It was world bipolar day like six days ago, and I missed it. Which is kind of apropos consider loss of time is symptom of bipolar. In this post i’m going to do what I always do: get really, uncomfortably, open.
THE BIPOLAR PSA!
Courtesy of: my brain and others.
I think everyone has a general idea of what bipolar is. It’s one of the most stigmatized illnesses out there, though, so that’s not necessarily a good thing.
This is a collective list of symptoms courtesy of the internet, and how I relate to those symptoms.
LETS DIVE IN.
Mood: mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, inability to feel pleasure, or loss of interest.
Well obviously some douche just found a mood dictionary and wrote down every single one.
Not really though.
I won’t begin to unravel the wicked web that is bipolar emotions. Some of them feed off others, some of them exist because of what happens with other symptoms (i.e. a behavioral event happens and guilt kicks in, or you can’t fall asleep and hopelessness envelops) but the reality is: some of them just ARE.
Sometimes, you just are sad. You just are mad. There is no reason for the suffering.
Another thing about bipolar moods is that they are amplified. You don’t feel sad, you feel depressed. You don’t feel angry, you feel furious. You don’t feel happy, you feel exuberant. The moods are plentiful, they are in your face, and they are overwhelming to the point of suffocation.
Behavioral: irritability, risky behavior, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or self-harm
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever bought? For one person with bipolar, they bought an inflatable balloon worth tens of thousands.
That they never used.
Because who outside the circus would use that anyway?
And that’s just one behavioral symptom of bipolar: impulsivity. It’s not impulsive like getting a new haircut, it’s impulsive like throwing away thirty years of work to join the aforementioned circus, then only realizing after you’re up on the tightrope what you’ve done.
Excess desire for sex sounds AWESOME right? Skip the viagra! But imagine sitting across from someone you loathe, or someone you’ve never met, or someone you find repulsive, and thinking you MUST have sex with them.
Or you’ll die.
Nothing else matters but sex.
And then imagine explaining that desire to your significant other.
The best image I’ve found to explain the behavioral side effects of bipolar is this image:
At times I’ve found myself feeling like Mr. Hyde, and trying to reason that side of myself has lead to even more turmoil.
Cognitive: unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness in activity and thought, or false belief of superiority.
I wrote a scene for my upcoming book, Come To Me
, that at the time I didn’t realize was going to be a scene. It was just an attempt to figure out what was going on inside my own head. It is mostly autobiographical, and can be found here: Another Blog Post
I was taking pills I shouldn’t be, I was fighting with my significant other, and all because I had racing thoughts. I guess I’m trying to highlight that because even though racing thoughts doesn’t sound as bad as perhaps delusions or false beliefs of superiority, it is literally one of the most painful experiences of my life.
As for delusions, that’s an incredibly hard topic for me and I imagine others. I have my own stories, but I’m going to link to another that I think does a great job of showing the difference in bipolar hallucinations and delusions, and explaining them as well. This is the story.
Psychological: depression, manic episode, agitated depression, or paranoia
These are what I think most peeps associate with bipolar: depression & mania. The ups and the downs. Really high and really low.
This always makes me laugh because it accurately explains how one can be extremely manic, but also super depressed–one of the awesome benefits to being bipolar! Most people think with bipolar you’re either one or the other: depressed, or really happy. Sometimes you’re really depressed but have a lot of energy to think about what a piece of shit you are.
Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness
Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s called bipolar for a reason, the illness is dichotomous in nature, but it’s not an either-or. I think when some people read these symptoms they think “oh, either they’re tired or restless.” Many times these symptoms exist together, and that’s the mindfuck that is bipolar, we exist in a duality.
We can be so tired, but can’t fall asleep. Which brings us down to…
Whole body: fatigue or restlessness
I don’t have much to say about this one, not because it isn’t serious, but because I think it’s self explanatory. I’ve already gone over how you can be both tired and restless
Weight: weight gain or weight loss
This is sensitive because of the way weight is viewed in society. It’s sensitive to me personally, because of what is generally happening when I lose or gain weight. To be honest, I feel guilty. Like I should be doing more for myself, even though at times I feel if it’s out of my control.
There are many things that are out of my control with bipolar, many things I can’t control with the brain, but I can control eating and I do a terrible job of it.
I lose weight for a lot of reasons, and none of them are because I’m getting fit or healthy. The bipolar reason is that I’m getting manic, hyper focused, and losing time, and I forget to eat. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up and then suddenly it’s like six o’clock and “wtf where did my day go?” And if my day is gone then so is breakfast and lunch. And so I tell myself I’ll be better, but it keeps happening. On the opposite spectrum, when I’m manic sometimes I binge eat.
I eat all the cookies.
All the ice cream.
And one refrigerator full of food.
For others, I know weight gain and weight loss are a side effect of meds, which is uncontrollable. For me, it’s controllable, and so I need to work on it.
Also common: rapid and frenzied speaking
It’s not coffee, it’s bipolar.
Okay so I went over the common symptoms, now imagine all of them happening at once!
This was (obviously) largely from my POV. I’d really like to know what YOU think of your symptoms with bipolar.
PS: Please excuse typos & grammar, I wrote this manicly… ha ha ha.