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 Post subject: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren't
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:30 am 
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This is about a friend of mine. She has a diagnosis of bipolar type II. So does her mother and grandmother. Her mother and grandmother also have a diagnosis each of a particular thyroid condition.

My friend is very well researched on her health (she has OCD too which can come in handy when researching!) and was telling me about how there are other conditions whose symptoms can mimic bipolar type II, for eg B12 deficieny and a particular thyroid condition. Diabetes 2 may have been another one (I don't remember) and my friend also has a diabetes type 2 diagnosis.

My friend has been asking her doctors to send her off to get full blood analysis done to confirm/rule out this thyroid condition but they are refusing, instead saying to her "no you are bipolar so you need to take these drugs". I asked why they are refusing to send her for these tests and she said because doctors can get in to trouble for arranging unnecessary tests and as this particular full blood work costs about $2000, doctors will not risk getting in to trouble over it. My friend can not afford to pay it herself.


My friend has had the worst time with doctors. Without getting in to too much detail, she has and is being bullied in to taking particular combinations of medication (anti psychotic + anti depressant + mood stabiliser). She is being bullied in to doing this even though this particular dosage+meds combo has made her feel really bad and when she pulled back on one of the dosages she felt much better (same with when she took another drug instead of one she is having).

Because of her particular meds combo she has terrible insomnia and goes for days without sleep before crashing. She feels more and more that her bad periods (mania first then long term depression) are triggered by lack of sleep and so reducing one of her meds and taking a sleeping tablet is what helped her get 8 hours straight sleep. She said she had never felt so human in years.

Since she took charge of her own meds like this, I can't believe the change in her. When I first got to know her she was constantly zonked out and exhausted, always cancelling meetups, looking totally stoned and just out of it entirely. Recently she took more of an interest in her health by changing her meds slightly (redusing the dose of one med that makes her feel bad), dieting, exercising and the sleeping pills (not used all the time). She has gone from being spaced out to animated and laughing and has lost heaps of weight and is fitter. The change in her has all her friends commenting "wow!".

In Australia you are entitled to a disability pension (welfare) if you have a mental illness diagnosis. Your doctor has to sign forms on your behalf. But my friends doctors are refusing to sign her forms (my friend has four kids, husband works on and off, they are struggling financially, my friend can't work so they NEED this money she is entitled to). See, my friend has done everything on her health care plan that she worked out with the doctors (for eg "CBT", "exercise", "change diet", "go for a walk every day")... except take the full dose of the particular med that makes her feel sick. So her doctors have said "you are obviously not interested in getting better, we are classifying you as an uncooperative patient, we will not sign your disability support forms until you start taking drug X in the prescribed quantities". Even with her husband there with her trying to argue her case, nobody is listening to her.

My friend has been suicidal before and believes this combo of drugs which cause the insomnia is the one constant in all of that. This drug dosage+combo she is pressured to take also makes her feel completely numb and emotionless and in the past she has self harmed a lot so she could feel something. She admitted herself to a psych facility two years ago, she was sedated and during sedation she was forced to sign forms agreeing to go on this medication. The patients were made to sign forms when they were out of it. She was also told she would be put in isolation (a room with a clear perspex window where you toilet and shower in front of an observer) if she didn't go and 'socialise' in the common room. My friend had withdrawn to her room because other residents were violent and threatened to harm her so she stayed in her room and read books and magazines. But this was considered uncooperative. Also when people would refuse their medication because they wanted to know what it was, they were carted off to isolation. So basically she was forced in to taking these pills she didn't want to take and do things which were unsafe to her, for fear of being put in isolation because she is claustrophobic and has severe anxiety attacks when she is locked in a room, or someone is blocking the exit (she has also had a bad childhood).

So as you can see she has and is being bullied in to doing the very thing that makes her unwell. Her husband is at home and is there when visiting assessment teams and doctors bully her in to taking meds she wants to wean herself off (mind you, she gets a different welfare worker visiting each time, nobody reads her file notes and when she and her husband try to speak they get cut off with a "just try these meds, they may work this time".


So now she wants to at least get this thyroid thing checked out but nobody is letting her do it. Her friends are furious for her as these doctors who know nothing about her are dictating the course of her life and refusing to let her help herself. She is smart, competent and want to get better. She was an amazing photographer before these meds completely killed any creative spark (which contributed to her depression as she loved her work).

She is in Victoria, if anyone from VIC is reading this and can recommend an awesome GP or psychologist or psychiatrist who lets patients be in control of their health where applicable, please message me. My friend is desperate to find someone who will be supportive (she has had threats from doctors that they will call child services if she does not take the pills, even when she's telling them how sick they make her).


Have you, or do you know anyone personally, who has been misdiagnosed with bipolar type II and it ended up being something else with symptoms that mimic it? If yes can you post here or message me?

Thanks for reading folks.


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:42 am 
Chip Strong
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i am a counselor in a mental health center. (the following is not medical advice!) bipolar II or any diagnosis is based only on observation of a collection of symptoms. there is not medical test to show anyone has bipolar, as i'm sure you and your friend are aware. bipolar II or any other mental health diagnosis has NOT been proven to be chemical/biological/brain based in nature - this is still only a theory. and Bipolar II is not caused by a LACK of mood stabilizer or any other med. if your friend feels better off meds she should fight to stay off. there are a number of psychologists and psychiatrists that feel that psych meds are causing more harm than good in our world. psych meds do not TREAT metnal illness or cure it - they mask symptoms, often causing numerous other symptoms and side effects in the process. when people try to go off of the meds they suffer terrible symptoms and then decide "oh, my mental illness is acting up - i must NEED med xyz" - this is not necessarily the case - there is severe withdrawal from coming off meds and it must be done very slowly. i see clients every day numbed out to their feelings - no extreme lows but no highs/joy either, with no motivation to do anything other than watch tv all day, and not able to think clearly/remember things, and nevermid the excesses of health problems - obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, tardive dyskinesia... because they have been so overmedicated for so many years. it is very sad. look into the "anti-psychiatry" movement, at the book "Toxic Psychiatry" by Peter Breggin, and also "Anatomy of an epidemic" by Robert Whitaker, and google about them. there authors posit that meds are actually making people feel much worse and leading to a more chronic course of their symptoms. the makers of psychiatric meds dont care about this and they profit from it!

i dont know how it works there but can your friend change doctors? can she see a new primary care physcian for the thyriod issue? here psychiatrists usually have to RULE OUT a physical issue when treating for mental illness issues and i very often see clts referred by their psychiatrists for thyroid testing when they are having symptoms that could be caused by thyroid issues. i am sorry to hear that they are giving her such a hard time. and on the psych med issue - can she see a psychologist or counselor (therapy focused) rather than a psychiatrist (meds focused)? it sounds like she is only taking a pill for sleep sometimes and a primary care physician should be able to prescribe that?

i am infuriated on behalf of your friend. i hope she is able to find a way to get the help she needs and stay off meds that were not helping her!


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:57 am 
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Yikes, I am so sorry for your friend TVV! That sounds like a dystopian nightmare.

I agree with erynne (whose information is so instructive), the key would be to finding another MD, who would work with her and still certify her for disability support.

And re diagnoses not being written in stone, I don't know if it helps to know that this happens to others too, but here goes. A friend of mine made 2 suicide attempts over the course of 3 years and was put into a closed institution each time and diagnosed as being catatonic/schizophrenic (again, there is no definitive test for that, its a cluster of behaviors and she didn't have all of them, so it was very much a judgment call by her psychiatrists), after her second hospitalization, she came out and was diagnosed as bipolar and spent a long time on meds that really made her feel not herself, so she'd stop taking them and then have these really dark episodes. What finally turned things around for her, was when she moved to a half-way house with a group that helped her learn to function in the world. It made all the difference for her and she is living a very happy functional existence with minimal meds. It was over 10 years of investigation and she had really good insurance (through her mom and through the state). I am so happy that she was able to find a balance of support and medication that works for her, but it is really horrible that MDs get so vested in their diagnoses and become positional with patients and refuse to listen to them.

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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:12 am 
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Breggin is a total quack with no research output to speak of.
http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/breggin.html
http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEdu ... eggin.html

It sounds as though the OP's friend needs to find a different doctor for an assessment if she doesn't trust the current one.


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:14 am 
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interesting post i found googling "anti-psychiaty victoria, bc" but it's from 1999
https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... 1ZzM_flE0o

Supposedly this group existed back in '99 but I can't really find anything about it :(
"APMAAD, Victoria's Anti-Psychiatry Movement for Alternative Approaches and Directions"

even this simple about.com page discusses ruling out thyroid disorders when diagnosing bipolar!
http://bipolar.about.com/cs/menu_diagno ... yscond.htm in fact, if her dr is refusing to do so they are not acting in her best medical interest. not to mention she has a family history of thyroid issues! really she should try to get a second opinion or go higher up the chain of command to a medical director or something! The DSM-IV-TR even states that depressive and hypomanic episodes "must be distinguished from a mood disorder due to a general medical condition" (pages 354 & 367 respectively). Page 403 under Mood Disorder due to a General Medical Condition lists medical conditions that "may cause mood symptoms" including endocrine conditions (e.g. hyper- and hypo-thyroidism, etc.), Perhaps this will help her in talking with her Dr. Medical conditions must be ruled out before a mood disorder/bipolar II diagnosis can be made!

helpful links re the anti-psychiatry movement:
http://www.antipsychiatry.org/
http://www.breggin.com/
http://robertwhitaker.org/robertwhitake ... demic.html
http://www.szasz.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:18 am 
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Chipmunk wrote:
Breggin is a total quack with no research output to speak of.
http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/breggin.html
http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEdu ... eggin.html

It sounds as though the OP's friend needs to find a different doctor for an assessment if she doesn't trust the current one.


I have more respect for Breggin's theories about helping people though empathetic counseling than the info being fed to us by the psychiatric med industry. I have seen firsthand the damage done to people by psych meds. My opinion only.


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:26 am 
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I am very sorry to hear about what your friend is experiencing. It occurs to me that having a mental health advocate might be really helpful for her in terms of navigating these current doctors and (hopefully) finding some new ones who will actually listen to her. I can't speak to the work they do, obviously, but Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Program has advocates who might really help your friend.

I'd also like to say, as someone who does trauma-informed crisis counseling, that a lot of people who have experienced trauma in their lives have trauma responses that get read by the mainstream medical system as "mental illness" when they are actually pretty intelligent trauma responses that don't serve the client when they are no longer actively experiencing trauma (for example, dissociating is a great way of staying emotionally safe if you are experiencing recurrent sexualized trauma, but when you need to be able to go to a 9-5 and remember to pay bills on time it can be really difficult to manage). Or, to use your own example, claustrophobia is classified as an anxiety disorder--for your friend ensuring an exit was a really intelligent way of staying safe in a situation where you don't have much control (whatever trauma she experienced as a child).

I wish your friend lots of luck and am really glad she has such a supportive friend.

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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:05 pm 
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Thanks everyone :) I will check out the links you've all posted.

My friend has changed doctors but it's getting harder because she doesn't drive and can't travel too far and she is running out of doctors and psychs in her area. Not only that, when she does see someone new (with her husband present) it is always the same old. They homeschool their kids (yes this are fine, yes you can successfully homeschool with a mental illness, no her kids will not be better off at school because school problems is what made my friends withdraw them (bullying, severe anxiety with eating disorder beginning in her eldest etc-- PLEASEEE don't turn this in to a "she shouldn't be homeschooling" debate because I'll get really cross). Believe me the kids are fine, they all work through my friend's health together and even on her bad days where my friend can't leave her room, her door is always open to her kids and they all cuddle together in bed and do lessons there. Homeschooling is what is actually helping their mental health.

but as you can imagine, she gets all these doctors telling her not to homeschool blah blah and not hearing her or her husband when they say it's actually the best 'therapy' for them all as a family. The kids are happy and love being with mum and dad and they are just amazing kids. Yet the doctors/social workers, who don't know this family, insist the kids should be put back in school. One doctor pulled the husband aside and said "she's forcing you to homeschool, isn't she?". So my friend is also scared to rock the boat too much in case she gets reported. She's legally registered but when she voluntarily admitted herself a psych facility, she had a nurse say "you do not deserve to homeschool your kids, I am reporting you". naturally my friend was terrified, I think she was reported (I don't remember).

She is in Victoria, Australia.

She does have a traumatic childhood history. Also she is likely Aspie (Aspergers) and females with Aspergers/ASD are often misdiagnosed with bipolar (bipolar is one of the more common misdiagnoses with ASD females). As I travel in adult ASD circles I have met many, many people on the spectrum who were misdiagnosed, unnecessarily medicated and lost years of their life to meds they didn't need and are now trying to work through the feelings/depression that has caused. It's horrible and seeing that this may be happening to a friend is yuck. Yes you can have ASD and bipolar but the doctors really jump in too quickly with a diagnosis before a thorough assessment in other areas IMO (I have seen this a lot with people in my ASD networks).

Her husband doesn't want her on the meds because in his eyes they have made her 'worse' so she tried stopping cold turkey and had a bad episode as a result. She has spoken to her doctors about reducing her dosages/changing things with a view to eventually weaning herself off and they all said no way.

When the assessment teams go to her house, it is always three people who are different each time and have never read her case file. My friend has anxiety about strangers in her home so she ends up shaking and wanting them to leave (even with her husband there advocating for her) and in the end she was so sick of them all telling her to just take the drugs that she gave in. She says that's what it is like, you get beaten down by the people you turn to for help and end up doing what you know is not good for you.

If anyone in Australia is reading and can help me out with info about pushing for expensive medical tests through a GP that bulk bills, please let me know. All my friend wants to do is start getting concrete answers about her health, starting with her thyroid. She can't really afford to pay for doctors and has no private health insurance.

thanks again, man I love this place!


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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:37 am 
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erynne936 wrote:
Chipmunk wrote:
Breggin is a total quack with no research output to speak of.
http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/breggin.html
http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEdu ... eggin.html

It sounds as though the OP's friend needs to find a different doctor for an assessment if she doesn't trust the current one.


I have more respect for Breggin's theories about helping people though empathetic counseling than the info being fed to us by the psychiatric med industry. I have seen firsthand the damage done to people by psych meds. My opinion only.

His theories about there diseases like ADHD come from are ...something else. I do think that it's wise at this point for someone to note that casual readers of this thread should not take themselves off psych meds on their own. Some of them have fairly serious side effects and it should only be done under supervision. Also, there are conditions that require meds in order for patients to stabilize enough to get through their day. There is nothing shameful about needing medication for a psychiatric condition anymore than for diabetes.

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 Post subject: Re: Been diagnosed bipolar II and found out later you weren'
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:53 am 
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I agree with jdub and think that having a mental health advocate or maybe even some contact at whatever citizens-with-mental-illnesses group might be incredibly useful.

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