I began this blog as a woman in her mid-40’s who was first diagnosed with Manic-Depression (now known as Bipolar Disorder) 25 years prior. For two decades, I chose to treat only the depressive symptoms of the disorder. A breakdown that included a stay in a psychiatric hospital, an astute therapist, loving husband and new psychiatrist brought me back to a diagnosis of Bipolar I and convinced me to treat the entire spectrum of the disease.

Mania Reset

For whatever reason, for twenty years I found it more acceptable to carry around a denial-diagnosis of unipolar depression (depression only, sans any manic symptoms whatsoever). Why? Because I associated Bipolar with the spectacular stories of bad behavior by famous people from long ago, and the horrible, ‘medical’ treatment they received.  People like Van Gogh and Vivien Leigh immediately came to mind.  Leigh’s story especially scared me.  After reading biographies about Vivien (my namesake) when I was a teenager, vivid mental pictures of burn marks on her temples from ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and shivering under an ice blanket haunt me to this day.

The big reset came when I was finally educated that you don’t have to run around naked while ripping your clothes and screaming from the rooftops to be considered manic. My therapist craftily indulged my nerd intellect, dragged out her DSM and read aloud the criteria for mania, hypomania and mixed episodes.  The shoe fit.  Actually, I’d been wearing the shoe my whole life but refused to look down to see it for many, many years.  So, with great care and understanding my husband and therapist gently brought me back to the Manic-Depressive / Bipolar diagnosis that was made decades earlier.

Today

Today I am accepting of my diagnosis, better educated, taking the right medication and overall in a good frame of mind. My relationships with my husband and my son have improved immensely, and I see a future for the first time in a long time. Of course, everything is not always rosy in Bipolar Land. Stigma is something I struggle with every day, as is keeping the medication balanced and stress to a minimum.  But, it is possible.  Life is so much better when my Bipolar is under control.

 

52 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I was diagnosed 13 years ago. Didn’t have the interest to learn a whole lot. I was in denial until I had my second manic episode last summer. Now I learn all I can.
    Hope the writing helps, good luck!

    1. Thanks, Ofeliaj – good luck to you as well! Writing does seem to help. Hopefully it will for you, too. Drop by any time and feel free to ping me if there’s anything exciting out there you think we should know about.

  2. Hey there, I’ve been ghosting your blog, and I really like it. You have a great blend of personal experience and non-personal information. Lulu and I have our new project going, Canvas, and we’d love it if you would join us. Email me at mywonderfulabnormalmind@gmail.com so we can talk about it more, if you like. Or, you can find me on fb (if I’m not confused – I often am – you’re friends with Lulu, and I’m friends with her as well, so you can click my link through her).

    Ruby

  3. This is an extremely helpful post. As a therapist I find that bipolar patients are often in denial about their illness, or, as you explain, want the depressive symptoms treated, while leaving the manic component of their disease to run its course. You asked in a Voices of Glass post about my research–and I’m only doing literature-based research, which I’ll be publishing within the next week or so at http://candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com. However, I have several patients whose psychiatrists have tried them on interesting–and quite successful–varieties of medications, and would address that if it is of interest to you. Be well, Candida

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, Candida. They made my morning! I am very interested in the research you are doing and the different med cocktails your patients found successful. I would also love to read anything else you’re willing to share. Feel free to mail me if you’d like to continue our discussion over e-mail. (manicmuses at gmail dot com) Have a nice weekend!

      1. Finally got there, and sorry it took so long to get back to you on this important topic. I’ve found that my consulting psychiatrists are up on the latest med research and make it their business to be so, and these are some of the meds they’re proponents of in this post. I currently have a patient who was completely non-functional a year ago, and, although she is on some of the more standard medications, as well, it seems that adding two of the meds in this post made a radical difference in her functionality. Check out the post with four of the newer but progressively more utilized ‘unusual’ treatments for bipolar depression–and see if it’s worth looking into further, or bringing to your psychiatrist.
        http://candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/the-bipolar-road-less-traveled-beyond-lithium-part-ii/. Would love to hear your feedback. Be well, Candida

  4. Sorry–I haven’t forgotten you. I’m putting together a post right now which I should have out in the next few days on unusual meds used for bipolar depression, and that might be of interest to you.

  5. Hi, it looks like Lulu beat me to it, but I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger, Liebster Blog, and the Blog for Mental Health 2012 challenge. Oh well, I love the info you provide. 🙂

  6. Hi 🙂
    A little while back I thought it might be really good if we had a recognizable community of writers who, as part of their writing, write about mental health and mental well-being.

    So, being the kind of person who figures having ideas is on thing but you then have to do something about it, I started up the Mental Health Writers’s Guild and being familiar with your writing I really would like and really do feel you deserve to be a part of it.

    It’s nothing special really I just figure that through it such things as support and encouragment as well as comnpetitions and the such could be offered to members.

    The address for it, so that you can check it out and find out more about it, is as follows: http://mentalhealthwritersguild.wordpress.com/ and as i say I really do feel you should and deserve to be a part of it,

    Let me know what you think 🙂
    Kind Regards.

    Kevin.

  7. I read your post about gaining weight. I’m bipolar and spent a year getting athletic again and I lost 70lbs and did 4 ironman races. Nothing special. Happy to share offsite.

    1. Thank you so very much, Candida! This made my day. I’m very happy you are enjoying my blog and really enjoy yours as well (can I re-nominate you? 🙂 ). I hope all is well and promise to get my nominees and recent activity posted soon. Take care! Vivien

      1. trying to find the time to do all that i want and need to do, as well as one can make it. time is relative. vivien. i must say you have had an effect on me for a long time. it was what you wrote about being mentally interesting and bipolar brillinat that has stayed with me. it is a good phrasing. well, you take care. jen

  8. Hello,

    My name is Ryan Rivera and I have been reading your website for a while now. Yesterday, I came across this article – http://manicmuses.wordpress.com/ – and it really caught my attention because it is related to my area of expertise.

    My area is helping folks with anxiety, stress, panic attacks and related issues (7+ years in the field). So it got me wondering – perhaps you’d be interested in an expanded guest article on the same, or a similar topic? I think I could provide some additional tips. Or perhaps I could cover a new topic altogether? I would be glad to contribute.

    My work has been featured in local radio and TV shows, so I’m sure I can craft something that will work for you and your website. You can always turn it down – no issues. It’d be exclusive to you, around 650 words, but I can make it longer or shorter if you wish. I will also share the story with my 900+ subscribers once published.

    Please let me know if you would be interested.

    Kind regards,
    Ryan Rivera

    P.S. I can also send you some links to previously published articles – just let me know if you’d like to see them first.

    1. Hi, Trophydaughter (love the handle, BTW!) Thank you so very much! Just when I begin to wonder if my ramblings are doing anyone any good (me included) someone kind like you pops up and makes it all worth while. I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. Now I really need to actually finish revamping the theme so I can put my Liebster back up. 🙂 Thank you again!!

  9. HI Vivien! Lulu and I got together (well, via telephone) and I managed to get out the Blog For Mental Health 2013 post. I pledged everyone involved with Canvas, and you’ve probably seen it, but I still feel like I should be giving notification to everyone.

    By the way, I have this half-formed idea in my head I want to email you, but I’m hoping it will form a little more first. If you don’t hear from me in the next week or two, and you think of it, you might give me a nudge.

    I hope you are doing well, and I send you my love. Ever since I saw the van Gogh exhibit here, I’ve been thinking about how I want to travel to The Netherlands to see the museum. Don’t worry, though, I’m currently much too broke, so I won’t be trying to get you for coffee out of the blue any time soon! 😉

  10. As a social worker who helps people overcome their life’s challenges, your blog is great insight into what a person feels when diagnosed with BD. I primarily work with children but you are a stellar example of what can go right when society highlights only what goes wrong.

    Thank you for sharing your very personal, inner thoughts with the world.

    1. Thank you, Maya. Your comment means a great deal. It’s been a very interesting ride, but there really is hope for those with this illness who get the right treatment. Cheers!

  11. I am bipolar 1 as well. I am doing well but still struggle and have a hard time relating to other people sometimes who do not understand bipolar disorder. Thank you for putting up this blog, I am hoping to connect with other people as well. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jack! It’s different…trying to relate to those who don’t understand the disease. If you want to read blogs by others with mental illness, check out the links on my Blog for Mental Health page. They are some great folks, many of them have bipolar as well.

  12. I was reading your blog about abilify . I need your help… for me it is round 2 goes to abilify. The withdrawal is the worst thing I have ever been through. Please help me with any ideas.

    1. Hi, Heather. Ugh. I am so very sorry to hear you are having withdrawl problems. Abilify is the worst drug I have ever had to wean off of, too. I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on television 🙂 ), so I can only talk about what finally worked in my case. Talk to your doc about titering down extremely slowly. At one point I alternated between 5mg to 2.5mg every day for two weeks. Then 2.5mg every day for two weeks. Then alternated days between 2.5mg and no med for three weeks until I finally kicked the stuff. My doc was there every step of the way, checking with me via email and phone twice a week. There were also times when my doc had me take alprazolam on very bad days. It took me eight months total to get off of Abilify but it finally worked. And I feel so, so much better without it.

      Talk to your doc and see if they are willing to go the slowly-drop-the-dose route. I wish you all the luck in the world. Hang in there! You CAN do it! Let me know how you are doing!

      Sent from my android device.

  13. I just found this blog, and am so pleased that I did. I’m currently going through a very similar situation, and it’s nice to hear there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks!

  14. A wonderful ABOUT. You are on the right track now for sure. Glad that you know what you need to do. I used to say to the patients, “do you want to control your illness/disease or do you want the illness/disease to control you?”

    I admire anyone that can cope with being Bipolar. It is a bitch for sure and not easy to manage sometimes. It’s not going to go away and I’m sure it feels like an albatross around your neck at times. But I suppose one could compare it to a lot of diseses/illnesses, etc. I have to take meds for sleep, hypertension, can not eat certain foods due to allergies, take med for GERD, hypothyroid. However, I know that what I have due to being older is not nearly what you must keep under control.

  15. Dear Manic Muses,
    I happened upon your website/blog today and just wanted to say thanks for having a blog on bipolar disorder. I suffer from Bipolar II and it’s extremely heartening to find someone so candid and interested in sharing her struggles with the public. I also blog and was wondering if you could maybe give me some feedback. If not that’s totally fine, I would just find it helpful coming from another individual who struggles with bipolar. My blog is http://www.wanderlustmadeleine.blogspot.com Thanks!

    1. Hi, Madeleine! Thanks so much for reading and commenting….I appreciate it!

      Blogging is very cathartic. I’m glad you started your own – there are days when sharing is the best way of coping I’d be happy to check out your blog. I’ll click on over in the next few days and leave a comment on your About page. Take care of yourself and I’ll ‘see’ you at wanderlustmadeleine 🙂

  16. Hi, I commented earlier on one of your older posts and am so glad I found your blog. I’m a thirty something with a recent diagnosis of bipolar here in The Netherlands. My partner is Dutch and bought me here a year and a half ago after I had a total meltdown at work in London and got too sick to work. Long story! But I would really appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on working and living in The Netherlands and managing your condition – where do you find out more information here? I trawl the UK sites and know all about being disabled at work there but here the company doctors sound so harsh. So far so good with the treatment though they have been superb. I really enjoyed your post on non-disclosure at work and felt relieved to see it, particularly when there is so much recently in the UK press about sharing. I can’t think of anything worse! Anyway, shall stop rambling thanks once again for your great blog.

  17. Bipolar Messiah

    I can …
    Fly like an angel
    Across the sea
    And love everyone
    Even if they hate me
    I can …
    Smell the sun
    On the trees
    And instantly put you
    At your ease
    Or listen to the grass
    And feel the running feet
    Of ages past

    I can …
    Look into your eyes
    And see your ancient soul
    And hug you
    Until you feel completely whole
    I can …
    Catch the moonlight
    On the lake
    And tangled cobwebs
    Made of lace
    To weave an Elfin gift for you
    I can …
    See the world
    In a single flower
    And look around
    For fruit that’s sour
    And taste it first, so you don’t thirst

    I can …
    Catch a rainbow
    For all to see
    And dance in the light
    That follows me
    And in my mind’s eye perceive
    Prophets of old
    In raiments of gold
    I can …
    See God in the faces
    Of people I meet
    Especially the poor ones
    On the street
    And feeling the love
    They badly need
    Try to protect them from
    This world of greed

    I can …
    Let down an onion
    Into your hell
    And as I chant my ancient spells
    A kindly spirit
    In my heart
    Beckons me to take your part
    I can …
    Write a Sonnet in sixty seconds
    And hum a tune
    Until fame beckons
    Or dance in the nude
    And make you laugh
    Until you ache for solitude

    I can…
    See the face of Jesus
    In an ordinary window
    I can breathe
    The changing seasons
    Like a silver minnow
    And see the world
    In the eye of a fly
    And
    Climbing higher
    Walk into the sky

    What am I?
    To you, “Bipolar”
    But, in ancient times
    I am
    “Mage”, “Soothsayer”, Auger”, “Shaman”, “Prophet”, “Saint”
    and
    “Messiah”

    Anne Marie Brian

    1. Anne, this is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I can’t thank you enough for sharing on my About page. I’m going to pass this to others if you don’t mind!

  18. Manic depression is a far more painful diagnosis to accept. When I was 18, I was suicidal and diagnosed depressed. I received treatment for depression until I was 39, when I was diagnosed bipolar type II. For some reason, I thought I could manage being depressed. Depression is more socially acceptable and common. Bipolar disorder, though, is an illness I will struggle with for the rest of my life. Modern medications help, and no doubt will continue to improve; still, society has a long way to go in terms of understanding and destigmatizing mental illness.

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