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Thread: Bi-Polar Disorder: A Summary of 40 Years--1963-2003

  1. #1 Bi-Polar Disorder: A Summary of 40 Years--1963-2003 
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    Aug 2005
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    George Town Tasmania Australia
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    More recently I have come to see this experience as my personal ‘horror story’ or a gift from the gods depending on one’s perspective. From time to time I submit it at various sites on the internet, sites that have an interest in the subject of mental illness. It may be a little too clinical for some readers, lacking in pizzaz-adventure-and-excitement, but it contains its own degree of very real horror--the only horror that I have tasted in life and a horror that has been virtually alleviated since 1980. This is no fantasy creation for middle class readers. :P

    Preamble:

    After half a dozen episodes, varying in length from several days to several months, of manic-depressive illness between 1963 and 1980, I was treated with lithium carbonate in Launceston by a psychiatrist, Dr. Glinka. I have been on lithium now for twenty five years. My mood swings, now, in 2004, take place, for the most part, at night with the death wish still part of the experience. The symptoms that affect my daily working capacity are fatigue and psychological weariness after a night of light sleeping, tossing and turning and a feeling that I have not slept at all. Dryness of the mouth and short term memory loss also seem to affect my daily life as a result, perhaps, of the eight ECT treatments I had as far back as the late 1960s. Feel free to contact my psychiatrist, Dr. Eric Ratcliffe, at 155 George Street in Launceston(63312122) or my G.P., Dr. Jane Zimmerman, at the Anne Street Medical Services in George Town(63824333) for more details and a professional assessment. I have discussed my case with Drs. Ratcliffe and Zimmerman for several years and they would both be happy to discuss my case should you want any clarification and elaboration of the issues and medical assessments involved.

    It seemed appropriate to provide some detailed statement, a statement that expands on the information provided on the official government form, since the issue of this bi-polar illness is a complex one, varies from person to person and has come up many times over the more than forty years that I have had to deal with its symptoms in my working life. It is difficult to characterize my condition. I hope the account below may be of use to anyone assessing my application for a Disability Services Pension or simply wanting a more detailed description of my experience with what is now called a bi-polar disorder.

    Long-term 1963-2003:

    There seems to be a process, one that I experience on a daily basis now in which I cross from normal behaviour to an abnormal extreme. I would call it a tedium vitae attitude and behaviour. Due to this "process" over the last forty years in a much more accentuated form until 1990, it has been difficult to define just where I was at any one time along that 'normal-abnormal' continuum. This was true at both the depressive end and the hypomanic end of the spectrum. It is difficult, therefore, to actually name the number of times when I have had major manic-depressive episodes, perhaps as many as eight, certainly as few as four, in my whole life, until the last brief episode in 1990 when I went off my lithium for between one and three months.

    At the hypomanic end there were experiences like the following: "violent emotional instability and oscillation", "abrupt changes" and "a sudden change in a large number of intellectual assumptions."1 Mental balance, a psychological coherence between intellect and emotion and a rational reaction to the outside world all seemed to blow away, over a few hours or a few days, as I was plunged in a sea of what could be variously described as: emotional heat, intense awareness, sensitivity, sleeplessness, voluble talking, racing mental activity, fear, excessive and clearly irrational paranoia--and in 1968 virtually total incoherence at times--at one end of the spectrum; or intense depression, melancholia, an inner sense of despair and a desire to commit suicide at the other end. The latter I experienced from 1963 to 1965, off and on; the former from 1964 to 1990, on several occasions.

    The longest depression was in 1963 and 1964 with perhaps two six month periods from June to November and July to December, respectively. The longest episode of hypomania was from June to November 1968. The hypomania in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1990 were treated quickly with medication, although the 1978 episode, beginning in January, seemed to last for at least three or four months and had a mostly depressive component. I had no experience of this variously characterized illness in childhood. It was not until I was 19 that any characteristics of this illness became apparent in my day-to-day life. My episodes seemed to be quite separate tendencies; hypomania often lead to depression and vice versa. In the 1978 episode, elation and depression followed each other within a two to three month period. Clearly, in the episodes in the late '70s, fear, paranoia and the extremes of depression seemed to be much less than those of the 1960s.

    Perhaps I will return and finish the story...this is enough for now at this siter and its "health and medicine" sub-section.-Ron Price :wink:


    married for 37 years; teacher for 30; living in Australia for 33 years; Baha'i for 45 years. Writer of poetry for 25 years.
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