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:
- A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extreme irritability
- 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:
- An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
- 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:
- -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.”
- -Bipolar II Disorder—“defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.”
- -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.”
- -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.
Nimh.nih.gov,. (2014). NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved 22 August 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml