Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bipolar Breakthrough

A little more about this intake from yesterday.

Despite all the crying, the appointment went well. This woman has a lot going on, including being diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD. She seemed to have great insight when describing what she feels is problematic in her life, discussing symptoms, and acknowledging that she feels ready to get help.

Which is why I was surprised when an hour and a half in she says “it’s like I get these real highs, and then I just go so low. Does that have something to do with bipolar?”

Uh, yeah, I say. That pretty much sums it up. We discuss this a little bit more, and she says “you know, now I know what bipolar is. I was diagnosed over a year ago, and I didn’t know what it was. I will remember this as the day I learned what it was all about!” (cue crying episode #47)

WHAT? How is it you go a whole year with this diagnosis, and no one tells you what the bloody word even means? She received this diagnosis from her psychiatrist whom she’s been seeing for about 14 years!

Granted, her psych is a dinosaur who has announced his retirement about 3 times, but has yet to actually leave the building.

Here is a woman with a)great insight b)no cognitive issues c)lots of support d)a willingness to work with the mental health care system. It’s not as though she lacks the capacity to understand. Is this something that only happens to psych patients?


  1. Hi! New to your blog but already enjoying it! I worked in Community Mental health for about two years and OFTEN found that clients did not really understand their diagnosis! So frustrating! A doc would diagnose their patient with cancer and not tell them exactly what that means - but I think this happens to mental health clients ALL the time. Sad, because how are they supposed to manage their illness if they don't understand it?

  2. Thanks.
    I had the exact same thought, like no physician is going to say "congratulations, you have melanoma. See you later!" and leave it at that.