I am a 54 yr.old female that has a diagnosis of Mixed Bipolar type 2. I also have PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. Most of my life I have been afraid of everything and everyone. I am so used to putting up a tough front. This current episode has now lasted for four months. I find myself self medicating, sleeping and isolating from family and friends. I’ve gained a lot of weight and can not fit in my clothes. I am now 5’4″ and 238 pounds. I get up, go to work, go home and go to bed, everyday that’s my routine. On the weekends I don’t even bother to get out of bed. Inside myself I know I am slowly dying. Yet, I have no desire to stop it. My mind tells me one thing and my actions are another. I feel I’m on self destruct and I can’t or won’t stop it. I am smoking 3 packs or cigarettes a day, I am eating junk food and no physical activity at all. My work requires me to sit at a desk 8 hours per day. I no longer have insurance and I have no one to talk to. My mother and siblings have abandoned me asking I never return. I guess my question is how do you live like this?
I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. From what you have described it sounds like you are having a lot of trouble because you have been in a depressive phase for the last four months. Although I am sure that it doesn’t feel like you have been able to do anything to get out of the funk that you are in, you have taken an important step by writing to our website and asking for some support. To me that is a big step and you should give yourself some credit for seeking help.
I have bipolar II as well along with anxiety so I can relate to a lot of what has been going on with you. In the past I have also self-medicated by abusing alcohol and marijuana. However in time that had actually made things even worse and I spiraled out of control many times. It increased my mania along with making my depression and anxiety worse. So in the end I was really not doing myself any favors. You have mentioned that you are self-medicating. I am wondering if that is making things worse like it did for me?
You have not said whether you are on any “medication/s” for the bipolar and PTSD”. If you are not being treated with medication from a doctor for your bipolar and PTSD chances are the “self-medicating” will continue to make things worse rather than better. When I was “self-medicating” I was on medication but I was on the wrong meds. I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and ADHD; my bipolar II went undetected for years. Long story short I was not diagnosed correctly and on the incorrect medication and I still struggled thus I continued to “self-medicate”. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it may be worth discussing everything that you mention here with your doctor. I think that would be a good starting point for you. For me it was really important to be very honest with my psychiatrist and tell him everything especially that I was drinking and smoking pot a lot.
My doctor worked with me and helped me to stop the self-medicating. I had to do that before getting further medical treatment from him as that was part of the deal. Once I was given a correct diagnosis of bipolar II, generalized anxiety disorder and ADHD he was able to give me the proper medication for all three disorders. And for me that made a huge difference and with time and patience I began to become stabilized. I no longer cared if I drank or smoked weed anymore, it just didn’t matter. So to me I think that it would likely help if you are able to somehow stop with the “self-medicating” and I would suggest that you ask your doctor for help with that. Also if you are not on any medication for the bipolar II and PTSD it would be a good idea to ask your doctor about what options may be available to you. If you are currently on “medication”, it may be the case that your meds are not working for you anymore or you could be on the wrong medication. Don’t be afraid to discuss those things with your doctor because they should be able to help figure out why your depressive state is lasting for so long.
You also mention that you feel like you are going to “self-destruct” and that you have no one that you can talk to. I know the feeling well, the isolation, the darkness, and the feeling of hopelessness, it is not a healthy way to live that is for sure. And because things seem to be getting progressively worse for you I would suggest that you make a doctor’s appointment as soon as you can. If for some reason you cannot get in to see your doctor fairly quickly perhaps you could see one at a walk-in clinic. For some people it is really hard to go and see a doctor and discuss their issues. But for me that was my best starting point because like you I had a lot of not so good things going on and seeing a doctor gave me some sort of direction and guidance. Without that I would have continued to be “lost” and I am sure that things would have gotten much worse for me instead of better.
The other thing that you could do is to see if you have a “community mental health clinic” in your area. This can be another good resource as there should be someone there that can help you. If a community clinic is not accessible another option would be to call your local “Help Line” and explain your situation to them. Often times they can offer some support and let you know of some other services that may be of help to you.
Because you have a lot of different things that you are struggling with you are likely feeling “very overwhelmed”. I know that I sure felt that way when I was unwell. I honestly don’t know if I’d even be alive today if it weren’t for my seeking help from my doctor. That was a vital intervention for me because he was able to provide me with the correct medication and was able to set me up with additional support such as counseling. I was in such a bad state that I had to see a psychologist once a week for about a year and then every two weeks for another year because I had so much to deal with.
Although it was a lot of hard work and persistence on my part I was able to get better with time and learned some very valuable “coping skills” as well. Sometimes we become so “overloaded” that we can no longer see straight and we can hardly cope from day to day. However with the right kind of help it is possible to rid ourselves of our “self-destructive behavior”. I’m not going to lie and say that it was easy for me because it certainly was not. But I am now in a much healthier state and the most stable that I have ever been. So I’m a big advocate for seeking out help because without it a lot of us who have bipolar disorder or any other type of mental illness will more than likely continue to struggle when we don’t have to.
The other things that have helped me are things like, pushing myself to get out of bed when I don’t want to and engage myself in something, even if it’s just watching a movie or doing a little reading. Learning as much as I can about bipolar disorder is also really helpful. Same with reading people’s blogs about what their experience with bipolar is like and how they cope with it. Even if you start with “small steps” whatever it is you can try and do that is “positive” on any given day can help make you feel a little better. Once you are starting to feel better it will get easier and easier. I wish you the best and thank you for writing to www.askabipolar.com Here is a link on self-medicating which also may be helpful for you: http://www.askabipolar.com/medicating-denial/