Experiences with mood disorders | INFJ Forum

Experiences with mood disorders

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by gloomy-optimist, Jul 14, 2009.

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  1. gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    I know some people on this forum have had/ are having experiences with a mood or personality disorder, either of themselves or of a loved one...I'm interested in learning when you (they) first began noticing real symptoms, how you (they) came to find help, and how it affected you (them) in everyday life.

    If you feel comfortable sharing stories, I'd like to hear them
     
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    #1 gloomy-optimist, Jul 14, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  2. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    I experienced my first Major Depression at age 14. That's a looong time ago, too long to give accurate details, but I can tell you the points I remember. I think it came on suddenly, like one day I was my usual self and the next day I felt distinctly odd. I had no idea what was happening, didn't know a name for it, but now I realize I had periods of anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure or joy, which was quite painful. Visually, things around me actually appeared to be covered with a gray film. I remember a numbness that was so deep it also was painful, though I know that sounds like a paradix. Time dragged, minutes taking hours, weeks passing by in years. Finally I had this brilliant idea that if I could feel physical pain, it would be better than feeling nothing and I took a razorblade and sliced through the veins on the back of my hand. It wasn't a suicide attempt, merely a desperate effort to feel something. And it worked to some degree. The dark-red blood running over my hand was the first real color I'd been able tp see in what felt like months, and the stinging pain of the cuts I definitely felt. It didn't dure the depression, but it did afford temporary relief. I don't remember now whether or how it affected my grades. I was a good student and may have remained so, though I can't imagine how. Over time I began to feel like my old self. Color returned to the world of ntural beauty in which I lived, time resumed its normal cadence, the numbness dissipated as did the anhedonia and I just thought that it was an odd experience in a life filled with odd things happening, given my chaotic family life and vivid imagination.

    For the next year or so, things went on normally or what passed for normal in my family. Then when I was a junior in high school I began to "come out of my shell." I became much more social than I'd ever been in my life, though I wasn't a recluse before. Still, I interacted with other students more easily than I ever had, developed a wicked wit and a degree of (gasp!) popularity. I flirted with boys for the first time in my life and I felt pretty, confident and energetic. I was the editor of the school newspaper and tried out for the junior play--sommething very outside my normal self. Though I didn't get a starring role, my performance "stole the show" according to reviews in the local paper. I was unstoppable. Despite all this extracurricular activity, my grades didn't suffer because I had all this new energy. I thought I was merely coming into my own, turning into the kind of person I always wanted to be, but this, too, faded and by the second half of my senior year I was in a depression deeper than the one I'd experienced at 14.

    While in college I developed a pattern: I was fairly "normal" in the fall, my usual studious self, but spring brought with it a restlessness that eventually turned into an inability to sleep, loss of appetite and loss of focus. By the time I arrived home for summer break, I was noticeably underweight and exhausted. Worst of all, there was always a great gap between my fall semester GPA and the one in the spring semester; fall semester I usually pulled a 3.5 or bette, while my spring semester grades were usually 2.5 or lower.

    As I entered my 20s my "normal" times got shorter and the mood swings became wider, more intense. It never occurred to me that the way I experienced life was unusual and I didn't enter therapy until my mid-20s during a particularly deep and persistent depression. I was diagnosed with situational depression stemming from my first divorce. Two therapists and numerous 72-hour holds later, I finally underwent a psychiatric evaluation, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, type I and began treatment. As the medication began to take effect, I knew the first sense of real peace since I was 14. I was 30 at the time of my diagnosis and beginning of treatment and lierally lost most of a decade of my life to mental illness. Though I was bright and capable of accomplishments, the mood swings were sufficiently disruptive to preclude the continuity I needed in order to finish any major projects.

    That was my early experience with mood disorder. Sorry it's so long, but it's a complex, often confusing condition, difficult to explain and equally difficult to diagnose, though diagnoses are being made now in younger people. which is a good thing, I think.
     
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  3. OP
    gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    That's fine -- I've always been interested in disorders like this, and I like hearing how it unfolds.

    So it's normal for the mood swings to last months at a time? Did you have any particularly strong, short episodes or anything?

    I hope I'm not probing too much .__.
     
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  4. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    Mood episodes that last for months are more common among those with Bipolar I, at least according to my current psychiatrist. Personally--and this is based on reserch as well as personal experience--I believe everyone is unique and may experience the effects of moods differently and definitely experience them differently at different times of life. It's not unusual for the disorder to present as a depression followed by a long period of remission like I did. I don't know how long that first depression lasted because mood distorts the perception of time. Depressions seem to last forever, hypomania makes time speed up, while during a mania time seems to travel at the speed of light, so often everything's a blur later.

    Let's see...strong, short episodes. I don't remember any right offhand, but that doesn't mean I didn't have any. Most of my episodes were quite intense prior to medication, and I think during my 20s I cycled faster, so I probably had shorter episodes--and shorter periods of remission. This kind of pattern is more typical in the late teens and early 20s, I believe. I know I've posted this link before, but it's good info on how bipolar manifests differently in young people than in adults and I include it here, even though you're asking for my personal experience, because I don't remember a lot of those early years with any kind of accuracy. So I recommend taking a look at http://www.healthcentral.com/bipolar/c/7712/77399/bipolar-disorder?ic=6039 as I think it gives a pretty accurate description of how I experienced mood swings in my late teens and early 20s.

    You can't probe too much. I've always been open about my disorder except when in denial. These days I spend a great deal of time trying to educate others about mental illness in general and that's where the main focus of my writing is. So probe away if there are any other questions you have.
     
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  5. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    I thought of something I think I should add to be thorough. I am what is called a rapid cycler, which by definition means I have at least four episodes a year. There are, however, ultra-rapid cyclers whose mood episodes may lat only a few hours, though they may be very intense. I haven't experienced this personally, but one weekend I watched my b/f go through three days of this. He was like a rollercoaster in spasm...depressed at 11 a.m., fine at 2 p.m., dyspjoric mania at 10 p.m. It was hard to watch and must've been worse to experience.

    So, yes, it is possible to experience intense episodes of very short duration; I just never have, which is why it didn't occur to me in my last post. I know other people who've experienced this as well. Antidepressants are legend for bringing on tltra-rapid cycling in people with bipolar.
     
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  6. IndigoSensor

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    I undergo something to this effect. but I doubt I have a mental disorder (although there are times where I think I do; they do run in my family on both sides). Since I don't appear to have a linear periodic cycle with it.

    I will get periods triggered by something very small and insignifgant, and It will be a very intense sense of detatchment and sadness (mostly the former). Things feel intangiable and unreal to me, and I don't know what to do, and I have little will to do anything. The worst and most intense is when I will feel a physical emotional response, with no higher thought attached to it. The most common is to feel intense anxeity (that pressure in your chest that just wont go away, and you cant distrubte it), but my brain will not feel anxious. It is very disorenting, and it makes me feel like I am going mad.
     
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  7. OP
    gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    Alright, thanks :) To tell you the truth, I want to learn more because I'm a little concerned...I've been having more trouble with mood regulations. It might be simply because of stress or something, but I want to be educated just in case.

    You're a lot of help, anica :) Thank you so much
     
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  8. IndigoSensor

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    Oh don't be concerned. I thought I was going mad this past semester because I was not used to feeling emotions that strongly like I was, and man were they persistent. Last summer I underwent a lot of stress too for what at the time seemed like no reason. In the end I was fine though, and looking back I can see the roots to where the feelings came from, and I believe the same will be held for you as well :hug:.
     
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  9. Faye

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    According to diagnosis (not my opinion necessarily):
    I was depressed for several years (classified as dysthymia) until I got Generalized Anxiety Disorder and pushed to get help. I had tried to get help earlier, but my parents didn't take me seriously. I had many of the symptoms of OCD as well, such as washing my hands 40 times a day without noticing, never stepping on cracks, and uncontrollable thoughts (usually incredibly harsh judgements about the appearance of others). Also, I was diagnosed with ADD. I saw various doctors. More importantly, I changed my lifestyle significantly (and I also got out of high school, which helped tremendously).
     
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  10. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    Experience with mood disorders

    I'm glad you found what I said helpful. Stress, by the way, is a common trigger for mood episodes and sufficient stress can even trigger the onset of the disorder, usually when a genetic predisposition is present.

    I don't know if this is the best place to post this, but I'm in the process of setting up a "social group" that really won't be a group, but rather a place people can ask questions about mood disorders (e.g., depression or bipolar). I won't be dispensing medical advice of course; I'm not a mental healthcare professional, just a layperson with a great deal of personal experience who has done a fair amount of research on the subject. Any advice I give will be based solely on personal knowledge, whether from experience or research. In fact, most of the writing I do outside this forum is on the subject of mental illness in general and bipolar in particular. My goal is to educate as many people as possible in hopes of dissipating some of the stigma that surrounds mental illness of any kind. I won't, obviously, be providing diagnoses or medication recommendations.

    One of the reasons I thought such a place would be appropriate is that some very preliminary and so far, not terribly scientific, studies suggest that INFJs may be overrepresented in the bipolar population (estimated at 1-3% of the general population, depending on which study you're reading. The other fact that motivated me--beyond the number of recent threads that have touched on the subject--is that so many of you are at the most common age for onset of the disorder, which is late teens to early 29s.

    So once I get it set up, it'll be there if anyone has questions I can answer. I mean to be helpful and neither intrusive or preachy. I won't offer advice unless someone asks for it. It may take a couple days to get it set up.

    I know this is a sensitive subject, so if anyone has any objections to this, let me know by PM, and of course, no one's forcing anyone to participate.

    Edit: After some thought and discussing it wit TLM, who was incredibly helpful, I decided a social group that's not really a group is an awkward way to handle what I'm trying to accomplish, so I'm going to start out with a sticky thread at least for the time being.
     
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    #10 anica, Jul 15, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
  11. OP
    gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    When you get that set up, please link it! :D I want to at least keep watch. I think Indigo may be right and it's stress and I'm overreacting, but the uncertainty drives me up a wall (always has, and it doesn't help that ESTP is a bit hypochondriac).

    In the meantime, I'm going to keep posting something of a biography in my blog -- if you notice anything that kind of raises your suspicions or puts up a red flag, please communicate that to me
     
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  12. Shaz

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    This is interesting. I had a depressive phase two years ago that lasted for a bit less than a year (I completely recognise myself in the symptoms listed above), and I'm pretty sure it was triggered by a lot of stress, mental and emotional, too much work and not enough sleep. It was also partly because of my passing from adolescence to adulthool which was emotionally very disturbing. Kept crying all the time, no energy to go out, feeling isolated yet not wanting to see people... I thought it would never end...

    edit : and there is for sure a genetic predisposition in the family. My bipolar uncle commited suicide when he was 20. And my aunt is depressive. Yay.
     
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  13. OP
    gloomy-optimist

    gloomy-optimist Used to live here

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    Yeah -- I've had depressive episodes too, although I couldn't say when they start and end. I don't really know of anyone else in my family that's had much in the way of mental disorders, though, except for my cousin who's anorexic, which I don't think was caused by genetics.
     
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  14. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    Experience with mood disorders

    I'll be glad to keep an eye on your blog--I love reading it anyway--and let you know if anything jumps out at me.

    I think being vigilant is good, even if there's no obvious signs of mental illness in your family. I've heard of people with no known family history who've developed the disorder. Remember, there's a terrible stigma and people hide any knowledge of family me,bers with mental illness.

    Also, there's a wide range, from cyclothymia (mood swings greater than normal but milder than bipolar II or I).

    Lastly, the sticy thread should be up soon, I hope and you can post there whenever you want. In the meantime, I'm off to take a look at your blog.
     
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