What does bipolar disorder feel like (after a few doses of an antidepressant) ?
A Patient's Testimonial

(used by permission, thank you Ms. B.  This is a very high-functioning, fully employed woman, a mother with a high-expectation job.  I've highlighted some particularly telling comments in bold type -- JP).  

I was diagnosed with OCD by several physicians.  The last one I saw prescribed Luvox.  Because I knew about the cautions for BPII's against taking anti-depressants, I did not fill the prescription.  Several months later the OCD seemed to be overwhelming me, my attempts to manage it on my own were now no longer successful.  I went to my PCP and asked for a new prescription of Luvox.  Because he, too, knew of the drug precautions, he gave me a very, very low dosage (25mg/day).  I took it that night before I went to bed.  When I woke up in the morning I felt crazy - literally.  I was convinced I was in someone else's body - both physically and mentally.  I seemed to have lost the ability to think clearly.  I became extremely volatile (since I already have an issue with irritability due to the BPII, this was a nightmare).  I had never before thought of hurting myself, but now I was convinced it would "make everything better".  The only sensible thing I was able to do was make the decision to go to work.  

I wanted to crawl under my bed... or run in front of a truck... I couldn't decide what I wanted to do, the thoughts were too fast.  I decided I had to go to work because I new that if I stayed home I would harm myself physically.  I went to work and ate and drank a lot, and did tons of exercise... trying to somehow get this drug out of my body.  The feeling was gone by the next morning.  But the effects wore on.  I was never the same from that point on.  I was constantly cycling higher and higher.....

[here's an email she read to me later because she wanted to make sure I understood -- JP]:
my whole "hate-fest" is getting worse all the time.  But it isn't just hate, it's also a complete lack of caring.  I can't seem to get out of it.  It lasts longer and longer.  and, unfortunately, this feeling of hate and indifference makes me completely uninterested in trying to fix it.  I hate my life - what it is, what it isn't, and what it is, or isn't, becoming.  I hate marriage, feel no interest in having one.  I hate being around people, wish I could just be completely alone.  The feelings of hurting myself are starting to come more frequently now - but I haven't so far.  I never had them until a few months ago.  That feeling I had that day when I took the Luvox - I feel like I'm stepping into that realm, like it's a big ocean and I'm slowly walking into it... getting my feet wet, then my ankles...etc... I've never felt like I wanted to die before - sometimes only because of my kids - but nonetheless, I wouldn't ever do it.  I don't feel anymore like there is any convincing reason why I shouldn't.  Why is this happening?  I take my meds like I should.  I don't feel like this is a "go see a therapist" kind of thing - but then again - how would I know.  I feel like my grasp on reality is slipping (at least I can still recognize THAT... I think...) but I'm starting not to care what is reality and what isn't.  Jeckle and Hyde are starting to mix.  I'm not hungry anymore and don't care about my appearance.  I don't care if I come to work, I don't care if we go in the poorhouse.  I constantly have this "hot" feeling inside - like you might if you were TOTALLY nervous about something that was SUPER-important.  Like you can't breathe or sleep or eat.  Like you could cry at any minute - like you already ARE crying,all the time, at some level of your being.  I feel like I'd rather be locked up in an asylum so that I didn't have to make an effort anymore.  I just don't feel like trying.  The reasons I tried before are starting to get fuzzy.  [Husband] keeps asking if I'm mad at him, or if something is wrong.  I don't know how you express to someone that you are "NOTHING".  How do you say "I am a complete lack of anything".  It doesn't make sense to anyone and I don't feel like explaining it anyway - back to that whole "indifference" thing...  Not sure what to do, I've lost the energy to figure it out, to fight and struggle to come back.  What is wrong with me???????? 

This woman fortunately had an excellent response to low-dose mood stabilizers and no longer feels like this -- JP