I want to take a moment to try to explain Bipolar Disorder. This is what the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says:
“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
“There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”
Here is a list of manic and depressive episode signs and symptoms also provided by NIMH:
|People having a manic episode may:||People having a depressive episode may:|
|Feel very “up,” “high,” or elated
Have a lot of energy
Have increased activity levels
Feel “jumpy” or “wired”
Have trouble sleeping
Become more active than usual
Talk really fast about a lot of different things
Be agitated, irritable, or “touchy”
Feel like their thoughts are going very fast
Think they can do a lot of things at once
Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex
|Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless
Have very little energy
Have decreased activity levels
Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much
Feel like they can’t enjoy anything
Feel worried and empty
Have trouble concentrating
Forget things a lot
Eat too much or too little
Feel tired or “slowed down”
Think about death or suicide
Now, here is where things get complicated. There is also mixed cycling which is a combination if the two, being depressed and manic at the same time, and then there is hypomania. Hypomania is what I would like to call the calm before the storm. This is what falls between the full-blown manic and depressive episodes. In this state nothing feels too extreme and there’s a weird sense of normality, but I don’t really know what feeling normal is so I just roll with it. I’m not hostile, angry or sad. I’m also not that excited, elated or hyper focused on anything. This is when my mood is kind of stable and I can actually function without any mood setbacks, when I can organize my life and get important tasks done. There is no timeframe of hypomania though, that’s what sucks about it, it could last from a few days to maybe a week and some change. It’s different for everyone.
Then boom. Another one. Usually I’m always praying for good ole mania, but unfortunately it’s the luck of the draw. I prefer mania because at least I feel great, things are awesome and wonderful and beautiful and oh look what’s that over there? Now I can’t sleep, but who needs sleep when you have so much to do and so many random thoughts and ideas in your head? I’m going to have fun and complete so many tasks!
People need to sleep…BUT when you’re Bipolar, sometimes you can’t no matter how much you know you need to and no matter how hard you try. It’s chemical. My brain is on overdrive. I’ve stayed up for days at a time. This is when depression starts to set in.
I. Hate. Being. Depressed. It sucks not being able to get out of bed. It’s hard to take a shower, sometimes I won’t. I either eat too much, too little or not at all. I completely shut down from the world and my loved ones. I don’t want to do anything. Nothing is fun. I stare at the wall for a long time. I get mad at myself for being depressed and then I cry and cry and cry. When I’m depressed I get really defensive about everything. I used to be suicidal and have suicidal ideation before I got on the right cocktail of medications. Sometimes I still feel hopeless when I’m depressed, but I would never take my life now really knowing how selfish that would be.
I am still loved and I have to remember that.
That’s what the mania and depression episodes feel like to me, but like I said, it’s different for everyone. Sometimes other mental issues come into play.
“Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.
Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.”
Well, I have ADHD and horrible anxiety and I also have struggled with substance abuse. So I have to take more medicine for my inability to focus and more medicine to curb my anxiety. Substance abuse isn’t an issue anymore because I’m clean now and I know that even a couple of drinks will cause issues with my meds and my treatment.
So this is Bipolar disorder in a nutshell. It sucks the life out of me. It is absolutely exhausting…But I still live every day and I do the best I can with what I’ve got. Even I didn’t grasp this shit in the beginning! It has taken me years to pinpoint the signs and triggers. It has taken me years to stay sober. It has taken me years to believe that even though this sucks, I don’t have to suck!
This is a lifelong illness and a daily struggle. I’ve applied for disability because of it and got denied because they said I could still work a minimum wage job, and I got so offended. Social security basically told me to suck it up and work for practically no pay…..live with this disorder and be poor and even more depressed? I said NO GOVERNMENT. I went to college I am better than this. I am smart, educated, artistic, funny and a good person.
I’ve said it before, being mentally ill has made me try harder than most “normal people” I know for a fact that I’m not lazy. I’m just “crazy”