I apologize for the length of this post, but I thought it was important to show how tedious it is to get an accurate diagnosis.
Well I wish I could tell you it was an easy process...but it wasn't. It was long, and at times, a very grueling one.
Fortunate for me, because of my short stint in the psychiatric unit, I was immediately assigned a psychiatrist, one that I instantaneously connected with, I've had him, and only him, for a little over 6 years, and our family absolutely adores him. He is an old school pen, paper, and files kinda guy, he counsels me for one hour a month, and isn't the typical pill pusher type of psychiatrist.
Initially, the process started with a lengthy questionnaire, that I had to fill out, and he tabulated the results. Based on what the ER on-duty psychiatrist had documented and his results, based on his interview with me and my husband, as well as the questionnaire, his initial diagnosis was Bipolar Disorder II, Rapid Cycling, Mixed State.
He then scheduled me for blood workup, a CT scan, and EEG, to rule out tumors, and to a neurologist, to rule out out MS or any other neurological disorders. I passed with flying colours. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?!
At my next visit, a week later, he interviewed my parents, as he wanted feedback on what I was like as a child, in elementary school, and in high-school. He wanted to see if there were any early warning signs or symptoms, as late onset at the age of 41 isn't the typical. The typical age of onset is before the age of 25. (Source NAMI.org) Yes, I had a very "normal" (sorry again) life, I was always cheerful, had a great long-lasting circle of friends, and did well at school.
He also interviewed my two girls to find out what kind of mother I was. HaHa! They said I deserved the mother-of-the-year award as I was so loving, I took great care of them, I never raised my voice, I did crafts with them about every other day, I read books to them nightly, I always included them while I was cooking or baking (Mommy's Little Helpers!). I taught them manners, how to respect their elders, and I taught them the importance of being involved in their community.
So basically, until the "event" that triggered my Bipolar Disorder, I was fine in all aspects of my life.
Now the torture begins! My psychiatrist referred me to a specialist at CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association, in Toronto, Ontario). I had 2 sessions, each lasting 4 hours, of interviews, question and answer period, mind games etc. After each session my brain felt like it was about to burst! I was a little deflated as the specialist confirmed the initial diagnosis of Bipolar II Rapid Cycling Mixed State (this I will discuss in a later post on how this feels for me).
Lastly, my psychiatrist referred me to Baycrest Heath Sciences, also in Toronto, Ontario, which typically serves the older population who have dementia, Alzheimer's, and cognitive disorders. Yes, I was only 42 at the time, and a long ways away for being considered part of the "older population", I was referred to Baycrest Health Sciences as they are one of the leading centres in brain health. Similarly, as with those who have dementia or Alzheimer's, I have cognitive issues, that being in my "frontal lobe" (the front part of your brain) which affects my "executive functioning" (difficulties with planning, verbal fluency (grasping for words), inability to multitask, difficulty processing, storing, and retrieving information, loss of interest in activities and trouble planning for the future). Note: At this point my IQ had actually dropped, since then though, due to my new learned brain exercises, it has gone up.
Now with that large serving of information, I had learned a lot about my physical brain, how it works, and where my deficits lay. The specialist relieved me, that I was not headed into early ages of dementia or Alzheimer's, but my cognitive impairments were clearly caused by my Bipolar Disorder.
So, the bottom-line is, being confirmed by psychiatrist and two highly trained specialists, that I have Bipolar II Rapid Cycling Mixed State.
It was a long and tedious process, but was important to me to get a proper diagnosis.
I will now leave you, as that was a lot of information to process! I will address more on this in upcoming posts.
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.