Bipolar and B12: What I’ve Learned so Far

I have had a mental health diagnosis for over 10 years and accumulated more along the way. Regardless of what’s on paper, I just know that I was never happy. Even as a kid, I found myself pretty depressed and anxious.

In addition, I also noticed that mornings weren’t my thing. I used to think I was just a night owl, but in the past few years, it has become a real problem. For one, I sleep at least 12 hours at a time—so it’s hard to plan any reasonable wake-up time. It’s also hard to go to sleep before 1 a.m.

Over the years, I have chalked this up to mental health issues. I figured I had too much anxiety in the morning and it kept me in bed. Eventually, I began to lose jobs over it when I couldn’t make it work in the morning.

This has left me working from home, lost and dreaming of a night shift.

I knew there had to be more to it, though. It’s not normal to sleep 12 or more hours. So, I finally found a doctor who threw some new ideas out there. After a round of bloodwork that came back normal for things like thyroid, blood sugar, and most of the other routine checks. He ordered another round to check for some vitamin deficiencies.

Then, I got a call and I was told that my B12 was low. This opened a whole new world of Google searches for me.

It turns out, B12 deficiencies are among the most misdiagnosed and easy to treat problems. Without treatment, you can have some pretty negative consequences. There are some organizations out there trying to spread awareness because of the severity of some of these causes—like being placed in a wheelchair and loss of muscle control.

It also has a large connection with mental health.

Among the weakness and fatigue symptoms, it can be a direct cause for depression and anxiety, as well as other mental health issues. Oftentimes doctors will reach for the depression diagnosis before checking on vitamin levels.

Other symptoms include tingling and muscle twitches, balance issues, difficulty thinking and reasoning, and a swollen/inflamed tongue.

It’s tricky, too, because there’s a huge controversy over how to treat it. My doctor prescribed 1000 mcg oral tablets. My sleep went from 12 hours to 8-9 hours a day. This was drastic for me. However, after a couple of weeks, it went back to the same amount.

Many argue this is because you don’t absorb supplements very well orally. Most likely, the deficiency is a result of pernicious anemia—where you can’t absorb the vitamin in the stomach. So, injections are the typical treatment. In fact, some people opt to self-inject, by obtaining the supplements themselves.

A B12 Deficiency isn’t the only medical issue that could be misdiagnosed with a mental health disorder, so it’s important to have both primary care doctors and psychiatrists that will work to determine the root of the problem.

My journey is far from over. Everyone has the right to determine the root of their problems if one can be found. Don’t ever give up.

 

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Jessica is a writer, blogger, and teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University and manages the blog The Science of Genesis. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, a good book or movie, and good conversation. Still battling her own mental illness, she spends much of her time learning how to help herself and others. Jessica has an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder. She has also experienced trauma, including domestic violence. She seeks to live a happy, healthy life through treatment and striving every day.

You can follow Jessica on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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