The worst tests for bipolar

So this question of bipolar disorder has reared it’s head again and I *still* don’t know if I actually have it or not. It’s very frustrating to not know what’s wrong with you except that you know you don’t function properly. I had post-natal depression 100% but when I look at the mood scale from Bipolar UK I literally only fluctuate between a 7 and a 3 most of the time.

Which I don’t think is necessarily clinically significant to necessitate a BD diagnosis. I also don’t have underlying “phases” (usually… that PND really brought this home to me). There’s some evidence that ADHD’s hyperactive side can look a lot like hypomania and there’s little to separate them.

As a side-note, I feel like that mood scale linked above ought to be mandatory for everyone who is trying to mood chart because without it you’re trying to draw a map without a key. I now know why I failed at mood charting back in 2015.

While I’m waiting to get hold of a psychiatrist (again… RIP salary), I looked online and basically all the “test yourself for bipolar” quizzes go like this:

  1. Have you had mania? (well, duh, if I knew the answer to this I’d surely know if I had bipolar)
  2. Have you had hypomania? (gosh golly, if I knew the answer to this surely I’d already have a diagnosis… the nuances of hypomania and the difference between hypomanic symptoms and a hypomanic episode are utterly lost on some people)
  3. Have you had depression? (again, what counts as clinical depression and if it’s very obviously Post Natal Depression or Complex Grief, do those count or not?)
  4. Insert a bunch more questions to make it look like we didn’t half-ass this quiz
  5. Give us your email address so we can harass you forevermore send you your results.

The cyclothymia tests are actually nonexistent. Indeed, it seems no two clinicians can agree upon what cyclothymia actually is. I did read a really good chapter on it in “The treatment of bipolar disorder” published by Oxford University Press. That chapter is basically the only thing I’ve seen that actually makes sense of cyclothymia as a clinical entity.

The best part is, cyclothymia is milder than bipolar disorder (but still comes with suicide impulsivity) yet despite the fact that it’s generally agreed these days that people with bipolar don’t always need lifelong meds, the NHS guidelines say people with cyclothymia need to be on meds (that aren’t even approved for use for cyclothymia because literally nothing is) for the rest of their life.

Whut?

“In case it develops into full-blown bipolar.”

Riiiiiiight.

So they’re proposing I take very serious meds that will take years off my life when I don’t actually need them, despite the fact that the latest research says people with cyclothymia have a distinctly different set of debilitating symptoms than people with bipolar, it’s not just “soft bipolar” as some idiot clinicians call it, and never mind that people with cyclothymia are very sensitive to meds in general.

Frustratingly, the NHS can say whatever they want about cyclothymia because there are no NICE guidelines for it. That’s right. NICE recognizes cyclothymia but couldn’t be bothered to actually write any guidelines for how to define, diagnose or treat it, and they clearly state multiple times in their bipolar guidelines that they are not dealing with cyclothymia.

My current therapist is adamant I have bipolar, she doesn’t seem to know what cyclothymia is, she has dismissed ADHD as “not relevant” to my problems, and she seems to think I have no insight which makes no sense because everyone else I’ve ever seen always tells me I have lots of insight into my condition.

This whole thing is such a mess. And my husband, the biggest voice of doubt, keeps saying “I don’t think you have bipolar” like, do I need to borrow an elephant with “she has bipolar” written on the side of… of… those rug things elephants wear?! And does anyone know what those rug things are called?

Arrrgh how did I end up here again with the bipolar stuff? Should I be on meds? Who knows! I wish Blahpolar was still here because I know she would have talked this through with me and helped me work out where to go from here.

Or maybe she would have just made an appropriately-timed bipolar vegetable joke.

That would also help.

To be fair, I wish she was still here even if she never liked or commented on anything I ever wrote again.

The Pros and Cons Tag

So I saw this pros and cons tag on Megan’s blog: here

1. Write a list of things you think are “pros” about yourself. 

2. Write a list of things you think are “cons” about yourself.

3. Post and share! If you’d like to link back to this post, that’s cool too, but I’m not saying that’s necessary. 

1. Pros:

I think big.  I dream big and have a lot of big plans and ideas of all the things I want to do and achieve.

I have finally got my hair to the colour I’ve always wanted, and it’s been like this for about 8 months now.

I really really care about rabbits, as well as other soft fluffies, featheries, and so on, to the point where I want to take them all home and look after them all.

I come across as very confident even though I have no self esteem.  Although that’s less “fake it till you make it” and more “fake it till this depressive phase ends or I’ll be stuck in the house for weeks.”

I absolutely LOVE the great outdoors even though I also love being curled up at home with a good book, or having a chinwag when I’m out on the town with friends.

I’ve pretty much resolved my panic attacks by finding out what causes them and trying to take action to avoid that general situation, coupled with mindfulness techniques to calm myself for when the situation is unavoidable.

I love health and nutrition and am always finding new ways to improve the nutritional quality of the food I eat.

I try very hard not to let my cray cray affect my daily life.  Sometimes I succeed at this for weeks or months at a time.

2. Cons:

These can be pretty much summed up by: “I am a perfectionist, and I am as crazy as a bag of frogs.”

As soon as I’ve achieved something, I can’t celebrate that success, I’m looking for the next thing to achieve.

If I decide I’ve touched something dirty, or that someone else with dirty hands has touched, I have to wash my hands.

Sometimes that includes the tap handles, which obviously creates a negative feedback loop if I can’t clean them.

PRO: This almost never happens when I’m outdoors, which is bizarre when you think of all the bacteria out there.

I start pining for the fjords when I’m kept in a cage of day to day working for long periods of time, which makes me miserable.  I’m a free bird and I don’t cope very well with pointless “gainful” employment even though it gives me money to do stuff.  I’m even worse with part-time where I have to stick around to go to work but don’t get enough money to do stuff.

Sometimes I can go for entire weeks on a few hours’ sleep, other times I need 16 hours a day.

The above makes it very difficult to keep a job for longer than a few months.

I can be very particular about tasks, because I want to make sure they’re done properly.

I can be far too honest for my own good, including paying full price at attractions, returning money to people, reporting problems, paying for things when people have forgotten to charge me, etc.  I think life would be easier if I didn’t do this, but I can’t help it.

Sometimes I get bored and have so much energy that I go off and do something that seems like a great idea at the time but often turns out to be really stupid.  Then I regret it 6 weeks later when I’m back to normal…

…Other times I can’t leave the house for weeks on end, or I just can’t go to work.

The worst one of all: I am 28 and I have no fricking clue what I want to do with my life despite having tried 26 different jobs in the past 10 years (not including the five different businesses I’ve run in the past, and not including multiples of the same job role, so for example I’ve worked in several secondary schools as a science teacher but am counting science teacher as one job).  I’ve got to run out of things and decide what to do sometime soon, right??

Wow.  That was quite scary writing all that down and putting it out on the internet.  It’s not exhaustive.  If you want to tag yourself and do the pros and cons tag, feel free to link back or link to Megan’s original article, I’d love to see what other people think are their strengths and weaknesses.