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Today, I want to talk about bipolar disorder. After my diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder, I learned that not many people know much about this disorder. Sure, some may know the textbook definition, but there are others who seem to not know common courtesy to those of us suffering with this mental illness.
Thank you, Stigma, for making life with a mental illness so much easier- NOT!
Bipolar Disorder: What You Need to Know
Over the years, I’ve been faced with many of the same questions, wild opinions, and rude statements from family members, friends, and even strangers.
I figured it was best to clear the air, and share with you some of the annoying and hurtful things people say about bipolar disorder. Most of you battling this illness, or any mental illness, can probably relate to this post very well.
If you didn’t already know…
Bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks.
There are four types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar 1 Disorder: consists of manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes do occur, lasting at least two weeks. It is possible to have mixed features of depression and mania at the same time.
- Bipolar 2 Disorder: consists of a pattern of depressive episodes and possible hypomanic episodes, but never full-blown manic episodes.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: Also, called cyclothymia. Consists of numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years. The symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic and depressive episodes.
- Unspecified: bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the categories listed above.
What are the symptoms?
Bipolar disorder causes you to have periods of intense emotion, changes in sleep and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These are called mood episodes, and they are completely different from a normal person’s mood and behavior.
- Mania: feel “high” or elated, increase in energy, increased activity, difficulty sleeping, feel “wired” or “jumpy”, talk really fast, irritable, agitated, feel like you can do anything, feel like you’re better than everyone, risky activities like excessive spending or reckless sex, feel like your thoughts are going really fast, appetite changes (usually, don’t feel the need to eat)
- Depression: hopeless, very sad, trouble sleeping (either too much or too little), no energy, decreased activity levels, can’t concentrate, appetite changes, weight changes, can’t enjoy life, really worried, suicidal thoughts, feel really tired, forget things, no motivation for anything
It is a REAL illness!
It astonishes me that some people still think that bipolar disorder is not a real illness. What? So, the 5.7 million American adults affected by it doesn’t mean anything? (Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance)
I, honestly, don’t know where these people get this idea that mental illness is not a real thing, and, maybe, I don’t want to even know.
It affects your brain, which is an internal organ needed to survive, so why would it not be just as important as say, heart disease?
I can’t influence a person’s beliefs, but I will stand up, and say that it’s really friggin’ disrespectful!
It CANNOT be cured!
As of now, there are no ways to cure bipolar disorder. However, there are many ways to treat it. You can still live a happy, positive, fantastic life, but it can take time to find what works best for each individual.
Medications like mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants can be used to treat this disorder. Participating in therapy like, psychotherapy (talk therapy), can be an effective form of treatment.
Plain and simple, there is no way to rid bipolar disorder. Once it hits you, there’s no going back! There is no miracle pill to dissolve the disorder away. Medication can ease and help the symptoms, but the disease is still there, gnawing away at your brain every chance it can get.
Time, effort, medicine, therapy and a better understanding of your body and the disease, will be your best chance at fighting and overcoming. And coping skills, gotta have those!
It is NOT an adjective!
For the love of all bipolars, stop using our diagnosis to describe your normal moods and behavior.
“I’m so bipolar!” Let me guess, you were just crying over a sad puppy video, and now you’re dancing to Drake?
“I love to shop, I must be bipolar!” Take a look at my credit card debt, and we will see about that.
The most recent I’ve heard, “I get angry so I must have bipolar disorder.” Anger is an emotion, first of all. Something every human being experiences. Anger is in no way, shape, or form a sign that you have bipolar disorder. Maybe you’re just a little asshole. Or a hypochondriac. You pick. (sorry for that bad word)
Comments like this are just really rude to those of us battling this disorder. If you think that you are bipolar, in most cases, you’re probably not. Most of us that are diagnosed with this illness are, actually, taken surprise by it. It is a huge shock!
I can guarantee that if you were bipolar, you wouldn’t flaunt it around like it’s a big, shiny diamond ring. You would be begging to be normal again. The life of a bipolar is not an easy one. Every day we have to battle our minds while people like this undermine our illness.
A Buzzfeed quiz is NOT a diagnosis!
Most of us are probably guilty of checking our symptoms on WebMD. We care about our health, and want to know what is wrong with us without having to wait two weeks to get into a very expensive doctor. However, I find it frustrating that some people actually think that an online quiz can diagnose you with bipolar disorder.
There are NO tests that can prove that you have a mental illness, especially, not bipolar disorder. This is a very serious illness, and it needs to be addressed, diagnosed, and treated by a psychiatrist. Sure, a psychiatrist will perform exams and psychological evaluations to confirm if an individual has it or not. But there is not a simple, straightforward test that can prove it!
If you seriously feel like you may be bipolar, then you NEED to see a psychiatrist. These trained specialists will be able to properly diagnose you, and get you the treatment that you will need for this illness. You cannot rely on an online quiz to diagnose you! If you’re looking to get into some counseling, I highly recommend checking out BetterHelp. It is an amazing platform that offers online counseling! It’s so convenient, and easy to use. And it’s much easier to get into than dealing with your local therapists. No waiting!
For more information on getting a proper diagnosis, you should check out my post to ensure you get the best for your mental health.
Check out this post to get more advice and information for all your mental health needs.
Share your story…
What frustrates you about the stigma of bipolar disorder? How have others degraded your illness? I would love to hear from you, just comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thank you for reading and sharing, dear! -Natalie