Saturday, June 29, 2013

What the F**k is Bipolar Disorder?

I've lived with this for - as far as I can tell - about thirty years. Or at least I had my first manic experience about thirty years ago (which I'll detail in another post). I started researching and reading about it three years ago. I really ramped up my research six months ago. I have all kinds of books that I've read inside out, frontwards and backwards and cross referenced and tracked down most of the "facts" they present. I've read dozens of websites. I've looked at dozens of research papers as published in scientific journals. I've discussed this with neuroscientists. I've researched this back to the days of ancient Greece. And you know what the answer is to the question in the title of this post?

Nobody knows.

OK, maybe not nobody but I'm convinced that nobody knows exactly what it is. They certainly haven't found what causes it. They certainly haven't found what exactly the process is in the brain. All that's "known" is vague ideas about outward symptoms. And I'll tell you this - mainstream psychiatry sure as hell doesn't know.

If anyone tells you that they know what bipolar disorder is they're either lying, full of shit or someone with a "Dr." in front of their name suffering from the God complex. People who have bipolar disorder may know what it is. Maybe. At least they know what it's like to have whatever it is in their brains. But as confusing at it is to have two, three or possibly more entirely different personalities in your brain at any given time and as clueless as the medical community is about it, I suspect that at best someone with bipolar disorder (if indeed that's what they have; misdiagnosis, as we'll learn, is rampant) only thinks they know what it is. At best they only know what it's like for them which may or may not help anyone else.

If you've researched bipolar disorder and aren't completely confused, you either haven't researched enough or are too easily satisfied. I'll get to this in more detail as we go along.

I've seen, over the years, thirteen psychiatrists. This includes my primary care psychiatrists, psyche ER psychiatrists, psychiatric hospital psychiatrists (in three different stays) and assorted others that have had their kick at the proverbial can. I've yet to find two that have even remotely similar opinions on my mind. This is kind of what I'm talking about with confusing. Pick any two autobiographical books on the subject and see how much crossover agreement you get. Pick any two books on the subject and not come across dozens of contradictory statements. Pick one book and read through it carefully with a critical mind and not find contradictory statements.

Try to find agreement on which medications or combinations thereof work. Try to find agreement on whether medications work at all.  What "works", I'm afraid to report, may just be a delusion. Or deadly. Or brain damaging. See how much fun this is?! Much more on this in future posts. If you're a proponent of mainstream medication therapy you may not want to read along. Or maybe you should.

It is, I can assure you, extremely frustrating to really, truly understand this disorder. And if it's confusing and frustrating to try to understand, it's even more so to live with it and try to get your life going in any one direction.

I got so fed up with what psychiatry and their books and websites tell you about bipolar that I discarded all of it. I also discarded what most bipolar people write (in their books and blogs). Then I started from scratch. There's a lot of bullshit out there about bipolar. I'm trying to cut through all that bullshit.

So what is bipolar disorder?

Tear it down to the roots and it is two things - mania and manic depression (which I define separately from uni-polar depression ... they are different I believe ... more in future posts). So what is mania? And what is manic depression (as in a manic depressive episode)?

Haha, this is where the fun begins. Read along.

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