Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bipolar--It's In The Genes

With all the uncertainties of bipolar, one thing most professionals agree on is manic -depressive (that's me) is hereditary. At least we are onto something here, I thought, until I read the caption of a recent article by a renown Doctor "Bipolar disorder runs in the family. However, scientists still cannot pinpoint it to one specific gene since there are many other factors that may lead to the manic-depressive illness."
Dr. Francis McMahon, chief of the Genetics Unit of the Mood Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Md., said "it has been known for a long time that bipolar disorder and manic depression are the most genetic of all illnesses. There have been three kinds of studies, including family studies that show that bipolar disorder definitely runs in families. The other studies were conducted on twins, identical and fraternal."

"If you have a close family member, you have a 10-fold chance of getting bipolar disorder,” said McMahon. “If you do the math, there is about an 80 percent difference of risk of bipolar, which leaves about a 20 percent chance for other factors, and we know even less about what those are.
Once a psychiatrist goes over the family history with them, there may have been some illness that occurred in adolescence. People can go months and years being undiagnosed and continue to get a number of episodes down the line. “Bipolar is episodic,” he said. “A lot of studies are about what triggers the episode, but there’s very little evidence of why people get it.” if you didn't think you have bipolar, but now are starting to think of an Aunt, Grandma, or someone else in your family who have bipolar, you might be sweating about now. Take it easy for a little while and listen to me.
In my case, the above is absolutely true! Bipolar, to one degree or another can be traced back generations in my family. does not mean every person "in line" of that family tree WILL have bipolar. And, I have seen it in my life and read of dozens of examples that even if a great grandchild has bipolar, he/she may have only a mild depression while the sibling may have full blown bipolar1 manic-depression. As I said, I am a witness to this.
Bipolar runs on my Moms side of the family. (Read the page about my Mom "Having a Loved One Committed - -My Experience"  6/26/11.)  What I want to do is try my best to outline my Family History of Bipolar. I will list the ones who I have seen first hand or have heard of:
Grandfather: 8 Children
There is a mystery regarding the early years of my Grandfather. This was before he became a Christian. As very, very small child, I can remember bits and pieces of "hush" talk. Maybe all the details of the talk is blocked out of my mind. I know there is one Aunt who could probably tell me. But what lays deep in my mind, I do not want her to relive any horror memories. I remember he had a temper that almost got him in trouble several times. I witnessed it. When I was with him, I could see a mood change instantly. Not only a mood change, but a totally different person.
Aunt #1
Referred to her above. Of them all, I was the closest to her. We were around each other a lot. She had a rough personal life. I wish I could remember what she commented on about Grandpa, but I cannot. She talked of suicide off and on during the breakup of her and my Uncle. I know she went to a doctor for awhile. We now live thousands of miles apart, so I don't know to what extent she is suffering. Once in awhile when I talk to her, we joke around, discuss business and then she says she is doing "fairly well."
Uncle # 1
My Uncle is, and has been in bad shape for many years. I would list him as Bipolar--with hallucinations and schizophrenia. We tried to get him help, lasted for awhile, then nothing. My Aunt stands behind him and helps when she can. I know he sold 2 fairly new mint condition Lincoln automobiles in a short span of time because he told my Aunt someone placed a monitoring device in them and listens to everything he says. They also watch him. My Aunt tells me I would not believe what she goes through, the only thing she has going for her is he is a Christian. I cannot do anything for him, but Pray with my Aunt.
Uncle # 1 -Above -(2 Children)
Cousin # 1
Second time he has been in trouble with the law. Drug abuse. As recent as a few months ago, was making Meth when the lab exploded and burned over 60% of his body. Girl he was with is in prison, and he is still recovering. The other Cousin as far as I know has a good family and doing fine.
Mom: (You can read about her here) 3 Sons
**From my Grandpa, there are 3 out of 8 children who has bipolar, or worse. Unless they mask it better than me, I have not seen or heard of any other Aunts or Uncles who has Bipolar.**
ME I am.
Brother #1
He is not as bad as I am, by any means, but he needs help. We are three years apart. I shared a room with him, worked with him for years. He knows about my problem, and his subject came up and he mentioned "maybe I should go to the doctor." My Sister-in Law agrees. I know him though. He will never go. Don't get me wrong, I talk to him everyday. We joke a lot as brothers do, but he will never go to the doctor. He is a miserable human being. I could go on for hours, but my brother is generally unhappy about everything, and I think he thrives on making everyone around him unhappy also. he is not suicidal at all. Maybe bipolar 2-3 and will no doubt be ok. But those around him will suffer because he is "too good" to go to a doctor.. (I intend on discussing the two of us more at a later date)
My 4 Daughters:
Daughter #1

My oldest -mild bipolar traits has seen a doctor, but had to quit because of no insurance. She is special though. Her bubbly personality and outlook on life in general gets her through for the most part. I hear some of the problems she goes through, and I see the traits, and it hurts. She is special in so many ways. Her family is her life, and I think they pull each other through. What contributes the most though is she is very close to her mother, and I know without a doubt my wife helps her. She wants help so bad but cannot afford it.
The rest of daughters, including my youngest who will soon be 10,  suffer from some form of symptom or another. My wife can list probably in detail some of the symptoms more than I. But I recognize certain quirks, or behavior that throws up a red flag. I remember when I was that age. My only hope and Prayer for my girls is that as they get older, the illness will not get worse. I cannot tell you how many days I see myself at their age and then see my life as I get older get worse and worse.
Looking at this, the above doctors were right. The point I am also trying to make is it does not mean each and everyone within that family will be diagnosed with Bipolar. There are no rules, no standards, no predictability. It's anyone's guess. If you have blood relatives who has bipolar and you seem to be doing fine, then feel very, very fortunate the gene passed you up. From my grandfather all the way down to me, look at how many made it through! 
"My Mind"

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