Take a walk with me through my own personal Hell called bipolar disorder. First I will dispell some myths before I let you join me on this roller coaster that never stops. Just so the non-bipolar people of the world know, we cannot snap out of it. If we could snap out of it, we wouldn’t have if in the first place. Second, we don’t just like being this way. That’s like saying a person with a broken leg has the injury because they like it. Also, we will most likely not harm you, unless you say one of the above in our presence. People with bipolar disorder tend to be more self-harming and self-defeating. We have a grasp on reality, most of the time. And we are not “crazy” so there is no need to run from us.
Now that the myths are out of the way, it’s time for you to join me on this winding path of a mood disorder. Ever been sad or depressed? Multiply it by 1000. Ever been angry? Like the love child of the Incredible Hulk ad Rambo angry? Multiply that by 1000.
Every emotion felt by “normal” people is more intensely felt by those with bipolar.
I am in the throes of a downward spiral. I was feeling good for a while, then BAM. Out of nowhere it slammed into me like a freight train.
The depression phase of bipolar goes way beyond sadness. To be perfectly honest, right now I do feel sad, but I also feel worthless, unwanted, and ugly. Maybe that’s not the truth, but that is what it feels like. It doesn’t matter how many times someone denies the truth about those feelings, they are still there.
Then there is the manic or hypomanic phase, depending on what type of bipolar disorder a person has. As someone with bipolar II, I have hypomania. This phase of bipolar disorder is not always happy and euphoric. It doesn’t always result in risky behavior. For some of us, myself included, it can be extreme agitation and anger that is uncontrollable. It’s really ugly for everyone involved, so I desperately try to stay away from hypomania.
Another frustrating aspect of bipolar disorder is rapid cycling or mixed states. Not everyone has these issues, but they are really tough to deal with. I can find myself going from happy to sad to angry to sad then back to happy in a matter of hours or days. There is also feeling all emotions at one time. That is really difficult.
Right now, I am depressed, severely so. Without reason. That’s another hallmark of this disorder, mood shifts with no situational cause. I do have situational depression from time to time, but at an extreme level.
Extreme levels of depression lead one to feel ugly, unloved, worthless, useless. It also can cause a person to make poor choices in an effort to feel loved. That was how I fell into my 8 year marriage.
Because we feel emotions so strongly, I think we all long for someone to love us as we are. That is a tall order for many nonbipolar people. Because of the misconceptions of bipolar as well as our own behavior that can be perceived as erratic at times, it’s understandable that we can be frightening. But people shouldn’t hesitate to take us on because no one loves as intensely as someone with bipolar. All most of us want is to be loved.
When someone is very depressed, please don’t say it will get better. Really, all they need to know is that you are there for them.
Please love us for who we are. Please support us when we go through mood shifts and remind us to go to our doctors if we haven’t done so. Medications are almost always necessary and need to be tweaked on a regular basis.
If you care about, love, or our friends with someone with this awful disorder, please hold our hands and walk through Hell with us. We need love and support.