What does bipolar disorder feel like (after a few doses of an antidepressant) ?
A Patient’s Testimonial
(used by permission, thank you Ms. B. This is a very high-functioning, fully employed woman, a mother with a high-expectation job. I’ve highlighted some particularly telling comments in bold type — JP).
I was diagnosed with OCD by several physicians. The last one I saw prescribed Luvox. Because I knew about the cautions for BPII’s against taking anti-depressants, I did not fill the prescription. Several months later the OCD seemed to be overwhelming me, my attempts to manage it on my own were now no longer successful. I went to my PCP and asked for a new prescription of Luvox. Because he, too, knew of the drug precautions, he gave me a very, very low dosage (25mg/day). I took it that night before I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning I felt crazy – literally. I was convinced I was in someone else’s body – both physically and mentally. I seemed to have lost the ability to think clearly. I became extremely volatile (since I already have an issue with irritability due to the BPII, this was a nightmare). I had never before thought of hurting myself, but now I was convinced it would “make everything better”. The only sensible thing I was able to do was make the decision to go to work.
I wanted to crawl under my bed . . . or run in front of a truck . . . I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, the thoughts were too fast. I decided I had to go to work because I new that if I stayed home I would harm myself physically. I went to work and ate and drank a lot, and did tons of exercise . . . trying to somehow get this drug out of my body. The feeling was gone by the next morning. But the effects wore on. I was never the same from that point on. I was constantly cycling higher and higher . . . . .
[here’s an email she read to me later because she wanted to make sure I understood — JP]:
my whole “hate-fest” is getting worse all the time. But it isn’t just hate, it’s also a complete lack of caring. I can’t seem to get out of it. It lasts longer and longer. and, unfortunately, this feeling of hate and indifference makes me completely uninterested in trying to fix it. I hate my life – what it is, what it isn’t, and what it is, or isn’t, becoming. I hate marriage, feel no interest in having one. I hate being around people, wish I could just be completely alone.
The feelings of hurting myself are starting to come more frequently now – but I haven’t so far. I never had them until a few months ago. That feeling I had that day when I took the Luvox – I feel like I’m stepping into that realm, like it’s a big ocean and I’m slowly walking into it . . . getting my feet wet, then my ankles . . . etc . . . I’ve never felt like I wanted to die before – sometimes only because of my kids – but nonetheless, I wouldn’t ever do it. I don’t feel anymore like there is any convincing reason why I shouldn’t.
Why is this happening? I take my meds like I should. I don’t feel like this is a “go see a therapist” kind of thing – but then again – how would I know. I feel like my grasp on reality is slipping (at least I can still recognize THAT . . . I think . . .) but I’m starting not to care what is reality and what isn’t. Jeckle and Hyde are starting to mix. I’m not hungry anymore and don’t care about my appearance. I don’t care if I come to work, I don’t care if we go in the poorhouse. I constantly have this “hot” feeling inside – like you might if you were TOTALLY nervous about something that was SUPER-important. Like you can’t breathe or sleep or eat. Like you could cry at any minute – like you already ARE crying,all the time, at some level of your being. I feel like I’d rather be locked up in an asylum so that I didn’t have to make an effort anymore. I just don’t feel like trying. The reasons I tried before are starting to get fuzzy.
[Husband] keeps asking if I’m mad at him, or if something is wrong. I don’t know how you express to someone that you are “NOTHING”. How do you say “I am a complete lack of anything”. It doesn’t make sense to anyone and I don’t feel like explaining it anyway – back to that whole “indifference” thing . . . Not sure what to do, I’ve lost the energy to figure it out, to fight and struggle to come back. What is wrong with me? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
This woman fortunately had an excellent response to low-dose mood stabilizers and no longer feels like this — JP