Frequently Unanswered Questions

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Call it a disorder long enough and people without the disease start believing that all we need is a hug, maybe a car ride and a Stephen Colbert marathon and we’ll snap out of it. And if we don’t, well then it’s because we’re just loving the attention or something.”

The combination of genetics and imaging technology is allowing researchers to prove MD is a disease passed on by mother and father and that it infects the chemical syringes in our heads, so that the controls on ‘how much’ and ‘when’ are set to ‘shuffle’ and ‘repeat’.”

“Clinical and Normal Depressions have direct and reasonable causes. Manic Depression has neither. Depression is something forced on us by the disease.”

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These Are Some Questions I’ve Been Asked…

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01) Why do you think bi-polars’ feelings are more extreme than the average persons? Is it possible that it is simply the behaviour of someone with Manic Depression that is more extreme?

Salted Lithium: The same reason I think someone with cancer has a more extreme growth pattern than someone without cancer. The behaviour of someone with Manic Depression (MD) is determined by the random chemical hot-shots fed to us by our brains. When you have a disease that fucks with your emotions it throws your ability to rationalize off a building, therefore our thoughts and actions / reactions become suspect.

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2) Cancer cells are distinguished from normal cells by appearance and behaviour, not elusive and subjective assumptions about how the patient “feels”.

Salted Lithium: The time where doctors have to rely on the person with MD having to describe symptoms in order to create a diagnosis is over. All of the brain sciences have been stuck in the pre-rubberglove era of medicine. This generation of FMRI, MRI and PET scans are allowing researchers to see MD in action, and they have already shown that MD’s have different brain makeups. There was a report not too long ago about how there were differences between depressions caused by concussions and those that were genetic, like MD. There are better diagnostics coming, and there is a cure coming For more… click here.

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3) It’s easy to simply label it a disease, as if that is the final word on the matter and no further enquiry is needed. What makes Manic Depression different?

Salted Lithium: I understand that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t believe in The Mind let alone Invisible Brain Diseases, and I understand that it’s hard because of the language that we use everyday. That’s why I’ve been trying to distinguish between Normal Depression (blues to death in the family), Clinical Depression (prolonged and deep normal-depression) and Manic Depression, which is random and varies in depth and longevity. Clinical and Normal Depressions have direct and reasonable causes. Manic Depression has neither. Depression is something forced on us by the disease.

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4) Why “disease” and not “disorder”?

Salted Lithium: I’m disordered like Mike J. Fox has the hangover shakes. “Disorder” trivializes all of us with MD. Call it a disorder long enough and people without the disease start believing that all we need is a hug, maybe a car ride and a Stephen Colbert marathon and we’ll snap out of it. And if we don’t, well then it’s because we’re just loving the attention or something. Or it’s just who we’re supposed to be, so we should accept it and learn to live like this. The last thing we need in our lives is for the people around us believing we’re faking.
It’s a disease, just like cancer’s a disease. A hundred years ago someone with cancer was diagnosed as having been touched by Satan and treated with a few leeches. Of course Mental Illnesses have been misdiagnosed for the past six thousand years, this, right now, is the first generation to watch the brain function. Until this moment the only way to prove we’re sick is to have people believe we’re crazy based on our behaviour. The combination of genetics and imaging technology is allowing researchers to prove MD is a disease passed on by mother and father and that it infects the chemical syringes in our heads, so that the controls on “how much” and “when” are set to “shuffle” and “repeat”. Fuck ‘disorder’.

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5) What about treatments not based on medication and psychotherapy?

Salted Lithium: There are a lot of ways to come back from any disease. There are people who forego chemotherapy and use “natural” methods and come out on the other side great. There are people who use chemo and die. I have met a few MD’s along the way who manage the disease through yoga and diet alone. I know people who have used electro-shock. One of my best friends from high school uses medicinal marijuana. If there is a point to Salt, I think it’s that I’ve only been “in recovery” for three years, and here’s my experience both on and off the pills. It doesn’t matter to me how someone gets treated for MD (within reason), as long as it happens… as long as the person with MD takes responsibility and uses their moments of clarity to get help somewhere from someone (again, within reason: counting the stars and / or drinking the water of boiled sticks will not cure anyone). But, to be honest, once past that irrational empathic moment to ‘care’ about someone I’ve never met, Salted Lithium is for me. It’s a part of my recovery, and it’s something I need to do right now to get beyond some fairly recent tragic shit. Right now this thing is what’s keeping me walking forward. And so far it’s doing a pretty decent job.

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6) What training do you have to be offering advice to people who might have a serious Mental Illness?

Salted Lithium: None. Absolutely none. I’m a reporter who mostly wrote about Internet Privacy Issues, not a doctor of any kind. Any assumptions on Salted are based entirely upon my own experience: Off the pills sucked, on the pills is better. If there’s a third option I’ll look into it when I’ve had some time and distance. When I’ve had some time not being suicidal. There is an enormous gulf between where I’ve been and where I am now… that potato soup / food bank post [here] was a comic strip. Salted Lithium is, simply, a way for me to move past some current events, and to learn from my past as an unmedicated manic depressive. The random insane depressions the disease threw at me for so long are now being taken care of, so now I have to deal with all of the shit the disease prevented me from dealing with for the past eighteen years. Again, that’s some of what SL is for. If I can help someone else gain some clarity in their life… it will make me happy. But that’s not the focus. It’s like alcoholism or drug addiction, your first and only goal must be yourself. If you can drag another addict to an AA or NA meeting along the way… I guess an angel gets her wings. Or something.

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...thanks.

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38 Responses to Frequently Unanswered Questions

  1. puddlejumper says:

    Only a teensy bit pretentious sounding (no more so than usual)
    The only part I’d take issue with is your insistance that Manic Depression should never be referred to as a Disorder. BY ANYONE.
    I’m going to sound a bit tree-huggy here but bear with me. I totally respect your right to ask people to use whatever label/descriptions/clinical terms about yourself and your own situation as you feel comfortable with.
    But my thoughts are that the term “disorder” was a coined as a way of trying to fight back against the stigma. By calling it an illness or a disease you automatically medicalise a condition that “some” people manage without drugs.
    Personally I’m not one of those people. And personally I don’t mind what term people use as long as they are genuinely trying to understand more about it. I’m comfortable with disorder, condition, disease, mad-crazy-bitch, whatever. As long as the peron saying it is doing so nicely!
    The term Manic Depression has itself fallen out of favour, because, as you rightly point out in a previous post, it barely sums up the reality of what we experience.
    But the term “disorder” can be useful if it allows people to continue working (in a culture that makes few allowances for people suffereing from mental “illness”) or if it helps that individual feel more in control.
    Hope I’ve said all that with the kind tone intended. You did ask for feedback.
    Other than that it’s a good post.
    And no. My PC wouldn’t let me open the file. I’m going to hunt it down tonight on the net, try and listen that way.
    Definately gotta go now.
    Kids all back from school.
    Husband expecting his tea on the table.
    Have really enjoyed chatting with you today though.
    I like to try to ensure I get all my favourite customers feedback too so here’s a wee questionnaire for you to fill out
    http://puddlejumper.wordpress.com/mystalkercom-because-stalking-is-the-new-myspace/
    x
    (laters dude)

  2. Gabriel... says:

    “Only a teensy bit pretentious sounding (no more so than usual)”
    I do get a little Biblically Authoritative sometimes, don’t I? I need an editor.

    “But my thoughts are that the term “disorder” was a coined as a way of trying to fight back against the stigma.”
    Disorder was the term thrown on our… illness during the days of “Political Correctness” as a way to take the ‘stigma’ out of having the disease. But, like most of the PC Words, it also took all the meaning out of the suffering.

    “Have really enjoyed chatting with you today though.”
    Me too.

    “My PC wouldn’t let me open the file.”
    If you’re running Windows you can find information on .wma here:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/codecs/audio.aspx
    otherwise any decent download site will have the mp3.

  3. Gianna says:

    Hi–just found you today. I was a bit put off by the “take the fucking pills” message on the top of the page today, but then I saw from above:

    “Off the pills sucked, on the pills is better. If there’s a third option I’ll look into it when I’ve had some time and distance.”

    I can tell you–for me, off the pills sucked, on the pills sucked worse, and now getting off the pills and choosing diet, nutrition and neurofeedback seems to be maybe working?? I’m giving it my best. No final results, but lots of contact with people who are choosing natural alternatives and doing well.

    the best to both of us!
    cheers

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks for sticking around, most people see something they disagree with and surf away or start swearing… I’m not sure what “neurofeedback” is so, if you come back and feel like explaining, I’d be interested in finding out.

    Most people (not all) I’ve heard from who hated being on The Pills were on a ridiculous amount of pills or taking the wrong pills or were mis-diagnosed, all (mostly) because of a shortage of trained psychiatrists. But the next generation of treatments will be, thanks to FMRI’s and a better undestanding of the role of genetics in this disease, more targeted both on the specific symptoms of the disease and on the individual suffering from the disease…

    Do whatever you can do to find the space and time necessary to distance and separate yourself from the disease, as long as we treat manic depression as a disease and not a ‘disorder’ we’ll both be fine.

  5. Gianna says:

    hi! thanks for visiting my site.

    FMRI? I guess I should do some research. (did a quicky google search–looks interesting)

    I’m glad to hear you know about neurofeedback after all.

    I don’t have lots of time right now but I promise to come back and chat some more.

    (I’m not so convinced of “bipolar disorder” being genetic and I have no faith in meds–we could have s0me fun discussions if we continue to be open to each other)

    But I totally don’t want to fight!!! No interest in that at all.

    Be well!

  6. Gabriel... says:

    There’s no fighting here (except, maybe, about the “disorder” word). My posts can get angry, but that’s directed at me and my demons. Except for the Trolls anyone who posts here gets treated with respect.

  7. Gianna says:

    hey…for some reason blogger doesn’t always forward messages to my email, so I didn’t see the question about insurance and neurofeedback until just now. I’ve been paying out of pocket. BUT—my last billing cycle medicare actually paid for it. It’s still unclear whether it was a mistake or not!

  8. Gabriel... says:

    I’m always fascinated by what Medicare or Medicaid will pay for… it varies here by province, so drugs and treatments available in Ontario are sometimes unavailable in Quebec or British Columbia. When I have time I’ll look into whether “neurofeedback” is covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

    I hope it wasn’t a mistake.

  9. misneach says:

    how come feartheseeds is now green and not orange …

    … I think they both suit you.

    (and all at the same time) …

    funny

    that.

    xx

  10. Gabriel... says:

    I’m not sure… beyond the “change for changes sake” thing. I made the green/black avatar months ago… it was kind of meant to match the green & black Anarchy banner I have in my sidebar.

  11. anonanoneedoodar says:

    the way I think about this now is this … you are way past recovery … you are recovering … from what though?

    the mostest, bestest thing about you is your recovery … nah … fuck that … gone way past …

    it’s now discovery …

    and that means so much more to you …

    get itchy feet …

    coz you already feel that itch …

    now YOU decide …

    if I was there with you now …

    I would shake you …

    proper shake you …

    coz the way I feel about you now …

    some things will never change …

    but I will shake you …

    way past recovery sunshine …

    much more recovery …

    and you know it …

    coz you are not daft …

    I mean it …

    time has come to move it and shake it …

    take things with you …

    the things that are still about recovery …

    but how many people need to kick your fucking arse …

    I know … Gabriel …

    about you …

    get out of that fucking village …

    that’s my advice …

    go to Toronto …

    maybe recover and discover …

    there …

    all I know is … it’s too comfort zone …

    I love you.

    xx

  12. Gabriel... says:

    This village — the people in it and around it — is the only support system I have. My doctor is here, my parents and grandparents are here and there are enough people who know me — and willing to check on me — here to keep me occupied… including my landlord. The only thing in Toronto is apartments, restaurants and theatres I can’t afford. I’ll be back in Toronto eventually.

  13. wow says:

    … that bitch can talk some can’t she …

    I like the ‘discovery’ part though … maybe that’s the best part of ‘recovery’ …

    finding things you had forgotten … finding things you want to forget … finding things you don’t want to forget … finding out that you can’t remember stuff that you think you should but ‘ah fuck it’ … ha ha! … finding out that you like finding out … things … finding out that discovery is the best part of recovery …

    you are on a winner …

    because you will recover what you need to discover and the rest is already lost ..

    but what do I know … ??

    I can paint a W on me arse cheeks, spread ‘em, and spell ‘wow’ …

    but then again … I think being able to burp ‘ave maria’ makes me special.

    xx

  14. Aikaterine says:

    I cannot find where you wrote this:

    “I am not bipolar, I HAVE bipolar…”

    My parents and I attend a weekly group session where one of the moderators said the same thing. Except, she is not bipolar so insert the condescending “we are” and “we have”. It bothered me.

    I have a car, a cold, a dog. The proposition “I have” is one I associate with possessing something transient.

    I am a female, a daughter, a lover. These things define my concept of self. Bipolar is not transient. I am bipolar. It works for me.

    “Bipolar” – a term, descriptive of the way in which my brain processes data, compared to the set of people who are not bipolar. It is a convenient label, at least for me, to communicate with others why I react differently than they do. When I use it is this manner, it is descriptive of a set of circumstances that influence the way in which I perceive and react to the world, my consciousness.

    As Derrida so aptly argued, my concept of self is limited by the language of consciousness. I cannot find a meta-language above the self-referential cycle of consciousness.

    Christ, what I am trying to say is:

    If the proposition, “I am” is used to define my concept of self, then I am bipolar. I do not merely have bipolar disease.

    This does not mean that the disease necessarily controls me, it does not mean that I cannot manage the negative aspects of it, while enjoying the positive.

    My question is this. Do you and I have a difference of understanding? Do we conceptualize this disease differently? Or is it merely a matter of language?

  15. Gabriel... says:

    You are not bipolar disease. You have a disease that you must fight and control otherwise it will kill you. Everything else is romance, and it’s the romance that’s the biggest killer of people with bipolar disease. The question is: do you want a cure for manic depression? If you believe there can be a cure, then you have the disease. If you don’t believe there is a cure, or that there shouldn’t be a cure, then you are bipolar disease. I believe every disease has a cure, therefore manic depression is transient. It is a crippling, useless disease that benefits no one. It is something that needs to be stopped.

  16. Aikaterine says:

    Your views are foreign to me; and I thank you for taking the time to help me see this from a different perspective. We conceptualize the disease differently; yet come to the same conclusions regarding medication, treatment etc…

    I am not sure how I feel about a “cure”. For some, it would be good. It depends on how you internalize your experience of the disease. As people find success with alternative treatments, especially environmental management, I become more convinced that a large portion of the negatives associated with bipolar are influenced by our need to fit into societal norms.

    Once I started to do what I love and structured my work/life to take advantage of my strengths while downplaying my weaknesses, I was able to reduce the amount of meds I take. To say it another way, once I accepted “myself” in totality and stopped trying to meet standards set by mainstream society, I noticed a reduction in the frequency and severity of my episodes.

    For me, accepting this as part of who I am is not romantic. It is a natural consequence of my views on language, my Buddhist inclinations, and my desire to pro-actively manage the risks associated with bipolar.

    “It is a crippling, useless disease that benefits no one. It is something that needs to be stopped.”

    I am wondering how this view helps you to navigate your daily life?

  17. aikaterine says:

    O.K., scratch my question in the earlier comment. I have read the comments you pointed me to way back in January (when we were discussing the art thing) and I get it.

  18. I am new to this biploar thing. Well, no, that’s a lie. I am new to this whole ‘living with a diagnosis’ thing. Anyway, through the miracle of tagsurfing I found your blog, and I liked it. I liked it lots. I have no idea what etiquette (if any, it doesn’t always come naturally to me) is required for to link you from my own embryonic and meagre efforts here, but if I may, well that would be just dandy.

  19. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks very much…

    I’ve never asked to trade links, but I know quite a few people who do. Really, the etiquette is entirely up to you, but if you’d like to link to Salted, or any other blog, you never need to ask and it’s fairly easy to put the URL into your “blogroll”. If you need some help don’t hesitate to ask.

    There are quite a few sites in my blogroll you might find interesting. All or most of them regard manic depression as something to be overcome, but there are varying types of treatment options. Personally, right now, I’m in the “medicate first, talk second” camp.

    There are many American readers of Salted, including a few I consider to be friends, who are struggling with the American system with regards to medical costs and treatment options. Your viewpoint, as someone who has worked in the mental health field, could be quite important to them.

  20. qweenminx says:

    Hi gel … can I have my qm.wp password now please?

    xx

  21. Gabriel... says:

    Hello lemon, I sent you an email… nice to [kind of] see you.

  22. Hi, Gabriel. Found your blog through Nita Writer.

    I am recovering from depression/panic fear. It wasn’t the kind of depression where I didn’t want to get out of bed – it was the kind where I wanted to jump out the window. But, I didn’t.

    I respond well to pills. No shame there, and I consider myself lucky. Still, there’s always a temptation to see if I can go it alone, as if I would get some kind of award for not taking my meds.

    Anyway, enough about me. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog. Best of luck to you with your writing and book deals.

  23. Gabriel... says:

    We are lucky to have found treatments which work… there are, however, no awards for being so crushingly depressed a walk out a window would seem like the best part of the day. Feel free to come over and talk about yourself as much as you’d like, from what I’ve read of your blog you have many interesting things to say. As for the deals, there’s only one. And it’s starting to get a little stretched.

    Thanks for coming by…

  24. Kenn Chaplin says:

    I’d have to look back in my blog to see when I was diagnosed bipolar II (sounds like a sequel), but it pisses me off that it took so long. I’ve been treated for clinical depression, when I first got physically ill, then for post-traumatic stress, after a serious accident. Only when I lost all signs of depression for a major stretch, and didn’t know enough to be alarmed about manic behaviour, was I finally diagnosed (different PDoc) as bpII.

    Question (which I might find answered here if I looked hard enough)… Alot of amateurs wonder if stopping drinking stops bipolar. Actually they say it should. Period. My PDoc says the two can, and should, be treated simultaneously but that giving up the drink, which I did seven months ago, does not erase the bp and I need to continue taking my med. Is that your experience or your research?

  25. Kenn Chaplin says:

    Let me re-phrase something. “They” say by stopping drinking bipolar symptoms are more likely to go away. That has not been my experience on nights, such as this, when I stay up late before taking my med. I’ll just keep reading up on the myths you have here. Thanks.

  26. Gabriel... says:

    It’s great to see you Kenn…

    I haven’t heard of not drinking making bipolar symptoms going away… but alcohol and bipolar do have a relationship you should probably avoid.

    First, alcohol is a natural depressant so it works against your recovery right there, but alcohol also reacts badly with most (re: all) anti-depressants as well as Lithium.

    Also, most pharmaceutical treatments for manic depression require you to be hydrated, especially Lithium, and along with Every thing else alcohol is also a diuretic, which means the body loses more water than it takes in.

    Caffeine is also a diuretic, and should be avoided as well… I feel like I should apologize here. While we’re on liquids though, if you’re taking any kind of SSRI anti-depressants it’s a Really good idea to avoid grapefruit juice. Sorry.

  27. Kenn Chaplin says:

    No apologies required, and caffeine is something I haven’t seriously tried to give up…yet :-(

    As for grapefruit juice, I haven’t been able to drink that for years – for all sorts of medicinal reasons.

    It makes sense that abstaining from alcohol will e helping my low dips…but, man, I got wrapped up in blog tech stuff last night, didn’t take my meds (Seroquel) and, surprise, didn’t sleep. Oops! I’ll have to change that tonight.

    Thanks for responding!

  28. Gabriel... says:

    I was prescribed 100mgs of Seroquel a few years ago as a sleep aid… before taking it I was lucky to get four hours of decent sleep a night, since then it has been eight to ten hours of blissful sleep. I recently dropped to 75mgs and I’m still getting the sleep I need, but without having to deal with the heavy drowsiness in the morning if I wake up before it’s out of my system.

    One of the problems I’ve had is if I run out I can’t sleep until I’m exhausted… or if I decide I have more important things to do than sleep, it’s a feeling very similar to trying to sleep while manic.

    I think I can help with your html problems, Kenn. I’ll send you an email later on…

  29. Excellent stuff, Gabriel. I wish I could be as articulate as you are.

  30. Gabriel... says:

    Well… wow… Seaneen, your avatar is certainly looking less mannish.

    Normally I’d say “drink more”… but instead I’ll be honest. So, thanks Seaneen. This means a great deal to me because I think you’ve got it backwards.

  31. Pingback: Straw Man Theories Of The Mental Health Evolution « …salted lithium.

  32. Pingback: There’s No Art In Manic Depression « …salted lithium.

  33. Blaine Larson says:

    You are not bipolar disease. You have a disease that you must fight and control otherwise it will kill you. Everything else is romance, and it’s the romance that’s the biggest killer of people with bipolar disease. The question is: do you want a cure for manic depression? If you believe there can be a cure, then you have the disease. If you don’t believe there is a cure, or that there shouldn’t be a cure, then you are bipolar disease. I believe every disease has a cure, therefore manic depression is transient. It is a crippling, useless disease that benefits no one. It is something that needs to be stopped.

    +1

  34. Vodka and Ground Beef says:

    I just wanted to say that the title of your site is the best title ever, hands down. Awesome.

  35. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks… I’m a huge fan of both vodka and ground beef, so yours is right up there with me as well.

  36. It sux to be diagnosed wrong says:

    I just wanna know why is there a walk to cure MS and breast cancer, and all these other walks. Why can’t there be something to raise awareness and raise money to find a cure for Bi polar disorder ?

    • Gabriel... says:

      Actually there are… just Google “Mental Health walk [+ your town]” and you’ll find a bunch of them, or you can check the NAMI site, they have Awareness Walks in almost every state (I’m assuming you’re an American, not sure why).

      They don’t raise a lot of money, but every little bit helps.

  37. Waylan says:

    As a battle hardened veteran of dealing with manic depression, I feel I’ve learned a lot about this disease.

    34 YEARS AGO, I experienced my first manic episode while my wife and I lived in Richmond, VA in 1978. No one recognized what was going on until my manic activities became so obvious that I was in trouble. You see, I’m an artist and some of that behavior was excused because of that.
    I wound up in the hospital for 3 months. It took electric shock and a lot of medicine to bring me back to earth.

    The next year almost the same thing happened. Though the details varied, the experience was very similar.

    Fresh out of the hospital, we moved to Providence, RI so I could go to graduate school. I was pretty heavily drugged when I started at school and struggled to do my work. My wife was a tremendous support. I don’t know how I made it without her. (note: I found it hard to grasp what had happened to me. For her, it was clearly an illness that I was coping with.)

    The story of how I dealt with manic depression is similar to everyone else I’ve known. On the right medication, life can be full and productive. On the wrong medication or without medication, the disease has its way with you, fooling you with the drama of traveling on the endless roller coaster of moods.

    DO NOT FORGET however that medication is only one component of recovery. You also need a strong support system of family, friends, close advisors, doctors, therapists, etc. simply because the first thing that happens as the disease starts to manifest itself is loss of JUDGEMENT!

    Constant vigilance is the cost of freedom. I do not believe one is ever cured.

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