Hello! It’s World Bipolar Day and I wanted to share with you some important things I want others to know about bipolar disorder and how it affects me.
1. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by extreme ups and downs or highs and lows. The highs are known as mania and the lows are known as depression. There are various emotions that make up the mood swings. These mood swings are also known as episodes.
2. While everyone experiences ups and downs what individuals with bipolar disorder experience is more severe than the everyday highs and lows.
3. There is no cure for bipolar disorder but there is treatment. Effective treatment for me consists of medication and therapy.
4. The medications I take are not “happy pills”. For my meds to work properly I have to take them at the same time every day/night.
5. Even with proper treatment I can still have a relapse. I’m more likely to have one if I’m triggered by something or someone.
6. The medication works by changing the chemicals in my brain and stabilizing my moods. This allows me to be more functional so that I can do what I need to.
7. Just because I have a relapse does not mean I’ve stopped taking my medicine.
8. I’m allowed to have a bad day without it being caused by an episode.
9. When I’m experiencing a manic episode, I tend to push others away, feeling as though I don’t need anyone. My confidence increases and I have high levels of energy. During mania I speak rapidly and have been known to switch from topic to topic. Most times, my thoughts are moving so fast that I can’t keep up. In the past I’ve engaged in risky sex because mania can cause hypersexuality. I make impulsive decisions and end up regretting them once the mania passes. I generally am more creative when manic and find myself biting off more than I can chew.
10. Mania isn’t the better side of bipolar disorder. For me and many others, when all is said and done, we face serious consequences.
11. Depressive episodes are severe. Most times I have trouble doing the basic things such as taking a shower and brushing my teeth. I feel the need to isolate myself, again, pushing others away. When the depression sucks me in, I feel stuck. Most times when I have a depressive episode, I experience suicidal thoughts and urges to self-harm. During depression I also get excruciating headaches.
12. With both mania and depression, I experience irritability that causes me to become easily annoyed with others. During episodes I need understanding and support.
13. While having bipolar disorder is not an excuse it is an explanation.
14. I can’t and will never be able to just snap out of an episode.
15. This illness is a part of me but not all of me. It does not define me.
Living with bipolar disorder has been a struggle. While the rollercoaster ride does slow down and even stop at times, I still have to take care so that I do not expose myself to potential triggers. I’d like to note that while I’m on medication and have been for years, I’m currently not seeing a therapist but have made plans to get back into therapy. Aside from this, one other thing that’s helped me manage is keeping track of my moods and daily habits. I used to think that every time I’d hear a doctor, or anyone say that it’s possible to live with this disorder, that they were feeding me lies. I have my setbacks, but I’ve realized they were right. It takes time to find what works for you because bipolar disorder and any other mental health condition impacts everyone differently. There is help and it may not get easier, but I’ve witnessed it getting better. Keep holding on guys.