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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I think I have bipolar disorder. I have testing positive on

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I think I have bipolar disorder. I have testing positive on the spectrum (scored 16) and have been in therapy for some time (3 years). My therapist suggested we get me tested, although he doesn't think it is. I have gone thru significant changes in the last three years including divorce, job loss and then a new job, job promotion, and living on my own for the first time in my life - I am 43 years old. I have had two depressions in my life, with the most recent in January. The other depression was in my marriage where I had a somewhat emotionally abusive partner. I have discussed all of this in my therapy and explored every aspect of my relationship. It took me 15 years to decide to leave my partner and finally got the courage. My childhood, according to my partners was good. I never got in trouble, always remained close to home and pretty much a good child. The last few years have been extremely difficult with a demanding work environment, dealing with living on my own, etc. I would like to chat to someone whom can give me some guidance as if I have the disorder I would like to start treatment immediately to prevent future episodes from happening.

NormanM :

Hello, I'm Norman. Are you ready to chat?

Customer:

yes, ready to chat


NormanM :

Just type when you are ready


Customer:

okay, so I will add a little to my question, if that's okay


NormanM :

Your therapist has suggested that you get assessed for this, and I completely agree. After all, if you are going to get adequate and successful treatment, the very first thing you need is an accurate and complete diagnosis. With me so far?


NormanM :

Please add as much as you would like!


Customer:

yes, agree, but let me clarify. I suggested to my therapist that I am bipolar. He doesn't think so and said if I wanted he wouldn't stop me. He thinks it is my aniexty at play


Customer:

i was tested some years ago when I was in my relationship by a Pdoc. At that time he said I was not bipolar. He also interviewed my partner at that time. This was about 5 years ago. This was followed up with 2 years of therapy by another therapist


NormanM :

You have been in therapy for three years, and nothing seems to have improved greatly - would that be a reasonable summary of what has been happening?


Customer:

no, things have greatly improved and seen some good changes in my life. It is the emotional roller coaster which is effecting me. most people around me have said they seen good improvement, including being much happer. My father told me this weeks ago, some co-workers told me I had improved confidence, and my best friends also told me similar things. I concern is that I am still up and down and fear I am lying to myself and others.


NormanM :

Two questions - are you taking any medication, and if so, what and how much?


Customer:

but you are right, testing is a must to put my mind at rest. This is the reason for my reaching out to this site. No meds currently..

NormanM :

You say you fear that you are lyin g to yourself or others. Are you?


Customer:

I was on cymbalta for 3 years or so..

Customer:

well, that's a good question. I don't feel like I am.. but someone with Bipolar doesn't always see reality. I want to make sure I see what is real


NormanM :

Good for you - but you do have that feeling. All in all because of your concerns about possible bipolar disorder, it is, think, essential to make a psychiatric appointment to have this checked out. If you do have, then you will be able to start on appropriate treatment. If not, you can relax a bit and concentrate on getting better. May I ask


NormanM :

What kind of therapy are you having - is it Rogerian, psychoanalytical, Gestalt, Cognitive Behavioral or what?

Customer:

very good suggestion! talk therapy... I think is the way to describe it


Customer:

my therapist has been a great source to but things into persceptive... but I must say that I have a phobia of being ill. At first it was HIV (tested negative), then heart attack (tested and all clear) and now Bipolar.. :)

Customer:

I definiately have (some form of) OCD, Panic Disorder and I am comfortable with knowing that.. the panic disorder is pretty much in check these days... the OCD, not sure..

NormanM :

This is difficult for me to offer you advice. Insome ways, your therapy has brought you improvement, and yet after all this time in therapy you are still troubled. I have to say that either you should ask your therapist if he or she is happy to work in with a Cognitive Behavioral approach, which Isuspect would be more beneficial for you than a simple talk therapy approach. What I am going to do is post on here a handout that I give to my clients whom I think are good prospects for CBT. Take a couple of minutes, review it and come back to me with your thoughts. Is that OK?


Customer:

great, thank you! Any help is much appreciated..

NormanM :

OK - handout coming up!


NormanM :

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/treatments/cbt.aspx

Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.


Customer:

yes this seems very interesting.. and I have heard of this approach in the past


NormanM :

Good. In summary then, I suggest a psych evaluation to get a definitive diagnosis, see if your therapist is happy with a CBT approach, and move forward from there. What do you think?

Customer:

agreed, I will speak to my therapist about CBT and also get a recommendation for a psych evaluation. question, if it is bipolar, what are my chances for a happy, fulfilling life?

NormanM :

Pretty good, actually, if you stick to your meds religiously because if you do have bipolar disorder, you will need them, and also keep working with your therapist when you feel it is necessary. Remember, bipolar is on ly a word, not a sentence. And NEVER ever allow anybody to refer to you as 'she is bipolar'. Labels are destructive!

Customer:

yes, I think I am putting the labels on myself. Recently my friends have told me to stop trying to label my perceived disability. Thank you for your advice.. also I have started taking Omega 3 (fish oils) since research shows it can help, is that ok?

NormanM :

Sure is - and it might help avoiding arthritis in later years too. May I wish you a great future?


Customer:

thank you and same to you. Thanks for providing some sound advice.

NormanM :

My pleasure indeed.


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