Bipolar Disorder, Living With (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
I am a nurse and having so much trouble with the constant ups and downs. My employer, where I review records, is threatening to fire me. What can I do? My psychiatric doctor wanted to put me in day treatment but my boss said that if I went out he would not hold my job. I am just going through a divorce of 33 years of marriage. I have problems concentrating. I tried Lamictal but broke out in a rash. Now I am starting on an emotional roller coaster again. I don't want to die but it crosses my mind so often.

JAMISON:
I would talk to your doctor long and hard about what to do. I mean, there are legal considerations, certainly with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which may or may not be helpful in this particular circumstance. Certainly it's something that you should really discuss with your doctor and again, with the support groups. My experience with support groups is that they have more ideas than anybody, both more practical and more invested in trying to help other people with similar problems.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My daughter has recently experienced severe mood swings, since the school year ended and about the same time her OB/Gyn prescribed Yasmin 28. She is 16 years old. Her psychiatrist has prescribed another medication to aid in smoothing out her mood swings. It appears to be helping but I have seen a terrible swing in her moods recently. I called the OB/Gyn and asked him to look into another drug. I hope that as an expert on bipolar you may have recommendations or suggestions related to drug interaction concerns.

JAMISON:
I don't. I think that's something that she really needs to talk about with her doctors and again go in with questions, go in with concerns and ask away.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I was diagnosed two years ago and my 16-year-old was diagnosed a few months ago. As I try to help her, I find that her pain triggered depression for me. How do we function living together without triggering each other with our mood swings?

JAMISON:
I think this is a place, again, where psychotherapy, two or three or four sessions together with a psychologist or psychiatrist, to sit down and talk about what are the best ways, what are the things that set one another off and what are the things that are helpful. Do it when both people are feeling good so that it's not an emotionally charged environment and figure out the best ways of coping. Sometimes it just takes somebody else to help kind of untie some of those issues.

MEMBER QUESTION:
We have people come to the message board seriously ready to take their own lives. It's hard. What should we say to them besides trying to get them to call a crisis line?

JAMISON:
Going to an emergency room is probably the single best thing that people can do if they are suicidal. If they don't have a doctor themselves, hopefully they could get a family member or friend to take them to help them make an appointment to see someone or to take them to an emergency room. But it's certainly something that is best dealt with directly and quickly.

"I think what happens over time is that you begin to realize, once you have been well long enough, that the illness doesn't have to define your notion of yourself by any means. It is part of who you are and it is part of what you have to take into consideration in your life, but it's not something that has to dominate your life."

MODERATOR:
Dr. Jamison, I know you're just about out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final comments for us?

JAMISON:
I think it's great that you have a support group that's good and helpful. Godspeed and my heart goes with you.

MODERATOR:
Thank you so much. Can we have you come back and visit with us again sometime?

JAMISON:
Sure.

MODERATOR:
We'd love that. Thanks for joining us today. For more information, please read The Unquiet Mind .



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