Bipolar: a life in numbers

Age of onset: 12

Age GP first consulted: 13

Age first seen by a counsellor: 13

Age first seen by a psychiatrist: 20

Age first diagnosed: 21

Number of mental health teams seen: 4

Number of psychiatrists seen: 7

Number of visits from CPN offered: 1

Number of different psychiatric drugs prescribed: 15 (betablockers: 1, SSRIs: 3, MAOIs: 1, SNRIs: 1, tricyclics: 1, hypnotics: 1, benzos: 2, old generation antipsychotics: 1, new generation antipsychotics: 2, anti-epileptics: 1; lithium.)

Current drug doses: quetiapine 400mg, lithium 1.2g

Year I last had a day without medication: 2000

Window of time between taking quetiapine and falling asleep: 3-4 hours

Average number of hours slept on quetiapine: 11

Number of meds currently prescribed to combat side effects of quetiapine: 3

Number of pills I currently take a day: 9

Weekly income from contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance: £70

Current cost of a prescription: £7.40

Average number of prescriptions per month: 4

Frequency of blood tests to monitor lithium blood serum: Every 3 months

Frequency of psychiatrist appointments: Monthly

Times on list for NHS therapy: 3

Total weeks of talking therapy provided by the NHS: 24 weeks (16 weeks of Cognitive Analytic Therapy in 2005, 8 weeks of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in 2011).

Number of counsellors/therapists accessed through charities, university or work: 6

Number of full episodes: Approx 8-9 (hard to remember precise number when a child/teenager)

Length of current episode: 23 months

Length of current sick leave: 15 months

Number of careers destroyed: 3

Attempts on my life: 1

About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards
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10 Responses to Bipolar: a life in numbers

  1. Henry Dunn says:

    At the risk of sounding flippant, and I hope you know I’m not, this gives me an idea for a new game – Mental Health Top Trumps! I think you beat me on most except the ones at the top – age of onset 10, age seen by GP (about mental health) 10, age seen by psychiatrist 10. Not nearly as many drugs – just amitryptyline (when 10 – bad idea as it caused psychotic symptoms), fluoxetine (until recently my drug of choice, until anxiety got added to the mix) and venlafaxine (current, seems ok) Recently started CBT, which I’m sceptical about, but the therapist is experienced enough to adapt and not rely on manuals. Confirms what a lot of research says – personality of therapist more important than theoretical background.
    Never forget that you are far more than a collection of numbers and that a lot of people, even those who haven’t met you face to face, care deeply about you.

    • I am far from offended, that made me genuinely laugh out loud! Only parents with kids similar age to ours would know what it means to play so many different themes of TT! Interesting how/why people with similar of onset of symptoms can end up getting treated very differently. Plan now is to stick with what I have, I like my psych, I’m OK with the med regimen, I like my GP. Nobody leave, please, I want to keep the scores the same…!

  2. I have no words, it sucks, it’s a mess but I’m glad you’re still here and fighting. Keep strong. 🙂

  3. Just wanted to re-iterate the sentiment above that there are people out here that care about you even tho we have never met – Its amazing how much undiagnosis / miss-diagnosis there is out there & how painful it can be to watch. I wish you well in everything you do X

  4. Wow, in an age where everyone wants to quantify everything, this is a powerful way to represent the impact of bipolar on a life. What gave you the idea to do this?

    • Not sure! It’s an idea that I’ve been kicking around for a while, as a way of trying to communicate to people that, no, what I experience really isn’t just “what everyone goes through, just a little bit more intense.” Strangely, I found it a bit stark and shocking myself to see it written out like that x

  5. Mich says:

    Again, brilliant idea! Perhaps it helps put things into perspective for those who don’t seem to have a proper understanding of mental illness or the impact it has. When you actually see the figures in front of you, it’s much harder to be dismissive or play it down. x

  6. tigtigs says:

    This is a great idea, well done you!! I am intersted in how you manage 400mg quetiapine. I am on 200mg and find it really knocks me out, I take it at night. I could sleep all day too……but am on other meds. Good luck! xx

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