People with bipolar disorder feel things in extremes. For me, it’s been an emotional and behavioral rollercoaster living with it. Here’s a glimpse of my mind:
Depression’s here. I feel very down for no reason at all. The phone rings and I get irritated — angry. Little things will upset me; my fuse runs short. I stay in my bed for 3 days….4 days…5 days…it’s time to shower, but who cares about hygiene. My friends are texting me, but i’ll just ignore all my messages and calls. I feel like I can’t even make it to the bathroom — forget about making it to school. Suicidal ideation never seems to leave me. I am fatigued, I am exhausted both physically and mentally, and I feel like I can’t breathe –like I’m underwater. The numbness and emptiness returns.
I ruminate. Thoughts circle in my head about how everyone hates me and about how I hate myself for feeling depressed. I think, “Who would want to be around someone who is sad over nothing all the time?”. The cycle continues.
Mania is here!!! I’ve been waiting for mania to greet me again for so long. Because mania is better than being depressed, right? I go to the store with friends, and I have to buy everything in the store. Why are my friends only buying one or two things? I decide to drastically move to a different state. Did I think this through? I have an exam tomorrow, but who cares! Let’s stay up all night and do everything except study for my exam. You said let’s get drinks? Let’s go! We will stay until close! I love to stay up all night thinking of grandiose ideas and projects. I am super productive and focused. It’s good because I am getting a lot done, right? I have this increased confidence. People like confidence, right? I write A LOT. I talk a lot — I talk fast. I may interrupt you. I may get frustrated or irritated with you more easily.
My social behavior sometimes changes. I’m not the best at making judgment calls. My anxiety gets to an all-time high and I am shaky all the time. You say you want to do something reckless and exhilarating? I’m all in. I have high energy and need to use it all. If I have an idea in my mind, it needs to be followed through with immediately. There is no waiting!
I never know when my moods will change. My moods cycle very rapidly and at random times. Also, if my sleep schedule is off or if I’m in a different time zone, it can induce a manic or depressive episode. I always fear the crash back down into a depression after mania.
I have accepted that I probably need to be on medication for the rest of my life. And that’s ok! That doesn’t make me any less of a person. People take medication for Diabetes, or Hypertension, so I should be able to take medication for my bipolar disorder without fear of discrimination, guilt, and shame. These are feelings people with bipolar disorder often feel about having their illness. I have tried very hard to get myself well by endlessly trying different medications all the time, facing terrible side effects, being in therapy at least once a week, attended treatment programs, use and work on therapy exercises and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (which is wonderful, by the way) and much more. It’s an everyday struggle, but the best I can do is try.
Did you know people with bipolar disorder are 15x more likely to complete suicide than the general public or those diagnosed with depression? Bipolar disorder accounts for 25% of all suicides. It’s been more and more prevalent, especially with the strong genetic component it has.
If you feel like you are showing signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder, please talk to your doctor or meet with a psychiatrist. Below are some signs of mania and depression if you are still unsure of what bipolar disorder really entails and would like to read a list of symptoms.
If you need support right now, or are thinking of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Signs of Mania:
- Extreme focus on projects at work
- or at home
- Exuberant and elated mood
- Increased confidence
- Increased creativity and productivity
- Increased energy and libido
- Reckless behaviors
- Risky pleasure-seeking behaviors
- Disconnected and very fast (racing) thoughts
- Grandiose beliefs
- Inappropriate elation or euphoria
- Inappropriate irritability
- Inappropriate social behavior
- Increased sexual desire
- Increased talking speed or volume
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- A decreased need for sleep due to high energy
Signs of Depression:
- Decreased appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Fatigue, decreased energy, being “slowed down”
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
- Persistently sad, anxious, or “empty” moods
- Restlessness, irritability
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts