First the Story:
Went to my psychiatrist and told him about this website and about starting this 12-step program. I told him that there are people here with horrendous stories of the damage gaming addiction has done to them, their families and friends, their lives. He asked me: How many of them are bipolar? (He is a national expert in bipolar disorder; he treats nothing else.) I said I didn't know (of course), probably more than just a few.
This will be a long post. I'm going to tell enough of my story to give people some information. And encourage people to read more if they feel it applies to them.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. There were actually people who mentioned it to me years ago, and I laughed it off. They told me I was up and down. To me, I was just me. I was hypomanic (means "a little bit" manic) a lot, but I thought I was normal. It was just that other people were slow (not stupid, just literally slow), dull and uncreative. I told lots of jokes, I was often the life of the party. But when my life got very very stressful and difficult, I crashed. I went into a horrible depression. I went to my family doctor and he gave me antidepressants. They helped. Quite a bit. After about a year and a half, I felt like I was doing quite well and could wean myself off of them. I did.
My problems, however, continued. Many got worse. After another year or so, my therapist told me that she wasn't going to be able to do anything effective for me if I didn't get my bipolar disorder medicated. It was a shock. I went to a psychiatrist who specializes in it, took his little intake "exam", and walked into his office. He said, "well, you passed the bipolar quiz, 13 out of 16." I also passed the sleep apnea quiz (about half of the people he treats for bipolar disorder have sleep apnea also).
He started treating me with mood stabilizers, and antimanics (NOT antidepressants: it turns out that it's not a very good idea to give someone who is bipolar an antidepressant, because it can make things *worse*. Not all doctors know this, to say the least, and many family doctors tend to hand out antidepressants like candy). He is smart, and cautious, so we went up on the medications VERY slowly. I got better every time we increased them. VERY slowly. It took 3 years. I am now taking (I'm not happy about this, but I'm happy about how much better I feel) FIVE pharmaceuticals and THREE dietary supplements specifically recommended/prescribed to me. The doc says the average number of medications it takes to properly (NOTE: PROPERLY) control bipolar disorder is around 4. I have a CPAP machine for sleep apnea that helps keep my airway open at night. And I still see my therapist every three weeks (she is very good).
Here's the Scoop: There are many people who are clinically depressed and who could be helped by antidepressants. They should get such help. Depression is a brain, circulatory and blood disease and it damages the brain. Every month you spend depressed does more damage.
BUT, SOME of the people who are depressed actually have bipolar disorder. For these people, antidepressants are usually not the best choice. They can make the mood swings worse. They can put you in a mixed state, which is very dangerous (this is a state where you have the negativity of someone who is depressed and the energy of someone who is manic. NOT good). I've been in mixed states. Very nasty.
OK, you say, DAN WHY ARE YOU POSTING THIS ON OLGA??
Because bipolar disorder is an engine for addictive behavior. People who have mood disorders try to medicate them (of course, we are humans--smart problem solvers--we know our mood is #$^@#ed up and we try to fix it); and if they medicate with something that is damaging or addictive (alcohol, drugs, gaming), then they quickly get addicted. One of the indicators for bipolar disorder is having a lot of other bipolar people in your family OR having a lot of addicts in your family. !!! One day I asked my psychiatrist why we hadn't heard much about bipolar disorder until recently and he said "we used to call it alcoholism." He was only half-joking.
The BIG KAHUNA: DO I HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER?
Well, I sure can't tell you. But if you have had several antidepressants not really work for you, if you have addiction or mood disorders in your family, if you have lost jobs and relationships, if you are sometimes way up and sometimes way down, then maybe.
Here is the BEST and MOST THOROUGH website on bipolar disorder. You will get much better info than is in this post, and lots of it, all based on the most current research:
You can't QUITE self-diagnose from this website, but you can get close enough to know if you should go to a psychiatrist. BUT PLEASE, DO NOT just go to any doctor, and in fact, if you think you might be bipolar, you should go to a psychiatrist who SPECIALIZES in MOOD DISORDERS. This person will do a proper evaluation of your situation before they start throwing antidepressants at you.
As for games, I'm quite sure I would NEVER have been able to quit without having had my rather severe mood disorder treated. I don't encourage people to just take a bunch of drugs--people who go to five different doctors, get all sorts of different things and then take them randomly, have serious substance abuse problems. But IF you have depression, or a bipolar disorder, then getting it carefully treated could be an important step in recovery.
There are enough addicts on this website that someone besides me who is reading this is bipolar. I'm sure of it. I hope this helps you. Go to that website and start reading about yourself.
I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.