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Ask A Therapist: Am I Really Bipolar?

Q: I have just recently dealt with the trauma of being molested by a friend’s father. I thought all of my erratic behavior resulted from this, but now I’m hearing that I am Bipolar. I am confused and scared. I have been given lithium, but the doctor has not spoken to my family and only spoke with me once for about 20 minutes. His assistants did separate interviews with me as well. I don’t have insurance so I am paying a lot and don’t if I can afford to get a second opinion.
Facts: I was in a state of depression from February to July 5th. Attempted suicide 3 times. I attempted suicide 2 other times, once at 13 and another at 21. I have also worked overseas and traveled extensively on my own. I feel great when I am traveling. I know several languages (minor) but never stick to one long enough to learn it well, which is a habit in every study I’ve undertaken.  Jobs: Baker, Insurance Sales, Teacher, Prison Guard, Carnival Ride Operator, Counselor, PCorps Volunteer, usually stick to a job for 6-8 months and then move on. I need help.  I have no money and am in serious debt because of the way I’m living.

A: Thanks for writing in. You raise an excellent question: Is your erratic behavior due to sexual abuse history or bipolar disorder, or some combination of trauma and mental illness? While I can’t provide you with a diagnosis in this format, I can point you in the direction to get a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not your bipolar disorder is accurate.

I suggest that you get an additional evaluation and second opinion.  There are community resources available for mental health services free or at a reduced fee. Here’s a link to state funded mental health services in Indianapolis, Indiana. Another resource is the Find Help link at the top of this page and here is the link to providers in your city. When you contact them, ask if they have a sliding fee scale based on income. Here’s another link to help you gain more information about the causes, symptoms, treatment of bipolar disorder to empower you in your quest to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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