Saturday, January 8, 2011

Let's start at the very, actually, a little before the beginning

Just to set the stage of who I am as "Pregnant Bipolar Knitter," I thought I'd give a brief history of my struggle with bipolar disorder and depression. If you have ever suffered from mental illness -- and, subsequently, suffered from trying to be diagnosed and treated for it -- you know that sometimes that story can fill a book. Or two.

So I'll just try to give a quick summary of my experience. I was working as a software engineer out of college starting in 1998, and in 2001, about the time I changed positions in the company I was working for, I started suffering from depression, anxiety, and gastro-intestinal problems (I'll spare you those details). I chalked most of my problems up to dislike of my job and my career path in general. To try to help my situation, I found a new, full-time job at a University (go Flyers!) as a web developer, which would allow me to work, tuition-free, on my Master's Degree in English Composition which is what I decided I wanted to do. I moved into my new job in 2002, but the depression and anxiety worsened, and I finally sought help from my general practitioner in 2003.

To make a long story a little bit shorter, my doctor tried a succession of drugs, including Paxil, Lexapro, and Wellbutrin. He also prescribed Klonopin for anxiety. He also referred me to a counselor who was, to put it mildly, a complete waste of time. After about six months of trying drugs, drugs not working, and counseling not working, he put me on Depakote in addition to the antidepressant I was already taking, under the suspicion I was suffering from bipolar disorder rather than unipolar depression.

The one good news was that my gastro-intestinal problems (which had been previously diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome) had cleared up. When I mentioned this to the doc, his response was, "Oh, I always thought you just had a nervous stomach."

Gee, that would have been nice to know before I went through countless -- ah, let's say, invasive -- exams, a colonoscopy, and various other imagining tests. Thus began my skepticism of the medical profession.

The Depakote and antidepressants helped my mood a little, but at this point, after about six months of "trial and error," I decided I needed to see a psychiatrist. After all, if you had a heart problem, you'd see a cardiologist, right? I figured the same logic applied.

The decision to see a psychologist seemed like the best idea at the time...alas, I was wrong. But I'll save the next part of the story for another post; I've rambled on too much already.

Knitting update:

Since I am "Pregnant Bipolar Knitter," here's my current knitting news: I just got in the mail a kit I ordered to make the beautiful Noni Nomad Hobo Bag from Dream Weaver Yarns.

I think Noni has some of the most beautiful felted bag patterns out there; I have a few patterns but I haven't made any yet. Even though I stayed up way too late last night, I went ahead and got my hobo bag started...can't wait till it's finished, felted, and ready to stuff with all the junk I usually cram in my purse.


  1. I'm so excited about this blog! Your honesty is going to be refreshing and helpful to many, I'm sure.

    I don't have an ongoing issue with bipolar disorder, but I do have problems with anxiety, situational depression, and an eating disorder. I know that pregnancy was a difficult, very anxious time for me the first time around and I bet it will be again next time. Thanks for this resource!

  2. No problem....and I'm going to be hitting you up, as my best blogging friend expert, for a lot of help with the mechanics!