Oh, I'm so happy to have found this thread!!! I was diagnosed bipolar in April of 2003. I'd been on antidepressents for several years and they had pushed me so far into manic that I'd ran up a secret cc, was behaving inappropriately in public, had started on a 100' rock wall and was making fast and good progress, and many other things that were totally out of character for me. Then I went on Lamictal and for the first time in my entire life I felt like a normal person. I cried when I was sad, felt happy sometimes, was productive, but not overly productive, etc. Then, last May, my mental health deteriorated very quickly. I probably should have been hospitalized. I started crawling under things at home. I'd have these weaping fits where I'd find myself half under my bed. Or one day, I crawled behind the toilet!!! I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I started seeing a specialist for medication as my family doc was handling it before. I also saw a psychologist that quickly became too expensive. Both were helpful. But, the specialist took me off of the antidepressant and put me on an anti-psychotic. It would help for a few days and then I would start rapid cycling. It was so bizarre that I started keeping a journal. I'd feel great for a few hours and then suddenly, I'd be going off the deep end. Part of this was that my values require me to be a SAHM but I'd been working full time for 2+ years with my youngest in daycare and was tearing me to pieces!!! I was crying nearly constantly. I had a higher level position at the office and had two innapropriate outbursts, one of which found me yelling at my boss in front of my crew, "Don't undermine me!" Another day I went into hysterical crying and snuck away soas to not be noticed. In September I went on a 3 day personal retreat at a little retreat community uplake where there are no phones. I journaled constantly, did a huge (several feet wide and several feet long) weaving, ate healthy food, had healthy conversations with people from my past who weirdly happened to be there at the same time, and had forgotten my medication. At first I was scared that something weird might happen, like seizures, but then I felt so free!! I also decided to quit my job even though dh still wanted my income (he got over it and is happy he agreed). Then, I had time to start exercising again. So, now I'm a SAHM who exercises almost every day and I'm not taking any medication. However, last time I saw my family doc she prescribed something similar to valium which I really think was a good idea. I carry them around with me, but don't need them. However, if I find that I'm getting really aggitated, I'll take half of one. I did that for the first time last Saturday when I was seeing my sister. Anytime I see my family I get aggitated. Otherwise, I've been feeling great. Well...I have struggled on and off with depression, but THAT I can handle. Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer for far too long. But, I'm basically functioning every day. I can't say that I feel happy or content, but I do recognize true joy sometimes.
Whew, new paragraph! My public face is very stoic and happy. People around me, unless they know me very well, think that I'm a happy, contributing member of society. And that image is very important to me. It's probably the single-most powerful thing that has kept me from really going crazy. I HAVE to look good. I don't mean physically...I mean I have to look like a good, kind, happy, friendly person. I HAVE to. When I'm not doing well, I just fade away and torment my family.
My worst times have always been spring. Sooooo...I'm really scared to enter spring unmedicated. I've also taken on a lot of responsibility. I'm the fundraising chairperson at our daughters' school and I'm directing a musical this summer. I had also taken on being the chairperson for the school's auction which is a massive, huge job. But, with the support of some close friends and those feelings of aggitation beginning to build, I backed out. And amazingly, the world didn't fall apart!!! And no one was angry with me!!!!
So, I think the key for me is to keep exercising, keep living within my values (being home for my kids is the biggy), keep busy, but recognize when I'm getting too busy, and let myself say no, and also keep trying to live up to this reputation of being a good, productive person. I'd also like to look into alternative supplements. No one ever told me about fish oil. I do consume a lot of flax meal. Can't stomach the oil unless it's in capsules.
Nice to meet you all!