Dealing with Chronic Pain and Bipolar Disorder at 57
I'm 57 years old, and I face the challenges of Chronic Pain and Bipolar Disorder (Type 2). It all started when I was 20, during my final year of engineering. I used to get chronic headaches every day, especially during stressful times like exams.
The doctor in India labeled it as tension headaches and gave me Haloperidol for a month, which helped. However, soon after, I began experiencing intense morning anxiety attacks that lasted for hours. It got so bad that I had to skip a job interview due to a massive anxiety attack during a train journey.
Feeling overwhelmed, I even considered ending my life but sought comfort from my dad. Eventually, I stumbled upon a book about mental health and realized I might be dealing with major depression or manic-depressive illness. A visit to a psychiatrist resulted in a prescription for Imipramine and Diazepam, the latter providing much-needed relief and helping me regain control.
Despite side effects, I joined a Master's program and, with medication, achieved stability. However, stopping the meds led to a rebound of anxiety, causing me to leave college for a job. A stable routine, yoga, and a supportive work environment provided temporary relief, but I refrained from seeing a psychiatrist due to various reasons.
Life took a positive turn when I got into a prestigious management institute. However, in 2000, chronic low back pain emerged during my time in the UK. Relocating to the USA didn't resolve the pain, but managing it through John Sarno's approach helped.
At 38, extreme morning anxiety attacks returned, marking the beginning of a challenging journey with two conditions: Chronic Pain and Bipolar Type 2 with mixed features. Despite a supportive family, I had to stop working at 55 due to chronic pain making it impossible to hold a sedentary job.
Managing each day is tough, especially during flare-ups and mixed episodes. Grateful for my supportive family and available medical options, I acknowledge the ongoing challenge of balancing both conditions.
Exercise helps with depression, but it worsens pain and anxiety during flare-ups. Daily routines are beneficial, but sticking to them becomes challenging during difficult times. Aging exacerbates chronic pain, adding stress to Bipolar Type 2.
Things that have helped me, even if just a little, alongside medications:
Planning tasks that bring joy
Support groups for Chronic Pain and Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Surgery for specific pain issues
Daily walks, considering limitations
Regular breaks from sitting
Reading philosophy books for mental strength
Talking to close friends for distraction
Planning enjoyable activities with my wife
Exploring nearby places with my wife as much as possible.