I’ve been fairly active on a bipolar forum since just before my diagnosis. It’s a good bunch of people, and they’re very supportive and welcoming. For someone who’s new to bipolar disorder, these folks are a bit of a godsend. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so alone in this bizarre and frightening world of crazy-land.
After a few months of participation, however, it was clear that the same topics were going to keep coming up over and over, ad nauseum. At first, I played supportive community member and replied, but after a few months, I stopped even reading – much less answering – these posts. It just got on my nerves. I’m old enough to have used Gopher, know the term “netiquette,” and still believe that if you’re going to join a forum or listserv, it’s simply good form to review back posts and get yourself up to speed so that you don’t irritate others by repeating questions they’ve already answered a million times. I’m sorry, kids, but your question is almost assuredly not unique.
So to entertain those who have seen these forum posts about a million times, and to be informative to those who would commit the sin of posting them, here is my round-up of the Top Ten Bipolar Forum Topics! Each of these perennial topics either links to a prior blog post answering that question, or includes a typical but snarkified response.
- OMG just dx’d bipolar WTF do I do?!?
- Am I bipolar?
See above. Don’t self-diagnose. If you haven’t seen a psychiatrist, don’t freak out yet. You must see a professional for a dx!
- I don’t wanna take “unnatural” medications my whole life, what herbal remedies and vitamins can I take instead?
- I’m so depressed
Sorry to hear it, I know how (rotten) you feel. Are you on meds? Are you in therapy? Are you suicidal? When is your next psychiatrist appointment? Do you need to go to the hospital? Do you have people to contact when you feel this way? Is there anything you can do that might make you feel even a little bit better?
Hope it’s not dysphoric! Are you on meds? Are you in therapy? When is your next psychiatrist appointment? Do you need to go to the hospital? Do you have people to contact when you feel this way? Don’t spend your life savings, get arrested, have sex with random strangers, or quit your job! Don’t do the crazy things I did!!!
- Is this _________? (mania, hypomania, mixed state)
Go to the library and check out Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. Then, read it. Also see #2: we are not psychiatrists. If you don’t know what mood state you’re in, all we can do is relate our own stories of whether or not we experience those symptoms too.
- I’m quitting all my meds cold turkey! Wheeeeee!!!
That’s not a good idea. Seriously. You could end up in the hospital. Most meds should be weaned off, even if you didn’t have to titrate on. You don’t want rebound mood swings or psychosis, do you? How about seizures, brain zaps, or insomnia? No? Go talk to your psychiatrist!
- Who here has _________ symptom/comorbid condition?
Ever hear of response bias? How about spurious correlation? That is to say, if you Googled “bipolar” and “X” and found nothing, they’re not related. Really. Or were you looking for another patient community within a patient community?
- Tell me about _________ new med/side effect
You do know that there’s a psych meds forum on this site? That there’s at least one (awesome) patient-written website devoted to psych meds? If your side effects are making you pre-diabetic or you’re experiencing a flat affect/numbness/zombie state that is bothering you, go talk to your psychiatrist about a med change. You shouldn’t tolerate that crap.
- My life is falling apart because of bipolar
Dude, tell me about it. We’ve all been there. Are you on meds? Are you in therapy? Are you suicidal? When is your next psychiatrist appointment? Are you doing drugs or alcoholic? Are you on public assistance? Etc, etc, etc… By the way, my life fell apart even worse than yours but now I’m medicated to the gills, contented, and no longer a total loser, and you can be too.