10 Things You Should Know About Bipolar Disorder + What I Wish I Knew When I Was Diagnosed.
Hi, my loves!
I was in so much awe with all the support you have all given me the last week, and I am forever grateful. Keeping up with May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you all 10 Things You Should Know About Bipolar Disorder and with those things I wish I knew beforehand and even at the start of my diagnose. I share this with you all in hopes that if you know anyone that is suffering or you yourself are you don’t feel alone and feel like no one is in your corner. I AM and forever will be.
I have talked a lot about my journey with bipolar disorder and how I have managed to balance it and treat it in a more holistic way. I still know there are a lot of unanswered questions, and a lot of you have emailed me asking me how it all started, if I ever had a feeling, if my mom knew and also just what it really means to live with a diagnose like bipolar disorder.
I was diagnosed when I was eighteen years old- I had been wrongfully diagnosed as depressed which shot me up to a mania. I was a freshman in college ironically studying psychology and English. I medically withdrew from school and went back home to Panama where a psychiatrist rightful diagnosed me with bipolar type one. That means that I tend to suffer more from the mania, hypomania side than the depressed side. I was put on a mood stabilizer, antidepressants, antipsychotic (yes the kind they give schizophrenic patients) sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication, and SO much more. I can write a post about more of this another time, but for the purpose of this post – 10 Things, You Didn’t Know About Bipolar Disorder. Looking back I feel like the signs were there, but not to the point where if I went to a doctor they would have known. I hid a lot, I didn’t always like to share what was going on in my mind because I thought that I was already as it was different and didn’t want to add to that list. So maybe I could have been diagnosed before, I don’t like to live in what if’s so. If you are suffering from bipolar disorder or know someone who is, you are not alone. There is help out there, and there is a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. You sometimes have to experience darkness to truly value the light. It is all about recognizing the problem, and accepting it you so can start to heal yourself inside and out.
TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BIPOLAR DISORDER
- Bipolar Disorder is a serious illness that involves highs and lows. The highs are mania and the low are depressive states. MANIA: feeling extremely happy, bubbly, outgoing for a long period of time. You feel like you are on top of the world, and can do anything and everything. Talking a mile a minute, jumping from subject to subject. Irritable. Easily distracted, taking on new projects and activities. Restlessness, you get bored easily. Not being tired, very little sleep needed to function. EXTREMELY impulsive. High libido. Engaging in high-risk pleasurable activities, like spending money on reckless things, drug, alcohol abuse, and due to high libido sexual promiscuity. DEPRESSIVE STATE: Feeling sad, hopeless, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. Lack or no energy. No desire to do anything, like getting out of bed. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, lack of concentration, suicidal thoughts, and more.
- There isn’t a single or specific reason or cause for bipolar disorder. It can be genetic and it can’t. In my case, mental illness does run in both sides of my family, my aunts on both sides suffer/suffered from depression. I also believe that my father is also manic depressive.
- The journey from unwell to well is hard and honestly deathly. I have been on this spectrum, there was a time, I was hallucinating, hospitalized and then back to culinary school in less than two weeks. I’ve been on suicide watch, on every medication in the book. No joke, I’ve been on every antipsychotic out there until 2014. I’ve been medicated, listening to everything my doctors told me, filling out mood charts, sleeping, very structured day to day and then all of a sudden finding myself in the love rope that mania ties you in. Now, I am off medication, very emotional at times, feeling everything, using medical marijuana + food as a way to manage my mood disorder, and as stable as I can be, in a healthy non-robot way. I couldn’t possibly imagine when I was 18 that I would be here and am grateful for that each and every day.
- Bipolar disorder is SO much more than just mood swings.
- Variations of bipolar disorder: Cyclothymia: a mild form, with ongoing, long-term symptoms where aren’t severe enough to be classified as a bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder: manic or mixed episodes that last a minimum of seven days usually requiring immediate hospital care aka me. Bipolar II disorder: depressive and hypomania episodes with no manic or mixed episodes. Bipolar disorder: you show bipolar symptoms without the extreme to be classified as bipolar I or II. Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: when you experience four or more episodes of major depression, hypomania, mania or mixed states within a year. Rapid-cycling can come and go. (also been told I have this) Which is why I have mixed feelings when it comes to labeling and labeling when it comes to mental health, they are all so alike, it is hard to put someone in just one category and strongly dislike this approach of Western Medicine.
- There is no lab work to diagnose bipolar disorder. While many tests can be carried like brain scans, blood test, and physical exams, the only correct way to diagnose bipolar disorder is by a psychiatrist. It is also sadly, misdiagnosed SO many times. I myself was misdiagnosed first and even after I was given the proper diagnose was told I was schizophrenic and borderline and just everything else they can come up with.
- Although it cannot be cured, you can treat your bipolar disorder. I’m not gonna sit here and say I wholeheartedly agree with this. While I have been off my medication and have not had a manic or depressive episode in over almost four years, I am still very much aware my illness is real and there. I still do therapy every other week, and pay full attention to how I am feeling by keeping a journal. My sleep is also something that lets me know if something is off. If I start sleeping more, or sleeping less, and have excess energy. Learning to listen to my mind + body has helped greatly. I personally think that you can do everything you need to but life happens and that can trigger something, whether it leads to a major mania or depression that can be determined with how you live your life. I mean if your drinking and then get depressed, well alcohol is a depressant.
- It is a dormant volcano. You are born with it and it can “appear” when you go through a traumatic experience. Then all of a sudden you are doing great, feel great and that dormant volcano erupts again. Even now, that I am treating it in a holistic way and I am very much aware of my emotions + feelings, I still have days when I wonder if I am doing too well, or too happy or too bubbly, does that mean I am steering my way into a mania.? It is something I will work through for the rest of my life. I’m more than okay with that, it teaches me patience, love for myself, for a community that is out there that shares my fears and desires. It keeps me from being what the world would call “normal” and shows me that I can get through anything life throws at me. For that, I am forever grateful.
- The dangerous drug called mania. Oh and missing it. While I for sure know that mania is dangerous and leads me into psychosis pretty quickly. I would be living a lie if I said I didn’t miss it. Oh, I do. I crave it. It is the best high on this planet and trust me SO much more dangerous than any actual drug out there. It is addicting, it makes you feel like you can accomplish anything, you can do anything. You feel like you are in this daze of happiness, energetic I am me, so F you type of thing. It is fun and keeps you feeling this invincible, productive and almost buzzy life. The thing is that it doesn’t last long, and then before you know it you are in a sea of antipsychotics, hospitalizations, mood swings ranging from irritable, agitated and restlessness that doesn’t end. Until you are pumped full of medication and you are numb again, and before you know it, the craving hits. So yeah, I fully think mania is the most dangerous drug out there.
- It is possible to live a happy, healthy and balanced life. Notice I did not say “normal”. That envy of wanting to be “normal” took over for years and kept me from accepting the magical gift I was giving. YES. I do see my illness as a gift. You forget we see in different shades, we feel more, we are full of love and honesty are mega creative. SO yes, my diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a gift. Oh, I am also not ashamed of my illness, or am I searching for the normal life I once was. What is normal? Aren’t we all different and isn’t there a beauty in that.? Embrace your uniqueness. It makes you beautiful.
Babes, I am still very much on this journey, it isn’t one with a finish line. I will forever walk down the journey of feeling stability in my life, peace, and calm in my mind and self- discovery, growth and personal progress. It is incredible and one we should be lucky to embark.
Learn more about bipolar disorder here on NAMI.
I cannot wait to hear what you guys think. Let me know if this post resonated with you if it answered any pressing questions or confusion you’ve had about bipolar disorder. If there are any more questions I can answer, let me know. Also if you like it, share it, drop a comment. I love being able to share a post like this with all of you.