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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Moving On

By accident, I clicked on a link that would lead me to his Facebook timeline. I was scared to feel hurt; I was scared to cry. But as I browsed through his photos, I felt, well, quite normal. It was as if nothing happened.

This is not the first time that this happened, yet I still feel scared every time I do this. Believe it or not, I intentionally click on the link every time I did it in the past. Why? I wanted to know if I have really moved on. And all I can say is this: yes, I have moved on.

Erasing something from your past is impossible, even if you have amnesia or any other memory-related condition. Something can never be undone, even if you keep on covering it up. Your dark and painful past is hard to forget, but I didn’t realize that you can choose to remember the past but forget the pain until today.

He took my innocence, my confidence, my pride, my being. And yet, I look at him, feeling no pain. Maybe I feel indifferent, but that’s alright. At least now I don’t want him to rot in hell. I even wish him well.

See how time heals? I sought no help, only listening ears. Recovering from molestation and attempted rape is burdensome, but I got through it. Though its effects are here to stay, I can see that I have moved on.

Now, if you think that it’s the end of the world, look around you. You’ll see people who have problems that are a million times bigger than yours. But look at them, still fighting. You can always surpass it and move on. Just believe in yourself.

Alumni Homecoming

It feels good to be at home.

Pondering on what to do aside from reading the assigned readings for next week, I asked myself: when can I go back home? I’ve yearned to come back to one of the places where I learned so much about life and work. And finally, I had the chance to go back home.

~

Four months after graduation, I finally had time to come back to where I came from: my high school. Everything felt so different, yet so the same when I walked down the halls of my home for the past four years of my rocky road life. It was weird seeing all those girls in pink shirts and not knowing who they were. It was so nice seeing the familiar faces of the girls from the lower batches. I even got to meet the girl who wrote the prophecy for me (who turns out to be their batch valedictorian in grade school). Seeing all those familiar faces, including some teachers and staff, made me have a feeling of reassurance – that I can always come back home and be comfortable. The struggles brought about by the first few weeks of college made me feel really uncomfortable and uneasy. Coming back home really made my day, my week.

On my way to my destination, I saw Ate Vivian, the guard who was assigned at the entrance that I always use. She was thrilled to see me, as I was thrilled to see her. She told me about the few changes that occurred for the new school year. Wow, so much can change in so little time. I saw many more teachers, and they asked me how college was. I said, “stressful. It’s not the same stress as high school stress.” They reassured me that I can do it, and so I left them, hurrying.

I visited my club, First Aid. I bought them pizza, too. Wow, I bought pizza for 11 strangers. *moving on* A sophomore member came to me and hugged me, and ranted about how she’s stressed about the school punishing her. I felt her woes, but I was flattered because she shared her frustrations with me. As the session started, our dear moderator gave a few reminders, then I had the flood to myself. I was never comfortable in speaking about my experiences in front of crowds, especially in full English (well, Koreans were in the crowd so I had to speak in English). After sharing my stressful first aide experience, we ate. A few photos were taken, then I went off to look for teachers.

I was able to speak to our assistant principal for academic affairs. She was warm, as always. I was able to share my struggles, and she was there to say that I can do it. She reminded me of my past struggles, reminding me that my past struggles were worse than what I’m going through now. I left her, hoping to see her again. As I waited for my mom, I saw one of the teachers who made me cry (a lot) in senior year. We were, of course, casual. I greeted him on my way to club, so I guess we’re fine. He asked me about college and where I attend college, and he left. Well, it was nice speaking to him, knowing that I trusted him well before the mishaps happened. My mom came, and then I left

On my way home, I realized how I easily forgot all the bad things that happened to me in school. All that I remembered were the fun stuff. I guess that’s what you feel when you’re at home in a certain place. It’s like all the bad things are dust particles in the air: they’re there, but you can’t see them.

High school will always be special to me, my glory days. I miss high school now. How I wish I could go back in time.

(If Only) I Knew You Were Trouble: Facebook

I’ve been a victim of feeling disappointed and discouraged over negative Facebook comments. But, I’m not the only one who goes through this. Feeling disappointed over social networking is actually a reason why other people don’t have social networking accounts. This is also why people unfriend their Facebook friends. This is why some people get the feeling that they are bullied. This is why others get depressed. Social networking is actually good, but bad contents can ruin it.

So before scrolling down on your news feed, take a while to read how other teenagers think about the negatives of social media.

 

So, what is social networking for? Aira says “it’s one way of communicating with my schoolmates since most (if not all) of them have accounts. Also, I have relatives who live abroad and it really does help in keeping in touch with them.” In deed, social networking is a form of communication, whether you’re communicating to the person beside you or to someone who is miles away. It’s also a venue to express oneself, since social networking could also be microblogging. Social networking is one of the countless ways to show the world that you exist.

Many of us post about our interests, experiences, and whatever is going on in our lives in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to name a few. Why do we post? Well, we want to share to the world what we’re going through. That is, if we want to share. I myself love sharing whatever is going on in my life to my friends and family here and abroad. So, I post stuff, but I filter them. I asked Aira if she does the same. She says that she doesn’t post as often as others (maybe like me) do. “I just don’t see the need to post every little detail of my day. I mean, if I went to an important event, vacation, or see something that’s related to my personal interest, I would post about them because it’s something special but that doesn’t happen often”, she says.

But hey, let’s face it: we all see comments and posts on the internet that hurt and offend us. Lucky for Aira, she hasn’t experienced getting negative comment, but she does know when she sees one. “If the post itself is something negative and offending, I don’t really mind the negativity it inevitably attracts. That person needs to be told off that he/she is wrong. But if the comment’s on a completely respectable post come from unreasonable hate, mindless jealousy and bitterness… It disturbs me. It frustrates me. But I don’t reply to them because I know that I’m just putting fuel to the fire if I give even the slightest reaction. Negative comments shouldn’t be given attention because that’s what they’re seeking.”

Roie has received negative comments on social networks. So, how does she react? “It depends. There are times that I feel annoyed pero hindi naman tumatagal. Tipong after a few minutes, okay na ako. There are times naman na sobrang naaapektuhan ako to the point na I have this urge to block that person.” (It depends. There are times that I feel annoyed, but that feeling doesn’t last. After a few minutes, I’m already okay. But there are times that I get so affected to the point that I have this urge to block that person). On her view of those who say those negative comments, Roie says “at first, hinahayaan ko lang. May kanya kanya naman tayong opinyon diba? Kaso nung lumala na, yung consistent na niyang ginagawa yun, napapa-iling nalang ako. Although dumating din yung time na medyo naawa ako kasi ganun yung pag-iisip/pag-uugali niya.” (At first, I let them be. We are entitled to our own opinion, right? But when it gets worse, when the comments are consistently offending, I get turned off by her. Although there comes a time when I feel bad for him/her because that is her way of thinking/attitude.)

Axl says “How do I deal with negative comments? Hmm… Paano nga ba? Ako kasi, tinatawanan ko lang eh. At least kung may negative comments man. Tinetake ko ‘to as good pa rin so that alam ko kung anong mala kaya sila may negative comment.” (How do I deal with negative comments? Hmm…how do I? Well, I just simply laugh at them. At least when there are negative comments. I still take them as good so that I know what’s wrong that’s why they have negative comments). Well, she is right. Sometimes what we write can offend others, too. So it’s best to review what we write.

I have received bad comments on Facebook, too. Those were not pleasant experiences. One was clearly offensive, and the other sounded rude. How did I deal with them? Well, I felt bad. Being the sensitive girl I am who isn’t 100% healed from depression, I took them hardly.I cried to my friends about it. There was even a point when I had to deactivate my social networking accounts just to make myself feel better. I also unfriended those who said those bad comments. I felt better after doing so. A few months after, the rude comment came. What did I do? I just told my friends about it. Releasing the feelings made me feel lighter without unfriending that person who wrote that bad comment. Even when I saw that person in school, there was only a little teeny tiny pang of hurt. I decided to let it pass by. Feeling good about negative comments is not easy, but I’ll get there.

As for those who are experiencing the same problem as mine, here are some tips from fellow users of social networking sites. Aira believes that ignoring those nasty comments will do you good, unless they cross the line. “Just ignore them. You shouldn’t waste your energy and your time on something as petty as negative comments. But if it is extremely offending and obscene, report it. A lot of social networking sites provide services for this kind of problems and you should take advantage of them.”

As for Roie, premature reactions based of pure feelings are not to be entertained at the beginning. “As much as possible, huwag muna masyadong magrereact. Yung iba kasi sinasagot agad. Kumbaga bugso ng damdamin ang nangingibabaw sakanila. May mga times din kasing indirect yung post/comment. May iba feeling nila para sa kanila yun kaya kadalasan sinasagot nila yung taong yun o hindi kaya binoblock agad. Hindi muna nila iniisip yung possible reasons kung bakit nasabi/napost yon. Kung direct post naman lalo na kung kilala mo yung taong yon, pwede mo siyang i-confront nalang privately. Either, in person  kayo mag-usap o kaya tawagan mo.” (As much as possible, don’t react too much right away. Some people just reply right away. It’s like their feelings are the ones who control them. There are also times when a post or comment is indirect. There are others who think that the post was meant for them, so they reply right away or they block the person. They don’t think of the possible reasons why the said post/comment was posted. If it is a direst post, you can confront the person privately, especially if you know the person. One can do it either in person or through phone).

Axl advises to not take those comments seriously because people naturally say negative things about others. “Advice ko lang, ‘wag nilang masyadong dibdibin kung ano man ang sasabihin ng tao. Alam naman natin na kahit anong gawin natin, hindi natin maiiwasan na may masabing negative ang mga tao. Instead na masamain natin, intindihin na lang natin sila and take it as positive comments pa din so that next time di na natin gawin ung ayaw nila.” (My advise is that you shouldn’t take whatever people say to heart. We all know that no matter what we do, we are unsure if people would say bad things about it. Instead of taking them negatively, let’s just understand those people and take those comments constructively and positively so that next time, we won’t do what they don’t like.) I understand her point, but I think that just because other people don’t like it, we shouldn’t do certain things already. I believe that we should just be ourselves, but be cautious.

Sofia puts things simple and straight to the point. “Ignore them or prove them wrong.”

Alie takes things in a biblical context. “Take every thought captive. [Read] Philippians 4:8. Focus lang sa mga bagay na nandun sa verse na yun. Pag di aligned dun, do not take them in to your system. Mahirap gawin. Ako nga kailangan ko pang i-remind ang sarili ko to do it.” (Take every thought captive. [Read} Philippians 4:8. Focus on those written in that verse. If your thoughts are not in line with the verse, do not take them in to your system. It’s difficult to do. I even have to remind myself to do it).

Philippians 4:8New International Version (NIV): Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

As for me, talk to your best friend about what you feel (much emphasis on what you FEEL). Ask people for comfort and reassurance. But, one should learn how to stand on her own feet in the end. Letting things out makes people good (just not violently).

The bottom line is, social networking is actually good, but bad contents can ruin it. Social networking is a good invention, for it can connect us to anyone and everyone. But, we should be reminded that social networking can be bad, too. Relationships and moods can get destroyed just because of a single comment or post. There are many ways to deal with these comments. If one does not want to get bothered by that person anymore, nothing is wrong with blocking or unfriending. But if one does not want to pursue that, just take things light and think happy thoughts. You can even talk to that person who posted something not so good about what happened, or just talk to someone about it.

But one should always remember that things will turn out to be alright eventually.

Social networking is on the internet. Whether you delete something from the internet or not, it stays in the minds of everyone who saw it forever. To end, I’d like to quote GMA News on their view on social networking. “Think before you click”.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Special thanks to my girls Axl Esguerra, Aira Leung, Roie Moralde, Sofia Nacpil and Alie Tumbaga for letting me interview them for this post.