I’d like to thank my Facebook followers for the suggestions for blog posts on content they would like to see. Doug provided a great idea to discuss multiple diagnoses in the form of Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. I did some research on the subject, including the article he provided, and I have decided it would be a disservice for me to attempt to speak about that experience. A very large part of what I do here, on Facebook, and on my website is based through experience. However, Doug’s suggestion did jog an idea in my mind that I haven’t put forward yet in regards to multiple diagnoses. It is at this point that I would like to remind you that this is only a theory, but one I’ve formulated through observation over the past 17 years or so.
Multiple mental illness in a person is not uncommon. Some mental illnesses have components of others in them; such as people with PTSD with a Depression component. That creates an even more unique situation when they get combined in a single person. Bipolar Disorder affects each person with it in ways that are personal to them and their mentality. Medical professionals attempt to treat based off of loose interpretations of the symptoms. A depressed person may not be suicidal while another is. They both meet the criteria for depression, just differently.
The combination of multiple mental illnesses in a person will create something that is almost entirely unique to them. Thus, it will be harder to find a treatment that will work properly for the person due to that interaction.
That brings me to my theory: I wonder if people with multiple diagnoses may benefit from focusing on getting any mood disorder under control first. Not because it is any more important than the others, but the way a mood disorder like Bipolar Disorder or depression affects your baseline thinking. It alters your perception of the world around you, in turn, your mind reacts to what it perceives as opposed to what actually is.
As an example; I did not find out about high-functioning autism until my son was diagnosed with it. Going back and reading about it to understand it was like reading a biography. I feel that I am a very high functional autistic because I lack many of the interpersonal functions that are typical for a normal mind. There is also the autistic focuses, the inability to convert emotion to words, logical to a fault, inability to read people naturally, and several other things. It takes a lot of energy for me to function in a social way because I have to think about all the things that other people do subconsciously. As I looked back on my life, I began to see certain patterns and interactions in the ways that Bipolar Disorder and the HFA meshed for me.
The one great fear I have in my life is completely losing touch with reality in a Bipolar unwell period. If my mind ventures too far out- there is only hate, rage, loathing, and despair. There is no love, there is no kindness, no understanding, no vestiges of positivity at all. At that point I become Mr. Hyde to my normal Dr. Jeckyll. Due to the HFA, I have a hard time connecting and empathizing with people in a natural way. I feel that if I really rocketed out of control, the combination of all that negativity with my inability to empathize with others would probably result in a newscast ending with “… and police killed the suspect in the ensuing shootout.”
Let’s cut back to the mood disorder for just a moment. It affects how you interpret things:
– I drop a glass of water and break it.
*Manic: Fuck that goddamn glass! No dustpan? I’ll just clean it up with my hands.
*Depressed: I can’t believe I dropped a glass of water. Can’t even do that right.
The reality of the situation is – a glass of water was dropped. That’s it. A mood disorder skews the situation into extremes. It stains all of the information that comes into your mind before your mind has a chance to really interpret it. The tainted information is already being fed into a mentally ill mind that will skew it even further out of perspective. Sort of like putting a second bullhorn in front of a first bullhorn.
Assume that our example person is Bipolar and Schizophrenic. They are driving along and notice in their rear view mirror that the same car has been behind them for three different turns. The information is processed and skewed as potentially threatening by Bipolar Disorder then sent into the conscious mind where Schizophrenic thought processes could continue to stretch it and spin it out of control.
But what if that person had a good medication regiment for the Bipolar side of their struggle? A mood stabilizer would prevent the Bipolar side of their mind from pulling the situation too far out of proportion before it gets fed into the active mind where Schizophrenia will now contribute to playing with it.
I think this thought process may be applicable for a lot of people. If a person’s perception is at least somewhat healthy, then the circumstances going on around them won’t enter their active mind in an already spun state. The schizophrenia will still have an impact; but which would be better for it to spin? “There’s a car behind me that’s been there for a while. That’s odd. I don’t like that.” or “That son of a bitch is fucking following me. I know it.”
I’m inclined to think the second one is more likely to escalate out of control.
Thus, it seems to me that getting the gateway, perception altering Disorder under control will make all the other things in the person’s mind more manageable. That is not to suggest that everything else should be ignored. It just may be a more effective starting point for the person with two, four, or more mental illnesses with a mood disorder.
I’m curious to hear other peoples’ thoughts on this idea. Feel free to comment!
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