What Bipolar Disorder is for me
You may have read, or want to read What is Bipolar Disorder anyway? to get a general understanding of bipolar disorder first.
This article, however, is based on my personal experience of suffering with it.
Bipolar has caused several issues for me, such as:
- Being unable to finish personal projects, or have fun with things that I want to do.
Due to frequent, random mood changes, racing thoughts (difficulty concentrating), lack of confidence and self-esteem during depressed state, and so on.
Even the things that I enjoy doing in life are difficult a lot of the times.
Sometimes I lack interest in doing the things that I did want to do or was working on, in an instant.
- Being unreliable to other people
Including to family. Frequently used to make plans, and change them at the last moment – which frustrated and/or hurt everyone involved.
- Failed relationships, including friendships.
I’m very difficult to be with in a relationship.
I become irrational, jealous – and sometimes even threatening, even though I’ve never acted out on it.
Arguing and getting upset with people over little things, taking things too personally, being overly emotional.
I have almost no friends currently. The few that I do have are long distance.
A lot of the time I just want to be alone – and I do so, suffering in my misery.
- Not finishing high school
I was originally going to be home-schooled…
That didn’t happen; instead, I was hospitalized and my life started spiraling more out of control.
- Lost jobs/work
I’ve attempted to work at a few different places, in different types of employment areas.
Some I could only handle for a week or less.I believe the longest period was of concurrent employment was 6 months.
After that I got became manic, walked off the job and decided to do my own thing.
I made ~$30K in a single month while manic, wasted it due to impulsiveness (another symptom),
then went straight back into a depressed state with nothing.
- Difficulty having conversations (especially via speech)
Really, I can’t even express myself properly in speech sometimes because of the racing thoughts and other symptoms.
I probably don’t come as off stupid as I think I do – due to years of practice and dealing with it, but I know that my brain isn’t working ideally.
- Going into debt while in a manic state and being impulsive, even though I should have known better
Maxing out 7 credit cards, losing my car, and other things
- Feeling pain physically, because of the depression being so severe at times.
- Lack of sleep, or too much sleep. Eating too much, or not enough.
- Believable hallucinations, and delusional thinking
See: Delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
- Extreme anxiety
See: Anxiety and paranoia
- Doing stupid and risky things with my life in general
Speeding and losing my license for over a year – which took 2 years to get back due to financial issues.
Abusing alcohol (in the past)…
Attempting to kill myself, multiple times. Among other things.
(This is in an incomplete list)
With that said, there are a few different “states” that I go into because of my bipolar. Let me talk about that a bit.
Keep in mind, that I can switch between those moods within a split second, without much – if any – of a warning. There doesn’t even have to be a trigger for it, although stressful situations do seem to trigger them more often.
Due to the nature of the illness – especially while in a depressed state, the brain actually changes. You really do feel hopeless, whether you are trying to think positively or not.
Some days I feel I’m physically chained down to my bed — I don’t want to move, my thoughts slow down, and I barely even have the energy to speak. I stop caring about the things I usually enjoy; seriously, even sex – that’s one of the last things on my mind. At this point, even if I learn new that should be exciting or give me some kind of adrenaline, it will hardly affect me; as I mentioned in another post of mine, when 9/11 happened I was in a depressed state – and I really just couldn’t care about it at the time, even though the “usual” me would and does care a lot. Maybe in a way, I seem more selfish while so depressed – but really, it’s not my fault that my brain doesn’t let me feel the way I’d like to, and doesn’t let me live up to my personality.
I’ll also tend to sleep a lot more during this phase, often even during the day – ignoring my usual sleeping pattern.
My self-esteem tends to become very low while depressed, as well. And I blame myself for everything, even if I know they aren’t my fault. If I do try to have a conversation, it’s usually very negative about myself, the world and how I perceive everything – and it tends to bring other people down too.
And another note: I used to cut myself while in a depressed state. This – for me – was a distraction from the emotional pain I was feeling, and an attempt to feel something different than that same, agonizing mental pain. It may have also been a form of self-hatred, due to the lack of self-esteem I just mentioned.
I have also felt suicidal before, mostly while in a depressed state. I was hopeless and just wanted to stop being miserable; I was sick of putting so much energy and effort into feeling better – but getting nowhere. Sometimes it was as if I have tunnel vision and couldn’t see anything aside from the depression and negativity. I was trapped in my mind, being tortured eternally with no release.
Bam! That’s right. Manic state. This is what makes bipolar disorder different than simple depression.
I would be as depressed as I just wrote about – and then suddenly, I would feel completely fine.
Actually, better than fine – I was feeling wonderful, on top of the world even!
Generally while I’m in a manic state, I tend to have a lot more energy than an average person. I feel that I can do anything I want to, and in a short period of time. In fact, I didn’t think or feel that I needed to sleep more than a couple hours a day at times. 🙂
This can actually result in above average productivity.
For example, once I was in a manic state for 1-2 months, and ended up thinking of these wonderful ideas that brought me in over $30,000 in one month – which is more than I was making in a year, normally.
Then, I went right back into a depressed state, and I was unable to continue making money..period, for a while.
But this is not as great of a thing as it may seem. There are problems with it. I became irritable, irrational, and impulsive (oh, triple I! #random)…
For an example of the impulsiveness and irrational symptoms, I signed up for 7 different credit cards and maxed every single one of them on things I didn’t need within a month. I couldn’t pay them off, and I ended up ruining my credit for years to come.
I also suffer from racing thoughts more so while in a manic state. However, with how fast my brain is flowing at that point, I somehow still get things done.
Some of what I do or say doesn’t seem to make sense to a lot of other people – either because it comes out so fast, or is irrational. But that brings me to another point — people may not seem to think anything is actually wrong with me at those times, especially since my mood is so elevated, I’m more productive, and my self-esteem is also much better.
Perhaps I even portray some confidence due to the boost of self-esteem experienced during these times. I imagine I may even come off as someone who is in control of his spending, and knows exactly what he’s doing; I mean, who would think something’s not right with someone who can make that much money in a month and seems overly enthusiastic about everything they say?
Also, to counter what I mentioned in the depressed state somewhat: I become a lot more interested in activities that I enjoy – I want to do almost everything, experience new things, do whatever comes up for a thrill – including sex, even if it’s with someone I wouldn’t normally or in a place I wouldn’t do it under normal circumstances. I’m not saying that I have actually done all of those things, but I have felt it strongly.
On top of that, sometimes I become delusional. I used to believe (and sometimes still do, honestly) that I was put on this planet to do something very important that nobody else would understand — like I had a special mission. Sometimes I went as far as figuring out that it would be on specific dates …and then nothing happened, so I was disappointed.
I used to think I had ‘special powers’ such as telekinesis, but that I needed to train the ability. I was sure I could move things with my mind so much that I would almost visualize it happening.
I looked down upon another people at times as “simply mortals” and other stupid, unrealistic things. Obviously I am just a mortal, and human — but that’s not what my brain believed while in a manic state.
I’ve also commonly had mixed episodes. Instead of going into great detail about that, I’m going to explain it like this.
Basically, I can very depressed and have suicidal thoughts and all of those symptoms I mentioned, while having extra energy! Plus some of the symptoms from a manic state, such racing thoughts, irritability, impulsiveness; maybe even good self-esteem, and the delusional thinking.
But I feel that it’s a less severe form of a mania in the mix, due to the fact that I’m also depressed.
It’s also very confusing, because I don’t even know how I feel – or what I should be feeling. I might feel like crying and laughing at the same exact time – and that does make me feel a little crazy sometimes.
It’s been a very difficult struggle for me. I’ve had trouble keeping a steady job, or finishing most projects that I really want to do for myself.
Sometimes I can’t even focus to watch TV or a movie because I’ll have racing thoughts and/or severe mood swings interrupting me. So yes, even entertainment can be difficult — imagine that.
There are so many other things I’ve experienced and felt that I could just go on for days writing this.
I didn’t even get into my psychotic symptoms!
But I need a break for now, so I may come back and update this later.
So for now, I hope you find it useful. And thanks for reading.
Also check out: Mental illness and the stigma attached to it