Bipolar Thoughts

Maybe Not

On Monday I started seeing a new therapist for the first time since I was in high school.

I have been with the same person, a LPC, for a long time, and I really enjoy seeing her but I felt like maybe I had been with her for too long and it was time to move on. So I found a Ph.D near my house and I am now seeing him on Mondays.

The first session was alright, mostly background stuff. I had to recite my sob-story, which I surprisingly hate to do. But we did get into a few conversations and it was a good time. I think it will be a good partnership with him and I am excited to continue moving forward.

He asked me right from the outset if I minded having my thoughts challenged. I told him that the reason I was in therapy was because I needed to challenge my thoughts. That is how it works, right? He agreed and we continued on. And the very first thing he questioned me on was my diagnosis.

Now, he isn’t the first professional to do that. My psychiatrist before the one I am currently seeing told me I wasn’t bipolar. My last therapist only agreed I was bipolar after my current shrink gave me that diagnosis. And quite frankly, I don’t care what my diagnosis is. The things in this blog, that is my disease, regardless of how you label it. Maybe it would be a good thing that I wasn’t bipolar. The medications I take don’t work anyway, maybe if I moved over to depression meds I would get some relief.

And he had good reason to feel that way, my sob story, all this man knows of me, includes zero manic episodes. My experience is not filled with mania. I feel like I have had one manic attack, and it came in the middle of a deep depression, which resulted in a very violent incident and landed me in the hospital. But I didn’t explain it this way to him, I only talked about the depression. This is also how my current shrink categorizes it for me. You only need to exhibit one manic episode ever to be bipolar. But people are free to disagree. In fact, I am interested to explore the possibility with this guy and see where we end up.

The next thing he questioned was the nature of my depression. I don’t know exactly what he was getting at but he speculated that my depression seems to follow patterns and has very obvious triggers. And mostly that is absolutely true. I have obvious things like Christmas and springtime. Big life events typically depress me. There is a fair amount of predictability to my symptoms and I have grown good at spotting them and predicting them. He didn’t say whether or not depression should have such triggers, but I got the feeling that was his attitude. It is most interesting in the light that my shrink is a consistent believer that all depressions and manias and anxieties have triggers. I personally feel like sometimes there isn’t a trigger, but that most times there is one. I have done a lot of work to get good at understanding my depression. I like knowing my triggers.

The final thing we talked about were how I had uncharacteristic timelines of stability. Basically things were rough from 17-19, good until 22, then only bad for 9 months or so, then great until 27, and then bad until current. Those good stretches were long, especially for a bipolar. I agreed and I gave him my theory on that as well. I feel like, despite my diagnosis when I was 17, I didn’t really display any real signs of bipolar until I was 27. The depression has always been there, obviously. But I don’t think I really became bipolar until everything started falling apart when I was 27. It isn’t like 27 is old to be diagnosed. Bipolar Disorder has an average onset age of 25. Mood disorders tend to show up in your late 20’s, no one really knows why. But that very fact makes me queasy when I read articles about 8 year old kids on serious medication for bipolar. It is difficult to diagnose in an adult who has full range of his emotion and intellect, and yet you can diagnose a kid that doesn’t even really know when he is lying. I have a tough time with it.

He seemed to agree that maybe that is what has happened, it would explain the obvious differences pre and post my mental break. It would explain a lot about why anxiety showed up unlike any previous time in my life. It would explain why things are so uniquely different for me now. And unfortunately it might explain why I can’t seem to make it back to the place I was before.

All in all I really enjoyed the session and I am looking forward to going back next Monday night. We will see what other things he challenges me on.