Thoughts From MY Cluttered Mind offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Bipolar Disorder myself and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder - At Home


For generations the mere mention of mental illness was accompanied with whispers, locked doors and secretive hospitalizations. It was something to be feared and hidden from public knowledge, after all, they were "crazy," and admitting such a person in the family was unacceptable.

Fast forward to 2008, mental illness is in the forefront of research. It is unfortunate that it took so many lives before people took notice, but as many people will notice - it takes a tragedy before something is done. Welcome to reality!

When it comes to Bipolar disorder, people become confused - including those who live with the disorder. Imagine trying to explain to someone that today you are the happiest person alive and taking on the world, while tomorrow you will struggling to get out of bed and think the world is closing in on you. It's enough to make your head spin.

Recently a doctor in San Diego announced he discovered several gene mutations that are related to the disease, commonly known as Manic Depression. With this information in hand, he created a genetic test that can be used at home to diagnose BP.

Can anyone else see a disaster in the making here?

While I understand his idea, many people are reluctant to go the doctor, there is still a stigma attached to seeing a psychiatrist - however, with a "do it yourself" test, where does treatment enter into the picture? BP needs to be controlled either with medication or counseling, sometimes both in the beginning. The availability of a take home test is anyone can claim they are BP and use it to their advantage. Have you seen news reports lately? It is the in thing; I did such and such because I am Bipolar. Yeah, and I am the King of England! Now, don't get me wrong there are things that are done by people who are seriously mentally ill - I do not doubt that, but when someone uses it as an excuse that is when we have problems.

For the most part many people live with a wide range of mental illnesses and no one, other than close friends and family may know it. I know this, it's what I do. I learned the hard way you do not make it public knowledge! People do not accept are not very kind! I now keep it too myself, there are people who know and they accept me and my limitations. I take medication and see my psychiatrist every few months. But playing on people's anxieties only leads to trouble.

In his defense, the doctor at the head of this test, admits BP results from a combination of things, genetics does play a part, as do life experiences. The genetics does not mean someone will develop the disorder, just as a history of cancer in a family does not mean everyone will have it. There is a thin line and these home tests are crossing it.