Poll for those with (or close to) bipolar disorder

Looking to poll regarding bipolar disorder on a couple of questions:

  1. How did you (or a loved one) get diagnosed? I imagine it’s not as simple as going to your GP and saying “Yo, doc, I think I have bipolar disorder.”

  2. Why, or what was the triggering event, that persuaded you (or a loved one) to get a diagnosis?

I was diagnosed in my early teens after seeing a few doctors over several years but I believe I was probably mis-diagnosed. Once I hit my late teens I quit taking the meds and, low and behold, the mood swings leveled out on their own and it’s been smooth sailing ever since (about 20 years). To be honest, I did have the classic symptoms though, so go figure. There was no triggering event per se, I had been out of control for years with extreme mood swings.

Not sure if this is a good answer for your poll, but there ya go.

My mom was diagnosed when she was 73, following a suicide attempt a year or so after my dad’s death. For me and my siblings, her diagnosis as bipolar put a whole lot of things about our experiences growing up in perspective.

I’ve always (as far as I can remember) had steep mood swings that come and go rapidly. I can go from an “inner smile” (Gee, that girl in that ad looks sweet - ain’t life great!") to suicidal gloom (“should I just walk in front of the next truck on the highway?”) within an hour.

Severe depression with constant suicidal thoughts (the second time for me) took me to a GP, who sent me to psychiatric evaluation. After several sessions, the doctor tentatively diagnosed me with bipolar disorder (newsbreak, yeah!).

Medication takes out the sizzling highs, which I kinda miss, but also smoothens the falls, somewhat.

My mother was bipolar, and was diagnosed in the '70s, after many, many years of wacky behavior, suicide attempts, and drugs-and-therapy. I think it was just a matter of “bipolar” becoming a more common paradigm for shrinks.

  1. We went to the doc and said, “Whoa, there is something really wrong with mr.stretch’s head!”
  2. Major moods swings and continuous panic attacks.

Mr.stretch was diagnosed as bi-polar 3 years ago, at age 45. His diagnosis came about because I finally made him go to a psychiatrist (again), after he had a break with reality in December 2005. I had already made him quit working in September 2005 due to constant panic attacks and weird as hell mood swings. He had previously been diagnosed with and inappropriately treated for clinical depression.

Having an official diagnosis and getting him on the right meds* has helped immensely. It also explained a lot of things. After many discussions with family and going through my husband’s past, we figured out he has his first major psychotic break in 1985-- severe suicidal ideation, put into alcohol abuse treatment rather than being treated for his obvious mental problems. He had another one in 1996–shortly after when we got married, we got new jobs, and we moved across the state all in the space of 6 weeks. He had one in 1998—and tried to kill me. So he has had 4 breaks that we know of, two of which were very bad (1985-suicidal; 1998-homicidal).

Mr.stretch has mainly mixed episodes, with the very occasional woo-hoo fun-time mania. He missed the manias, doesn’t miss the mixed episodes. As a matter of fact, he is coming off a mania that we knew would happen right now. We are hoping that the depression will be fairly mild because we knew this was going to happen (I bought him a truck that he has waited 13~ years for, of course he was going to be on the first train to mania-land).

*Right for now—we’ve gone through several med changes over the last 3 years.