John’s Story

Upon reading Dr. Water’s notes, he had a problem figuring out what was wrong.  It spoke of my mood swings, severe concentration issues along with recent substance abuse and family of origin problems.  At that time, I was working out two to three times a day and that had helped with my sleep.  From the doctor’s notes, he states “John states he feels angry and keyed up, good at times, irritable, anxious, impatient, depressed and eager…He has a sense of hopelessness…His energy level is described as high.  He describes himself as being restless and having thoughts race, and people noticing that he is harder to get along with, and excessively talkative.  His mind is somewhat ‘spacy’, he states”.

                After reading these notes and understanding the symptomology of Bipolar Disorder, I wonder why he didn’t make the connection?  He did seem to be an unusual gentleman and just as there are good doctors, there are bad doctors as well.

                The next doctor I went to questioned my ADHD diagnosis and decided to put me on a medication called Ritalin.  He said that my reaction to this new medication would either confirm or rule out ADHD.  I was just learning about several different medications and diagnoses and thought this seemed to be a great idea.  Chemical Engineering was my area of study, so I liked this doctor’s scientific way of thinking.  I did quite a bit of my own research during this time, but I couldn’t find anything at all that fit me as an individual.  This seemed a great next step.

                I will always remember the next few weeks that followed.  My doctor told me that Ritalin was supposed to help me concentrate.  At first, it seemed to be working.  For the first time in a long time, I could concentrate effectively on my tasks at hand.  However, this was very short lived.  My mind started racing about all sorts of different things.  In fact, the ideas were coming and leaving so fast that I could not hold on to a thought long enough to process it.  The term is named rapid thinking.  I had all sorts of plans and ideas and wanted to take on about a dozen or so projects at once.  After all, I considered myself a multitasker, so I felt I could handle them all.

                Something else changed as well.  My sleep began to decrease each successive night until I was functioning on only a couple of hours of sleep each night.  This seemed quite all right to me as I attended college and loved the extra time to work out, study, socialize or do whatever else I wanted to do.  Other symptoms started to appear that I didn’t know were happening until later.  My perception of reality began to shift.  I started to see things that weren’t there, hear things that no one else could, and think erratic-paranoid thoughts.  After several weeks on this medication, I could no longer function.

                I met the doctor who would eventually help me through so much that I cannot even begin to thank her enough.  She immediately saw that things were not right.  I remember I told her that I wanted to up my Ritalin.  She began to ask me all that had been going on and I gave her a brief history of my life.  She told me that I have Bipolar Disorder.  Later I would learn that giving an upper or antidepressant to an individual who has Bipolar Disorder Type 1, will respond in this manic way.

                She quickly prescribed some medication to clear up my thoughts and to stabilize my mood.  In addition, she took me off Ritalin.  Little did I know the road to stability would be so hard and intense.  Over the next months that followed, I got to a point where I could no longer function in a rationale state!  My mood was dipping to a dark valley of hopelessness and back up to manic ecstasy in a matter of a few hours.  I felt psychotic, and I thought my step mom was going to kill me.  I saw figures of people that were not there.

                During the summer, I roomed with one of my best friends.  I remember sitting there talking to him and was surprised to see a lady in a red dress.  She didn’t respond when I spoke to her, but my roommate told me that no one was there.  I’m grateful that I had him there with me that summer because I desperately needed support, and he never judged me.  He doesn’t live in Colorado anymore, but I’m so thankful we speak every so often.  He understands the road I have traveled.

                I remember when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I was so happy to give a name to what I was experiencing.  I have come to the realization that this is something I will always have to deal with, but it does not define who I am.  I have seen about 15 different doctors over the years in hospitals and other venues, and they have all confirmed that I have this illness.  In fact, I went as far as to get a brain scan one summer, and it verified the Bipolar diagnoses.  I’ve had countless other tests run to make sure it wasn’t any abnormality in my body.  They have all come up negative.  So, I’ve pretty much accepted that this is something I will always have to deal with.

                A huge lesson I’ve learned is to ALWAYS stay on my meds (https://www.thebipolarbattle.com/medication-the-start-of-your-road-to-success/).  Missing even a single dose can put me into an episode.  This is something I have learned over the years.  It may not be right away, but something usually happens in the next following couple of weeks.

                Fast forward from 1999 until now.  I’ve gone through countless treatments of electroconvulsive therapy (https://www.thebipolarbattle.com/electroconvulsive-therapy-brain/), in and out of hospitals, and on a couple dozen more medications.  I’ve been through several IOP programs.  I never thought I’d make it into my 30’s.  Look at me now.  I’m married with two beautiful children and have just started down the path of entrepreneurship.

                I’ve learned a big lesson about working and having career.  For so long, I tried to fit into society’s norm of 8am-5pm.  I’m simply not built for that.  I need flexibility but still able to make money.  One of the best ways to accommodate my issues, yet work at the same time, is to work online.  So, I’ve started my own online business to help others that are afflicted with bipolar disorder.  You can find it at:  http://www.thebipolarbattle.com/

The name of the site is The Bipolar Battle.  It is a blog that will be expanding into products that help those afflicted with bipolar disorder feel better and live a better life overall.

Having an online presence has been huge with my new business.  You can connect with me in the following ways:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BipolarBattle

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bipolarjohn/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/thebipolarbattle/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/thebipolarbattle/

E-mail:  john@thebipolarbattle.com

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