Wrong diagnosis


Wrong diagnosis


your avatar   Alexis, 18-year-old woman

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 8 months ago, but I am slowly losing my memory and my touch with reality. I don't believe I was properly diagnosed, but I don't want to do anything about it because my parents are already stressed out about college and other stuff related to me. I injure myself when I feel the emotions getting stronger. It sounds like screaming in my head.

I am not sure where to turn. I have been submitting questions to many different online places but no one seems to want to help me. I am slipping away because I believe I was improperly diagnosed as bipolar. At first I thought that's what I was, but now I really don't think so. I slip into these trances where I cry and cry and just hurt myself. I am afraid of losing myself and my friends and those who are close to me. My parents aren't very supportive, so I am afraid if I tell them my suspicions they will yell. Sometimes, I fall into myself and hear screaming from nowhere. Other times, I am on top of the world, unable to rest. I know what Bipolar Disorder is, but it seems to me I am getting worse. What is going on with me? Is this something more serious?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Alexis,

I can understand how terrifying it must be for you to have emotions and experiences you cannot explain. You are suffering, terrified of what the future may hold -- and then some so-called experts try to put you into a box. And the box doesn't fit.

The symptoms you have described in your short note seem to me to be an unusual mix. Certainly there are mood swings there. 'Falling into a trance' could merely be an understandable reaction to your worry about what is happening to you, whether you are going crazy. When I am really worried about something, I sometimes have an hour or two pass, I don't know where, and your 'trances' could be just that: worry. Fits of crying are also probably part of your 'situational depression': a reasonable reaction to something awful that is happening to you. I would think there would be something strange about you if you DIDN'T get distressed over this problem.

Hearing screaming sounds inside your head is something else. You are right, as far as I am aware these are not usually a part of bipolar disorder. Of course, you can have a broken leg and a chest infection at the same time. Similarly, you might have bipolar disorder and something else as well.

Naturally, I have no way of telling is this is true or not. Screaming sounds are heard by some people affected by schizophrenia, but this is not the only possible cause. I have had clients with this problem who later remembered early childhood events that were greatly distressing at the time: being trapped in a car that had crashed, vague memories suggestive of sexual abuse at a very young age, being carried from a burning building. A third possible explanation is neural damage. Have you been exposed to very loud noise on a sustained basis, or suffered a severe blow to the head? I used to have a friend who had been a drummer in a hard rock band. He had auditory nerve damage that caused a loud ringing sound inside his head.

Alexis, so far I have been addressing your distress about not knowing, but actually it doesn't matter much whether you are suffering from bipolar disorder or not, whether you are suffering from one problem or two or seven. What is, is, and you need to address it.

Either you will get better (let's hope so) or things will stay like this. In either case, your main task for now is to learn to live with your current problems. Oh, you also need to work at getting rid of them, but that is secondary. Your main problem at the moment is not the mood swings, not the screaming sounds or crying, but the feeling of being devastated by it all.

And this is a problem you can do something about. A young woman recently sent me a wonderful email. I have posted it at my website: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com/bipolar-nodrugs.html. Read that, and then email me privately (bobrich@bobswriting.com). It's a pity you didn't even leave a webmail address, because now I won't know if you ever read this, unless you do write to me.

Good luck,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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