A Father and Son Disorder: Bi Polar Opposites.
Bi polar disorder is a mood disorder that was labeled as manic depression in the past. It can be a crippling disorder when not diagnosed and treated properly. Bi polar disorder can cause drastic mood swings ranging from suicidal (depression), to homicidal (manic). In the past, it was thought to be more of an environmental disorder than genetic. Doctors who are extensively studying mood and thought disorders are now providing research results that these thought and mood disorders can indeed be genetic as well as environmental. An article I came across discusses the results of this research, as well as the possibilities of passing the disorders on through inheritance.
The article written by Tanja Meece states that geneticists now believe that there are “links between the GRK-3 gene and chromosomes 4, 6,13,15,18 and bipolar disorder in the case of chromosome 6” (Meece 2010). She also states that bipolar disorder may have not been “selected out” in the course of human evolution because a lot of the symptoms such as creativity, and high productivity are a positive trait in small amounts (Meece 2010). She further writes that 50% of all mental health patients have at least one parent suffering from a mood disorder. When outside sources such as drug abuse, physical illness, poor diet, etc come into play, the influence on someone predisposed to mood or thought disorders is tremendous (Meece 2010).
Bi polar disorder is an important topic to me because both my 16 year old son and I have recently been diagnosed with it. I have suffered from it for most of my life, without ever knowing what was really wrong. When I sought help in the past most doctors would only throw anti depressants at me without taking the time to find out what was truly causing my mental anguish. I recently spent four days in the hospital under suicide watch when I experienced what has been labeled as a “mixed episode,” in which mania and depression strike a person at the same time. The results are often catastrophic for the patient if they do not seek help immediately. I am currently on 400 ml of Seroquel, an anti psychotic drug that has been found to be relatively successful for both mood and thought disorders. It has helped, but it is not a panacea. In fact just yesterday, I experienced another episode at work in which I lost time for 45 minutes. I spent that time holding a staple puller in one hand, while tracing major veins and arteries on my arm and neck. When I realized what I was doing I completely broke down and immediately contacted my wife, psychiatrist and counselor. They were all very supportive and managed to talk me “down from the ledge.” At this point, the best I can do is take each day a few minutes at a time.
My son is prone to fits of mania; during such an episode last week, he pulled a knife on me and threatened to kill me. We had him arrested on domestic violence charges, and committed to children’s hospital here in Cincinnati. I think his episode was the primary cause of my latest episode. His levels of violence and rage have consistently escalated with each rageful manic occurrence. I’m not sure when I’ll get him back, if ever.
The reason I believe that mood and thought disorders are genetic is not only because of my son’s challenges that I’ve evidently passed down to him; my mother, her sister, in addition to their mother suffered from mood disorders as well. All three have spent time in mental health facilities. In my mother’s case, her mood disorder drove her to suicide in 1980. Before her suicide she displayed some classic bi polar tendencies. Manic one moment spending money we didn’t have on eating out, toys for me, as well as drugs and alcohol. The next moment, she would be in such despair that she would have to go to the emergency room or self medicate. As time goes by I see so much of my mother in me, and it terrifies me to no end. My mother took her life when she was 38 years old. I’m 45 years old now, and I’m holding on for dear life. I don’t want to die, but sometimes the little voice telling me it’s ok to die can be very convincing. Thanks to my wonderful partner Michelle and my mental health providers, I’m learning to cope and maybe someday overcome my challenges. I can only hope that my son may someday become capable of doing the same. I miss the happy little boy who watched Brave Little Toaster every night before bed. The sense of loss I feel for him can be overwhelming.
Meece, T.J. (2010). Bi polar disorder and heredity. Retrieved from http://bipolar.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=bipolar&cdn=health&tm=19&gps=98_259_1129_634&f=00&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//bipolarworld.net/Bipolar%2520Disorder/Articles/heredity.htm