Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spectrum

This is in response to Emilijia's response to "Is this bipolar?", which I can't link to because I'm away from my own computer. 
 
I think our wires crossed.  I know that bipolar is considered a spectrum illness.  My point is that I don't believe it is.  I do not believe that someone who is sick part of the time and doesn't even need meds much of the time has the same illness I do.  I do not believe it is the same illness to be able to be diagnosed and never have a time that life is thoroughly disrupted. 
 
I am in a somewhat unique position maybe though.  For many years I was diagnosed as depressed, even though I had features of bipolar.  I went YEARS without sleeping hardly at all.  One summer alone I should have been diagnosed, but I lied to my therapist about it and about how I had felt.  I had huge mood swings, but excused them.  When I FINALLY gave in and admitted I was bipolar I was diagnosed as bipolar II, rapid cycling.  Later I was seen by Dr. Bipolar Guru and severe bipolar II with ultra-rapid cycling became the diagnosis.  About 6 months later I was diagnosed with mixed states, changing me to BPI.  I remember protesting this and Dr. Brain gently explaining. But soon after I started trusting people and talking about some of the psychotic symptoms I'd hidden for years.  Up to then I'd been too paranoid to talk about paranoia.  So I've been all over the spectrum, even though I was BPI for the whole time, and I did not get appropriate care because I was stuffed in the wrong part of BP.  If only I hadn't been I might have gotten an anti-psychotic long ago.  Dr. Mind did try them, and a few worked, but I had scary bad reactions and it seemed dangerous to try more for the low chance of helping.  Too bad the next to last choice worked well enough my life is 100% different.  I really resent the years I didn't accept psychosis.  It's my own fault because I lied to avoid embarrassment and treatment, but again, I think if the only thing bipolar were included the psychosis factor, I would have felt better, instead of feeling like needing that help meant I was the sickest of the sick.  I don't know, I'm not explaining well.  With the sprectrum idea being BPI seemed like I was failing and letting the illness get the best of me when other people didn't.  If bipolar was what BPI is and the other things were something else I would have accepted treatment, and accepted myself, years sooner than I could.
 
I am not putting down the other things called bipolar; I know they are issues in their own way.  I just don't think bipolar I and II or cyclothymia are close enough to be "the same".  I consider depression as an entity a horrible thing, I consider my panic attacks or OCD qualities horrible in their own ways, but it is the mixed episodes and psychotic features of BPI that truly nearly destroyed me.  I probably qualify for OCD.  Barely, but I do.  However, we feel that much of it is sensory sensitivity related, and it is also partially BP related, and anxiety is just a side effect of a terrible childhood for me.  So I don't walk around with that label exactly, although if I NEEDED the label I could have it.  I think we need to calm down about labeling things that are either only partially broken or which function ok despite some differences.
 
I qualify for "pre-diabetes".  That does not mean I am diabetic, so why should "sort of bipolar" be bipolar.  Pre-cancerous skin lesions do not mean cancer treatment, they mean take care of that and be careful.
 
The things now called bipolar spectrum need to be the same:  take whatever meds, be careful, and be glad you aren't really sick.
 
My objection is that it does those with severe forms of the illness a disservice.  "My friend's mother's brother had that and he's fine now."  Or my sister-in-law, she uses bipolar as an excuse for all kinds of misbehavior when she's cyclothymic:  aka more moody than average.

I want to be recognized for what I have:  an illness severe enough to be its own entity.  That's all.




i'm EMAILING FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Join me

3 comments:

thordora said...

The problem is that "they" don't even know what half of it is. Most of us take years for diagnosis, years more for proper meds. And then the criteria keeps changing.

The focus needs to be on the people who believe mental illness, TRUE mental disorders, can be gotten over or made better. It can be managed, nothing more. Dividing disorders up into worse or less won't help anyone. At the end of the day, shittastic is still shitastic.

Emilija said...

I guess I expressed myself poorly. What I meant to say is that that bipolar is just a label, and that there are no clear naturally occuring categories underneath that correspond to these labels. But what you are saying is that these labels are powerful and important, something that I have tended to discount. You have a good point. I'll have to consider that.

The whole concept of mental illness, particularly the mood disorders, is getting watered down. No longer the really sick qualify as ill. Hey, if more people get labelled as sick, doctors can treat more patients and drug companies can sell more drugs. And the not-so-seriosly mentally ill, these are the people most likely to have a job- and money, and most likely to get better.

Jon said...

I'm lucky - my level of functionality is higher than many. And I suffer much less than my son did day-to-day. But I'm also incredibly lucky to have lived 50 years. I still live day-to-day knowing that tomorrow may be the last day I'll be able to work and support my family. I feel like a ticking time bomb. So even though my daily pain is much less than others, the disorder is still very much real in the way it affects my life, and the lives of those around me. I'm a firm believer that the disorder impacts all of us so differently. I can do things my son couldn't do, and he could do things I can't do. We're all so different in our "functionality".