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a dramatic example — yet missed, and worse

Here is one woman’s account of cycling (used by permission). This is an extreme version. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a mild version of this? How would you know, in that case, that you had “a cyclic mood disorder”? (never mind trying to figure out if it was “bipolar”, without manic episodes) And if the doc’s have so much difficulty recognizing cyclicity in this woman, imagine how likely they would be to find it for a mild version.

Here she describes a —

. . . long search for the reason my depression manifests itself the way it does. Unfortunately throughout the span of my illness, I have had to put up with ignorance, disbelief and at times outand out hostility towards me.

Most of the time I am well and carry on my life as the confident sure and successful person I am. Then for no reason I suddenly drop over the matter of a few hours to total denial of being ill and a wish to be locked up by the police and grinding to a complete halt, becoming virtually catatonic.

Then again, after about 2 weeks (this has improved with medication from its original 4-6 weeks), for no reason I feel myself “switching” back on and return to myself again within 24 hours.

I continue well then for 6 months until the same happens again. It is in March/April and again in October/November.

Unfortunately it messes up my whole life as I am unable to even do the basic things like wash and dress and at times even eat or drink and also putting myself at risk when slightly improved, by attempting to leave the ward at any time of day or night wearing anything and I end up being sectioned.

I get, from professionals especially, attitudes like, you can’t go from ill to well in 24 hours…You must be depressed now because, you had too many depressed people on your caseload [used to work in mental health]…you have finished your degree…you need a baby!! . . . you are not really ill, you just want to be mentally ill and worst of all.. “I can cure you with psychotherapy!”

When I say there is no social/psychological reason for my episode, it is the time of year and a cycle, I just get knowing looks and disbelief. I have had a psychologist who totally rejects the medical model, after an hour with me, tear his hair out because he cannot find a skeleton in my closet. Yet I still get the attitude that it is me who is not willing to deal with what ever so called issue they decide is the reason and that it is me being defensive.

I have often wondered if I am bipolar. Certainly I remember on one occasion telling my psychiatrist that I had not felt this well in a long time and a week later come crashing down. But like your description of bipolar II [she read this website] I have never had a manic episode.

She has not had a “psychotic” manic episode. Some of what she describes might have looked manic to some observers, so we can’t be sure whether she’d have been called bipolar I or bipolar II. But in either case, she describes a very dramatic “on/off” cycling experience.

And the point is, imagine what it would be like to have a mild version of something like this. You might wonder what the heck was wrong with you, but you probably wouldn’t think “hey, I bet I have bipolar disorder”.

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