The Depression Series Part 3: Bipolar Disorder

What do you do, when you no longer trust yourself? When you want to reach out to others, but you know they just won’t understand. What do you do when you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder? 

To experience shifts of moods or emotions in our everyday life is completely normal and natural. Our external and internal influences will surely make us feel the humane rainbow of emotions from happiness to sadness to anger. However, with bipolar depression, these shifts are more extreme, and unexpected. They can be seen as irrational and overbearing to the sufferer, as their very thought process and decision making is heavily influenced during these bouts of extreme mood swings. 

Someone with bipolar disorder will have an extreme high (the manic phase), or low (the depressive phase). Both these phases may come at any time, without any warning or triggers. However what makes things more complicated is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a yo yo effect, wherein the person is constantly in one of these two states. Someone with bipolar disorder may also have a normal phase where they feel fine. This phase can last days, weeks, or months. This often confuses the sufferer further, if they haven’t already been diagnosed. Especially when the next phase hits them.

Both the phases belong to two opposite extremes. One of heightened energy, social awareness, and an increased self esteem which can often be on borderline arrogance or narcissism. The other phase is on the complete opposite spectrum of extremity, where the person will feel absolute lack of energy and exhaustion on both a physical and mental level. Where that very same self esteem has a massive drop to the point of them having having self harming or suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The complexity of bipolar disorder is so vast that most people simply are not familiar or aware of all the symptoms during both the depressive, and manic phase. 

Let’s go through the symptoms of both phases, in order to understand it fully. 

The symptoms of the manic phase:

  • Feeling emotions very strongly. Such extremely happy, or full on rage. They may suddenly feel very ambitious or motivated. 
  • Not being able to fall asleep as it feels like the mind is constantly running in full speed and the body is full of energy.
  • Feeling restless and agitated. 
  • Rash decisions are made as they act on on impulse a lot during this phase. These decisions can often be life changing or totally detrimental to the quality of their life. These would be decisions that they would not make normally. For example: they might suddenly decide to resign from their job, or splash out all their savings on a big purchase. 
  • It can often make the person feel unbeatable or above others. 
  • A loss of appetite and not being able to eat as they normally would. 
  • Talking quickly and excessively.
  • Psychosis may also be experienced by some, where hallucinations and delusions are felt. 

Some may see the manic phase as something positive as their creativity and imagination are on high speed. 

The symptoms of the depressive phase

During the depressive phase, the opposite happens. Typical clinical depression symptoms are experienced. 

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, loneliness and sadness are all prominent.
  • They lack the energy and willpower to do even the basic day to day tasks such as eating and grooming. 
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping. 
  • Low self esteem and confidence. 
  • Hallucinations or delusional thoughts may also be experienced just like the manic phase. 
  • Suicidal tendencies or self harm. 

The phases are so different to each other, that for the sufferer it becomes extremely difficult to live a normal life. They feel like they have someone else living inside them and they have no control over themselves. It can feel confusing, scary and exhausting, but it’s so very important to stress that help is out there, just like with every other mental disorder. No one should feel intimidated, unsure or embarrassed to reach out for help. 
As always, all comments are welcome below. Please share your experiences, questions and thoughts with me! 

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