When the psychiatrist diagnosed me as atypical bipolar II, and told me this was a "mental illness," I was stunned. Despite my semi-annual six week depressive episodes, I was one of the most "normal" people I knew.
In that first meeting, the doctor not only didn't provide very much information on bipolar disorder, but she prescribed Zoloft (for which she had no written material) rather than trying a mood stabilizer. Since all of this was pre-Internet, I had to hunt all over to find material on manic-depression and on Zoloft.
The details of my story are included in my upcoming book, Bipolar Depression Unplugged: A Survivor Speaks Out, and because it's copyrighted material, I can't repeat here what I've written. Suffice it to say, it was a terrible experience.
After a decade of illness, and extraordinarily bad experiences with four psychiatrists who prescribed 25 different medications in different combinations and dosages, I often wish I'd never been diagnosed.
I sincerely believe that even the psychiatrists who consider themselves bipolar experts know very little about this illness. In my experience, they "throw" medication at patients rather than helping them understand the triggering events and resolving them, developing new behavioral patterns to deal with stressful situations, recommending a wide range of adjunctive services, and providing hope, which I believe is the critical component for wellness.
(more to come)