Bipolar

For the past years, I would regularly tell my friends, family, and myself that I’m bipolar. I would never take that statement seriously, since I never took my emotions and mood swings seriously. It was a joke to me – the whole bipolar thing. Little did I know that it was true.

Over a year ago, my (second) psychiatrist told me that I’m bipolar. I wasn’t surprised with her diagnosis, but I was left thinking: what exactly is bipolar disorder? All I knew back then was one’s mood would shift to one pole to another in a short span of time.

Well, I did a little research on my condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the United States, “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” Having bipolar disorder is “different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time”. Having this disorder really affects the bearer and the people around her. This condition can damage relationships, bring about poor school or job performance, and even suicide. But wait up, this condition can be treated, as people who have this condition can live in happiness and productivity. Bipolar disorder can be treated; it may not haunt a person forever with medication, psychotherapy, and a support system.

As stated above, bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder. What does being manic and being depressed mean? Well here is it:

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:

Mood Changes

  • A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Extreme irritability

Behavioral Changes

  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being overly restless
  • Sleeping little or not being tired
  • Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors

Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:

Mood Changes

  • An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes

  • Feeling tired or “slowed down”
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Now, when you’re bipolar, you experience both.

According to the NIMH, there are four basic types of bipolar disorder:

  1. -Bipolar I Disorder—“defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks.”
  2. -Bipolar II Disorder—“defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.”
  3. -Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)—“diagnosed when symptoms of the illness exist but do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. However, the symptoms are clearly out of the person’s normal range of behavior.”
  4. -Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia—“a mild form of bipolar disorder. People with cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania as well as mild depression for at least 2 years. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder.”

I am diagnosed with bipolar II, meaning that I get more depressed than manic. The chemicals in my brain aren’t balanced, that’s why I have this condition. Aside from that, genetics can play a part in having this condition.

~

A few days ago, my mom told me that she was able to catch a health radio program that talked about bipolar disorder the other night. There, she said that the guest psychiatrist explained to the laymen what this “rich-or-bourgeois-sounding” condition, since talking about mental health is kind of a taboo in the Philippines. The psychiatrist emphasized the need for support systems for every person, especially those who have bipolar disorder. When bipolar persons have manic or depressive episodes, they tend to seek for people to talk to, according to the guest doctor. So it’s important that they have someone to talk to, or else they get the feeling that they are alone in life, leading to a depressing state.

The doctor was right – I feel alone whenever I don’t have anyone to talk to when I am at an emotional height. Truth is, I’m having a hard time telling my friends that I “need” constant communication to live a sane life. That’s why I wrote this post; I wrote this because I want my friends to be aware of my condition. I want them to understand me, my condition, and my need for friends.

So if you’re reading this, I hope you understand.

~

Reference:

Nimh.nih.gov,. (2014). NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved 22 August 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

Wide Awake and Torn

My family and I went to a wake tonight. It was my aunt’s helper’s mother who died. But I’m not going to talk about death here. I’m going to talk about something else…rather someone…me. See, my aunt’s helper has a nephew who happens to be a UP freshman like me. We chatted about school a little bit, and then I ended up telling him and his mother about my plans of transferring to another school. Of course they felt like I’m wasting my opportunity. Who wouldn’t feel that way anyway? And so I told them this: I have a problem.

As I lay awake in bed tonight, I am kept wondering about how my life would have been if I didn’t have that problem.I am kept wondering about how my life would have been if I didn’t file for a Leave of Absence. I am kept wondering what my life would be if my mind is still focused on being an alumna of the nation’s National and State University. I am kept wondering about how my life would have been if I never knew that I was depressed and bipolar. I am kept wondering about my whole life at the moment, and what could have happened instead if things went my way.

Could I have survived the org application of one of UP’s famous organizations? Could I have been a College or even a University Scholar last semester? Could I have many friends in school? Could I have handled the academic and emotional stress that my freshman year brought to me?

Transferring back to the school that raised me is my plan as of now. I just couldn’t take the emotional stress UP has given me. And I’m just in my freshman year! Of course the plan of transferring brings me pain, but the comments of people have on my decision pain me the most. The people giving comments without knowing my problems are piercing me in the heart without them knowing. It gives me so much pain when people judge without knowing the story of someone, especially if the “victim” has done nothing wrong to anyone. (I may be a hypocrite here, but it’s true.)

And so I lay awake, thinking, teary-eyed. Am I being too protective about myself? Am I not taking risks? Am I wasting an opportunity given to only a small percentage of the Philippine population? Am I being selfish? Am I being selfless? Am I making the right choices?

Sometimes I feel ashamed of transferring back to my old school. It’s not because of the school that I’m transferring to, but because of my “weakness”. People may see me as a weakling, and I accept that. I, too, think and know that I am still weak. That’s why I’m undergoing psychotherapy and taking medications. I just wish everyone knows this.

And so I lay awake, mind torn, heart broken. I’m off to my psychiatrist tomorrow. Maybe she can help me about this.

…or maybe this post is a fruit of my new medication?

Goals

Coming into the state university last August, I had no goals except to graduate on time. Now that I found out that I was a inch close to being a college scholar (equivalet to other school’s inclusion in the dean’s list), I suddenly had goals in mind for 2015. Well, isn’t that good? 😀

I now have different goals for different areas in my life. I hope that by the end of the semester and of the year, I have reached my goals!

As a student of the state university and citizen of the Philippines:
-join cause-oriented orgs, like Red Cross Youth and any teaching org
-give back to the nation in any way
     ▪Do well in my studies…be a college/university scholar! That’s the least I can do to make the taxpayers and my parents’ money spent on my education worth it.
     ▪have a stand!

As a member of my family:
-get to know my family members as individuals

As a friend:
-make new friends!
-spend more time with friends outside the university

As a girlfriend:
-maintain out healthy relationship
-try out new activities together

As an individual:
-LOSE WEIGHT! Get back to my pre-surgery body.
-develop deep spirituality

I’m sharing my goals so that when I get off the track, someone can remind me. Well, I’m pretty hyped now. Can’t wait for the semester to start! 😀

Think Twice

I am currently sitting in front of my cousins, who are in the middle of a dance rehearsal. They’re getting ready for a dance number for our upcoming family reunions. Some are getting the dance steps, and some are confused. Some are at the verge of giving up, and I’m sitting here, watching them. I want to join them. I know I can dance. But then I see my reflection in the mirror, and I see a six-inch scar on my knee. Oh right, I had a knee surgery six months ago. I can’t dance.

People often take things for granted. Well, it’s really more than often. We always take things for granted, not realizing how other people cannot do everything that we do. We take our sight sight for granted. We take our able legs for granted. We take our health for granted. We take our skills and talents for granted. We take the people around us for granted. We take our surroundings for granted. We take our lives for granted.

We seldom realize how lucky and blessed we are. It would take a major event in the lives of others or a natural phenomenon before we realize that we have so many things to be thankful for. We would always complain about our little misfortunes without thinking about the greater misfortunes of the majority of the Earth’s population. We always focus on the bad, never on the good.

With this, I propose a challenge to you, my dear reader. Get a notebook, and make it your “Grateful Notebook”. Everyday, list down one thing that you were grateful for on that day. On your low days, read everything that you wrote down. After that, I hope you realize how blessed you are.

It’s better if you are also able to help someone who needs a hand after reading your Grateful Notebook. For me, it’s a way of appreciating what you have. You are not only able to give thanks, but you are also able to make someone smile. You might be the person to make her day. You’ll never know.

So the next time you complain, think twice.