Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. It of the many psychiatrists and psychologists I’ve seen in my life, all diagnosed me with MDD until about Rene years ago ONE psychologist classified me as bipolar. I was terribly, terribly sick at the time- could not speak without crying- but I told him I had experienced some times of extreme irritability and at some times in my life I had been able to accomplish noteworthy achievements and professional success.

He diagnosed bipolar and as you say, that’s a label that can vastly and negatively affect one’s life. In his defense, however, he was very alarmed at how sick I was and wanted to help me receive disability — since I couldn’t work.

I’ve never been manic to the dangerous extent that people afflicted with bipolar are. I’ve never been delusional. There is so much contrast between my personality when I’m depressed and when I’m well that I realize it could look like bipolar disorder to someone who doesn’t know me well. My providers since agree I have major depressive disorder — not bipolar disorder. That one diagnosis over a lifetime of treatment and diagnosis’ of MDD confused me and caused me to feel stigmatized. It also ended my job.

I’ve been tested and retested since. I do not have bipolar disorder. I’ve never been given lithium, etc. When treated solely for depression I achieve some degree of wellness. Me, well, is such a contrast that I understand how I could be misdiagnosed — however, I’ve never exhibited mania to the extent of disrupting my life, losing reasoning power, becoming grandiose, or becoming delusional.

I’m so glad you mentioned the issue of labeling depressive people with bipolar. The medications, if course, are quite different and giving bipolar meds to someone with MDD could worsen symptoms, according to what I’ve been told by my psychiatrist.

Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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