To: Bipolar Beat

Re: Which Came First – Substance Abuse or Bipolar Disorder?

I’m so happy to have come across this site, particularly this article, as I checked out different areas of my news reader.

I’ve been in and out of recovery (from alcohol abuse mostly) for about 20 years, now just two-and-a-quarter years sober again. Not too long before I got back to recovery in 2007 I was diagnosed with bipolar II. The description fit me perfectly, particularly as I went over a long list of incidents and periods of uncharacteristic behaviour during hypomanic periods. In fact the diagnosis of bipolar II was an ‘A-ha!’ moment for me and made so much sense of the preceding years and years when, at best, I was treated for episodes of depression only – leaving me to conclude that hypomanic periods were merely un-depressed.

Having seen others in recovery roll their eyes when they’ve heard about members speak of being bipolar I have been careful about choosing who I talk to about it, other than my psychiatrist.

I cannot deny that my symptoms have improved since getting sober again, but they have not been completely eliminated despite faithfully taking my prescribed medications. (This does not surprise my p.doc. who assures me that substance abuse, and recovery from it, and bipolar disorder(s) can and do occur at the same time.)

So my doc is more than okay with me being both in recovery and bipolar. So am I. It’s mainly, it seems to me, some untrained minds who are prejudiced about psychiatric care and diagnoses of different kinds over and above substance abuse.


From Bipolar disorder – Called manic depression or bipolar disorder stigma persists

An article arrived in my “in” box today which underlined for me one of the persistent difficulties in living with mental illness – stigma.

Stigma interests me a great deal, living as I am with HIV/AIDS, too.

I almost feel defensive in talking about my bipolar II condition, particularly around some other recovering alcoholics who look skeptical when I tell them I was diagnosed before I stopped drinking. The implication seems to be that, now that I’m stopped, the bipolar should be less of a problem. Indeed it has been but I’ve been taking medications of one kind or another for it all along!

Another friend has had terrible experiences with psychiatrists and meds and so expresses the same sort of skepticism but also sincere worry about me. I wonder if someone else’s experience is being projected on me.

I guess I just have to pick and choose who I confide in. After giving up Seroquel, because of elevated blood sugars, old-fashioned lithium has kept me stable – and I don’t want to fight that!

Here is the article.

Living in the east on west coast time

At just after 1 a.m. EDST I am now contemplating hauling ass to my bed, although any number of distractions could keep me from there.

I see my nearly new therapist for the second time Thursday and, if last week is anything to go by, I will be glad it’s a late afternoon appointment. A day after last week’s session, advised not to write too much about it, I stayed up all night and listened to what I have since come to call the soundtrack of my youth, which I stretched back to my pre-teen years (when my older brother was catching the tail end of The Beatles wave) and forward to my thirties, when I still felt young.

It was comforting to find all the music and listen to it again as it reminded me that I used music to soothe me – or numb me as the case may have been. Some of these tunes, which I will not list here, I played over and over and over again. Okay I’ll name two because I spent hours learning them on the piano in their original, not “Easy Piano”, form: Hagood Hardy’s “The Homecoming” and Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”.

Barbra Streisand – Barry Manilow – Beach Boys – Beatles – Bee Gees – Billy Joel – Carly Simon – Carpenters – Cat Stevens – Christopher Cross – Creedance Clearwater Revival – Donna Summer – Eagles – Fleetwood Mac – James Taylor – Judy Collins – Kinks – Led Zeppelin – Mamas and the Papas – Moody Blues – Pet Shop Boys – Simon & Garfunkel – Supertramp – Three Dog Night – Village People – Weather Girls

Margaret Trudeau to release book on experience with mental illness

I have been inspired to read of Ms. Trudeau-Kemper’s progress and I very much look forward to her upcoming book. With a diagnosis on the bipolar continuum myself I can relate to the sense of relief she feels after years of erratic behaviour and depressive episodes. I think it’s marvelous that this historical figure in Canada, for all sorts of reasons, is now making such a meaningful contribution to our collective understanding of mental health issues.

Today’s Globe and Mail includes this article featuring ‘Maggie’.

Long time, no blog

It’s been awhile, I know. (Thanks for asking, Gabriel.) I still have not bothered looked into getting my laptop repaired (and the best I will likely do is a salvage operation on its files.) So it takes just a little bit of effort, roughly equivalent in exertion to opening up my snail-mail box, to come downstairs to my building’s computer centre. Yes, not even a need to have my own computer and yet…

My health has been quite good, last time all the numbers were checked, and mood-wise as well (the ‘head meds’ working for the most part). I’m due to donate another five or six tubes of blood to the various fields of research in which I participate and will likely do so before the end of the week.

I’m still addicted to politics, less Canadian than American these days, and am staying pretty much on the beam with my neuroses 🙂


Computus interruptus, Part Deux

My computer woes continue but I am getting used to the necessary changes (taking the elevator to the computer centre just off the front lobby of my building, for example. While I try to look presentable it need not be a fashion show.)

To add insult to injury the web-based email which is associated with my sick laptop’s IP account was not accessible today. So I’ve switched to Gmail.

I had another great check-up at my doctor’s this week. My viral load still isn’t completely extinguished but at 68 I might be able to name them all. The CD-4 is 500. My blood sugar is excellent, too. Doc said I’m looking better than I have all year. I won’t have to wave off the boyfriends, I’m sure, but it is good to get such good feedback.

My mood has been good, too. I know that because I’m rolling with a few stressful situations and I am not yelling at drivers on their cellphones. 🙂


Medical update: the news is great!

My CD-4 count (an indicator of immune system health) has doubled to 520 and my viral load (which detects the level of HIV in my cells) has dropped precipitously from 125,000 to just 271.  Notwithstanding the ultimate goal is “undetectable” this is a major leap towards that.  My diabetes, too, is under control and I have managed my way through just a couple of “lows”.

This has me back to the condition I was in prior to my brother Craig’s death in May of 2007 and, in the case of the diabetes, even better. I feel like some more time has been bought!

My mood, i.e. my bipolar condition, has been stable for a few months now, too.

Now I’m off to Perth to spend Hallowe’en with my Mom, sister and Craig’s partner. (It’s just the way a get-together fell into place.) Trick or treat!