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Mental health rollercoaster

It was an epic struggle between Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and Satan. If perception is actually reality, this was Eric Mitchell’s (pseudonym) reality as he found himself hallucinating in a mental ward due to bipolar disorder, also commonly known as manic depressive disorder.
Bipolar was late onset for Mitchell at age 30. The average age of bipolar onset is 25, though it can occur at any age according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
Mitchell’s onset should have come as no surprise though. Two of his siblings suffer from the same disorder.
More than two-thirds of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have at least one immediate family member who is also bipolar, reports the DBSA. Mitchell also has characteristics in common with the majority of those who are bipolar.
“Most bipolar people are very creative, very smart and very productive,” said Dr. Rosa Gonzalez, a Beaumont psychiatrist.
Mitchell is no exception. He was often told he did his job as a safety engineer “too good” or “too thorough.”
Mitchell, now in his 60s, lives in Southeast Texas. He is actively involved in his parish and local civic groups.
Mitchell’s life was forever changed when he fell prey to two big bipolar triggers in 1979. The first was long term stress and the second was a sudden traumatic experience.
Mitchell was working as a safety engineer with a tremendous case load and a very high stress level.
Then came the second trigger. That was Mitchell’s traumatic experience which was also work related.
Mitchell was sent to Louisiana to investigate an explosion in a coffee roaster. After his investigation there was a second explosion. Mitchell felt responsible for the second explosion.
The company blamed the second explosion on a “master roaster” at the facility. This “master roaster” died a few weeks later in a fishing accident. This death weighed heavily on Mitchell. It also was the beginning of his first episode that would eventually lead to a bipolar diagnosis.
After hearing of the death, Mitchell decided to ride his bicycle to work in freezing temperatures.
That day Mitchell attended a product development meeting. His confrontational behavior in the meeting surprised his coworkers.
After the meeting Mitchell had a delusion that someone had placed a bomb below company headquarters. Mitchell left his warning with the CEO’s secretary. He also left his name. He then became paranoid.
After his call, Mitchell thought “they” would be coming for him so he quickly left his office and hitch hiked the six miles home. Mitchell’s bipolar coworker had been watching his unusual behavior for a while and warned Mitchell’s boss that Mitchell might also be bipolar.
There are several signs to look for when you suspect someone is bipolar. Lack of sleep is the number one indicator according to Gonzalez.
“It’s not ,‘I’m not sleeping and I feel tired,’ it’s when they are not sleeping but feel great,” Gonzalez said.
“They may shop a lot,” Gonzalez said “I had someone tell me that her bipolar sister bought three cars in one day.”
They may give their money away because they are feeling so grandiose.”
“They don’t realize that they are going 85 (miles per hour) because they do it all the time,” Gonzalez said.
“Bipolar disorder is like a rollercoaster,” Gonzalez said, describing the manic episodes followed by depressed episodes.
“A lot of times they are misdiagnosed as depressed, because they hardly ever visit the doctor when they are in the manic state. When a bipolar gets depressed it’s like they go from 85 to 20 so its twice as bad as regular depression,” Gonzalez said.
Mitchell’s coworker’s call resulted in Mitchell seeking treatment when in the manic state making his diagnosis easier.
Mitchell’s boss went to Mitchell’s home and prayed over him. Mitchell felt tremendous peace afterward and called his psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist recommended Mitchell check into the hospital the next day.
Mitchell remembers praying to God to heal his mind. After two weeks of treatment, six weeks of rehabilitation, and a lot of prayer, Mitchell went back to work.
“The next year was the best of my career” Mitchell said.
Everything seemed great on the surface. Mitchell started a new job. He became the president of a youth soccer club. He started “going 85.” Those great feelings and high energy were part of a manic phase.
 Stress began to build as Mitchell found himself supervising an employee that he could not control.
 Mitchell believes his doctor made a serious misjudgment. His doctor decided Mitchell was doing well and weaned Mitchell off some of his medication. This caused a bad episode with hallucinations and an extended period of depression.
 Years later, another episode was triggered when a doctor prescribed a decongestant that kept Mitchell awake for several days.
 “I’m a work in progress,” Mitchell said.
 If you suspect someone is bipolar “quote their symptoms to them, work with their family to get them to a doctor,” Gonzalez said.
 “Bipolar disorder has to be treated with medications. It’s like fighting two diseases, mania and depression,” she said.
 “The hardest part is to get them to take their medications. We try, with treatment, to make the rollercoaster ride just little hills and valleys. If we make it a flat ride, most patients stop taking their medication,” Gonzalez said.
 Mitchell shows no outward sign of his disorder. He does tear up when thinking of those who have helped him in his journey. He would like to pay back that help.
More bipolar disorder information is available through the Beaumont chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness by calling (409) 835-7121.

By | 2017-05-03T15:23:01+00:00 November 28th, 2016|English, ETC Online, This Just In|0 Comments
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