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Bipolar Disorder/help me help a friend


QUESTION: I have a friend who is struggling in every manner possible and the mental health part of the struggle is the worst.

She back in March started seeing a psychiatrist do to a 'miscommunication', we will call it. She was taken out of work by the police do to suicidal thoughts and such.

She completely lied to the doctors there so she wouldn't be hospitalized.

Her doctor has her on lamictal, klonopin, and celexa. She will take it maybe 1 week out of the month and then fight and freak out with the what ifs.

The past few months has been especially hard for her. Family moved in and won't leave or work. Won't help in any way. Her moods has been all over the place with few periods of stability. In a 8 to 10 hour period she went from depressed with suicidal thoughts to bouncing off the walls and shopping to wanting to go postal because she hates people that bad.

Her niece who is 6 and living with her who adores her to death. She wanted to push her thru the wall and just be very hurtful. This is unusual to feel this way for her towards the kids but anyone else it's fair game in her eyes as she hates people severely. Tho she was very outgoing for a few hours today.

I guess my question is, what do I do to help my friend? She needs to keep on these meds but I don't know how to do that. The medical records say she's dealing with moderate recurrent major depression, but she said the psychiatrist possiblely suggested it could be bipolar, but in her eyes he is wrong. This is bc she is female and a red head and they just get moody. That she isn't bipolar bc she's never been hospitalized or have sleep issues.

What should or could I do to help her and keep her on meds? She's given up on talk therapy after 1 visit. I do have many more details as well.

ANSWER: If you feel the niece is in imminent danger, neglected, or exhibiting signs of stress/mental health issues because of the environment she's in, contact your local department of child and family services.

Your friend is an adult who is legally free to choose whether to be medicated or not; for a doctor to prescribe the meds they did, in the past she was not likely suffering from major depression, but misdiagnosed. You can express your concerns, tell her that going on and off her meds frequently may reduce their efficacy and/or result in being prescribed some of the meds that have major side effects, and try to be there to support her and help in whatever way you can /feel comfortable doing. People with bipolar disorder need to have people around them who provide them with a social support network. But there's just not really anything one can do about getting a loved one/friend to take meds, or to accept a doctor's diagnosis.

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QUESTION: So it is more than likely suffering from bipolar disorder? Is there a way to find out the actual dx?
I know back in her younger years she had a court order for therapy. She never did listen to the order. Is there a possibility of getting that to happen again? I'm worried because I know her main thoughts and want is to purchase a gun now.

I know that with the court order she was diagnosed with ptsd, major depressive disorder an adjustment disorder as well as anxiety. Could those have been wrong as well as she had numerous run ins with the police but they too would yell and she'd yell back at them and nothing would be done.

How do I make her get help?

That's the thing, you can't necessarily make anyone who is legally an adult and has not been deemed incompetent by a court to the extent that the court will move to appoint a guardian, get help. You won't be able to go around her to find out what her official diagnosis is, and if the police did not arrest her at any of these incidents then the most they will have is an incident report which only they and the person involved will have the ability to request documentation that may exist on these. The court can only go by the information that they have been presented, they do not have someone there that makes their own diagnosis that the court then uses to make their decision. And if the court order for therapy was a long time ago, especially if it was when she was a juvenile, those records may no longer be available and/or sealed.

You can ask her about her most recent diagnosis, you can even ask if she will sign something to authorize you to access these records, but undoubtedly she will want to know why and might refuse to do so because she perceives your wanting access as you wanting to make decisions for her and to control what she can and cannot do.  

Bipolar Disorder

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I am available to answer questions of a general nature about bipolar disorder, provide online resources that address bipolar disorder in a more in-depth manner and sources to serve as a starting point for those looking for substantial information on the illness from a healthcare professional approach. I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist, my background is based in personal experience and extensive reading in my own process of understanding my diagnosis. I can also take questions that deal with the social issues surrounding bipolar disorder such as relationships; coping for family, friends, and the patient; marriage, choosing to start a family and related. Answers to questions of a legal nature will provide general information but anyone with a serious legal problem should consult an attorney licensed to practice in their jurisdiction.


I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type II in 2000; as a SSI beneficiary, have experience and knowledge of the limitations and processes involved with the program; I understand the moods, the feelings, the worries, the doubts, and a lot more that there's not enough room to express - from the personal experiences of being bipolar. I have first-hand experience with the challenges of returning to college following hospitalizations and various combinations of medications that were tried before my doctor and I finally arrived at the most effective medication program for my treatment. My family and I have learned so much about each other in the process of dealing with the highs and lows that followed my diagnosis. I've had relationships with someone who also is bipolar and someone that is not - romantic relationships are no easier on either side! I feel that many of the ideas and beliefs that people have regarding bipolar disorder and those who have the condition promote the continuation of social stigmas associated with mental illness in general, and after learning from others with bipolar disorder, hope to guide others who may be trying to navigate the government health care system,& share information on other possible means of obtaining assistance with the cost of medications and/or mental health services and limited financial assistance programs for meeting basic living expenses for qualified individuals, dealing with problems from or with family & loved ones, co-occurring substance abuse problems, medications and side-effects (and when it feels like nothing will work, or why it's not helping the situation to ask whether or not a patient has taken their 'meds' when they seem hostile or moody to those around them).

I have a B.A. in Liberal Arts and will earn my J.D. upon completion of the Spring 2011 term after which I will be preparing to take the multi-state bar exam.

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