I began blogging about life with bipolar and anxiety disorders this year. Previously, I felt I had to keep quiet about my main mental health condition for fear of stigma, judgement of other people in society. However, I am open about it to close friends and family and wanted to share my story with others through mental health
There are many assumptions that people make about bipolar disorder that are false. The number one I’ve encountered is that bipolar is just mood swings and either being happy or sad, yet it is so much more than that. Hearing people jokingly say, “I’m so bipolar!” sets my teeth on edge. It is in fact a complex, long term condition with sufferers all having different periods of depression, hypomania, mania and stability.
Mental illness, looks like unmade beds, unwashed hair, personal hygiene that somehow gets lost in time… The energy and the will to have a shower, to brush your teeth, to eat something, has long but faded to the back of your thoughts. Time loses all meaning to you. Was that a minute that just passed by, or was it another year? The years are flying by now, with my main goal, in getting better; Feeling so incredibly far from my reach…
Everyone has bad days, where they feel the world is against them or they are down on luck.Lauren’s blog For people with mental health issues, it can be an excruciating and exhausting experience. Daily life is enough of a struggle for us to cope with without additional pressures that poor mental health can bring.
Bipolar disorder is a diagnosis given to someone who experiences extreme periods of low (depressed) and high (manic) moods.
Bipolar disorder used to be referred to as manic depression, and some people still use this term. It can sometimes be called bipolar affective disorder too.
Feeling euphoric, excited, confident, ambitious or adventurous Having racing thoughts, a feeling of not being able to get their words out fast enough, difficulty concentrating on one thing Increased sex drive Excessive or extravagant spending Not feeling like eating or sleeping A feeling of being special, invincible or having enhanced physical and mental abilities In some cases, experiencing symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations or delusions.
Low, or depressive periods share a lot of characteristics with depression. They usually include:
Feeling down, hopeless, empty, upset or tearful Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feeling guilty or worthless Tired, heavy, sluggish feelings. Lack of motivation and inability to enjoy things Feeling tense, frustrated, agitated Suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Some people also experience ‘mixed’ episodes, where they feel elements of both high and low moods.
Bipolar can make life very difficult. It can disrupt home-life, work, relationships, finances and physical health. If someone has bipolar they will probably experience symptoms to varying degrees for much of their lives. This doesn’t mean they will not be able to live full and healthy lives, however.
During times of high mood, someone might act in a way which seems strange to others. They might make risky decisions or spend money they can’t afford. When someone returns to a ‘normal’ or depressed mood they can feel embarrassed, ashamed or regretful. The risky decision-making can also put them in danger.
Many people believe having bipolar means simply dealing with alternating very high and very low moods, but there is so much more to it. During a manic phase, the person can experience delusional hallucinations, which can be terrifying. During a depressive phase, the person may become very forgetful or indecisive. It isn’t as simple as “today I’m happy, tomorrow I’m sad”. It can be life-threatening. So please, the next time you crack a “bipolar joke” – bear this in mind.