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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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.