About

ABOUT COMORBIDITY

 There is a remarkable overlap between bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

More than one factor figures in whether or not someone develops bipolar disorder. Genetics play a strong role; bipolar disorder tends to run in families, and the odds of you developing it increase if a parent has it. However, studies done with identical twins found it was possible for one twin to develop bipolar disorder while the other one did not, meaning that genetic predisposition is not the only factor. In many instances, an environmental factor known as a “second hit” is required to trigger the onset of bipolar disorder. One of these factors is trauma. In particular, victims of childhood sexual abuse are at a higher risk of developing bipolar and depressive disorders than the general population.

Meanwhile, people with mental illness are at a higher risk of being victims of violence, and women with mental illness are particularly at risk for sexual violence. The symptoms of bipolar disorder make the sufferer vulnerable in that mania produces a sense of invincibility and propensity for risk-taking, while depression creates the impression that violence is inevitable and/or deserved and can diminish one’s ability to heed instincts regarding potential danger. Either end of the spectrum interferes with clear judgment and the ability to accurately assess danger.

In other words, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder share a cozy symbiotic relationship that can, and unfortunately often does, set up an amazingly efficient positive feedback loop. Suffering from trauma increases the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder. Having bipolar disorder increases the likelihood of experiencing trauma. Trauma begets trauma. Trauma exacerbates the bipolar disorder. And around and around we go.

This symbiosis extends to interactions between the two disorders’ symptoms. Moderate to severe depression is a feature of both bipolar disorder and PTSD. Both illnesses are capable of producing delusions, hallucinations, and vivid nightmares. Both illnesses cloud judgment and increase emotional sensitivity. The anxiety inherent to PTSD can trigger and exacerbate mania, while dysphoric hypomania or mania easily triggers and amplifies the anxiety and intrusive symptoms of PTSD. In my case, my PTSD symptoms decrease exponentially with the advent and upward trajectory of euphoric hypomania. This results in an especially painful crash into depression and fosters a desire to induce and prolong hypomanic states.


ABOUT THE BLOG

This blog is an ongoing effort to better understand my particular brand of crazy. It’s a repository for the research I do: articles, websites, and other helpful information. It’s also a forum for my own musings on bipolar disorder, PTSD, their comorbidity, and anything relevant I’ve got pinging around in my brain.

Kintsukuroi began as a personal project, but I hope that its content will be helpful to other similarly afflicted folks who stumble upon it. When I was diagnosed five years ago, my psychiatrist told me that medication and individual therapy were the best ways to manage my illness, but over the years I’ve discovered that community and knowledge are indispensable to management and recovery.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Eve. I’m thirty-four years old and I live in Portland, Oregon. As of right now, recovery is a full-time job. In the past, I’ve taught writing, oral communications, and English as a Second Language. I’ve also produced and performed in burlesque shows and emceed variety shows, wedding receptions, and various special events.

My bipolar disorder kicked in when I was twelve. I experienced my first PTSD flashback when I was twenty-one. At the age of twenty-nine, I was diagnosed with bipolar II, comorbid with post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood sexual abuse.

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One Response to “About”

  1. dyane December 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi there Eve. I love your blog & I just put kintsukuroi on my blogroll. I am a freelance writer/mom down in Santa Cruz County, California. (BP Magazine contributor Sara Solovitch lives here too – I like how you linked her article about pdocs who have bipolar.)
    I am also a mental health advocate with a focus on women; I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder. I’m a Consumer Advisory Council member of the International Bipolar Foundation. I also founded the Santa Cruz chapter of the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance & led support groups for women with mood disorders. Apart from bipolar, I am also a total chocoholic/foodie, nature lover, bibliophile and a musician! I look forward to reading more of your excellent writing!!!

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