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Monthly Archives: March 2012


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I have been on a lot of different kinds of antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilisers. Not surprising when you consider I have been medicated since I was in my early 20s and I am now in my late 30s. 

I have also experienced many, many different kinds of side effects. And withdrawals. 

The worst side effects have been weight gain (significant weight gain) over a short period of time and restless legs. This was on Avanza and Zyprexa. I carry about an extra 60kg thanks to these two drugs. And I have found it impossible to lose even after making considerably extreme efforts to do so. 

The worst withdrawals were from Efexor. Nothing has ever come close to the horror that was withdrawal from Efexor. 

The problem is that often after a prolonged period of time on a particular drug, the patient become ‘immune’ to the effects of the drug and the therapeutic effect is nullified. In other words, in my case, I become depressed and ultimately suicidal fairly quickly. 

Another problem is that often when changing from one drug to another, you have to wean yourself off the first drug and have a period of time drug free before you can start on a new regime. This can be a very difficult and very dangerous period. In not so many words, it sucks. 

I am on some good drugs at the moment (a mood stabiliser and an antidepressant. And a benzo for when the anxiety gets out of control, which isn’t often thank goodness). If I was a praying person I would pray that these drugs at this dosage keep working for all eternity. I know this probably won’t happen but I can hope. 

What is your experiences with antidepressants, antipsychotics etc?  





When they know you and you know them

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I have never had the ‘pleasure’ of being a patient in a public mental health ward. I have however been a mental health inpatient on several occasions. Once I was in a private psychiatric facility for 3 weeks. The other times (about 6 times if I recall correctly) date from over 22 years ago until approximately 7 years ago and at those times I was a psych patient admitted to a general ward in a public hospital. This happened mainly because the hospital in my town doesn’t have a psych ward. The nearest hospital with a designated psych ward is 45 minutes away and, by all accounts, it is a place that is better avoided if you can so I was admitted to my local hospital under the care of either Community Mental Health Services or my General Practitioner. 

My experiences were, in general, reasonably positive. There were however, some exceptions to that generalisation. Not to mention the awkward moments when I encountered nursing staff that I knew from outside the hospital (this is where the ‘in the country’ part of my experience comes into play). 

Have you ever encountered professionals that you knew from outside the professional realm? How did you deal with that? Did it affect your experience in a negative or positive manner? 




The Original Diagnosis and the Dead Shrink

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So I took myself to a town some way down the highway to see a private psychiatrist. There were no such services in my town and my GP at the time didn’t even mention Community Mental Health Services (I now know why!). 

The psychiatrist was an older man. Slight in stature and build, greying. Reasonable bedside manner. After hearing my story he diagnosed Bipolar Disorder and gave me my inaugural seat on the medication merry-go-round by prescribing lithium. 

A week or so later I saw a death notice in the local paper for a man by the same name as the Shrink. It wasn’t a particularly common name so I rang the clinic to see if my Shrink had departed this mortal coil. The receptionist laughed and assured me he was alive and well. Two weeks after that I recieved a phone call from that same receptionist. My Shrink had decided to die after all. 

I was left somewhat paranoid and without a psychiatrist. 

Not Staying Long

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I am in the process of setting up my own domain etc so Bipolar in the Country will become in due time. I have registered the domain name but have to wait for my chosen blog designer to have time to fit me in! The idea behind hoot hoot is the idea of not giving two hoots about those who make erroneous assumptions about or who negatively judge those of us with mental health issues. Plus I really like owls. But I think I already mentioned that…

I have a Twitter account under the name hoot2hoot so you can follow me there if you feel so inclined! 

It will be business as usual here until the launch of the new domain and design so I hope you will continue reading and spreading the word (it’s nice to see the hit counter increase each day!)



How I came to see a Shrink

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My first psychiatrist’s appointment was when I was about 21 or 22. It had been a long time coming. By my record I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was about 7 years of age. The older I became, the worse my mental health issues got. But I put my depression down to a wide variety of other sources such as being bullied at school, feeling that I was an outcast in my own family, my feelings about my biological father abandoning me, being fat, being in an unhappy relationship which then became an unhappy marriage, my mother dying when I was in my late teens, being attacked by Satan and not having a close enough relationship with God. I figured I had plenty of reasons to feel like crap and at that stage I knew very little about mental illness. When the topic of my low mood came up I was told by those I surrounded myself with to ‘pray harder’. Yeah, my church wasn’t any great help at that point*.

Breaking point came when I was speaking to my aunt on the phone and she told me about some of the things my cousin had been doing: my ‘crazy’ cousin. The cousin I had always been terrified of because I never knew how she was going to act or what she was going to say. She was seriously unstable and (rightly or wrongly) she scared me. I became increasingly uncomfortable as my aunt related my cousin’s behaviours to me as they sounded awfully like things I had either done, or had considered doing. Without saying anything to my auntie about my own issues, I made an appointment to see my GP about what was happening my own head.



* This is not a religious blog. I haven’t been part of the church for 15 years and I haven’t identified as a Christian since then. If church is your thing, that’s cool and you are welcome here as long as you don’t preach at me.



I am (and this is) Bipolar in the Country

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Well hello there and welcome to Bipolar in the Country!

BitC is a blog that I have started to talk about my experience in living with Bipolar II (with major depressive episodes), Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and living in the country.

I am in my late 30s (where did all the years go? I still feel like I am a teenager!) and I have been living with mental illness since my early teens, if not earlier. So I think I have some stuff to say about mental illness, living with mental illness and mental health services. To add to my self-proclaimed ‘expertise’ I also have a partner who suffers from depression and just to add the icing to the cake, I am a qualified social worker and counsellor and have been working in the field for 14 years. So I think I can approach the issues from several different angles which can prove interesting to say the least! I am going by the name ‘Hoot’ here as a/I like owls (apparently they are wise and I figure I need all the help I can get!) and b/ I like to remind myself that ‘Life is a Hoot’ (however you wish to interpret that!)

I hope you find at least some of what I have to say as interesting if not insightful and that we can increase our combined knowledge and decrease the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health issues and mental illness.

Thanks for reading!