First Name
Age Group
District of Columbia
Zip Code
Marital Status
How many people share the living space with you?
What is your highest level of formal education?
Master Degree
What race/ethnicity do you belong to?
What is the frequency of your visits to the health care provider?
Several times a week
Are you presently employed? If yes, what is your occupation?
Yes, I work part-time as a librarian.
Were you employed previously? If yes, when and where?
Yes, I was fired from a full-time job as a librarian in June 2004, during my first manic episode.
What conditions have you been diagnosed with? When? Where?
Bipolar I and General Anxiety Disorder (2004, current psychiatrist)
Have you ever been hospitalized? If yes, how many times? When was the last time that you were hospitalized?
Please describe everything you know about your condition(s) and how you obtained such information?
After my diagnosis, I became obessessed with researching bipolar disorder on the web. I read NIMH pages, pages with drug reviews,, and many other sites. When I started my current job I read books and articles from the university's collection. I also went to a very informative lecture at another local university. I feel I am quite well-informed. I try to keep up with new research and developments in the fields of psychology and medicine.
Please illustrate your life before, during, and after learning of your condition(s) and engaging in therapies, if any?
My life will always be divided into two parts: before my manic episode (and diagnosis) and after it. My anxiety and extreme happiness and depression were all mixed up. I had trouble sleeping (I still do), I was drinking too much and craved sugar. My job was stressful and I was tired so I was drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. Every night for years before that, I would wake in the middle of the night and cry for an hour. My personality was more sparkling and I was able to make jokes, converse intelligently and generally enchant people. I was loud, flirtatious and excited to be alive. Just having friends and a professional job make me feel deleriously happy. During my manic episode I became psychotic and developed all manner of strange theories. My mind was in a fog. There were all sorts of odd connections my brain kept making, and I was obessessed with interpreting the symbolism that I saw in colors, language, numbers, etc. After I was fired I crashed within 3 days. I remember being sprawled on the kitchen floor, sobbing and leaving a phone message with my former supervisor. For a while I just rested. I went to see a doctor, a general practitioner, for a check-up and to see if I had diabetes. I lost weight and I was eating a lot while manic. He found that I was healthy physically so I went to see a psychiatrist. The interview was kind of scary for me. Dr. E kept cutting me off and telling me to describe things. Later he said I seemed so sick he almost hospitalized me on the spot. When I was finished with the questions he told me I had a classic case of bipolar disorder and prescribed lithium. Wow, that moment is really burned in my brain. I don't think it is easy for anyone to hear that. The lithium part scared me and I wasn't going to take it. I called Dr. E and he said it was my choice to take it or not. I read online about lithium and I decided to take it. I was also seeing a therapist at the time who was simply a comfortable presence, a nice lady to talk to. Maybe I needed this then. Later I found my current therapist. After doing my own research
Please describe how you cope with your condition(s), if at all, and the effectiveness of each strategy?
Lithobid - Being emotionally numb (in a relative sense of course) helps me go to work everyday. I tend to like lithium despite the extra 10 pounds and the acne and the salty taste in my mouth. It seems to works without scary side-effects like SSRIs (and their ilk). Therapy - My relationship with my therapist gets better with time and we are making lots of progress. Therapy has helped me recognize and change destructive thought patterns (such as paranoia). Fish Oil caps - I take eight of these daily and I really think they work. They reign in the weirdness the lithium misses. Exercise - I love walking and riding my bike but I also try to do other stuff, something everyday or nearly. That post-workout high is the closest I get to feeling good. "Jedi Mind Tricks"- These are a rag bag of techniques from here are there, like squashing bad thoughts, trying to focus on the present, etc. I seem to forget them when I am very upset.
Does the state of your health impede in any way your everyday activities such as work, housework, studies and so on?
My emotions are pretty much under control now, but still powerful. Occaissonally when they are very powerful I am distracted at work or at home. This does not usually have serious consequences. I need to distract myself constantly with crossword puzzles, internet searches, etc. Before treatment, it was nearly impossible to get anything done. My emotions paralyzed me and I suffered job loss and failed classes as a result. At work, currently, I am highly professional towards the library users and to my colleagues. I am proud of myself for being able to act this way.
Does the state of your health impede in any way your social activities, such as inviting others to your residence, accepting invitations, going out with friends and so on?
I don't really fit in, so I don't get too many invitations. When I get them I gladly accept them. I like socializing and doing things and I try to set stuff up. If people cancel or change plans I lose heart and never bother setting things up again. Sometimes when I do stuff with people I am holding back emotions and the people I am with can sense that. This is awkward. I try to be fun but it's hard to pretend to be something you ae not.
How would you classify your daily interactions with people in general? (Comfortable, neutral, awkward, unpleasant) Please describe in detail.
I also act somewhat cold and distant but I am friendly with people in a superficial way. People seem to like me but them never ask me to do things with them. I have some old friends and they care about my welfare. I am more distant with people at work, especially people closer in age to me, than say, the lady at the dry-cleaners. Shutting people out prevents awkward encounters which can lead to emotional things. Older people seem to like me more but maybe I gravitate to them or something.
How do you envision your future?
I would like to say that I will establish a successful career path as a librarian and have children with my husband at some point but I just don't know. I am not sure these things are options for me. I am not sure I want them. I really want to write a few great books and stories and kill myself before I turn 40.
On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
Strongly Disagree
At times I think I am no good at all.
Strongly Agree
I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
I am able to do things as well as most other people.
Strongly Disagree
I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
Strongly Agree
I certainly feel useless at times.
Strongly Agree
I feel that I'm a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
Strongly Disagree
I wish I could have more respect for myself.
Strongly Agree
All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
Strongly Agree
I take a positive attitude toward myself.
Strongly Disagree
I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
If someone opposes me, I can find the ways and means to get what I want.
Strongly Agree
I am certain that I can accomplish my goals.
Strongly Agree
I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.
Thanks to my resourcefulness, I can handle unforeseen situations.
I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.
When I am confronted with a problem, I can find several solutions.
If I am in trouble, I can think of a good solution.
I can handle whatever comes my way.
With my illness experience, I feel I am:
Often tense
More often uncomfortable
Often in agony
Often distraught
Almost always discouraged
Often unsure
Often helpless
Often uncertain
My relationships help me feel I am:
More often valued
More often comforted
More often close
More often connected
More often included
More often supported
More often accepted
Towards those who are emotionally close to me, I feel I am:
Equally forgiving and resentful
Equally welcoming and unreceptive
More often accepting
More often encouraging
More often trusting
Almost always understanding
Almost always respectful
Universal beliefs and principles or a divine presence help me feel I am:
Often inspired
Often comforted
Often accepted
Equally guided and aimless
Equally embraced and rejected
Often out-of-step
Almost always adrift
Towards universal beliefs and principles or a divine presence I feel I am:
More often ignoring
Equally receptive and closed
Equally thankful and demanding
Almost always critical
Almost always receding
Almost always resisting
More often separating