“You don’t get it unless you’ve got it”. If you have a mental illness, you can find it extremely difficult to explain how you feel and what you’re going through to people who don’t suffer.
This is my explanation of what Bipolar is to me and how it effects me, day in, day out.
Bipolar disorder is a Severe Mental Illness (SMI) that affects your moods, which can swing from 1 extreme to another. It used to be known as manic depression.
People with bipolar disorder have episodes of:
- Depression – feeling very low and lethargic
- Mania – feeling very high and overactive
I have a form of Bipolar called Rapid Cycle Bipolar Disorder. This is where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between.
People think depression is sadness. People think depression is crying.
People think depression is dressing in black.
People are wrong.
For me, it’s an enigma.
Depression is the constant feeling of being numb.
Being numb to emotions, being numb to lie.
You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again.
Days aren’t really days; they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced. And how do you face them?
When you’re depressed, you grasp on to anything that can get through the day.
That’s what depression is for me, not sadness or tears, as you’re not feeling sad or upset.
Plain and simply it’s the overwhelming sense of numbness.
The numbness and the desire for anything that can help you make it from one day to the next.
This is what depression is to me.
The mania part of Bipolar is utter chaos. One positive with mania is that I’m so enthused by everything.
I’m at my most creative during this phase, so l’m writing stuff down, making plans, playing the guitar and really upbeat. I engage with everyone, acting as though I don’t have a care in the World.
Waking up in the morning refreshed regardless if I had 1 hour or 8 hours kip the night before. I don’t really need that much sleep in this phase I’ve found. I’ve gone 11 days before with no REM sleep. Your body adapts and there is no obligation to sleep 10pm till 6am. You sleep when you’re tired.
I’m extroverted to the point that I’m all over the place, interrupting some conversations. I’ve been told to shut up as I switch topics so quickly that it’s hard for others to keep up with me. Sometimes I can’t keep up with myself!
Unfortunately this goes hand in hand with exuberance and reckless behaviour in the sense that I don’t stop and think about the necessity of the situation. I bought last years Christmas presents in April for everyone 🧑🏻🎄
People can mistake this behaviour for me being under the influence of drugs. But I’m not. I’m the first to admit that in the past I’ve been in Class A for entire weekends. The comments abound with some are that I still am. It’s the drugs that caused my mental illness. Even remarks that I don’t have bipolar, I’m just a Coke head.
Medication, street drugs or alcohol can’t cause you to develop bipolar disorder, but they can cause you to display some behaviour similar to both mania and depression. It can often be difficult for people to distinguish the effects of alcohol and drugs from your mental illness symptoms.
I can assure you that the manic phase of Bipolar is nothing like the high I’ve ever experienced before from any drug. Also a comedown is that far from the feeling and angst of the depression, you wouldn’t believe. The thing is that these are the closest things to explain the situation with someone so they can relate.
There simply aren’t the words in the English language that can accurately describe how living with Bipolar truly is.
Check out the link for further information regarding bipolar and the signs and symptoms https://youtu.be/eOHxpd80srY