This is a very old post. See date of March 25, 2007. Google just indexed it for the first time apparently so some of you are getting it in feeds and subscriptions etc. I don’t think quite the same about some of what I’m talking about in this post anymore. Mostly I just don’t think about things like this anymore as far as my situation goes. Read it with the knowledge that time has passed. I will say that I do not, by any means, believe the states I’m talking about below were manic as they were not in the least bit dysfunctional nor did they cause any real problems.
I want to say a bit more about my last few “manic episodes.” Those being the ones in approximately 1992, two in 2002 and the last in 2006 immediately following treatment with an antidepressant. Oh, I almost forgot I also had one in 1999 triggered by smoking pot, a mild hallucinogen, even though many don’t experience it that way. I hadn’t smoked in many years and that was the last time I ever will. Those are the only manic episodes I’ve had since being diagnosed with psychotic manias in the period between 1985-1988 or so. Some of the early ones are a bit unclear in my mind since they were all induced by hallucinogens. And my recollections during some of that period of my life is a bit fuzzy. (I should add, that in general, what I write here is based on my best recollection–I do my best to keep all details accurate–but my memory is poor and my cognition is impaired, so occasionally there my be some inconsistencies. If you should ever catch one, let me know and I’ll try to work it out in my mind and make a clarification)
The later ones, except the one induced by pot, were most probably caused by antidepressant use. The one in 1992 was triggered by following the suggestions of a holistic health practitioner for treatment of depression. She prescribed numerous herbs and amino acids which can frequently have psychoactive properties.
In any case all of the above “manic episodes” after the ones in the 80’s were remarkable in that they were not classic bipolar manic episodes as defined below:
An abnormally elevated mood state characterized by such symptoms as inappropriate elation, increased irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased speed and/or volume of speech, disconnected and racing thoughts, increased sexual desire, markedly increased energy and activity level, poor judgment, and inappropriate social behavior. A mild form in mania that does not require hospitalization is termed hypomania.
These later episodes were characterized only by increased energy and insomnia. None of the rest applies. What also characterized them was an increased clarity of thinking and lucidity, not associated with rapid thoughts, and an increased ability to articulate myself clearly, but again not associated with increased talkativeness, which is also considered a symptom of mania. I did not exhibit poor judgment or inappropriate behavior. I did experience fear based on my earlier history.
You might argue that I could not possibly ascertain all of this in my condition, a fair enough assumption to make given what is assumed about bipolar mania. But I had many people in my life at the time, including my husband, family, employers and friends who corroborated my perception of the experiences.
So then we might assume I was simply experiencing hypomania. But in my experience with hundreds of clients in my work as a social worker, I’ve seen that most hypomanias include talkativeness and poor judgment.
So was I experiencing mania at all? Well, I really don’t know. I treated them like manias out of fear and took copious amounts of drugs which were then never removed. The exception to this was the last episode in 2006. My doctor recommended that I increase my Seroquel dose from 25 mg to 100 mg. I had called him out of fear. I was, however, at the time at the beginning of my 180 degree turn around in how I perceived my “mental illness.” I chose not to treat the symptoms. They abated in about a week after discontinuing my antidepressant and then, most remarkably, I immediately began my withdrawal from all the drugs to no ill effect. This was accompanied by radical changes in my diet and nutrition and the return to neurofeedback training. I have not, since that time, had another manic episode in spite of drastically reducing my meds.
I want to make clear here, that I don’t think I was simply misdiagnosed, because basically I question the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in general. I question the legitimacy in diagnosing anyone with bipolar disorder. I do not deny that there are symptom clusters that can be associated with the label, but I do question the validity of it being a disease. As I have discovered in my journey, diet and nutrition seems to heal. I posted a recovery story of someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder here. Anecdotal as it may be, I find it a compelling story that must prompt one to question the rampant diagnosing of bipolar disorder that goes on today. I’ve also witnessed the recovery of many other people who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder both in my personal life and on the internet. Most of these recoveries were associated with dietary and lifestyle changes. The most simple being the addition of fish oil and magnesium.
So, I have no answer to the question, “were these manic episodes?” But I do think it’s all a question of semantics. Symptom clusters can either be labeled or not. I choose not to label them. You might ask, why then is my blog entitled “Bipolar Blast?” Well, I’m reaching out to an audience that believes bipolar disorder is a tangible disease–a brain disorder or chemical imbalance. Even though there has been no evidence of this to be the case. Bipolar brains are no different than anybody else’s brain. The inbalance in them that can be seen on EEG’s are not brain disease they are simply brain wave patterns that are established by a life-time of behaviors that reinforce the patterns. The fact that the mind can be trained by neurofeedback is evidence that it is not a chemical imbalance per se. The brain can learn to respond differently without any chemical intervention.