As someone living with bipolar disorder, it can get quite tiring and frustrating trying to constantly explain my condition to people. It is an often misunderstood illness with maybe judgements and stigma attached to it. People I think can understand the basic understanding of “ups and downs”. Depressive episodes and manic episodes, but it really is so much more than that. There are also different classifications of bipolar. There is the most noted and obvious – Bipolar 1, which has full blown manic episodes and depressive episodes. With bipolar 2, depressive episodes exist as well as a more “mild mania” called hypomania. Hypomania is still a serious state it just does not have the more severe euphoric and detached reality. Cyclothymia is another milder form of bipolar, as well as both “specified” and “non-specified”. Here are some things people with bipolar disorder want people to know.
1. The symptoms of bipolar can look different in different people. There are different triggers for people as well as life circumstances, experiences and upbringing. People will assume how you may act before even knowing you. They may have a pre-constructed opinion. Another thing is “You don’t seem bipolar”. Right, sometimes we seem pretty normal.
2. I wish people understood that my mood doesn’t just suddenly switch. I get triggered to get angry at times but that is not a mood episode. It is not the most predictable, and at times even I may be confused about my state. I can be depressed either for days, weeks or months. Same with being hypomanic. I don’t necesarrily know when the switch will happen, I just know that it will. As hard as it is for you to deal with my moodswings, please understand how it is that much more painful for me.
3. Mania is not just a fun elated high. It is also anger, irritability, frustration, loss of touch with reality, dissociating and lack of forward thinking. I have 0 control when I am in this state. It is as if I had literally become possessed and somrthing else was in control of my body. Mania is its own kind of heaven and hell.
4. I wish people understood with proper treatment, we can be quite normal and quite successful. People with bipolar are intelligent and contribute to society in multiple ways. We are not always angry or freaking out. Our brains work a bit differently and thats okay.
5. The last thing I wish others understood is that I am not mad at them! I need different things at different times and I am starting to now vocalize what I need from other people, including my right to set boindaries. I used to say yes to everything, now I am confident enough to say no if I really don’t want to go or can’t go. Sometimes I’m too depressed to speak. It takes that much energy and I do keep my distance from people at time’s. Social Interaction can be terribly triggering at times, if I am not in a good place, I like to use my own tools to deal with the depression and if I feel I need to talk to someone I will. But I don’t let people make me feel bad about it anymore. I have always been so guilty about my behavior, but my symptoms come from my illness. If I need space and alone time to process my emotions and deal with my illness, I would love the respectful understanding of what my needs are.
And there is my top 5 things I wish people knew about Bipolar Disorser.