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Have I Been Minimizing BPII/Cyclothymia Symptoms for Years?


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Hi Depression Forums,

It's been years since I've posted here, but I'm starting to wonder if my struggle with depression all these years has actually been a struggle with bipolar disorder or something of that ilk.

My first depressive episodes occurred in junior high or high school. I'm just about 40 now. I've tried the gamut of antidepressants over the years. Without fail, after a very short honeymoon phase, each one made me irritable and impulsive and stopped doing anything positive. Sometimes, they made me mean and self-destructive.

I have often had these irritable, impulsive phases outside antidepressant use as well. They either came before or after a depressive episode, although I struggle to remember past timelines exactly. Regardless, all paths led to a protracted depressive episode. 

I never had boundless, manic energy from these irritable episodes, so I thought that probably excluded me from bipolar spectrum disorders. I would, though, have boundless optimism over cockamamie schemes that, during more level-headed moments, seemed nonsensical. Before I ever had a chance to act on these schemes, I tumbled into a depressive episode for seemingly no reason.

Now, at 40, I have enough "life data" to see these cyclical patterns. I'll be stable enough to do positive things, like hold down a good job where I excel, or graduate from uni summa cum laude. But then I inevitably fall down into extreme fatigue and brain fog, or become irritable, distractible, and confused for no reason. It's not just "life's ups and downs" anymore. It's destroying my life. And overall, I'm losing all optimism as well as the energy to dust myself off and start again. This is incredibly embarrassing for me. I am disappointing myself as well as others. I had so much potential.

I try to do positive things for myself, like do more yoga and meditation, stop drinking alcohol, stop smoking weed... But I'm so off-kilter in my head that the improvements these changes give don't even register to me.

I've now lost all of my friends because I do not keep in touch. I dare not reach out or respond, because I have no idea what kind of mood I'll be in if they want to meet up or chat. Instead, I isolate.

Does this sound at all like something more than MDD, or is it just atypical depression? I feel like mood stabilizers are the only class of meds I haven't tried at this point.

Any guidance would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

Edited by s_frye
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Yep boundless optimism over cockamamie schemes sounds like me.  I don't know that I would say that the manic side is always just an amazing amount of energy.  You become very delusional.  You think you can accomplish anything no matter what it is.  One day you feel like you're nothing and nobody.  The next you feel like you're superman and nobody can stop you.  The truth is we really can accomplish anything but at the same time we can very easily knock it all to pieces or become bored and not care about any of it at all at a certain point.

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Thank you for your response, @sober4life. I think you hit the nail on the head there. It is so easy for things to fall apart, mentally, for seemingly no reason. Limitless, obsessive passion and optimism for a new hobby or career can disintegrate overnight for no rhyme or reason. Whole years of hard work can become moot in an instant. One step forward and two steps back.

I have a lot to think about. Thanks again.

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