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Bipolar and parkinsons

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Hi my name is Tom and I’m a 38 year old musician and writer diagnosed last year with Parkinsons. I also have bipolar disorder. I have found the whole experience devastating, (I know it is for everyone but both strands of my career depend on manual dexterity) though I have found it has given me insight that I didn’t previously have. That’s a positive but it seems at the moment like a brutal trade-off! Due to the stress of the illness, and and an unbelievably frustrating time navigating doctors/specialists/bureaucracy (I’m in UK, and seem to have fallen into a gap between psychiatry and neurology) I have been experiencing extreme anxiety which I’m sure is affecting my symptoms and I have been feeling instinctively this is a lack of regulation in my mood caused by the Pd rather than caused by anything external (apart from feelings about the PD, which are obviously in the mix). I’ve suffered depression/highs in the past but never felt this level of stress or detachment- which those around me would describe as out of character. What I’m hoping is that somebody could share with me that they have had similar feelings, (not necessarily bipolar) but some kind of equilibrium came back or was found. I’m open-eyed as to the possibilities but could I please ask that you only share with me if you have a positive experience. Thank you in advance for any feedback. Tom

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Parkinson's and Bipolar Disorder?  Interesting combination.  I've always wanted to tell my Movement Disorder Specialist that the wild swings between "on" and "off" times (and even various "on" and "on" times) in Parkinson's made me feel as though my body was bipolar.  So to me, sadly, Bipolar Disorder seems a perfect match for Parkinson's, especially since Parkinson's is not satisfied with just disrupting my bodily movements, but it also freely crosses over to corrupt cognitive and psychological functions.  

When Parkinson's turns "off" my body, it also turns "off" my brain functions.

Stress and Parkinson's do not mix.  Stress can flare my symptoms (movement, cognitive, physiological, or whatever else Parkinson's is jacking with at the moment) way out of proportion to the stressor.  Doctors tell us to cut the stress from our lives, but those words are so much easier to say than do because stress can come from so many sources, some of which are good (vacations, lunch with friends). 

Yoga has given me some tools to help cope with stress and so has eliminating news (no news radio, television, papers, magazines, discussions).  Also getting outside for a walk really helps me.  Sun or rain, just getting outside and moving is such a relief.  However, eliminating or minimizing stress doesn't really stop Parkinson's rampage.  It just sort of limits the supply of one source of fuel.

Not sure what medications or supplements you use, but L-Theanine supplements work wonders to boost and stabilize my cognitive functions.

Best wishes.

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Hey! You are not alone with the Bipolar and Parkinson's. Me, too. Stress, kills me. Not only the depression but the PD. I feel like some days are so diabilitating. I can say that one big thing that helps me with separating me from "life" is games. Rather a video game or even a game on my phone. I just focus, no thinking on this other crap. Reading is another, and walking when my back is cooperating for the day. 


Message me anytime. We aren't alone. And, we need to be able to support each other. 




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I got very depressed 10 years ago. After five years of up and down  I got a bipolar diagnosis (5 1/2 years ago)because antidepressants made me manic. I got a drug induced Parkinsonism diagnosis this November because my first movement symptoms started (4 years ago) after taking an atypical antipsychotic for the bipolar. Yet two years after quitting the drug, I still have motor symptoms, so I was given carvidopa/levodopa(c/l) to see if it would help. If it did that would be a  good indicator of actual idiopathic Parkinson’s. Almost as soon as I started the c/l the PD motor symptoms got better but I started rocking back and forth when standing. And random kicking of my leg when sitting. We do not know what this means! 

The things that have helped me most:

A good therapist to talk with every week. Often twice.  We are doing Cognitive behavioral therapy and assertive communication training. Doing things I like every day such  as listening  to comedy or reading. Walking fast. Self care rituals. Naps. LSVT-Big rehabilitation therapy. Doing something nice for someone else every day.

Things I cannot handle:

Coffee. People talking aggressively, low blood sugar. Rushing, and multiple appointments in a day.

The self care and firm refusal to tolerate stressful people have cut my tremors in half! I can deal with being slow and stiff because I’m not going to rush. I can deal with the cognitive slowing because I know I’m a good person. I can deal with the uncertainty because each day has something good in it. Medicine has not been very helpful to me. I’ve had to build a life worth living a little at a time. I keep it very simple and don’t require much of myself except to be kind. I cry good and hard when I feel like it. And I read, watch and listen to a lot of comedy so I laugh a lot.




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What a coincidence. A very good friend of mine who is helping me adjust to PD just sent me a link to her own struggle with being bipolar..

She's a fellow journalist who also works on Capitol Hill ...


Edited by Superdecooper

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