Other Mental Illnesses Week: Lupus

***depression is linked physically to this disease***

So I’ve mentioned before that a while ago I was *misdiagnosed* as Bipolar II. For five years!

Thing is, I can understand now completely why this occurred. Some friends still think the changed diagnosis (depression with severe anxiety disorder) is wrong — that I do, in fact have bipolar disorder. But I don’t…

See, I have lupus, which I’ve also mentioned. Lupus is incurable and it causes quite a lot of problems — from everything to how I feel physically and emotionally, to how I run my daily life, to what I can and can’t do, etc… Right now, I’m in the process of filing for disability on both the state and federal level, as well as SSI, simply because the way lupus affects me is too harsh to hold down a real job. I’ve tried it and failed. The last job I had ended up making me really sick, to the point of me still recovering six months later, and I’ve no clue when I’ll actually be better.

Some may think that depression and anxiety and other emotional/mental issues or problems have to do with the fact that you have an incurable disease that isn’t *supposed* to shorten your life span, but in reality, it doesn’t.
And I agree that’s a pretty darn good reason to become depressed — and it may worsen the depression of a lupus patient. I know it does me sometimes, if I really get to thinking about it.
I’ve no clue what’s going to happen to me. I most likely will die of something lupus related, whether it’s my kidneys (my personal susceptibility) or a heart attack or something else. But that’s not exactly what makes me depressed. That’s not what’s caused my problems with depression and anxiety since I was in middle school.

Lupus itself causes these problems, oddly enough.

Everyone I’ve ever spoken to who has lupus (any form of it — and there are quite a few) is on an anti-depressant.
My rheumatologist was glad I was already seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist because he knew what problems lupus would cause mentally.
I honestly can’t say I know the exact specifics of why it happens … how the two are connected, but they are.

But back to the reason I can understand why I was misdiagnosed. (Brain fog — or fuzziness …  problems with cognitive functioning — is another big problem with lupus, especially when you’re in a flare, which I am, so I forget what I’m writing and go off on tangents. Sorry about that :P)
I have always had bouts of depression because, well, I have depression. And I had bouts of feeling completely unenergized because even though the lupus was dormant (you’re born with it and are usually diagnosed between the ages of 15-45, on average), it still affected me. I can look back and see so many signs, it’s kind of ridiculous.
But then I’d have times I’d feel great. Heck, just last year … about a year and a half ago, I was told I might be going into remission. Where the lupus is still there, but it’s not showing up in the blood work. You stay on your main meds, to keep it under control, but you don’t have all the horrible symptoms such as pain and fatigue…

So, when you have someone who’s in their late teens to early twenties, acting depressed at times and then other times acting all gung-ho about things and has a lot of energy and is sociable and all the jazz that goes with that … along with the neutral stages — yeah, it’s going to look like bipolar disorder.
But it’s not. Some of the medicines helped me, I’ll admit. Seroquel was a dream for sleeping and there are a few others, but they weren’t really treating what was wrong.

What was wrong is that I have lupus. And depression is a part of that. I’m not so sure about the anxiety. I know a lot of us have it, but it *could* be something totally separate. Just a condition on its own. Which makes sense, because for me, it’s pretty darn severe. I’m on an anti-depressant my doctor and I chose because it treats anxiety more than other drugs (at least for me), and I also take Klonopin twice a day. I’ve no clue what I’d do without it.

Point is, I think it’s interesting how diseases can cause mental illnesses when it’s not even a cognitive, mental thing. I’m sure it’s something most people don’t know. Especially since most people don’t even know what lupus is, it would only make sense that they’d have no clue depression is  physical symptom of it. So I thought I’d share 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing how other diseases are connected to mental illness in the weeks coming up. It should be interesting!

7 thoughts on “Other Mental Illnesses Week: Lupus

  1. Food for thought,…. I have been diagnosed with bipolar and have questioned it since the beginning. I am depressed 95% of the time and I don’t get the major highs people talk about so,… not sure,… I’m not a doctor. Your blog post brings up many questions though. Where does one illness end and another begin? hmmmmm

  2. Exactly!!!
    Even amongst mental illnesses, the symptoms overlap so much that it’s hard to tell what is causing what and who really has what problem. Which is why we need to be as open as possible with our doctors and the communities we join — to receive the best help and diagnoses.
    I’m not a doctor — none of us on the blog are … just like you aren’t, but if you’re not having the highs, or even hypomanic episodes, it’s worth making an appointment with either your doctor now and expressing your concerns …. OR asking to see another doctor. i’ve done that … even at the same clinic. One wasn’t helping me and I finally had enough and changed and I love my new psychiatrist!!! I don’t feel bad about leaving my old one because I wasn’t getting what I needed from him.
    Doctors work for YOU to make you feel better and figure out what’s wrong and how to *fix* it.
    I’d really suggest at least a follow-up with your regular psych … express your concerns and see…
    How long ago were you diagnosed??

  3. Pingback:Other Mental Illnesses Week: Lupus | WILD WITHIN: some of my other articles & posts

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  5. Thanks for this post Amy. I was diagnosed with Lupus 35 years ago and have really struggled with mental health for all of that time. I have never been diagnosed as having a mental health problem, but am bipolar as a magnet spinning in an electric field. I only found out about the effects of Lupus on mental health a year ago as I was crashing out of another job. I have been leveling off for the past year and am getting there. I am looking at self employment, since I can’t see any possibility of ever having the stability for work again. The doctor doesn’t seem to know much about Lupus and mental health, so I continue to crash around without drugs. Things are different in the UK and perhaps the doctor is merely responding to my resistance to taking any. I hated steroids when I was on them.

    Do the drugs help you, or do they dull you down so that life turns monochrome. I like having emotions and feel alive when I am high, even though I am useless in such a state. What does it feel like taking the drugs?

  6. I just had to write!! I just got back from my honeymoon with a majar rash on back, stomach and chest. I recognize this from the rashes I used to get while I was married to my ex-husband. I have was in and out of the hospital for many things at least once per year. I’ve had plurisey(fluid around the lungs) joint and muscle pain, migrains, diagnosed bi-polar twice, because of psychosis after my second child was born, and once after my home burned down when my 3rd child was 6 months old. I was hospitalized both time in a psych unit for 7 days each. I wasn’t thinking clearly, wasn’t sleeping.
    I have been off meds for 16 months. My new husband and I are convinced I’m not bipolar, however I have developed migrains tingling,pins and needles all over my body, dry eyes and painful eyes, fatigue, crying spells, sadness, extreme menstral bleeding and clotting. I had an mri on my brain and don’t have ms.
    while at the dr. 2 days ago while she was looking at my rash asked if I had ever had an ana test for lupus??? I’m waiting for the test results now……I believe my prayers for truth have been answered….
    I’m not crazy, bi-polar,a hypocondriac or etc..I just want the truth!!! im tired of missing work and feeling fatigued for no reason just to beat myself up for it!! I actually hope I am diagnosed with lupus so my at least I will know what to do with my body or not to do….any responses are greatly welcomed. I hseeing a chiropractor and getting lanacaine injections into muscle spasms….not sure now if this is a good thing to be doing or not???? HELP

  7. I have lupus and as dx’s bipolar. I don’t have depression. I am high most of the time. I don’t have visions but see common symbols that everybody sees. I take lupus meds. not psyic. drugs. I am mostly ok.

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