Bipolar disorder is easily misunderstood by people who A. don’t know what it is and B. don’t know they have it. It’s clinically defined as a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). But it feels as if you’re trapped in a deep depression one day and the next you’re proud of yourself for fighting your way out of it. Except Bipolar disorder runs deeper than that, this is exactly what bipolar disorder is and the signs you might have it.
The one side of bipolar disorder is doing serious damage to your life without even realizing it when you’re experiencing mania. It’s feeling like you’re on the top of the world and absolutely anything is possible, without thinking about the consequences of your actions. Bipolar mania is quitting your job one day because you woke up and didn’t think you needed it anymore. It’s ruining a long-term relationship with the person you planned on marrying all because you saw someone who you thought was attractive. Mania is buying a brand new car and not even remotely being able to pay it off.
The other side of bipolar disorder is a lot heavier. Bipolar depression is not feeling capable of getting out of bed. It’s wanting to stop living because life feels too daunting to go on. Everything you used to enjoy seems dull and the feeling of loneliness sets in and takes over. Bipolar depression is wondering how you could’ve ever felt happiness before because in the moment, it’s impossible to imagine anything other than this weight on your chest.
1. Life feels like one long roller coaster of very high ups and downs you don’t understand. One day you have a fantastic day, it was all smiles, laughter, and fun. But the next day, something feels off that you just can’t put your finger on. You feel anxious as if a hippo is sitting on your chest and at any moment you could break down and cry but you just can’t figure out why.
2. You range from hyper-productive to barely functioning. You’ll find yourself in moods where you get all your work done, your room is spotless, your meals are prepped, then others where you’re unable to push yourself to even get out of bed and as hard as you try there’s nothing that’ll bring you to a “normal level.”
3. Your mood swings feel a little more intense than the way your friends talk about theirs. Getting out of bed is a crapshoot, you are either really excited about the day, or just don’t want the day to happen. And your lows don’t actually compare to a lot of other people’s, yours feel like going through the week is like walking through drying cement.
4. Going out is a struggle for you. If someone asks you to go out and you’re in a good mood you’ll feel so excited about it and say yes a million times. But when the time comes, and you’re not feeling the same high, there’s almost nothing that’ll shake the feeling of the world being too much to handle.
5. Stable relationships are something you crave but rarely find. From romantic relationships to friendships, no one seems to understand. They don’t get why one day you can be so happy and fun to be around to hard to talk without breaking down. You have some days you need everyone and unconditional support to others where you need to be completely and totally alone. It feels as if no one can handle the ups and downs and you don’t know how to stop them from leaving.
This journey won’t be easy, but it’s one that is manageable and you can still live your life to the fullest. It’s a myth that Bipolar Disorder is rare, it actually affects more than 5.7 million people, about 2.6% of the American population of adults 18 and over. You can get through this, you just need to surround yourself with empathetic people who will battle this storm with you. If anyone doesn’t have the patience to love you and be there for you, they don’t deserve to be part of your life.
Keep doing the best you can with everything that’s going on in your head. Being on a stable level is rare, but it is possible. Bipolar disorder may be part of your life, but it does not have to define you. Always remember, you are so much more than your manic-depressive episodes.
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