Depression And Bad Decision
Between high school and college, I took a gap year to backpack around Asia and Europe. My highs and lows continued. At times I went days without sleeping, traveling on overnight buses and talking with new friends. I took impulsive risks: I went on road trips with people I didnt know, slept on beaches illegally, and continued to travel even after I became sick with the plaguebut thats a whole other story.
Then my mood and behavior would change. I isolated myself and stayed in my room for days, feeling hopeless, exhausted, and disinterested in exploring the fascinating places I was visiting.
After I returned from my trip, I finally reached out to a psychiatrist. She had me try all kinds of antidepressants, but low doses of each resulted in extreme reactions, such as euphoria and psychotic breaks. My psychiatrist explained that my reactions were nearly impossibleunless I had a mood disorder. After asking me a series of questions, she confirmed her theory: I had bipolar II disorder.
Ill Deep Clean My House Down To Scrubbing Windowsills
Alexandra Pratz, 32, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 16, although she says doctors cant decide if she has bipolar I or bipolar II.Im more manic than depressive but my mania was never to the point where I needed to be in a psychiatric hospital, she says.
Pratz says she struggled with impulsive behavior during manic episodes in the past and spent thousands of dollars with no plan to pay it off. Now that she takes medication and undergoes regular counseling, that is no longer an issue for her. Im able to get up, take care of my child, take a shower, and brush my teeth, she says. Im still not really able to control all of my manic and depressive episodestheyre just not as severe.
Pratz describes her manic episodes as being almost hyperactive which impacts her sleep. She also will have a huge urge to clean during an episode. Ill deep clean my house, down to scrubbing windowsills, she says. I also get ragethats the number one thing I struggle with. There are times where I just collapse on the floor and start crying or Ill throw a high chair. Thats unfortunately how my frustration plays out.
What It’s Like To Have Bipolar By People Who Have Bipolar
Around 1% of us will develop bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression.
People with bipolar experience both episodes of severe depression, and episodes of mania overwhelming joy, excitement or happiness, huge energy, a reduced need for sleep, and reduced inhibitions.
The experience of bipolar is uniquely personal. No two people have exactly the same experience.
Bipolar disorder has been associated with genius and with creativity. It is certainly true that a number of contemporary high achievers and creatives have spoken of their experiences, and throughout history it is possible to recognise bipolar type traits in the artistic, political and academic spheres. But what is it actually like?
I was diagnosed with bipolar in my late teens, in my first year at university. The diagnosis have shaped my adult identity and experiences.
This week I have been collecting answers to four simple questions from a range of people who have bipolar, to demonstrate the range of experiences out there, and some of the things that help.
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Take Care Of Yourself
It is absolutely critical that you take care of your own physical and emotional needs. You may consider seeing a therapist for yourself, as a means of evaluating your own thoughts and stresses from being in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder.
You also have to know when and if you need to leave a romantic relationshiplike if the person you are dating becomes dangerous, stops getting therapy, or becomes too unstable for you. Understanding your boundaries and what you are willing to accept needs to be crystal clear.
In addition, continue to take care of your own body’s needs like eating nutritiously, sleeping, and exercising. Be sure to keep up your relationships with other friends and loved ones, too, as embarking on a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder is not the time to isolate yourself. Joining a support group to both gain knowledge and emotional support can also be incredibly helpful.
Coping When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is unpredictable. Take it one day at a time. Healing doesnt happen overnight, and its completely normal to worry about your relative during their mania and depressive episodes. You may fear them making reckless or irresponsible decisions, and harming themselves during an emotional low.
Bipolar disorder can be a lifelong struggle. The more you learn about the condition, the easier itll be to offer support. People with bipolar disorder cannot control their emotions or moods. Remember, bipolar disorder isnt a sign of weakness. It is a mental illness. Avoid insensitive or negative comments like snap out of it, or get a grip.
Let them know youre there to help in any way you can. Offering practical assistance can reduce their stress level and help keep their emotions under control. For example, help out around their house or offer to research local support groups for them.
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Sharing Her Story To Help Others
It can be hard for me to open up to people in person, so I also started a blog that has helped me for others to read and understand. Its a way for me to spread awareness and to demonstrate, Look! Shes normal. She has a job. Youd never know if you saw her walking down the street that sometimes she ends up in hospital, yet shes still amazing. One of the most awesome things about coming clean about my mental health is that so many people have opened up to me about their own mental health struggles. Everyone has struggled with something.
But bipolar disorder is not going to stop me from living my life. I plan on going to grad school. Im about to start an addiction research job at a university here in Washington. I plan on getting married and having a family. I plan on living whatever life I want to live. I will always see a psychiatrist, and I will always be on meds.
Im hopeful that 10 years from now, there could be a medication that comes out for bipolar disorder so effective that it’s the only one I need to take. Im looking forward to the day changes and innovation happen. I am going to keep living my life, because I have the resources to be well right now. I have the energy to be well. I am well. And Im lucky for that.
If you have a story to share about living with an invisible illness, email us at
Theres Nothing I Cant Do With This Disorder If I Set My Mind To It
Melodi Marti, 26, was diagnosed with bipolar I nearly a year ago.I was experiencing a manic episode where I thought I was the owner of the universe, she says. I thought I was the best in an unhealthy way.
But the performing artist says her condition still impacts many areas of her life. As a whole, Marti says bipolar disorder makes me anxious to the point where feeling anxious is all that I think about. Bipolar disorder has also impacted her career and friendships. Shes currently not working so that she can focus on her mental health. Marti says that its also difficult to connect with friends, knowing that a lot of them have their lives put together, while I’m coping with bipolar.
People Describe What It’s Like To Have Bipolar Disorder
While most people know those with bipolar disorder experience periods of ups and downs, it can be hard to understand exactly what that means, since we all experiences mood fluctuations to some extent. But bipolar disorder isnt an everyday shift from happiness to sadness its periods of depression and mania can be much more extreme and sometimes debilitating.
Bipolar disorder isnt a scary thing, either. There are several ways to manage it, and many go on to live fulfilling lives riding its waves.
To get a better idea of what its like to have bipolar disorder, we asked people in our mental health community to describe what its like.
Heres what they had to say:
1. Imagine feeling extremely happy and on top of the world but not able to truly appreciate the happiness because you know that soon the happiness will be replaced with complete sadness. Its only a matter of time before you are back to square one with the one demon thats never gone and is always around the corner: depression. Hannah C.
2. One day I have to miss work because I cant get out of bed, and I spend the whole day wanting to die . The next day Im staying up 24 hours taking on two jobs and spending more money than I have, running errands, loving life. Its unpredictable and difficult because its not the kind of illness people understand. People look at it as a really bad illness and they dont want to talk about it at all. Cailey C.
Bipolar Disorder: Not Judging The Book By Its Cover
Bipolar is like being on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes, you are laughing and throwing your hands in the air. Other times, you are clinging, simply holding on for dear life.
TW: Suicide, Harm
When most people hear about Bipolar Disorder, they mostly assume that the person tends to get moody and is unable to control that. But, this order is not as simple as it seems. Trying to understand a person diagnosed with bipolar can be confusing, but a little patience and awareness can help us go a long way.
Bipolar Disorder has two major elements: The Manic Phase and Depression. The person suffers from these two drastic states. It can get exhausting and confusing real quick due to the constant shift in mood and activity levels.
What is Mania/Hypomania?
Mania is a more severe manic episode. If hypomania is not detected and treated at the right time, it could lead to mania.
It gets exhausting shifting between these two stages and keeping a track of which state is going to occur. It creates a disruption in your work life, personal life, and social circle. It is extremely hard for a Bipolar person to feel understood and accepted by people. They often feel crazy and like nothing could help them.
How Can You Care For A Loved One With Bipolar?
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First What Is Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition which includes an experience of mood from emotional highs, referred to as mania or hypomania that can last for days to a week, to lows, or a depressed mood which can last for weeks, explains clinical psychologist Dr. Desreen Dudley, PsyD.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 5.7 million American adults are currently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
There are different types of bipolar disorder, including:
- bipolar I
- cyclothymic disorder
- substance-induced or medically induced bipolar
Your thoughts may differ depending on the type of bipolar disorder you live with.
Does someone with bipolar disorder remember what they say? Yes.
Do people with bipolar disorder know what theyre doing? Also yes.
Many people think that a person with bipolar disorder doesnt have any control over themselves or that theyre unable to take care of themselves or function in society. This simply is not true, says Ikaika King, who was diagnosed with bipolar II when he was 17.
In many ways, we think exactly like everyone else most of the time. Its when we have symptoms that things start to go haywire, adds Gabe Howard, author of Mental Illness Is an Asshole and host of Psych Centrals Inside Mental Health podcast.
People with bipolar disorder may face unique challenges as a result of their condition, but theyre fully capable of leading happy, healthy, successful lives.
What It Feels Like To Be Bipolar
Having a mental illness sucks. Believe me, I speak from personal experience. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I when I was only sixteen. After that, I was drugged with all different types of medications in order to treat my Bipolar Disorder. Abilify, Lamictal, Xanax, Risperdal, Azymol, and the list goes on. These all made me feel foggy and out of it.
This is how its like to be bipolar:
I hate myself. Id be doing everyone a favor if I just went on and killed myself. Im a worthless piece of shit. You cry all day, until you feel numb and indifferent. Nothing matters. You just feel like sleeping constantly to escape the pain that living in this world brings. You feel like you just bring agony and trouble to those that matter the most to you. It wasnt your fault! You were manic! That wasnt you. You werent thinking. You swear for your life. The pain you feel inside is unbearable. Your chest aches and you feel heavy. You cant get up from bed. Eating is a hassle, so is going to the bathroom. People think they understand what youre going through, but they dont. They call you selfish for feeling suicidal, when you feel like it would be a generous act on your part. Why cant everyone leave you alone? They couldnt possibly understand. Theyre normal. Why cant you be normal? What have you done to deserve this misery? Is this some bad karma?
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Bipolar Disorder: What Does It Feel Like
Bipolar disorder is an illness that produces dramatic swings in mood . A person with bipolar disorder will alternate between periods of mania and periods of depression . In between these two extremes, a person will have periods of normal mood. To help gain a better understanding of what it feels like, mania and depression are described below.
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Here Is How This Young Man Describes His Mania Episodes
The mania part is awesome. I have tons of energy and dont want to stop.
The best part of mania is that Im so optimistic about everything. You could crash a car through my house and Id reply, What a great time to build something new! Im my most creative during this process, so Im doing as much as possible to capitalize on it. Artistic or constructive, Im up for anything.
I have the most fun running around and entertaining people, making them laugh, and acting like a big clown. I get a lot of satisfaction from the laughs and smiles I can get out of people. It makes me feel invincible.
Every morning I wake up ready to go, even if I didnt get much sleep the night before. I dont really need that much sleep, so I just go and go and do so much. I see all my friends, have a blast, get everything done on my to-do list, and more.
And do I talk. Im all over the place, dominating every conversation. Ive been told I talk too fast and switch topics so quickly that its hard for others to keep up with me. Sometimes I cant keep up with myself.
An upside to the mania is that my sex drive goes haywire. I crave a lot more sex during this period and sometimes its a bit much for my girlfriend.
During my mania, I feel like a god. I feel like I can do anything, so my self-worth skyrockets. I cant explain it, but when the mania burns out Ive got nothing left. Without the highs of mania, I wouldnt be able to tolerate the lows of depression.
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Get Educated On Bipolar Disorder
Knowledge is power, so learn as much as you can about your partner’s disease. This will also be a healthy sign that you care. That being said, bipolar disorder is a complex disease. Try not to get too bogged down in the details. Instead, focus on the big picture like what a manic episode is or how to recognize signs of depression.
If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
If Im Not Properly Managing It Every Day Things Can Spiral Out Of Control
Vania Zuniga, 31, was diagnosed with bipolar I 10 years ago. At the time, she was in college.I started going out more, drinking more, and not sleeping, she says. I was sad and irritable, and had thoughts of wanting to disappear. Zuniga, who is now a nurse practitioner, was eventually hospitalized for severe depression and, six months afterward, her mom passed away, triggering a manic episode.
When I was first diagnosed, I wasnt in therapy and I didnt manage things the best, she says. Now, I go to therapy regularly and take medication. Ive learned what I need to do to stay on track. That includes keeping a consistent routine.
Fitness is a huge part of thatI work out almost every day, she says. Then I try to always get sleep, making sure that I go to bed at a reasonable hour so that I wake up feeling refreshed instead of running low. That can mean leaving a party before its over to make sure she gets to bed on time. For the most part, my friends are very understanding, she says. If I have to go home early, nobody fights me to stay longer.
Still, Zuniga says shes aware that she needs to stay on top of her condition. If Im not properly managing it every day, things can spiral out of control, she says. Zuniga says she wants other people to know, It is very possible to have bipolar and live a healthy, happy, and balanced life. It is achievable, but it takes work.
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