31 days of bipolar: 3

Grab the meme here.


3. How old were you at the onset? How old were you at diagnosis? How were you given the diagnosis and are you satisfied with the way it was handled?

My psychiatrist reckons bipolar arrived during very early childhood; I was diagnosed last year, aged 44.

After doing some intense and incessant nagging, I got the diagnosis by email. I’d have found it a terrible way to find out, if I hadn’t chased it so hard myself. It was during a 3 month wait for the next psychiatry appointment. Not ideal, but for me, ultimately positive, because I could get on and research and stop panicking in case psychosis meant irrevocably mad. I didn’t have anyone nearby, so I found some online. Also – dogs. Very important.

I asked that last question on a mental illness forum once and although people didn’t bitch much at all, the majority were given diagnoses fairly casually. I suspect that news of chronic, progressive and incurable physical diseases is handled differently. Gravitas, information, reassurance and perhaps even a nice cup of coffee would do fine. With a cookie if possible (choc chip for preference).


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

30 thoughts on “31 days of bipolar: 3”

  1. I find it odd that so many are given early diagnoses, other than that bipolar has been a much trendier diagnosis to hand out than when you and were probably blossoming with early symptoms. My son has never been diagnosed (his dx is generalized anxiety and queer fucked up parent), there was a huge reluctance to do so despite the family history and the tendency to throw teachers against the wall when on anti-depressants. I know that I had clear bipolar episodes by my early 20s and unusual/psychotic like experiences long before that but I was able to hide and/or explain it away (along with the other stuff I was dealing with). I would never have sought help, it had to come and drag me, psychotic as all hell, at 36, to the hospital. By that point it became a question of bipolar vs schizophrenia and I was christened “Bipolar I with psychotic symptoms”. Easy as that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the early diagnosis thing is odd and so is the trend factor. I have no idea what diagnosis is like here, apart from my own stuff, but I do know that the disorder isn’t trendy at all. Actually the next question in this meme sorta relates to that stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I don’t think it is trendy to actually *have* it but living next to the US you see these advertisements listing all sorts of symptoms and encouraging you to see your doctor about whether or not you have something that will continue to line the drug companies’ pockets. It’s a self diagnosis culture but, hey, be careful what you wish for…

        Liked by 3 people

          1. Oh they are something else (only in American media of course). The best part is the long list of possible side effects – always ending in “and in rare cases death” – that are required with each ad. Kind of a buzz kill.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. They are quite clever and dramatic, makes people like me wonder if I should try the meds. I mean, these are happy people with families, or at least, nice cameras with soft lighting in the room – perfect conditions for photography AND life!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Email sucks dude :( I feel for you. My husband and I found out he was 100% infertile over the phone by the doctor saying “Good news! You don’t have to ever worry about using birth control.” Thanks for sharing, it is nice to know there are rude doctors everywhere and not just here :D

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wish I had got an earlier diagnosis but docs always quick to blame other sources, more ‘typical’ issues.
    I knew at about 12 – 13 years old something wasn’t right with me; things I would say or do would confuse or scare peers, I would feel totally different to them about the same situation.
    At this point it was blamed on my musical choice – too much Nirvana & Green Day, just becoming a teen.
    15 – 16 years old and it was the stress of my GCSE exams; reassured it was totally normal & everyone else felt the same (even though I knew they didn’t & they certainly didn’t act like me)
    17 – 18 years old and college got the blame; the adjustment of handling my own learning and independence…
    19 – 20 years old, first job and moving out of my parents house; a struggle for anyone & certainly nothing to be concerned about…
    It took until I was 22 & a serious incident, my biggest low to date, for my docs to really listen and finally help me.
    I often wonder if earlier diagnosis would have made a difference to life but there’s no way of knowing & no point on dwelling on what could have been.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A 10 year wait is fairly average, sadly. I wish they’d come up with some better diagnostic tools. At least age 22, you’re still young and can avoid a lot of the physical effects of bipolar by being medicated etc. All is not lost … but yeah, current diagnosis methods leave a lot to be desired. We should (as a society) at least be telling people to track their moods, so that psychiatrists can get that info earlier from the patient.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your kind words but sadly I’m not young enough; I’m 29 now and went through years of trial and error hell of medication and therapy to find nothing was really that worth it :/
        7 years down the line I’m wirking with no mood stabilisers, CBT techniques and anti-psychs as and when, an uneasy arrangement but it works for now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. re: I suspect that news of chronic, progressive and incurable physical diseases is handled differently

    Yeah can you imagine being told you have cancer or ALS or something over the phone? :( Would not happen!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Small thread hijack here. I am so with you: the whole “Ask your doctor about Abcdelexepron!” thing is crazy and has got to go.

    I feel like that sort of thing can only exist in a country that’s both frighteningly in love with capitalism and allergic to the idea of universal healthcare, leaving millions of people without good medical guidance while allowing pharma companies to basically charge whatever they want (seriously, the way our insurance “system” is set up, there’s no “charging what the market will bear”). It’s one of the things I like least about living here, right now.

    The really scary part is that our health care “system” (and anyone in the US who uses that word should be using it loosely) pretty much guarantees that self-diagnosis will go on being a thing. Either people can’t afford to go to the doctor, or can’t get appointments, or have terrible mental health coverage, or have docs who might be trying but who don’t have time to really take a thorough history (because ridiculous paperwork). I am, at present, one of the lucky few who doesn’t have those issues, but that wasn’t true a little more than a year ago.

    Regardless of the hysteria, the so-called Affordable Care Act has made huge improvements (I’ve benefited directly from them), but because several stats have bungled it up so badly, there are still a lot of people who are stuck playing “Pin The Tail On The Illness” with only the internet, books, and TV for guidance. It’s pretty sad. You can find good information on the internet and in books, but you have to know how to sue that info … and our educational system does not prepare people to do that. Um. End rant?

    I was first diagnosed at 14, during a hospitalization following a suicide attempt (there was definitely some of the, “Is this kid schizophrenic? Schizoaffective? Etc.?”; I think the diagnostic process was complicated by an existing ADHD dx and some serious dissociative stuff going on as a result of really traumatic crap).

    I would say that bipolar symptoms have been with me since childhood. I definitely went through a period right after high school in which I was like, “Noooo, I’m not bipolar, no.” It took a really shattering depression that followed a really wild manic episode (both precipitated by poor decision making, lack of sleep, and stress) to make me sit up an say, “Yeah, okay. I guess they were right.”

    FWIW, although Bipolar is sort of notorious for being one of those diagnoses that people tend to decide isn’t accurate even when it is, I think my decision to reject the diagnosis did have a great deal to do with learning that it was sort of trendy at the time. For whatever reason, bipolar was having a moment in the sun, so I think psych professionals were primed to think of it. It’s a sometimes-unfortunate reality of the way he human mind works, and definitely demonstrates the importance of sound differential diagnostic practices.

    Sorry this is so long :P

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t be sorry, it’s extremely interesting. It always surprises me when America has bad issues with basic stuff. I mean, I’m in Africa, most of our population has zero healthcare. I keep reminding myself that the first world isn’t all that.

      Thanks for telling me about your diagnosis – I have adhd and ptsd too btw.


  6. When I was diagnosed, I had been treated for treatment resistent depression and trauma for ~2 years. My doctor had already tried seroquel on me and I was on a mood stabilizer, unaware what it was, when she said, “remember we were thinking bipolar II for you…” (goes through notes) and I said “well that’s news to me” casually. And she had on kind of an oops face. She thought she had already told me, lol. But we rarely talk dx. I think I’m bipolar I? because of the meds I’m on, and because of the severity of my mixed episodes, but she doesn’t dwell on giving me my names. But my main drug is for bipolar I. whatever, it sort of works some days. I just thought you might lol at how my dr told me.

    And yes, thank god for dogs being there for us. Mine is currently upset that mirror dog seems to be upset at him.

    Liked by 1 person

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