My name is Deborah and I have Bipolar Disorder. A simple straight forward introduction to my story.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2004. Since then I have been through a lot of difficult and trying times. Let’s get started by telling you how it came to be getting the diagnosis.
The summer of 2004 I recall my thoughts being all over the place. Totally happy one day then very unhappy the next. During one of the unhappy times I tried to take my own life. I recall having feelings of impending doom, hearing voices inside my head telling me that everyone else would be so better off without me around to bring them down. I hadn't slept properly in years because of night terrors. I lay on the couch and I just wanted to sleep, sleep forever so I took 12, 30mg capsules of Temazepam and about a dozen Tylenol 3. Next thing I remember is waking up in the Emergency Department at our local hospital. They kept me in hospital for a couple of days…no psychiatric consult. They sent me home.
I continued to hear the voices in my head and continued to slip in to a depression that seemed to have no end. After moving to a new place thinking a change would do me good. Get back in to town away from the solitude of the country. But I kept sinking deeper and deeper. I went to the walk in clinic to talk to a doctor but got no help what so ever really, all he did was prescribe Paxil and more sleeping pills and Lorazepam. Weeks and months went by with the same mood swings, wild ones too. Everyone around me was concerned but left me be with my thoughts. The voices were louder and always the same…”you are no good, Miranda would be so much better off without you to pull her down” So I made the decision to end it all…stop the voices, stop the night terrors. I took all the pills in the house I could find. Miranda called the ambulance. I fought them all the way not wanting to go, wanting to die and get it over with.
At the hospital I was treated like a freak. The nurses and the staff were nasty. They held me down and put a tube up my nose and down to my stomach to pour in the activated charcoal. This time I was admitted to the Psychiatric ward. There I began to see a Psychiatrist, whom I still see today. He began talking to me, not at me. We dug deep in to my thoughts and my past. What brought me to this point? All the memories came flooding back. The memory of trying to take my life when I was 15 only to be told that I was just a teenager seeking attention. The memories of the terrible abuse at the hands of my ex-Husband. The daily beatings, the humiliation, the being held a prisoner in my home. It all came rushing back like a waterfall. A course of medications and counseling and a 1 week stay at hospital was what was done at that time.
I went home and tried to stay med compliant. I took my medications and went to my counseling. The more I talked about everything, to me it seemed the worse I got. I hated the medications and the side effects that came with it. I hated the being spaced out, the drooling, walking in to walls, falling up and down stairs. And some family members were less than helpful and did not accept that something was seriously wrong with me. This continued on for about a year. I made the decision to stop the medications and make everyone else happy. But this decision would prove to be the wrong choice. Facing another move and only having 30 days to find and buy a house, pack the house, do everything that needed to be done proved to be way too much for me to handle. I did it all in a haze and to this day I still have no memory of the move in to my house. The voices and the mood swings and the depression were back with a vengeance. I snapped and became lost in my thoughts, lost to everyone including myself. By lost I mean lost….I couldn't find myself. I snapped in the worst way. I became almost catatonic. Unable to speak or even hear the people around me. All I could here was the voices telling me how much of a loser I am. Telling me no one loved me. Telling me no one cared.
I ended up at our Local psychiatric hospital. This stay would last 1 month and 10 days. I was put back on medications and was not making progress. At this point even my doctor was afraid for me, telling me he was worried beyond about how to pull me out of this funk. Then the topic came up…Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
I thought of this treatment as barbaric and could only imagine what I've seen in the movies.
I did some research on it and made the decision to go ahead.
Exactly what is ECT Therapy?
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure used to treat severe depression. It may be used in people with symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts or when other treatments such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications have not worked.
How is it done?
Before ECT, you are given anesthesia to put you in a sleep-like state and medications to relax your muscles. Then an electrical current is briefly sent to the brain through electrodes placed on the temples or elsewhere on the head, depending on the condition and type of ECT. The electrical stimulation, which lasts up to 8 seconds, produces a short seizure. Because of anesthesia, the seizure activity related to ECT does not cause the body to convulse.
It is not known exactly how this brain stimulation helps treat depression. ECT probably works by altering brain chemicals (similarly to medications), including neurotransmitters like serotonin, natural pain relievers called endorphins, and catecholamines such as adrenalin.
In all, I had 13 treatments. And have suffered some memory loss because of it. I have little memory of certain dates. I suffer with High Blood Pressure and circulation problems, so when I was told that my heart stopped during a treatment, I made the decision that that would be my Last treatment. The treatment did have other side effects like nausea, dizziness, jaw pain, muscle pain, and headaches.
Did it help me? I would have to say a big “YES”! Once I was home and on my medications I began to feel somewhat normal again. During my hospital stay my condition was fully explained to my partner and my daughter. The 3 of us did a lot of talking, and a lot of crying. They were so supportive and understanding. Moe came to see me every single day, sometimes twice a day. My boo came to visit me often too. Their unconditional love helped me a great deal. And, every Sunday Moe would also bring one of my 3 dogs for a visit. Pet Therapy…I highly recommend it.
I was also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) due to the effects I suffered at the hands of my ex, which I mentioned earlier on. The night terrors were a direct result of that. I was put on Clonidine, which is a blood pressure medication also used as a dream blocker. After a couple of weeks on that one med made a whole world of difference for me. I was finally able to sleep without the horrifying nightmares. Sure, I don't dream, or if I do, I certainly don't remember them. I continued taking the Lorazepam, Temazepam, and Seroquel until 2007.
I was however, still having a great deal of trouble dealing with the side effects of the medications. You know, the space cadet feeling, the drooling and unstableness, slurred speech etc… So, I made the choice to seek out some alternative solutions. I spoke in depth with my doctor about getting off some of the medications. He did not recommend that I do that but he also understood that it was my decision and he could either help me or not.
So he helped me wean off the medications properly so I would not go through major withdrawals. After that was done over a period of 5 months he changed the Seroquel to 100mg slow release one daily. I continue to take the clonidine and the temazepam. So I am down to just those 3 medications taken at bedtime. I began to do a lot of reading on alternative treatments. What did I choose? Relaxation Therapy, which is a routine of deep breathing and stretching, Yoga and meditation. Has it done the trick? For me yes, very much so. I have to say that my conditions are totally under control.
August 4, 2006 I lost my mother very suddenly and I thought I was not going to be able to handle it. But I trudged along, made it through and hung in there. I got through it without any mental set backs. Then, again I had to endure another loss. June 30, 2008 I lost my dear brother Ron very unexpectedly. What I went through was very difficult and I felt a set back coming on and I did NOT want to go there. What did I do? I sucked it up is what I did. I thought to myself that letting it “get to me” would be letting my condition get the better of me. I did a lot of soul searching and every day 2 or 3 times a day I would do my relaxation therapy and meditate. I made it through.
Well here we are, not at the ending of my story but a continuation of my life. I can not stress enough how some members of my family helped me so much and others not so much. I know now that I am loved and that makes me more capable of loving back. I've been to the depths of desperation and back. I will survive. I will go on. I will be me.
I hope my little story will help others dealing with Bipolar Disorder, You are NOT ALONE! We are special people. And we have hopes and dreams like everyone else.
Deborah Paquette – Diva “D” of The East