So I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, but what made me seek professional help? For me the mean reason I wanted to get professional help was because I had no control over my mood/emotional regulation and I was struggling with no idea what any of it meant.
I have suffered with bipolar since mid-late teens but it’s only been over the last few years that it has been more troublesome. I’d been suffering from what’s called rapid cycling which means that I experience a lot of bipolar episodes a year and have been doing so for about three years. So the lack of control I had during these times (if you refer back to my previous post What is bipolar disorder?) meant my exuberant behavior, uncontrollable thoughts and periods of depression was like trying to reign in a resilient stallion.
Furthermore, I was trying so many different things to make myself feel better, thinking my diets were to blame so tried keto, vegan, low-carb high fat, high protein low carb, supplements (legal kind) as well as exercise and meditation. However, nothing was working. I also begun to notice those around me weren’t as episodic in there moods as I was. They seemed relatively stable from one day to the next. Okay, some people seemed really excitable or melancholic but where like that every day, while others could be in a bad mood one day but fine the next, so why was I so different?
I tried to explain this to my longstanding G.P. that I never knew from day to day if I was going to wake up as Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde – this was a bit of an exaggeration because my moods weren’t changing that quickly – but it was the best way I could describe it (I’ll explain more in another blog on the patterns they followed). However, still they never picked up on it, instead telling me that people differ on the instability chart and I was more unstable than others – in their defense my psychiatrist told me there is very limited training in the NHS for mental health among G.P.’s. To put it in perspective, it eventually took four different doctors to get myself into see a psychiatrist and get the diagnosis!
With each doctor I battled with ‘hey this is happening to me, what does it mean’ to then get shrugged off by a second G.P. and given an anti-depressant. What was fortunate for me was I was signed off long term sick with depression and my employer has excellent benefits so paid for me to see a private G.P. to get a second opinion. I spent 60 minutes with this fourth G.P. talking about my health and about my mood instability with them asking questions to then say something along the lines of ‘I think you need to see a psychiatrist’.
I was relived to say the least, but If I am honest here I had already contacted a psychiatrist before seeing this private G.P. because something I didn’t sit right as I was off work with depression and on anti-depressants which were causing more problems than they solved. For example, I was bumped up to the max dose within 4 months, however, I still kept cycling in my moods – I was very depressive to better in comparison and to suicidal idealizations again. So, I contacted this particular psychiatrist because they took self-referrals and in initial email said that it sounded like Bipolar II disorder but couldn’t confirm until seen me. Unfortunately, however, they were withdrawing from the private practice! This was a bummer for me, but hey, I had the private G.P. whom said something similar so it was enough evidence to take with me back to my third G.P. and get a referral!