My name is Marcia Purse, and I have Bipolar II Disorder. I've been writing about bipolar disorder for 12 years and am delighted to be joining HealthCentral's expert writers.
Like many with bipolar disorder, I experience much more depression than (in my case) hypomania. In spite of years of therapy and counseling (was told I was "highly neurotic"), I was not medicated for chronic depression until 1994, and not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until 1999.
Suddenly it all made sense: the occasional times when I was high and reckless, the long, miserable depressions that included what I called "racy brain," the yearning to be "normal," the insomnia and unrefreshing sleep - bipolar disorder explained all of it. But of course, that wasn't the end - only a new beginning.
I'm fortunate in that I've never been suicidal. Something in me always believed I'd find a magic trick, a magic man, a magic something that would turn my life around. If only I could keep my home neat and organized, I'd feel better. If only I could find a job I loved, I'd feel better. I'm sure many of you have been there!
I did find the magic man, but of course, that didn't cure me. And after we'd been together for 11 years, he died suddenly, a hard blow. Then, 18 months later, I found and lost the magic job. That's when I crashed hard and was finally put on Prozac.
I felt wonderful! Confident, happy - I don't know if it was mild hypomania, at the time I felt it was the "normal" I'd been looking for all along. It lasted a year, then gradually the depression came back. (By the way, my doctor has told me since then that this is very common with Prozac. Doesn't mean it will happen to everyone, of course, but if you notice Prozac losing its effectiveness, it's time to talk to your prescribing doctor about it.)
Finally I was properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Since then, I've had bouts of mixed depression, periods of normalcy, and the occasional hypomania. My medications were changed many, many times. Some would work for awhile, then gradually fade out. Others were simply problematic. A couple have stayed with me long-term.
Since late 2005 it has been especially difficult due to my elderly mother's illnesses, her death in December 2007, and the difficulty of dealing with her estate through much of 2008. Then, just when everything seemed good and under control, I dropped into a severe 6-month depressive episode. I saw my psychiatrist weekly, tried many new medications - and finally Paxil worked.
I'm still struggling. It's not perfect. My goal as an Expert at HealthCentral is to share my experiences in a way that helps readers understand their own situations better, and to answer your questions so that you are better equipped to handle what life - and bipolar disorder - throw at you.
Published On: February 01, 2010
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