My name is Joseph Blake and I have Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Insights Mental Health Education Center Placerville CaliforniaMy name is Joseph Blake and I have Bipolar Disorder – I am 28 years old.

My story begins back in 2002-2003, at the time my family was living in Shingletown, a small mountain town east of Redding, CA. I had developed a rather bad sleeping problem where I would sleep most of the day and stay awake through the night. I’d gotten rather attached to our small little abode, but my parents wanted to move back down to Redding where they were closer to their jobs and didn’t have to drive an hour to get to work. So we moved to the southern part of Redding, in a small 20 house community. I spent most of my time just watching TV, reading books or playing video games.

About a year after we moved to Redding, I started to sink into a deep depression, to the point that I would just turn off all my lights, wrap myself in a blanket and cry. I had closed myself off from my family and friends, not wanting to burden them with these problems, not realizing they could see right through me. Early one morning, while on Yahoo, I saw an article the signs of bipolar disorder and found that I matched almost all of the signs. I approached my mom about it and she asked if I wanted to go see a doctor, I agreed.

My mom had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder so she understood my fears about talking to someone about this, and she even offered to help explain some of what I was going through to the doctor. I have social anxiety and can’t really talk to people I’m not comfortable around. The doctor did a 1-5 scale test on mental illness and diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder and put me on Trazodone 200 MG. I have a strong gag reflex, which makes taking pills difficult unless I take them with pudding, yogurt, ice cream, or peanut butter.

I started taking Trazodone and at first things started to even out, then I hit a snag, I was a zombie. I slept almost all day and night and when I was awake, I was incoherent, you couldn’t get a clear response out of me. My parents took me to a psychologist who was familiar with psych medications, as well as talked with me I was able to express feelings I had. He agreed that I needed to change meds and sent a note to my doctor; my doctor did not agree and wanted to increase my Trazodone to 400 MG!! Obviously my parents got me away from that first doctor and took me to a family practice doctor who knew about mental illness and the medications needed. For a long time, I stayed on my medications and got a little better, but I was still depressed, so my mom suggested that I go see a therapist and talk with him. So, I started seeing the therapist which helped.

My dad wanted a second opinion, so we went to see another psychiatrist. This one wanted to run two tests to check the diagnoses. One was fairly simple just click a button when you saw a dot, like what eye doctors do, the other one was an EEG, which required me to go off my meds for at least two days. After the tests, I went home I took all my meds and slept for a few hours. I woke up and was miserable. The results of these two tests were that I had ADD as well as bipolar disorder. My dad was pissed. We went back to my other doctor.

Then in 2009, my family moved once again down to Cameron Park, CA, just east of Sacramento. It meant leaving all my doctors in Redding and having to start over with new ones and explain what meds worked for me and which ones I had to avoid like the plague. I worked with a doctor who shifted my meds around and got me close to the buffer zone, closer than any doctor prior could, but he just had me on too many meds. So, I went to the Mercy Medical Group Behavioral Health Department and the doctor there got me down to only the bare minimum of what I needed to be stable.

I started looking for a job, first in culinary arts, then in fast food, lastly anywhere that would hire someone with no experience. The only place that would hire me was Walmart, and so in October 2012, I started working for the Folsom Walmart. At first everything was fine, I was learning new skills, meeting new people and slowly getting rid of my social issues. Then, midway through 2014, I noticed that my mood was changing, I wasn’t enjoying my work or my time off I was falling back into depression. I did all I could to keep it at bay but another complication came up, the doctor I was seeing through mercy was leaving the practice. He was transferring all his patients to a new psychiatrist, who was prickly to say the least.

I didn’t like spending any amount of time with her so I kept a lot of what was going on to myself; I didn’t even tell my therapist about anything. Then in May 2015, I had a severe breakdown. I was by myself in my department, cleaning up after the day’s duties, when I went into psychotic behavior. I started seeing someone at the door between the back area and the display cases. At first I ignored it, but then I started to “hear” this thing talking to me. He told me his name and said he was there to keep me company until I went home for the day. I asked if while I was away if he could mess with some of the other associates and he said he’d try. I told my sister about this on our way home, she recognized something was wrong and told our mom. My mom asked if I would be willing to go talk to my doctor about this and even though I didn’t want to, I agreed and the next available day I went.

I told her everything I was going through and she took it kind of hard as she said “how can I treat you if I don’t know what’s going on.” Obviously, after this, we started looking for a new doctor.

My doctor put me on a leave of absence and set up disability checks for me. My mom and I looked for a program that my insurance would comer. While searching my mom stumbled upon Bipolar Insights / Mental Health Educational Center and we went to a few meetings. It was amazing, I had found my group! We also found another doctor to take me in and manage my meds and she is awesome.

I am balanced and managing my illness. We will all have struggles in our life, it is inevitable, yet by using my journal, taking my medications and attending Bipolar Insights / Mental Health classes, I will turn out just fine.

Mental illness is not a lifetime sentence, but a life time of management, just as college and work are. Managing is something we all have to do whether you have a mental illness or not. You MUST first and foremost be your own advocate, you MUST stand up for yourself, and if things aren’t looking up with a certain doctor, then don’t feel ashamed to find a new one.

This is YOUR life, don’t let anyone take it away or diminish it. Thank you Bipolar Insights / Mental Health Educational Center, you’re the best!

Bipolar Insights 2016
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