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

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Dreaming of You Tonight

Dreams… what do they mean?

I had two dreams last night. Both were weird, mostly because things that occurred in the dreams were not likely to happen in real life. Both dreams were weird, because one dream featured a person I never dreamed about, and the other featured someone I used to dream often about. Both dreams were weird, mainly because the happenings were absurd for me.

The first dream featured my dad…being a gay drag queen. See, my dad is a homophobe (yes, homophobes still exist at this day and age). So imagining a homophobe as a cross-dressing homosexual is weird enough. Now, imagine your straight dad as a cross-dressing homosexual. Out of this world, ‘no?

The second dream featured my ex-crush and I enjoying a day in the National Museum as if we were a couple. I never get dreams like this with my boyfriend, and I’m pretty sure I got over my ex-crush. So why do I still get dreams like this? Moreover, why do we get dreams?

Dreams, as described by Hannah Nichols in a Medical News Today article, is a phenomenon that is universally common among humans. Dreaming is “a state of consciousness characterized by sensory, cognitive and emotional occurrences during sleep”. Dreamers have little or no control of what happens in their dreams. 

According to neuroscientists, there are five phases of sleep in a sleep cycle:

Phase 1 – “light sleep, eyes move slowly, and muscle activity slows.”

Phase 2 – “eye movement stops and brain waves (fluctuations of electrical activity that can be measured by electrodes) become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles.”

Phase 3 – “extremely slow brain waves called delta waves begin to appear, interspersed with smaller, faster waves.”

Phase 4 – “the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. It is very difficult to wake someone during stages 3 and 4, which together are called “deep sleep.” There is no eye movement or muscle activity. People awakened while in deep sleep do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes after they wake up.”

Phase 5 – “REM – breathing becomes more rapider, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and males develop penile erections. When people awaken during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical tales – dreams.”

So, that is when dreams occur – when a sleep cycle is almost complete. No wonder my dreams have gaps in between.

Now, how about the people in our dreams? I often dream about the people I know, but I sometimes dream of people I don’t know, let alone people I haven’t seen.

Research done on 320 adult dream reports tells us that:

  • 48% of characters represented a named person known to the dreamer
  • 35% of characters were identified by their social role (e.g., policeman) or relationship to dreamer (e.g., a friend)
  • 16% were not recognized.

Among named characters:

  • 32% were identified by appearance
  • 21% identified by behavior
  • 45% by face
  • 44% by “just knowing.”

“Some elements of bizarreness were reported in 14% of named and generic characters.”

There is another study that deals with the relationship of dream character identification and emotions in dreams. Feelings of joy and affection were commonly associated with known characters and “were used to identify them even when these emotional attributes were inconsistent with those of the waking state.” The findings also suggest that the part of the brain that is associated with short-term memory is less active while dreaming.

Since one’s short term memory is less active in dreaming, it’s more likely to dream about the past, whether it’s the wanted or forgotten and unwanted past.

“A study showed that sleep does not benefit the forgetting of unwanted memories. Instead, REM sleep might even counteract the voluntary suppression of memories, making them more accessible for retrieval.”

Two types of temporal effects characterize the incorporation of memories into dreams:

  • “The day-residue effect, involving immediate incorporations of events from the preceding day”
  • “The dream-lag effect, involving incorporations delayed by about a week.”

The results of one study are constant with the possibility that “processing memories into dream incorporation takes a cycle of around 7 days, and that these processes help to further the functions of socio-emotional adaptation and memory consolidation”.

“A recent study aiming to explore autobiographical memories (long-lasting memories about the self) and episodic memories (memories about discrete episodes or events) within dream content amongst 32 participants found that:

  • One dream (0.5%) contained an episodic memory
  • The majority (80%) was found to contain low to moderate incorporations of autobiographical memory features.”

“Researchers suggest that memories for personal experiences are experienced fragmentarily and selectively during dreaming, perhaps in order to integrate these memories into the long-lasting autobiographical memory.

 

 

So, dreams incorporate memories. But why do we dream in the first place? Do they just simply come in sleep cycles, or do they impart signs and messages?

Possible explanations for why we dream include:

  • To represent unconscious desires and wishes
  • To interpret random signals from the brain and body during sleep
  • To consolidate and process information gathered during the day
  • To work as a form of psychotherapy.

From new evidence and research, researchers speculate that dreaming:

  • “Is offline memory reprocessing – consolidates learning and memory tasks.”
  • “Is a subsystem of the waking default network, which is active during mind wandering and daydreaming. Dreaming could be seen as cognitive simulation of real life experiences.”
  • “Participates in the development of cognitive capabilities.”
  • “Is psychoanalytic; dreams are highly meaningful reflections of unconscious mental functioning.”
  • “Is a unique state of consciousness that incorporates three temporal dimensions: experience of the present, processing of the past, and preparation for the future.”
  • “Provides a psychological space where overwhelming, contradictory, or highly complex notions can be brought together by the dreaming ego that would be unsettling while awake. This process serves the need for psychological balance and equilibrium.”

So, dreaming in sleep is a good thing, just like dreaming our life dreams and goals. But what about nightmares?

A nightmare is an afflicting dream that commonly forces at least partial awakening. The dreamer may feel disturbing emotions in a nightmare, like anger, guilt, sadness or depression, but the most common feelings are fear and anxiety.

Bad dreams, or nightmares are common in both adults and children. They can be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Fear
  • Trauma
  • Emotional issues
  • Medication or drug use
  • Illness.

How do you decide if a dream is considered to be a “bad dream” or a “nightmare”? The content of 9,796 dream reports was collected, which exposed:

  • “253 nightmares – frequently contained physical aggression, situations that were more bizarre and more emotionally intense, containing more failures and unfortunate endings. 35% of nightmares contained primary emotions other than fear.”
  • “431 bad dreams – frequently contained interpersonal conflicts. 55% of bad dreams contained primary emotions other than fear.”

Bad dreams occur more often that nightmares, but both give us fear upon waking up. Bad dreams and nightmares can be associated with the environment and life events of the dreamer. It’s pretty much the same as regular dreaming. But the more scary and depressing experiences you have, the more chances of having nightmares and bad dreams will happen. 

Our daily lives affect our dreaming, that’s for sure. Our dreaming can affect our daily lives, too. Dreams can mean many things, but don’t let dreams affect you too much. It can make or break your day.

 

To get to know more about dreaming, you can read the rest of the article here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284378.php#what_are_dreams.

Domino – The Sad Side Of My Bipolar II Story

You wouldn’t know if a person is depressed or sensitive at one look. You have to talk to that person to find out. So be careful with what you say and how you say it. You may ruin someone’s life with it.

This has been the longest time that I’ve been depressed – 10 days straight.

It all started on November 17, a Monday. I went on a trip to my nutritionist. I haven’t been a good girl when it comes to my food, but I try my best to control myself. But my best is never good enough. The lady in her 60s encircled all the excess food I ate in my food diary, and told me how much of a bad girl I am in front of my mom. My aura changed in an instant, my eyes started to water with salty tears. I tried to smile when she joked around, hiding the pain in my chest.

I went home offended. I wish I had the chance to tell her how hard I tried to fight my cravings, how hard I tried to controlled my depression. But no, I was mum. I was hit hard. It was like I was stoned.

I lost my spirit over 30 minutes in that grumpy old woman’s office. It was like I lost myself. I lost my self-control, my determination, my will. I sulked in my room and I was pretty grumpy too. I thought too badly of myself.

But hey, even if I was a bad girl, she should have held back her words and lowered her voice. She’s supposed to encourage people to reach their goal. Well, I may be sensitive, but man, no one fully knows what a person is going through! (Lesson learned: be kind to one another.)

And so I was pretty much jaded for two days. I was so jaded to the point when I did not attend classes. I burned paper after not burning personal stuff for a year. I missed out on an important deadline on the 19th, and I explained to my professor what has been going on. I felt a little bit lighter, and so I was quite happy again.

But the agony of waiting for the professor’s reply to my email drained my energy and joy. I lost my willpower to work on my paper, not to mention my interest in my topic as well. As I attended class the next meeting, I was told to submit an output on the same day. I wasn’t done. I almost cried. Fighting the tears in my eyes, I listened to the discussion on logical fallacies. After class, she told me that I can submit today. I was overjoyed, and I couldn’t thanked her enough.

But alas, I got drained again. I was so depressed because I couldn’t organize my thoughts. I lost my interest in my topic. I felt lifeless. And so I was frustrated yesterday because I couldn’t write. I slept and slept. I missed out on my appointment with my psychiatrist this morning. I had food delivered just to be happy. But I never smiled.

At last, I finished the paper, because I had to. Maybe I got drained because I knew that I would get a grade of 3, 4 or 5. But hey, at least I’m finished with the paper. And so, I wrote this to celebrate.

Why did I write this?
This is to remind people to be nice and kind to others. This is to remind people that there are many of us who have this medical condition (and many more mental health issues). This is to remind people that not everything we say is okay. This is to remind people that sometimes, we have to be a little more sensitive.

I wish to be a little bit happier starting tomorrow, despite the fact that I have a lot on my shoulders.

Psyche

I was looking through the psychology and self-help books section at Fully Booked Katipunan earlier, hoping to find a book that could help me with my problem. I found books that seem to be good ones, but I didn’t have enough money to buy even just one book. I found this book called “NLP for Writers”. I just had to jot the book details down because I want it soon. Kelvin suddenly surprised me from behind. I stopped looking at the psychology books and stpped worrying for a while. It’s not always that I see my baby, so might as well spend my time with him. But the moment I got home, it was as if everything was tough again.

Seeking for professional help is pretty hard for me, but when I got to talk to the psychiatrist, I told her everything as if she was my best friend. I had to let things out, and she gave me answers…though they’re pretty scientific. Again, I had to remind myself that I was talking to a doctor and not just a guidance counsellor. I found out that my accumulated stress has affected my brain so much…to the point that the doctor wants me to take an anti-depressant to help my brain get back to normal, along with counselling.

Everything that’s going on with me’s related to the high stress levels: weird sleeping and eating patterns, extreme mood swings, loss of interest in hobbies (that explains why I write less), loss of focus, duller memory, shorter temper, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, mild fatty liver… No wonder things weren’t the same as before, and everything’s getting worse. My whole body is stressed out, then the depression from everything that came with the injury came in. I started to get low grades (I got a freaking C in Math…good bye graduation honors), and the greatest depression I ever felt kicked in. To be honest, I’m still pretty depressed. I guess I never really recovered from my past issues. Had I known that everything’s affecting my brain so much, I would’ve just let things pass by.

No one lives without stress, but I think I’ve had too much of it at this stage. Well, I guess I need to go through all of these…maybe God’s telling me something. That aside, this is why I think every child should have a psychologist. Some kids just take their own lives, because they couldn’t handle things anymore. I almost became one of those kids, and I’m really happy that I didn’t become one of them. I realized that there’s more to life than what I have now. I guess I just fix things up.

Everything will turn out to be well… I just have to make things happen.