Home > bipolar > Symptoms: Before and After Meds

Symptoms: Before and After Meds

First of all, it’s impossible to sum up a whole person in one blog post. I’m not even trying to do that. Also, there is a heck of a lot more to a person than a list of symptoms. Again, going beyond the symptoms is not my goal with this post.

Also, there are some things that I’ve done that I’m just not going to put in this blog, anonymous or not. Think what you want. Just remember that I’ve never hurt anyone but myself, and I’ve never broken any laws except traffic and copyright laws. It’s also possible there is more wrong with me than being bipolar.

So what are the symptoms?

Depressed Symptoms

  • Paranoia (to the point where I’m suspicious when people say hello).
  • Being unable to think for minutes at a time (sometimes it’s like being in a trance. Sometimes it’s so bad it’s like having an out-of-body experience).
  • The ability to do things by rote, but the near inability to do anything requiring creativity or critical thinking.
  • Being uncommunicative to the point where people who know me are very concerned.
  • Being unable to express emotions (one time someone who only knew me when I was depressed asked me why I never smiled).
  • Being dissatisfied with everything that I used to like.
  • Sleeping for 8-9 hours a day, plus naps, and still not being able to stay awake.
  • Thinking that the only way I’ll ever be any good is to be dead.
  • Self-harm (burns, cuts, punctures) Always where no one will see it.
  • Extreme feelings of guilt.
  • Sudden bursts of rage.
  • Prolonged, irrational, feelings of despair.

Manic Symptoms

  • Extreme sex drive. No standards. I would have sex with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Anything to make the other person happy. If no one else was around I would have sex with myself, anywhere, anytime, my any means. I think you get the idea. Believe it or not, I don’t miss the sex all that much. It was way out of control when I was single, and it was a constant source of stress when I met my husband. I never cheated on my husband, but it’s so much easier not to want to.
  • Impaired thinking. Imagine coming into a sentence in the middle and then leaving it before the end. All you get is a fragment that may or may not make any sense. That is what an impaired thought is like. Now imagine that your impaired thought is stuck on playback, over and over again, like a broken CD. Now imagine that you get to endure that for an hour.
  • Racing thoughts. Changing the topic of what you’re thinking of very rapidly.
  • Having lots of good ideas, but not being able to concentrate on them long enough to do anything about them.
  • Reckless spending. This one is not exclusive to bipolar, of course, but a lot of bipolar people suffer from it. Me included. I’ll do anything to spend money, and it always seems like a good idea at the time (which it often isn’t).
  • Grandiose thinking. It may be anything from thinking how great you are compared to the people around you, all the way up to thinking you’re Jesus (or the Buddha, or the Universe, etc).
  • Grandiose thinking (2). Devising incredibly elaborate plans that have little chance of success (but, of course, being convinced they can’t fail).
  • Extreme, out of control emotions.
  • Being extremely outgoing.
  • Extreme, irrational, optimism. Nothing is impossible.
  • Needing three hours of sleep or less. Waking up in the middle of the night driven to do something useful.

Other Symptoms (I’m not sure where they fit in)

  • Temporary loss of conscience.
  • Desire to hurt people and otherwise break the law (see above).
  • Hallucinations (voices. People that just pop out of nowhere, stick around for a second, and then disappear).
  • Having a “word of the day”. A word you can’t stop thinking over and over again.
  • Delusions. For example, thinking the mafia is after you. Or thinking that everyone can hear your thoughts. Or thinking that you have to drive up north and release captive animals, who are in touch with you telepathically (and you know exactly where to go). Or thinking that god has placed a secret message specially for you in the license plates that you’ll see in your upcoming trip.

So now I take Lithium, Divalproex (Depakote), and Perphenazine. What are things like now?

Low Symptoms

  • Unmotivated, but not debilitatingly so.
  • Passive. I don’t like conflicts.
  • Brief periods of despair.
  • Pessimistic.
  • Quiet.
  • Sleeping eight hours per day, but with enough caffeine staying awake all day.

High Symptoms

  • Interested in sex, but I don’t think abnormally so.
  • Occasional poor judgement (maybe this is normal). Still too quick to spend money.
  • Occasional outbursts of extreme emotion.
  • Outgoing.
  • Optimistic.
  • Occasional insomnia, with the need to do something useful when I wake up.

Other Symptoms

  • Occasional criminal thoughts that can be banished with breathing meditation. What is important to me is that although I still have these thoughts, I am now in control of them. They are bad habits that I’m sure I’ll get rid of entirely someday.
  • I see bugs where there aren’t any.

When I was unmedicated and at the mercy of the full-blown symptoms I always knew there was this person inside who was the real me. I got to see enough of this person to know he was there (that I was there), but most of the time I had to be this very sick person. Now with my meds, I am the real me all the time (with mild ups and downs).

Categories: bipolar
  1. May 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Hi! 🙂 I liked reading your post. I am Bipolar II. I recently started blogging about it. You may want to check it out. Everydaybipolar.wordpress.com

    • May 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

      Hi There!

      I enjoyed reading your site, so I added it to my blogroll.


  2. June 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Found a good one, this is the video of Kay Redfield Jamison. She talks about exuberance, passion and the “other sides” of bipolar; not the usual list nor content, I think.

    • June 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

      Thanks for the video. It was very interesting. I’ve actually read Dr. Jamison’s book “An Unquiet Mind” and I recommend it. I think it was the first book on bipolar disorder that I read. I bought it the day after I first suspected I had the disease, and months before my first doctor’s appointment.

      I’m glad you recognized that bipolar can make us into very passionate people (at least some of the time). I feel bad for making everything about me, but I can only speak from my own experience. Before I had meds I used to make a big deal everything, big and small. Everything was important. To me that is being passionate.

      As for exuberance, I agree with Dr. Jamison 100%. It’s the state I live for. To me it’s the consolation prize for being bipolar. The problem is that it gets too high and you start to have unrealistic expectations. I think, though, that I’m at the point where self-observation can guard against that.

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