")
  13. Deadworks


    Dec 13, 2004
    St.Louis, MO
    John makes some really excellent points.

    I don't have experience with bi-polar but I did suffer from a severe panic disorder along with depression. Please don't assume me trying to gain sympathy points from the TB community. I'd just like to share a few points on what had helped me recover personally. I really hope it helps.

    Get away from civilzation for a weekend. Plan a camping trip(once spring arrives of course!), bring acoustics, camera's to take stills, canoe, fish, hunt, defend your food from ravenous raccons, whatever. Even if you get rained on the whole weekend it can still end up fun and really take his mind off of things.

    Have a dinner at your place, invite him and a small few close friends over for a home cooked meal where you can sit around and talk.

    Pop in and say hello randomly when you know he will be home. Perhaps drop off some leftovers, show him a new song you wrote, ask advice about an album/artist. Sometimes people lose touch with the fact that their friends really do care and think about them. You don't have to plan an evening out of it. Sometimes 15 mins of your time can make that day and even the next two or three better for him.

    Something that is going to sound odd, but sometimes helping someone else can be a big cure for yourself. Maybe suggesting volunteering an hour here or there helping out at a soup kitchen, playing nusery ryhmes at daycares, reading books to kids, assisting the elderly can help him feel like he is making a difference with his life.

    The most important thing is just be a good friend to him. Don't judge, or pressure him to do anything.
  14. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    I'd be surprised if there were that many people posting here who didn't have people close to them with illness of this nature, whether they know it or not. I've read a variety of sources that estimate 5% of the population suffer at some point from some form of schizoaffective illness. Apparently it's higher amongst creative people such as musicians.

    I have little to add to John and Kelly's excellent posts, but will emphasise his points about self medication with alcohol and recreational drugs... definately not a good thing. They can interfere with treatment and confound the problem itself.
  15. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I have a couple of things to add that might be in some of the longer posts. I'm sorry but I just scanned them this time.

    It's very important to understand how hard it is to get someone evened out on his meds with Bi-Polar Disorder. Most folks who want to get high take some kind of chemical(booze, pot, whatever) to do it with. Bi-Polar people get high by NOT taking their meds. Without the pills, all you have to do is wait and everything will turn wonderful. You'll have all kinds of ideas and energy and feel great and want to go do things RIGHT NOW. --- Until you switch over to the depressive mode.

    Your friend is lucky that they recognized it as Bi-Polar Disorder, rather than just Depression. Most people don't seek help while they feel great and energetic. They seek help when all their endorphins go away and there is no real reason to stay alive. Unfortunately, most doctors don't tell these people "Hang on a day or two and you'll feel wonderful again." They medicate them for the depression, but don't address the swings...so the swings get worse.

    Psych issues are more common than you think, especially among creative types. Music may be a great steadying influence on him. I was apparently clinically depressed for most of my adolescence, but music helped me cope. Anything that helps you make your own endorphins will help. Artificial endorphins SEEM to help, but take away your ability to make your own. Avoid them. Trust me.

    Support your friend as best you can. Hang on for the ride. It will suck. I wish you all the best.
  16. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    What I meant to get across is that he had this disorder before he was diagnosed and you knew him and dealt with him fine then.
  17. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, i figured any kind of hallucinations would be schiz-eff, but that would be pretty straight up to diagnose, i would think.
  18. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Oh, and I dated a girl with this disorder and am still friends with her.

    She was never diagnosed, but it was obvious. Its tough, but if you've dealt with it in the past you can keep it up.
  19. My beloved girlfriend suffers from bi-polar disorder. It is hard to deal with, really hard. The best I can do is to educate myself as much as possible and be there for her whenever she needs me. I try to make things as convenient as possible.

    She suffered from a very dysfunctional childhood, and needs to put the past where it belongs...which is difficult because she has this disease. Early in our friendship I was more pushy (in terms of encouraging her to put her past behind her), which is a big mistake, but now I am much more supportive and understanding and caring. She will never forget her past, I know, but I can help extinguish the flames of it with the support and love I give her.

    It is just really hard to deal with and it sucks up a lot of my energy. I want her to be happy, and there is no way in hell I will abandon her thinking that she is too imperfect for me. :rollno: