Bipolar or Just Lonely?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I graduated from college last year but I moved to a new country and haven’t got a job yet. Hence I spend most of my time at home alone. I have bipolar 2 disorder diagnosed 2 years ago. I am on daily medication(Valproate 750 mg). My illness is well controlled on the whole. I haven’t had hypomanic episodes after i started medication. However, I have been feeling low and don’t feel like doing anything for the last few months. I have been taking a language course for the last 1 month so that was keeping me busy in the mornings. I feel normal when I’m out around classmates or with my husband. However once I’m back home and alone, I feel depressed and lonely. I don’t have real friends here. Just a handful of people I hang out with once a week or once in 2 weeks.

Now that my course is over, I just feel depressed all day. Don’t feel like studying, doing house chores…nothing. I just eat(I also want to binge) and watch TV all day. I feel like im sabotaging and self-destructing myself but can’t help it. I feel safe and comfortable just lying on the sofa all day. The only time of the day I feel better is when my husband is back from work and I have him around.
This feels so much like the depressive periods I used to have years ago before I got diagnosed. However, it isn’t as serious as before. I don’t know how to get out of this vicious cycle.
I also haven’t visited a psychiatrist here and it’s going to be complicated since I’m in a new place.

Do you think it’s my Bipolar or the loneliness or stress of moving/not having a job?
What can I do to help myself?
Thanks

A: Thank you for writing. You have made many changes in the last year that are causing you stress. Please don’t scold yourself for it. Many people would find your situation challenging. That being said, it’s time you took better care of yourself. You are taking serious medication without any support of monitoring from a psychiatrist. It may be that you need a change in dose or a change in medication. Please identify a psychiatrist today and make an appointment.

And, yes, you may be quite lonely and at loose ends. As difficult as it may be to think about, you need to do more to connect with people and make some new friends. A job will help. So will finding an activity or club (book club? art lessons? political work?) that puts you in contact with people who share some of your interests. It’s a time of winter sports in your part of the world. If you don’t know how to ski or skate, think about taking some group lessons. You will get out of the house and you will meet some people. As you know, some strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Gather up your courage and get out there. With more to do and more people to do it with, you will soon feel more comfortable in your adopted home.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jan 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Bipolar or Just Lonely?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/01/11/bipolar-or-just-lonely/

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