Sunday, 28 September 2014

Your opinions please....

I'm so confused.

For the past four years I have been told I have Bipolar Disorder. Four years of mood stabilizing medication, disability pension, hospital visits, psychiatrists and therapy. Now I'm being told that could all be wrong.

I had a referral to any shrink for a second opinion on my meds because I started questioning my own doctor about his prescriptions. The new doctor was very frank about my condition and she gave me a completely new diagnosis - severe depression and anxiety disorder. That's a far cry from Bipolar. The symptoms are very similar, Bipolar combines these elements with manic attacks. I have had those episodes but not for a long time now, I have been attributing that to the mood stabilizers I take daily, such as Lithium and Invega. So I haven't questioned the diagnosis until now.

So what do I do? Who do I believe?

Do I believe the new psychiatrist and go with the new diagnosis? Or the six or seven other psychiatrists I've seen in the past years that all prop up the original diagnosis. I just don't know what to think or do.

The brain is the hardest part of the body to fix. A doctor can't make an informed decision by any normal medical standards. Half of the diagnosis comes directly from the patient in the form of interviews and observation. The other half comes from professional experience with interpreting those signs. We trust that trained psychiatrists can do this, but how well is up to the patient's interpretation. Sometimes we just don't agree with the final call, and fight back in the only way possible - a second opinion. I believe I have Bipolar Disorder, I just don't believe in all the medication that I have been saddled with. The second opinion is confusing me. Who do I believe?

In the course of my treatment I attended a Bipolar support group for six months. Above all the rest of the therapy I've gone through this group was by far the most eye-opening and useful. I had the benefit of sitting in a group with ten other people suffering the same condition, and a moderator who's professionalism and knowledge was beyond reproach. My first opinion of the group was that I really belonged. I had all the symptoms and signs that everyone else in the room had, we all shared a commonality. After a while there I began to get a better grasp on my condition and how to cope with it on a daily basis. When the program ended after six months, we all tried to figure out how to keep the group alive. We all enjoyed the experience that much. This program was the proof I needed, not the psychiatrist's opinion, my own.

Two years later I do see some of the participants now and then, they are members of Mental Health Connections - a non-profit organization here in Windsor that assists mentally ill clients with numerous activities. It's a place to go for a common cause. Everyone in there suffers from this silent beast. 

So help me out here. Please give me your opinion on this! I am quite concerned that I will make the wrong decision (even though it's the psychiatrist's decision), and I will end up starting this journey all over again.